The last Masters of the Universe figures I would ever get as a kid were Rokkon, Stonedar and Modulok, for my birthday in 1986. All three were a surprise, and they were all a bit out in left field compared to the figures I had until that point, which mostly reused the same few basic muscular body types that originated with He-Man, Skeletor and Beast Man.
Of the two rock/comet warriors (more on that distinction later), Stonedar was my favorite, mostly because I liked the cratered surface of his outer shell, as opposed to the quartz-like surface of Rokkon’s shell.
It seems that 1986 was the year of the transforming rock toys. That same year, Hasbro released their Inhumanoids toyline, with the heroic character Granok, who could transform from a pile of rocks into a tall rock creature. Tonka also released their Rock Lords toyline, a spinoff from the GoBots series:
These transforming rock toys seem to get regularly panned in articles about 80s toys today (particularly the Rock Lords and Mattel’s rock warriors), but I’ve always liked them. Granok was the only character I owned from the Inhumanoids line, and he was one of my favorite toys growing up. He didn’t make a very convincing pile of rocks, but he was a pretty great-looking rock warrior. Stonedar was kind of the opposite – he made for a very convincing comet or rock, but as a warrior he looked a bit awkward.
Stonedar emerged from a series of designs for transforming rock characters by Ted Mayer. None of the extant concepts below is identical to either Stonedar or Rokkon, but the basic idea is evident:
Both Ted Mayer and Roger Sweet are listed as inventors on the patent application, which was filed January 14, 1986.
Stonedar was sculpted by Steve Varner, a former business partner of Eddy Mosqueda and an outside vendor at the time. The prototype (or at least one version of it) seems to be nearly identical to the final toy, with the exception of the pupils, which are unpainted. It is possible to find production examples like this as well, although they are uncommon:
The cross sell artwork for Stonedar is quite faithful to the toy design, as you can see below:
Stonedar was initially packaged on a card that proclaimed him the “Heroic leader of the rock people.” Moreover, the front of the card said, “Invincible boulder transforms into mighty warrior!” However, on subsequent versions, Stonedar was called the “Heroic leader of the comet warriors” and “Invincible meteor transforms into mighty warrior.” The change may have been made to capitalize on Halley’s Comet, which passed close to the earth in 1986 (thanks to Matthew Martin for pointing out that connection to me). The first version features artwork by Errol McCarthy on the front, while the second version features (I believe) artwork by William George on the front.
Stonedar’s transformation into a rock was achieved simply by posing him in the fetal position. For me the play pattern with Stonedar was to leave him as a boulder until an unsuspecting evil warrior walked by. Then Stonedar would leap into action, getting the best of the bad guy using the element of surprise.
Some releases of the figure had lighter blue skin. I have found both versions from the Malaysia factory. Interestingly, the plugs on their weapons are a different size and cannot be interchanged:
In the minicomic that accompanied the figure, Rock People to the Rescue, Stonedar and Rokkon would hurl themselves downhill in rock form at their enemies. In this issue they put the hurt on Kobra Khan and Webstor, which is in contrast to later stories that would paint the rock warriors as pacifists.
In Escape From The Slime Pit, the rock people are pacifists who hesitate even to defend themselves from the Evil Horde. In the end they defeat the Horde by dazzling them with their shiny armor – a feature that is also mentioned on the back of the packaging. It’s not the most compelling idea for an attack strategy. It perhaps doesn’t help that the armor on the toy isn’t particularly shiny, making the “feature” feel like something of a stretch.
The 1987 style guide, illustrated by Errol McCarthy, describes Stonedar and his people in much the the same way as the Slime Pit minicomic:
One day, a spectacular meteor shower was seen in the night sky over Eternia. This shower was actually the arrival of the Comet Warriors. Stonedar is the leader of this peaceful clan. Though his race tends to shy away from conflict of any kind, Stonedar has offered to help He-Man in the great struggle against the forces of evil. Stonedar is an exceptionally wise old man.
Stonedar can use his “blazing” armor to temporarily blind attackers in battle. He can also use his rocky arms and legs to deflect blows.
Aside from the style guide illustration, Errol illustrated Stonedar in a few other contexts for use in T-shirts and possibly other licensed products:
There is also a fact file for both Stonedar and Rokkon in the 1989 UK MOTU Annual:
Stonedar did not appear in the original Filmation He-Man series, but he did make a couple of appearances in She-Ra. As in the Slime Pit comic and style guide, the rock people are characterized as pacifists. They come to Etheria because the star of their home solar system is on the verge of exploding. The comet warriors immediately get into trouble with the Evil Horde.
Earl Norem illustrated both Stonedar and Rokkon for a poster for the winter 1986 Masters of the Universe Magazine, and, as Matthew Martin points out in the comments, the scene is reminiscent of the illustration that Errol McCarthy did for the style guide (or perhaps, considering the dates, it’s actually vice versa).
Stonedar also appears in William George’s Eternia and Preternia posters:
Stonedar, like many other figures released late in the He-Man line, was rather gimmicky, but he was still a a lot of fun to play with. Even if you don’t like the figure itself, he also works great when in rock mode as background scenery for a diorama.
Special thanks to Larry Hubbard for providing the Stonedar figure photographed for this article.
Over the years Mattel filed for patents on a number of Masters of the Universe-related ideas. The language employed is rather difficult to get through, but the illustrations are a lot of fun. I’ve collected some of them here. Special thanks to Manic Man for locating several of these patents, including Blast Attak, Rotar/Twistoid and Gyrattacker!
Here is the 1986 Mattel Toys Dealer Catalog. Intended for retailers, Mattel’s dealer catalogs showcased all the latest and greatest releases, along with existing products within its various current (at the time) toy lines. New releases included:
Flying Fists He-Man
Terror Claws Skeletor
Masters of the Universe VCR Game (apparently never produced)
Snake Mountain Rescue Game
Battle For Eternia Game
1986 saw quite an ambitious line-up of vehicles, figures, playsets and games. Not every item was an instant classic (I think the heroic warriors lineup for 1986 was particularly weak), but the scope of the line by this year was impressive.