Evil Warriors

Terror Claws Skeletor – Evil leader with the claw-swinging action! (1986)

I don’t seem to recall much about Terror Claws Skeletor from childhood, but he’s certainly one of the most flamboyant of the Skeletor variants released over the years. He’s often referred to by fans as “sports bra Skeletor”, but his armor, in fairness, is more like the 80s muscle shirt modeled by “Macho Man” Randy Savage, below:

Design & Development

Terror Claws Skeletor was, I believe, designed by Alan Tyler. In the Power and Honor Foundation catalog (below), we can see an early concept design showing how the figure’s action feature would work:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

The design on the above armor is reminiscent of the bat design on Battle Armor Skeletor. The armor design would be altered on the final figure, however. We can see it represented (in unpainted form) in David Wolfram‘s Tyrantisaurus concept art, below:

Image courtesy of David Wolfram

It’s possible the armor was inspired by an early Man-E-Faces concept by Mark Taylor:

Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor

The cross sell artwork for the figure represents the finalized design:

This interesting test test shot (photos by Mike Holbrook) shows the figure with light flesh tone skin and an orange and white costume:

Terror Claws Skeletor was trademarked on June 14, 1985, and the copyright for the figure was registered May 19, 1986.

Production Toy

Terror Claws Skeletor was the first Skeletor variant to have almost entirely newly sculpted parts. He has newly designed legs with much larger toes (Laser-Light Skeletor would use the same basic foot shape in its design) and ball-jointed legs. His armor (painted a light metallic purple is a part of his chest sculpt. His arms are based on previous Skeletor arms, but the hands and forearms were modified him to allow him to wear his Terror Claws.

Images via eBay
1986 Mattel catalog. Source: Natalie NHT
Source: Natalie NHT
Source: Natalie NHT
Image source: He-Man.it
“Magic Boy” 1989 Italian magazine

Packaging

Terror Claws Skeletor was released on an oversized card with an illustration on the front by William George. It was advertised as the “5th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”, which is interesting because Masters of the Universe to my knowledge was launched in 1982, four years earlier. However, some fans have theorized that MOTU actually was launched in late 1981, base on their memories. That’s also backed up by an old audio interview of Mark Taylor. I haven’t found any documentary evidence to really support that MOTU came out in 1981, but this is nevertheless something interesting that at least points in that direction.

The back of the card featured an illustration by Errol McCarthy, and illustrated the figure’s arm-swinging action feature:

Image source: KMKA
Original line art by Errol McCarthy. Image via He-Man.org

The figure was also released in a gift set with Flying Fists He-Man, featuring artwork on the front against by William George:

Image source: Jon English

Comics

In the figure’s accompanying minicomic, The Terror Claws Strike!, Spikor is commissioned by Skeletor to create a new weapon. The claws themselves look more or less like the toy (albeit with longer, segmented fingers, similar to those in the concept art), but the “beastly pincher” looks plain and mechanical, not like the skull weapon that came with the toy. Skeletor’s costume is also based on his animated look, rather than the actual Terror Claws figure.

The Terror Claws also appear in Escape From The Slime Pit. In the story, a slime-covered and brainwashed He-Man shows up to destroy Skeletor:

Image source: Dark Horse

A rather comic depiction of the Terror Claws appears in the May 1, 1986 issue of Star Comics Masters of the Universe series. In the story, the “claws” look like floppy blue gloves:

Update: Øyvind Meisfjord mentions that a better illustration of the Terror Claws appears in a later issue of the Star Comics. He shares these images from his Norwegian copy:

Other Artwork

Terror Claws Skeletor struggles with Flying Fists He-Man for the Cosmic Key in this (as far as I know) unproduced illustration by William George

Image source: Roger Mahafy

They also appear front and center in William George’s Eternia poster:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

They also appear on the box art for the Eternia playset, also illustrated by William George:

The figure also appears illustrated in this sticker from Spain:

Terror Claws Skeletor in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following images and video of Terror Claws Skeletor in action:

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Five: 1986

box-art-a-z-graphic-1986

One of the best things about getting new He-Man toys as a kid was the box art. The toys were of course amazing and fun, but personally I spent almost as much time staring at the boxes as playing with the toys. I remember being pretty heartbroken when my mother made me throw away my Castle Grayskull and Battle Ram boxes. She saw them as clutter, but for me they were almost stories in and of themselves. You could see whole adventures unfolding in a single painted scene.

Unfortunately, good photographs or scans of the original art are not available for every piece. If you happen to have a nicer images than I do (higher resolution, better composition, etc), please do feel free to share, and I’ll make an update! For pictures of the packaging itself, a neutral (white or black) background is preferred. High resolution scans of the artwork, where it appears without logos, would be ideal. Bottom line – if you have better images than I do, please share them!

One final note: I’m defining box art as the front-facing painted artwork that appeared on boxed Masters of the Universe toys. The illustrations on blister card packaging, then, are outside the scope of this series.

Part Five: 1986

Name: Blasterhawk
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man launches a flying disk from the cockpit of the Blasterhawk.

blaster-hawk-best

Name: Eternia
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: The three towers of Eternia stand between Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. Beast Man scales the central tower and Rattlor and Tung Lashor head toward the lion’s head entrance. Man-At-Arms fires the cannon at the top of the tower. Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor do battle off to the side. A volcano erupts in the distance.

Battle Cat corners Stinkor at the Grayskull Tower, while several horde troopers rush up the outer stairs toward Snout Spout, who is dodging laser blasts from the Battle Tram. Rio Blast and Extendar stand at the top of Grayskull Tower, as the Fright Fighter flies by. Meanwhile, Moss Man drives Bashasaurus down the road from Castle Grayskull to Grayskull Tower.

Sy-Klone flies Blasterhawk near the summit of Viper Tower, and Megabeast rounds the corner at the base.

eternia-best

Name: Flying Fists He-Man & Terror Claws Skeletor
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Flying Fists He-Man raises his shield as Terror Claws Skeletor approaches. Castle Grayskull looms ominously in the distance.

ff-tc-best
Image Source: MOTU Art Facebook Page
packaging-gm
Image Source: Grayskull Museum

Name: Fright Fighter
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor Skeletor pilots Fright Fighter, firing canons at unseen enemies. Down below on the crater-covered ground, Man-At-Arms, Battle Armor He-Man, and Roboto look skyward, weapons raised.

fright-fighter-no-logo-best

Name: Hordak and Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

manti2
mantisaur1
hord-mant-giftset

Name: Jet Sled & He-Man
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: He-Man pilots the Jet Sled over a volcanic desert. A small dragon flees from the approaching aircraft.

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jet-sled-he-man-giftset-crazy-collectors
Image source: Crazy Collectors

Name: Laser Bolt
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man guides the Laser Bolt over difficult desert terrain as he fires on unseen enemies. A small dinosaur scurries out of the way.

laser-bolt-best

Name: Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

manti2
mantisaur1


Name: Monstroid
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Monstroid spins in circles with Sy-Klone and Man-At-Arms captured in its claws. Thunder Punch He-Man and Roboto try to find a way to rescue their friends.

monstroidart

Name: Multi-Bot
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Multi-Bot is shown in 10 body configurations and poses.

multibot-axel
Image source: Axel Giménez
multibotart

Image source: Grayskull Museum

Name: Slime Pit
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Beast Man is trapped in the Slime Pit. Hordak pours ooze all over the hapless minion of Skeletor. In the background are the ruins of an ancient civilization.

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More in this series:

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