Masters Of The Universe (Mattel)
Masters of the Universe
1981 - 1986
In 1981, Masters of the Universe, also referred to as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, or abbreviated as MotU took the world by storm when it was first introduced as an animated show. The series was followed in 1982 by what would soon become one of the best action figure line of all time.
Rather than go with the 3 3/4 inch figure style that lines such as Star Wars and G.I. Joe had found huge success with, the MotU figures were a larger, five to six inch line. This in turn meant that vehicles and accessories would also be larger than your common toy line was producing.
The figures are the bread and butter of the line. Mint on card figures go for astounding amounts on the secondary market, especially the ones which were only made available in Italy, which can go for several thousands of dollars each.
With each year that passed, Mattel seemed to only raise the bar higher and higher. While several variants of He-Man and Skeletor were made available, each one always remained unique from the last. Unlike most lines that relied on simple repaints, the MotU line added new armor, weapons, and features.
For example, He-Man was made available in his original version, but later a Battle Armor He-Man included an armor set that would transform to show three versions of damage. Then there was Thunder Punch He-Man which utilized caps. This creativeness continued on throughout the line.
To accommodate the accessories for the Thunder Punch He-Man and Dragon Blaster Skeletor, Mattel produced oversize blister packs. This style of cards would continue throughout the series for the "special" figures released.
1985 also saw the release of a new sub series of figures called "The Evil Horde." The Horde figures were based off of the characters as seen in the new Filmation cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power, and while they didn't make often appearances in Masters of the Universe, they were still widely accepted by fans of the cartoons.
Modulok was a unique figure. Rather than come in a blister pack, the figure came boxed in a small rectangular box. Even more unique was that the figure came in pieces, which allowed for kids to create various versions of the character. The box art itself showed the various versions of the figure.
1986 saw even more expansions to the series. A subset of Comet Warriors were produced, along with the Snake Men, and more additions to the Evil Horde.
1987 was the last year of the vintage series of Masters of the Universe figures. With it came two final sub series, Cybernetic Warriors and figures from the live action film.
Creatures were a big part of the line. Several of the toys were also common characters seen in the show such as Cringer, Panthor, and Zoar.
Meteorbs were introudced in the final year of He-Man.
Greyskull was a line that Mattel launched in a final attempt to keep the series alive. It sadly wasn't enough to keep kids intersted, and the sereis was officially cancelled shortly after their release.
The majority of the vehicles were featured predominantly in the carton, and thus were identifiable to kids. This helped to ensure that merchandise would move off of store shelves at a pretty good rate.
The accessories for the line were typically Mattel's own creations, and were not seen in the show. However, they were priced affordably, and had a lot of playability to them for kids. Thus, they still sold well.
The only purpose the package of caps served was to replenish the used ones for Thunder Punch He-Man. While these He-Man brand caps were priced reasonable, there were other brands, all compatible with the figure, which were cheaper.
Like most toy lines of the 80's, MotU incorporated "slime" to incorporate into play with the Slime Pit playset.
The playsets, like most playests in the 80's, were a major treat for children. They were typically expensive, and thus, a real gem in anyone's collection of toys.
These days, they're even more sought after by collectors. Finding a complete, mint in box playset is an expensive endevor.
In an effort to sell more toys, Mattel produced several gift packs. They comprised of toys that had already been produced already, so while it was a convenient way to get multiple figures, there were no exclusives that required you to buy them.
Since the original 1982 to 1986 line of toys, He-Man has seen six lines of action figures, and four different TV incarnations. The future of He-Man looks as bright as ever these days. With new figures being produced on a regular basis, and older figures continuing to be chased down on secondary markets, He-Man has withstood the test of time, and etched its way into the history of great toys.
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