Heroic Warriors

Thunder Punch He-Man – Heroic leader with loud power punch (1985)

Thunder Punch He-Man was the “deluxe” version of He-Man that everyone in my grade school peer group coveted. The counterpart to Dragon Blaster Skeletor, Thunder Punch He-Man had a new an exciting action feature – you could load a ring of caps (of the kind typically used in toy revolvers of the era) into his backpack, twist his waist back, and he would spring forward with a power punch and a loud bang. It was quite the upgrade over the power punch feature typical of the line.

There were actually two commercials for Thunder Punch He-Man. The first was quite in line with the style of most MOTU commercials from 1982-1985, Gregorian chant and all. The second features an unfortunate attempt at making He-Man cooler by adding a rap:

Here’s a very nice Australian take on the commercial:

Design & Development

I’m not sure ultimately who created the visual look for Thunder Punch He-Man. The idea for giving He-Man the action feature may have begun with Roger Sweet, who created this illustration using the standard Mark Taylor He-Man visual design:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

There is a second piece of concept art related to Thunder Punch He-Man, below. The artist is unknown unfortunately (I checked with both Ted Mayer and Mark Taylor, and neither know who might have drawn it). The Thunder Punch costume is certainly recognizable. The shield is round, unlike the production shield, but it does look like caps are integrated into it somehow. Interestingly, He-Man is given an articulated jaw here:

Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest

On January 3, 1985, Mattel filed a Patent Claim for Thunder Punch He-Man’s action feature. The inventors are listed as Larry H. Renger and Mike T. McKittrick. The gist of the design is that when the torso was twisted back, a spring loaded hammer inside the chest would cock. Upon releasing the torso, it would twist back to center and the hammer would be released, striking against the cap loaded in the backpack and making a loud bang sound to coincide with He-Man’s punch.

A close to final design for the figure can be seen in the cross sell art for the figure, as shown below. Really the only difference here from the production figure is that this one is shown with a gray sword and silver shield, while the actual figure was produced with a gold sword. Some versions had a vac metal silver shield, and others had a vac metal gold shield:

Cross sell art closeup, from The Art of He-Man

Action Figure

From Mattel’s 1985 dealer catalog
Silver shield version

Sculpt wise, the figure featured all new parts apart from the head and sword. The legs were based on the original, but he was given bigger feet to make him more stable. The sculpt unfortunately on the arms and torso is a bit soft and unfinished looking compared to the original. Befitting his action feature, his right fist is closed, ready at any time for a thunder punch. He also has painted bracers, something previous versions didn’t get.

His boots have white fur tops, which was actually how He-Man had been previously illustrated by Rudy Obrero and R.L. Allen. Earl Norem would occasionally depict him like that as well:

He has a new harness design, sculpted onto the chest rather than as a separate piece. He keeps the “H” logo that first appeared on Battle Armor He-Man, and which also appeared on the side of the Dragon Walker and on Flying Fists He-Man. The symbol looks like a blend between an H and an M.

His power sword can fit in his shield, but the shield can also be used to carry a ring of caps.

Packaging

Thunder Punch He-Man came on an oversized card, with art on the front by William George, and art on the back by Errol McCarthy:

Line art by William George. Image source: He-Man.org
Artwork by William George, image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen
Line art by Errol McCarthy. Image source: He-Man.org

Errol McCarthy also made several other illustrations featuring Thunder Punch He-Man:

The figure came with two rings of caps, but you could also purchase more He-Man branded caps on a separate card (made by Larami). The figure would work with any brand, as long as it was the same size and formation (images via He-Man.org):

Thunder Punch He-Man was also released in two gift sets – one with Orko and one with Roboto

http://www.grayskullmuseum.com/GiftSets/GiftSetsIndex.htm

Style Guide

The 1987 Style Guide makes mention of He-Man’s thunder punch power, as well as his Battle Armor and his Power Sword:

Weapons: His Sword of Power is fused with the combined wisdom and strength of all ancient Eternian Elders. The Battle Armor designed for him by Man-At-Arms allows him to withstand the mightiest blows of battle and the special gift from the Sorceress allows He-Man to deliver a punch so powerful, it creates a thunderous boom that strikes fear in the hearts of all who are evil and helps He-Man blast through barriers of all kinds.

1987 Style Guide

Comics and Stories

The figure came packed with the minicomic, The Treachery of Modulok, which also came with Modulok, of course. In the story, when Prince Adam transforms to He-Man, he finds himself wearing his new Thunder Punch costume. The Sorceress explains that it’s a gift from Castle Grayskull. Later in the story, he uses his new power to punch through Hordak’s force field and stop Skeletor in his Land Shark from reaching Castle Grayskull:

Thunder Punch He-Man appears in the 1986 winter issue of Masters of the Universe Magazine, using his punching power to make a shortcut through Hordak’s maze:

Artwork

Thunder Punch He-Man appeared on a couple of posters by William George, in Joe Chiodo’s box art for Mantisaur, and in the box art for Monstroid (artist unknown):

Artwork by William George. Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen.
Artwork by William George. Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen.
Artwork by Joe Chiodo
Artist unknown

Thunder Punch He-Man to me isn’t the most visually exciting of the He-Man variants, but his action feature was one of the most fun to play with in the vintage MOTU line.

Thunder Punch He-Man in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has graciously contributed the following image and video showing Thunder Punch He-Man in action:

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Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art – 1985

The artwork for this set comes from Axel Giménez, StarCrusader and my own photos and scans.

There are, unfortunately several subpar images in this set, including Roboto, Thunder Punch He-Man, Land Shark, and especially Night Stalker. If anyone out there has a Laser Bolt box, it should have Thunder Punch He-Man on the back. If you happen to have a scan or a high resolution picture of it in a nice natural lighting that you’d like to share, that would be appreciated.

The cross sell artwork for Land Shark appears on the back of the Jitsu/Night Stalker gift set. Land Shark cross sell art also appears on the back of the heroic warriors gift set (the one that included Buzz-Off, Moss Man and Mekaneck figures). If anyone happens to have nicer image of the cross sell art for Land Shark that they could share, I’d be really grateful.

Night Stalker is trickier. I have been unable to locate any cross sell art for Night Stalker, other than the red line art on the back of the Fright Zone box. If anyone knows of a full-color version that exists somewhere out there, I’d appreciate that information!

Update: somehow I overlooked Spydor. Spydor doesn’t seem to have had cross sell art per se, but the explanatory illustration on the back of his packaging is probably the closest analog, as far as I know. The same is true for toys like Battle Bones and Blasterhawk. Thanks to Matthew M. for letting me know!

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

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Resource

Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part Four: 1985

Masters of the Universe, for all its diversity and creativity, was quite an economical toyline, creatively (and sometimes uncreatively) using and reusing the same molds over and over again throughout its run. Sometimes this was done fairly invisibly, and other times it was as plain as the nose on Faker’s face.

In this series I’ll be cataloging the reuse of existing molds, in context of what is known and what is likely about which figures were created in what order. For example, He-Man’s prototype was almost certainly finished before Man-At-Arms, so Man-At-Arms reused He-Man’s legs, rather than vice versa. I’ll also include parts that were reused from other toylines.

Sometimes existing parts were modified for use in new toys. For example, Beast Man’s chest seems to have been based on He-Man’s chest sculpt, albeit with a great deal of hair added to it. This didn’t save money on tooling, but it did save some time and effort for the sculptor. I’ll point this out whenever I see it. Whenever a modified part is used again, however, I’ll refer to it as belonging to the toy that used it first (for example, Stratos and Zodac reuse Beast Man’s chest).

I won’t comment on “invisible” parts, such as neck pegs or waist springs that are normally not seen.

First, the toys from 1985 that had (at the time) all new parts. For fun, I’m including one unproduced toy that made it into a 1985 catalog:

Sy-Klone

Modulok

Fright Zone

Bashasaurus

Battle Bones

Land Shark

Spydor

Evil Robot (unproduced)

These toys from 1985 reused some existing parts:

Thunder Punch He-Man

Roboto

Moss Man

Dragon Blaster Skeletor

Two Bad

Spikor

Stinkor

Hordak

Grizzlor

Leech

Mantenna

Night Stalker

A few additional notes:

All of the Horde crossbow share some sculpted areas in common – basically everything except the head and the butt of the weapons. I don’t know which of them was done first – I’m defaulting to Hordak’s weapon as the basis for the others, in the absence of other information.

The modified Thunder Punch He-Man legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Faker II, Spikor, Man-At-Arms, He-Man, Fisto, Tri-Klops, Battle Armor He-Man, and Jitsu, especially in the French “rubber boot” variants.

The modified Dragon Blaster Skeletor legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Skeletor (Hong Kong), Ninjor, and Scare Glow (more on the last two figures in the feature on parts reuse in 1987).

The information about the reuse of these legs was provided to me by Mantisaur82, who is extremely knowledgeable about production variants.

Update: Thanks to Emmanuel V. for reminding me about the made-in-France version of Stinkor, with its blue He-Man shield.

Parts Reuse series:

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Technical Drawings & Patents

Masters of the Universe patent illustrations

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!

Included patents and illustrations:

  • Castle Grayskull (trap door mechanism)
  • Attak Trak
  • Bashasaurus
  • Battle Armor He-Man
  • Battle Bones
  • Blast Attak
  • Dragon Walker
  • Fright Zone
  • Fright Zone (puppet)
  • Gyrattacker (unreleased vehicle)
  • Horde Trooper
  • Hurricane Hordak
  • King Hiss
  • Land Shark
  • Laser Bolt
  • Mantenna
  • Megalaser
  • Mekaneck
  • Roboto
  • Rokkon & Stonedar
  • Rotar & Twistoid
  • Spydor
  • Sy-Klone
  • Thunder Punch He-Man
  • Tower Tools/Cliff Climber/Scubattack
  • Two Bad

Castle Grayskull trap door patent:

Attak Trak:

Bashasaurus:

Battle Armor He-Man:

Battle Bones:

Blast Attak:

Dragon Walker:

The Fright Zone:

Fright Zone (puppet):

Gyrattacker (unreleased vehicle):

Horde Trooper:

Hurricane Hordak:

King Hiss:

Land Shark:

Laser Bolt:

Mantenna:

US4580991-1

Megalaser:

Mekaneck:

Roboto:

Rokkon & Stonedar:

Rotar & Twistoid:

Spydor:

Sy-Klone:

Thunder Punch He-Man:

Tower Tools/Cliff Climber/Scubattack:

Two Bad:

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