Hey everyone! It’s the GotS resident super fan of everything MOTU related, Andy Larson, back with more great news and reviews of some fantastic recent things that have come out about this historic toy franchise built on the back of the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE UNIVERSE!
Yes, just like my cousin, JA, is obsessed with Star Wars toys and my podcast co-host, Chad Smith, is equally obsessed with GI Joe, He-man and the the Masters of the Universe as well as all its related spin offs has always been my “go to” toy brand ever since I received my first Castle Grayskull set with He-man, Teela, Stratos, and Beast Man, that glorious Christmas of 1982.
It’s still crazy that they didn’t include Skeletor in that original 4 pack of figures I got with the Castle because it was a one of those gift sets, so to not give their main bad guy in the set is kind of weird. Eh, maybe it was one of those sets that was packaged early on in the development when Beast Man was supposed to be one of the more important villains. It’s also possible that that’s why they include Stratos as he was also originally supposed to be a evil warrior, before they changed him to He-man’s flying friend.
Anyways, it gave me a reason to bug my Dad months later for a Skeletor figure when we were at Service Merchandise picking up a new toaster. I was all excited to recreate all those scenes I saw on the box where ol’ Bone Face drops He-man to his doom via that not so cleverly disguised rug covering a trap door. To this day, if I ever see a carpet with a huge flaming eye ball on it, I’m definitely not walking over it, especially if it’s near a chair that looks like to could spin!
Anyways, they hooked me right from the beginning of the line, and I haven’t stopped loving it since. In fact, I can honestly say there were times when I loved this toy line even more than comic books, and easily He-man was more important to me than even the ol’ web head himself, Spidey!
That’s why I felt it was necessary to spend today’s blog educating on all the fantastic He-man related news that was released this past weekend at the annual Power Con, a convention for Masters of the Universe, She-Ra, and other related properties such as ThunderCats. It seems like after years in the wilderness subsisting on very little good news to keep us MOTU fans afloat, Mattel has finally wised up and it looks like we are on the verge of a brand new Golden Age for the franchise! Toys in major stores, new cartoons, merchandise everywhere!! It brings a tear to my eye!
Before I begin though, I want to give a special thanks out to the wonderful people over at He-man.org through which I still get most of the MOTU related news! If you are a fan of this franchise, like me, definitely check them out!
Ok, so with that out of the way, let’s talk Eternian Turkey!
New He-man Animated Series!
Writer, Director, and all around Comic book guru guy, Kevin Smith, has recently announced that he will be developing a brand new MOTU Anime style series for Mattel which will be airing on Netflix in the near future.
Entitled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” it seems to be a sequel of sorts to the original cartoon series, which according to the press release will be a “wholly original story” that will build upon “unresolved story lines of the classic ‘80s era,”. This means it will be different in scope from the current She-Ra series (which I think is incredible btw) which is also airing on Netflix but has nothing really to do with the original series other than reusing the characters names/power sets.
Helping Kevin Smith with this project with be Rob David, a Mattel VP, who will also act as executive producer. MOTU fans might recognize Rob’s name from his work on the DC comics series “He-man: The Eternity War” which was released several years back.
Although it was scripted by long time comic author, Dan Abnett, Rob David had a lot to with the overall story of that series, and it was a pretty dark and dire take on the MOTU franchise, heavily playing up the more barbaric and war like aspects of the battles on Eternia.
Notable story arcs that came out of the series which may serve as clues for where the new anime series might go include Skeletor actively raising Adora as a child in the Fright Zone during their joint time there, Hordak gaining the powers of Grayskull and becoming all beefy, and most importantly Prince Adam becoming a despotic king while under the influence of King Hssss who for several issues completely takes over his body. As I said, it was some pretty adult stuff, and was more in line with Conan or Game of Thrones than what some people would remember from the Filmation cartoon.
Taking it one step further in my suspicions that this will probably not be a show for the little ones, but instead more teen/adult oriented is the fact that the animation studio in charge of producing the program will be Powerhouse Studios who some of us might recall also was in charge of the Castlevania animated series that also appeared on Netflix.
Although I loved that show and the sophisticated anime style it had, it definitely was filled with blood, sex, and tons of gore all of which might make it more appropriate for mature fans rather than my 7 year old son. That and the fact that Netflix refuses to call the show a “cartoon” but rather an “anime” which I feel is directly tied to marketing the program as something that appeals to an older audience.
Not that there’s nothing wrong with that I guess. Although I do feel that Masters of the Universe can have an all ages appeal, I will say some of my favorite stories of the franchise are all the early ones from the mini comics in a portion of continuity known to us fans as “Mini-Eternia”.
It’s the part of the continuity prior to the Filmation show where He-man really didn’t have an alter ego as Prince Adam and was more of a Battle Axe swinging savage. As a result, it was somewhat darker in tone, but more importantly more mysterious. Like Castle Grayskull was an imposing ancient force of nature, ready to reveal its secrets to whomever was brave enough to step foot in it, not just the clubhouse for He-man and his pals.
And I guess that’s my final word on it. I am really excited overall about the chance to see a He-man cartoon again, and I’m even optimistic about it being a little adult in tone. I mean they already have a show aimed at kids with the She-Ra program, so it’s good to have an alternative to that.
I just hope they realize that serious doesn’t have to mean edgy, and they resist making this a joyless murky grimace fest like so many Zack Synder DC movies. I hope instead they play up the mystery and wonder Eternia has to offer, and for all of the dramatic overtones, they don’t forget to equally add heart and laughter as well. It’s got to be well balanced to really appeal to a mass audience and here’s hoping they resist the urge to overkill the dark aspects in order to shake some of the preconceived camp of the 80s cartoon. I really don’t think that’s necessary.
Good drama is good drama regardless of what came before.
Crisis on Infinite Eternias??
Speaking of “He-Man: The Eternity War” and the several comic runs that DC has released for Masters of the Universe fans over the years, it’s time to add another to that group with November solicitations revealing a brand new 6 part story will be hitting comic shelves later this fall. Entitled “HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE“, this joint venture between DC Comics and Mattel will be written by veteren comic writer, Tim Seely, who actually wrote the last MOTU related story line for DC with his 6 part series, “Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe”, in which He-man battles the alternate “fallen” version of Superman from the Injustice video game series.
(As an aside, after my recent He-man/Thundercats story revealed that Injustice happens in the same universe as that story, it’s prompted me to pick that up for a quick read. More on that book and whether I liked it or not on next week’s blog)
In any case, it seems the story involves uniting different versions of He-man from a variety of multiverses that contain Eternia to combat some evil “Anti Eternia” force is swallowing up reality after reality. Also included in the teaser is the notion that Prince Keldor (aka Skeletor before he got his face melted off), will play an important role in turning the tide of the battle and could be the key to victory in the end.
Although this sounds like on the surface just another copy of Sony’s “Into the Spiderverse” movie which was so successful with audiences, as a long time MOTU fan that has seen different interpretations of He-man over the years as they rewrite and update continuity for new fan bases, I think this is a pretty great way to celebrate what makes He-man so great as a character and how he can appeal to different fans for different reasons.
Plus instead of just trying to ignore or cram conflicting continuity points into one narrative, by having different Eternias there can be different He-men to represent everyone’s version. So now, people like me that never liked the Prince Adam portion of his back story can perhaps just get the more barbaric He-man from the Mini-Eternia I mentioned above. Others can get the Filmation version. Still others can get the one from the 200X cartoon. Hell for that very small group of fans, you could even have Dolph Lundgren make an appearance!
Art will be provided by Dan Fraga which you might recognize from his work in the 90s on books like Spider-Man, Wolverine and Bloodstrike. Richard Friend will also be providing his artistic talents on inks.
As pictured above with the recent announcement at SDCC, it definitely seems as if Mattel is going “all in” on Masters of the Universe, coming up with some great new toys that will be available in stores in 2020. Originally reported here a couple weeks ago on GotS, the primary line of toys will be this re-imaged versions of the classic 80s sculpts with added arm and leg articulation to appeal to the “snooty” more sophisticated collector (I’m looking at you, Chad).
However, at PowerCon, they revealed a couple extra figures that will be available at launch, including fan favorite Trap Jaw! Indeed it seems as if the Master of Weapons will be joining such other must have characters from the line including Beast Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms, and Evil Lyn.
More importantly though, Mattel also released pictures that show that He-man’s furry friend and mount, Battle Cat, will also be included in the new set, giving everyone not one the fiercest striped tiger +1 in existence, but also technically the new line’s first “ride”.
Although I could say I’m super excited about this line and all it has to offer, I’ve also got a little bit of hatred over it too. The main reason being I spend hundreds if not a thousand dollars on all the figures from the MOTU Classics line, under the auspices that it would be my definite adult collector version of my cherished childhood toys. However, now with this line being released, it looks like I’m back on the hook to get yet another line of toys based on the same characters I already have.
Maybe that’s why I’m justifying in my head that I’m just going to get my son, Jakob, into the toy line so they can be his figures, instead of him stealing my Classic line. Yeah…that’s how I’ll spin it to my wife…that sounds like a convincing enough story…
However that does mean I’ll probably have to end my collection of the Super7 Retro figures that I’ve been getting for the past couple of years. I’ll be honest that most of these haven’t even come off the card backs, because they just look so cool in their sweet Kenner style limited articulation.
Plus again the kids mostly play with either my MOTU Classic figures or the homemade custom Imaginext MOTU figures I made, so there hasn’t been much demand for these. Still though, they are really nice and I’m hoping to pick up this Stinkor version before calling it quits (even though like the real figure, he’s just a repaint of Mer Man).
Honestly, I’m not even sure that Super 7 is going to get to keep their license for MOTU with the big push that Mattel has been putting on this franchise recently. I mean there was also news that the MOTU mini figures were going to be re-released in stores next year.
For those of you in the toy collecting market, these were the line of more chunky limited articulation figures who were more of collectibles than toys released over at the old Mattycollector store back in the day as another item fans could get while they were waiting for the next MOTU Classic release. I did ultimately by the He-man and Skeletor 2 pack they had on sale one Black Friday several years ago, but overall the line really didn’t appeal to me.
I won’t lie though, it was mainly because my kids were playing with Imaginext figures at the time and these were not the right scale to interact. The figures did provide the customs Imaginext MOTU figures I did make with the necessary accessories, so that was a plus. I’ll be interesting to see how these do in a retail market, as I remember the huge shipping costs for these was also a deterrent at the time.
Finally, I could mention these WWE/MOTU figures…which make no sense. Sure I like Pro Wrestling and I like He-man, but not everything can be just peanut buttered and jellied up and make something better. Still though I’d like to hear from some of the GotS fans that like the antics of those performers in the squared circle, so leave some comments if about what you think about a Sting figure with giant anthropomorphized pincer hands like Clawful!