Master of your Universe: The Story of He-Man

I am Adam, Prince of Eternia and the defender of the secrets of Castle Greyskull; this is Cringer my fearless friend. Many Secret Powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said “By the Power of Greyskull, I have the POWER”
Ahhhhhh Every time I hear that introduction it brings me back to vivid memories of my mornings before school on the Cartoon Connection, surrounded by all my He Man toys and Castles, ready to take on the vicious forces of Skeletor!!!

What most people don’t know is that the animated shows was directly attributed to simply selling toys and were basically advertisements for the He-Man toy line.

This History of one of the most influential and entertaining cartoons of our time starts in 1976 when Mattel CEO Ray Wagner declined a lucrative opportunity to produce and develop action figures based on the characters of Star Wars. Obviously unaware of the huge commercial success of the Star Wars Trilogy, Mattel started producing mediocre toys to no success. Until a person by the name of Roger Sweet (Lead Designer at Mattel’s Preliminary Design Department) designed the first conceptual action figure, simply titled He-Man.

Funnily enough, rumor had it that Conan the Barbarian was inspiration for the He-Man character. However this was denied as the design and development took place before the movie was released, commencing production of the He-Man toy line in 1981. That didn’t stop Conan Properties however, as they filed a suit against Mattel for breach of copyright due to the similarities He-Man had with Conan. Mattel obviously won the lawsuit and retained the rights over He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

 

Three He-Man designs were presented in the front of the board of Mattel, depicting He-man as a Barbarian, a Soldier and a Space Man. You can guess which one was chosen. The first design concept of He-Man was very different to the one we know and love, rather than the clean cut, blonde haired, Barbie and Ken look, He- Man had black hair, was deeply tanned and had an Eastern European, Middle Eastern look about him. Illustrated books were produced in order to give the Toys life. When it came time to make an animated series, the back story changed significantly from the books and became the story we all grown to love.

Essentially, Prince of Eternia, Adam was chosen by the Sorceress to receive the Secret Power of the sword of Greyskull, with it Adam became He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe. Only three others shared this secret, Man At Arms, also referred to as Duncan and father to Teela, also notably a secret love interest with the Sorceress of Greyskull and Orko the clumsy, light hearted magician, unfortunately you never see his face throughout the show. He-Man’s primary objective, defending the secrets of Castle Greyskull and protecting the people of Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor.
Skeletor’s back story can also be mistaken with Darth Vader of Star Wars. Whilst Skeletor is not He-Man’s father, he is in fact his uncle, don’t be confused with Dark Helmet of Spaceballs, he wasn’t his fathers, uncles, friend’s roommate. Skeletor was once Prince Keldor (Older brother of King Randor, Adam’s biological father)

With the huge success and almost cult following of the animated series, Cannon Films, which also made Bloodsport produced the first and only live action film, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man  and Frank Langella as Skeletor. The film was released in 1987 and whilst it is an essential movie to watch, I was annoyed at the time of the introduction of completely new characters, such as Gwildor, Blade, Karg, I meant who the hell are these characters???

Cannon Films intended on making a sequel to this movie, however it was abandoned due to cost and the production used the already made costumes for, wait for it! Van Damme’s Cyborg. “I Lag Diem”.
He- Man in Video Games, Yep that’s right there were seven He-Man video games produced across various platforms. Check them out.

1. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man designed by Intellivision in 1983, this marked the first He-man video game.
2. Masters of the Universe: The Arcade Game, published by US Gold for the Amstrad, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1987.
3. Masters of the Universe: The Movie, published by Gremlin Graphics for the same above platforms in 1987.
4. Masters of the Universe: The Super Adventure published by US Gold for the same above platforms in 1987 and was a text adventure.
5. He-Man: Power of Greyskull, published by TDK Mediactive for the Game Boy Advance in 2002.
6. He-Man: Defender of Greyskull, published by Midas for the Playstation 2 in 2005.
7. He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe, published by Chillingo for Apples IOS platform back in October 2012.

“In today’s story, Skeletor was looking for a short-cut, a quick way to some power. You may know some people like that, always looking for the quick way to get ahead of everybody else. Well, it doesn’t work that way; the people who succeed are the ones who work for what they want. So don’t be fooled by those who say they have a sure thing, there’s always a catch to it. Don’t sell yourself short; the right way is always the best way. Until later.”