We don’t know about you, but when we were 5 years old there was only one cartoon character that mattered.
And he had the biggest muscles you’ll see this side of a Mr Universe competition…
‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ was an American animated television series produced by Filmation, based on Mattel’s toy line ‘Masters of the Universe’.
The show (usually referred to as just ‘He-Man’), was one of the most popular animated children’s shows of the 1980s and has retained a big cult following to this day.
The show made its television debut in 1983 but only lasted until 1985, consisting of two seasons of 65 episodes each.
I loved He-Man. My mum will tell you that she remembers me talking about him in my sleep (I said “that’s my He-Man sword” apparently).
And as well as being a fantastic main character in a brilliant show, he also had the perfect sidekick, with the scaredy-cat Cringer transforming into the powerful, armor-clad Battle Cat.
And with He-Man’s closest ally Man-At-Arms, his adopted daughter Teela, the magician Orko, Ram Man, and a particular favourite of mine Buzz-Off, the supporting characters were also colourful and interesting.
And then there were the bad guys. With his menacing laugh and range of harsh insults, Skeletor was scary.
He also had a range of brilliant accomplices including Beast Man, Mer-Man and Trap Jaw. But why did he have muscles when he was only a skeleton?
The show took place on the fictional planet of Eternia, a planet of magic, myth and fantasy.
And there was of course the fortress of Castle Grayskull, an impressive and enticing central location for the battle between the forces of good and evil.
But at the end of the day it was all about the (he)man himself.
Because he was so strong and because he always won, he was a constant and reliable force in what, especially for a 5 year old, was no doubt sometimes a confusing and unpredictable world.
As he declared when he transformed from Adam, He-Man had ‘the power’, where we as kids often didn’t.
I think every 5 year old needs a hero, so thanks He-Man, because you were ours.
How much do you remember about the legendary He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?
You’re about to find out with the following ‘22 He-Man Facts Every 80s Child Should Know’…
1. He Was Influenced By Conan The Barbarian
Did you realise that He-man was influenced by another muscle-bound 80s legend?
Toy makers Mattel originally wanted to create toys based on the Conan the Barbarian film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In case you’d forgotten (or you’ve never even seen it) Conan the Barbarian is a 1982 American film directed and co-written by John Milius.
As well as starring Arnie, the film also featured James Earl Jones (also known as the voice of Darth Vader), and tells the story of a young barbarian (played by Schwarzenegger) seeking vengeance for the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom (played by Jones).
Conan was commercial success, making more than $100 million around the world.
It also earned Schwarzenegger worldwide recognition, and led to a sequel in 1984 called ‘Conan the Destroyer’.
Mattel were excited at the prospect of creating a range of toys featuring the former Mr Universe from Austria, but they had failed to take into consideration one small detail…
Problems arose when they discovered that the film would have an adult rating, which put paid to the prospects of creating a range of toys that would of course have been mainly aimed at children.
But rather than wallow in their failure, they instead came up with the legend that is He-Man, who’s powerful physique was still influenced by the Austrian bodybuilder.
2. The Toys Came First
The cartoon wouldn’t have existed without the ‘Masters of the Universe’ toyline, which was originally created by Mattel in 1981, two years before it would come to our TV screens.
He-Man was originally presented to Mattel executives in the form of ‘the He-Man Trio’, three dimensional models showing He-Man as a barbarian, a soldier and a spaceman.
Out of the three concepts, the barbarian version was chosen to be the basis for the new toyline.
Expanding further on the barbarian theme, Mattel hired comic-book writers and artists such as Donald F. Glut and Earl Norem to create additional characters.
These artists went on to create additional posters, package inlays, box art and mini-comics to be distributed along with the figures themselves.
The toys dominated (and also changed) the action figure market in the 1980s, capturing the imagination of the public and becoming popular best sellers all over the world.
I have vivid memories of being given the He-Man and Battle Cat combination pictured below, and was also delighted when my parents managed to find a second hand Castle-Greyskull at a car boot sale!
Additional waves of action figures, creatures, vehicles and playsets were released every year until 1987, totaling 70 distinct figures in all.
I’m sure like us the toys were as important to you as the show, allowing us to continue our adventures long after our parents had turned off the television.
3. He-Man Is Related To Skeletor
Yes, we’re sorry to say that you read that correctly, as He-Man and Skeletor are indeed related.
The 2002 He-Man reboot revealed that unbelievably, Skeletor is the half-brother of He-Man’s dad, King Randor!
This makes He-Man’s arch enemy his uncle, which is a rather strange relationship considering that one, they look nothing alike, and two, they’re arch rivals!
This shocking revelation can also be traced back to a 1980s He-Man mini-comic called ‘The Search for Keldor.’
The mini-comic came packaged with Blast-Attak, Faker, King Randor, Scare Glow, Ninjor, Clamp Champ, and the Sorceress’ action figures.
In ‘The Search For Keldor’, King Randor finds out about the fate of his long-lost brother Keldor, who vanished many years ago.
Even more strange is the fact that, if the toyline had not ended, later mini-comics would have revealed that Skeletor and Keldor were in fact the same person!
Personally we’re glad we just enjoyed watching He-Man rescue people and were too young to worry about all these strange family dynamics!
4. He-Man Is Half Human
Did you know that He-man is half human?
When we were young, in our minds He-Man was some kind of god, but the truth was actually far closer to home…
While Prince Adam’s dad King Randor is from Eternia, his mother Marlena is actually from the planet you and I are living on (that’s Earth if you didn’t realise).
Marlena was a NASA astronaut who’s shuttle was knocked off course and landed on Eternia, where she met the King and He-Man’s daddy.
She was found by King Randor, married him, and eventually of course gave birth to He-Man (or rather known as Prince Adam).
Even stranger is how this links into He-Man being aware of Superman…
The first time his mum was mentioned as being from Earth was in the original DC ‘Masters of the Universe’ comic sketch.
This was so that He-Man would have a reason to recognise the comic’s guest-star Superman, explained by the fact that Marlena had told her son all about the Man of Steel when he was a child.
5. The Show Always Ended With Some Good Advice
Every episode ended with one of the cast members providing information about a particular topic.
One brilliant example came in the episode ‘Double Edged Sword’, where He-Man admits to the audience that they are watching a television adventure series.
Another great example is at the end of the episode ‘Island of Fear’, which involved Adam and Teela explaining to the audience that progress occasionally means pulling down trees in order to put up buildings.
The character Orko appeared in 44 of these end of show segments, with 39 appearances for Teela, 34 for He-Man, and 25 for Man-At-Arms.
A great character like the Sorceress only received one moral segment, and she didn’t even appear in the episode itself.
Other times a character would be paired up with another character, with them both delivering the moral.
Occasionally a character would just show up to make the screen more visually interesting (Battle Cat’s only two appearances came when He-Man was simply sat on him delivering the message).
Personally we think these end of show segments are part of the reasons us 80s kids have grown up to be so lovely and caring!
6. Skeletor Is Actually Blue
Shown as a muscular blue humanoid with a purple hood over his yellow skull, Skeletor’s aim is to conquer Castle Grayskull so he can obtain its ancient secrets.
Should he ever succeed in his task, it would make him unstoppable and enable him to conquer and eventually rule the whole of Eternia!
Luckily, the complete incompetence of his henchmen means that he is never able to achieve his ambition unfortunately.
Personally we believe that Skeletor is simply the best cartoon villain of all time, but there’s something about him you may well have understood incorrectly…
Be honest now, you’ve spent your while life thinking that Skeletor was wearing a blue costume haven’t you?
We’re sorry to destroy your childhood, but the truth is that the blue colour is actually Skeletor’s skin rather than an outfit.
Yes, apart from his armour and boots, he’s just as naked as He-Man!
Sorry to ruin your childhood like that, we bet that you never look at this legendary 80s cartoon villain in the same way ever again!
7. Skeletor Was Too Scary For France
As a child we had a French exchange student stay with us for a summer holiday.
At first I wasn’t sure I would get on with him at all, but that all changed when I found out that, like me, he was a big fan of He-Man when he was younger.
Whilst watching some episodes ‘for old times sake’, he mentioned that some episodes were banned in France, so he was delighted to be able to watch some of them for the first time in the UK!
We were rather suspicious of this claim, knowing that there is nothing to horrific in the show that could warrant such a harsh restriction, but it turns out that he was indeed telling the truth…
Indeed it was the case that Skeletor was banned in France for being too scary, with episodes featuring He-Man’s arch nemesis being either heavily restricted or banned outright.
Whilst we certainly remember him being a good bad guy and possibly causing us to hide behind the sofa once or twice, we don’t believe that censorship was ever necessary!
So many apologies Franc for not believing you, I hope you are well and still a fan of He-Man!
8. He-Man Never Hurt Anyone In The Cartoon
It’s well known that Batman never kills anyone.
He’s allowed to punch people, injure them, hurt them, even break their bones, but god forbid that he should ever end the life of another mortal soul, even if they are a complete psycho.
But Batman isn’t the only animated character that has a high moral code…
Believe it or not, in the original cartoon series He-Man never actually harmed any living creature.
His sword was only ever used for cutting obstacles and blocking attacks.
We were sure we had memories of him laying waste to a bad guy or two, but that was probably just us recreating the show with our toy sword at home!
It’s great to think that He-Man had such high moral standards, and it explains why us 80s kids held him in such high regard!
9. Gorpo Became Orko To Make Animating Easier
He-Man was created by a company called Filmation.
‘Filmation Associates’ was a production company that produced animation as well as live action TV programmes between 1963 and 1989.
They were located in California and their founders and principal producers were Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott.
Their first major project was ‘Journey Back to Oz’, an animated sequel to the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
Work on the film begun in 1962, and most of the animation had been completed when unfortunately financial challenges caused the project to be put on hold for nearly 8 years.
During the time the film was on hold, Filmation started working on a medium that would prove to be extremely successful for them, that of course being Television.
Filmation were well known for using some cost-cutting techniques when creating their animations, such as re-using the same piece of footage in different episodes.
An example of the lengths they went to is that the floating wizard Orko in He-Man was going to be called ‘Gorpo’, but having an ‘O’ rather than a ‘G’ on his chest meant that animators could flip footage and use it more than once.
10. Some Of The Toys Now Sell For Alot Of Money
A number of the original series toys now sell for alot of money on auction sites such as Ebay.
Examples include an original 1982 Skeletor figure selling for a whopping £385.94, and a 1985 He-Man figure selling for £288.22!
In addition, if you own a ‘Laser Power He-Man And Laser Light Skeletor’ set then you’ve done well to hold onto it.
The quality of the Laser Light Skeletor was quite bad, and so many of the Skeletor figures broke rather easily, and when large amount of complaints were being filed they ceased production, increasing the rarity now.
The ‘Savage He-Man’ figure is another one that is worth a fair bit of money these days.
This particular toy is rare because it was so bland that not many people wanted to buy it!
When the toys weren’t selling the company decided to cut their losses and pull the figure from the shelves, which obviously adds to its rarity all these years later.
And remember the 1986 ‘Megator’ figure?
No neither do we, but if you do happen to own one then you may wish to consider selling it, as one sold for a whopping £282 only a week ago, and it didn’t even come with a box!
11. There Were A Multitude Of Spin-Offs
As well as comics, animated re-boots and a feature film starring Dolph Lundgren (which we’ll come onto later), there was She-Ra, He-Man’s twin sister.
‘She-Ra: Princess of Power’ debuted in 1985 and was cancelled in 1986 after 2 series and 93 episodes.
She-Ra is the alter ego of Princess Adora and the twin sister of He-Man, and was intended to appeal to young girls in the same way that He-Man appealed to young boys.
She-Ra was officially described as a ‘fashion action doll’ by maker Mattel, leaving toy shops unsure whether to put her near Barbie or among the more male-oriented action figures.
In the end some shops put her next to her twin brother He-Man, others put her next to dolls, and some had her in both departments.
About $60 million worth of She-Ra merchandise was sold in 1985.
This was nothing compared to the $400 million in He-Man sales, but when sales for both decreased, employees in charge of Mattel’s ‘boy lines’ insisted that She-Ra was responsible for their struggling sales.
The 1987 film ‘Masters of the Universe’ was originally supposed to include She-Ra, but the director felt it would be best to concentrate on He-Man for the first (and what turned out to be the only) film.
I remember She-Ra most fondly for bringing my younger sister into the universe I loved, but I must admit I did rather enjoy the show myself!
12. He-Man’s Son Nearly Had His Own Show
In 1996 an idea was pitched to have a show called ‘He-Ro: Son of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’, which would have featured He-Man’s son Dare inheriting the Power Sword.
The character was developed in 1996 as part of a pitch to make a sequel to the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
The pitch was not used and the series never moved beyond the original concept.
According to the pitch, He-Ro is the alter ego of Dare, a feral child discovered by He-Man ten years after Prince Adam became king of Eternia.
Dare is adopted by Adam and inherits the Sword of Power.
He assumes He-Man’s responsibilities by transforming himself into He-Ro and his faithful crow Craven into Battle-Bird.
Cringer continues to serve as Battle Cat in He-Ro’s adventures.
Personally we’re glad this new show was never created, but maybe it would have been ok, so what do you think?
13. A New Episode Was Released As Recently As 2016
In Summer 2016, a brand new episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe called ‘The Curse of the Three Terror’ was released.
The episode mainly focuses on Skeletor insulting his sidekicks Beastman and Merman, as they attempt to obtain ingredients for a Paralyzing Potion to be used on He-man.
Along the way, they awaken an ancient evil and have to deal with it themselves, without any help from the main heroes of the series.
It’s rather strange and not a patch on the 80s show we know and love.
There are also some (terrible looking) toy figures from the new episode available for purchase.
They feature a ‘Possessed Skeletor’ figure wrapped in mummy bandages, as well as ‘Terror Bat’, ‘Terror Wolf’ and ‘Terror Jaguar’ characters.
Please do take a look at the clip below and let us know what you think.
We suspect that you wont have to watch it for long before you’ve made up your mind…
14. There’s A Foundation To Preserve He-Man’s Legacy
If you’ve ever feared that the legend of He-Man would be lost in time, left on the 80s cartoon scrap-heap, then you shouldn’t have feared, because some good people have done what they can to make sure that the world never forgets about him.
Founded in 2010, ‘The Power and the Honor Foundation’ is dedicated to preserving the He-Man franchise, with original illustrations, toys, and documents being digitally scanned and stored for safekeeping.
Their website displays their aim as being to ‘collect, archive, preserve, and educate the public about the creative origins of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra Princess of Power.’
Part of the preservation process includes the creation of a digital archive of original artwork and other documents.
After each piece is digitally scanned, it is protected and stored to maintain it in the best possible condition.
In addition to physically preserving some of the artwork and other documents, the website says that they ‘have been able to speak with many original sources that worked on these brands, who’s insights into the creative process have allowed us to complement the pieces with a revealing narrative’.
The foundation’s current collection has been made possible by contributions from He-Man fans and original creators, writers, and artists.
The website says that ‘without their unwavering dedication, The Foundation would not have access to these pieces to further our mission’.
15. The ‘In Today’s Story’ Segment Featured Some Classic Quote
The ‘in today’s story’ segment at the end of each episode featured some classic quotes, with some of our favourites being:
“Drugs Don’t Make Your Problems Go Away, They Just Create More”
“Remember, It’s Your Body And No-One Should Touch You In A Way You Feel Is Wrong”
“Ramming Things Mike Look Fun But It Isn’t”
“Playing Games Can Be Alot Of Fun, But Boasting When You Win Or Getting Angry When You Lose Spoils The Fun For Everyone”
“Trees Are Living Things, And When You Respect A Tree, You Show That You Care About All Life.”
“A Sword Or Any Other Symbol Doesn’t Make A Person A Good Leader”
“It’s Easy To Say I Can’t Change, But The Truth Is You Can Change Almost Any Behaviour If You Really Want To”
“A Mother Always Knows Her Own Son, And What He’s Capable Of Doing”
“We Can Try To Learn From The Past, From Things That Have Happened To Us”
16. The 1987 Film Was A Critical And Commercial Failure
‘Masters of the Universe’ is a 1987 American live action film directed by Gary Goddard and starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man.
The film is about two teenagers who meet He-Man when he arrives on Earth from Eternia in a a bid to save the universe from Skeletor.
Prior to releasing it, Cannon Films touted Masters of the Universe as ‘the Star Wars of the 1980s’.
Despite releasing alongside the height of the success of the toy line, animated series, and all the other merchandise, Masters of the Universe began as only the third highest grossing film of the weekend in North America.
In the end the film was a critical and commercial failure, making only $17 million worldwide against a budget of $22 million.
The commercial failure of Masters of the Universe, among other films such as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, contributed to the eventual closure of Cannon Films.
Cannon Films had also intended to create a Masters of the Universe sequel called ‘Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg’.
The script for the sequel was already written and saw He-Man returning to Earth to battle Skeletor.
The sequel would also featured Trap Jaw and She-Ra.
17. ‘Masters Of The Universe’ Is Now Regarded As A Cult Classic
Despite being panned upon its release, Glenn Heath of Slant Magazine has recently called the film a “jarring mix of corny screwball comedy and choppy action heroics”.
Chris Eggertsen of HitFix also agrees that it’s not as bad as we remember, describing it has having “a big heart”.
Joshua Winning of Digital Spy wrote that the film is “beloved of 80s kids but scorned by critics, it’s a high camp oddity that we should celebrate on its own terms”. What do you think of it?
Personally we love it.
It’s nothing like the cartoon but let’s be honest now, it was never going to be was it?
Our favourite scene is definitely the very last one, where Skeletor (who you thought was dead) emerges from the water at the bottom of a pit, saying “I’ll be back!”.
There is a new He-Man film in development but we fear that it will take itself to seriously and try to emulate Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
We believe that it needs to be silly, camp and a little bit funny, which is why we hold the 1987 film in such high regard.
18. There Were Mini-Comics Released With The First Wave Of Toys
In the mini-comics released with the first series of toys, He-Man was a barbarian from an Eternian tribe.
They also explained that the planet’s inhabitants were dealing with the aftermath of ‘the Great Wars’, which devastated the civilizations which once ruled the land.
The wars left behind advanced machinery and weaponry, known only to a few select people.
The first 11 mini-comics, produced between 1982 and 1983, were made by DC Comics, who later produced a 5 issue comic series.
All other mini-comics (from 1984 onwards), were produced solely by Mattel, and were definitely not as good.
The DC mini-comics were drawn by Mark Texiera, who has gone on to draw well renowned books such as ‘Ghost Rider’.
Do you remember reading the mini-comics that came along with the toys?
Personally we don’t, but then we would have been extremely young at the time!
19. There Were A New Set Of Toys In 1990
In 1990, Mattel attempted to revive interest in He-Man by producing a new toy line, which was simply called ‘He-Man’.
The mini-comics packaged with the figures explained that He-Man had left Eternia to pursue Skeletor into the depths of space, where Skeletor had set his sights on conquering the distant world of Primus.
In addition, to tie in with a new line of action figures based upon the original toy line, a new He-Man cartoon series was produced in 2002 again called ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’.
This series retold the Masters of the Universe story from the beginning.
And finally, a ‘Masters of the Universe Classics’ toyline, released in 2008, combined elements from the He-Man universe into a cohesive storyline with biographies on the figures’ packaging.
These biographies suggested that several ‘He-Men’ have come into existence, with names such as Vikor, Oo-Larr and Wun-Dar.
However, Prince Adam was the only one who actually wielded the Power Sword and transformed into the true He-Man, which we’re very relieved to hear.
Take a look at the updated 1990 He-Man figure below and tell us what you think…
20. A New Animated Series Was Also Created
A cartoon series was produced by Jetlag Productions to accompany the 1990 toys, called ‘The New Adventures of He-Man’.
The series generally followed the story line from the mini-comics, and maintained the duel identity of Prince Adam and He-Man.
The cartoon series was intended to be a continuation of Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series.
Filmation had been discontinued a year earlier and this series was meant to add more episodes to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
There were 65 episodes, and they featured He-Man being summoned to the futuristic planet of Primus to defend the planet from the evil Mutants of the neighboring planet Denebria.
However, his old adversary Skeletor follows him and allies himself with the Mutants in his mission to conquer the whole universe.
Together with a team of Galactic Guardians, He-Man fights to defend Primus from the continuous attacks by Skeletor and the Mutants.
Have you ever watched it? If not then you many not want to…
21. No-One Knows How Strong He-Man Actually Is
He-Man clearly had super speed, indestructible skin, and superhuman strength, but the true extent of his strength was unknown.
On one occasion he was able to lift Castle Grayskull and throw it through a dimensional doorway, and he was also able to lift and throw mountains and icebergs.
On one occasion, he welded a broken metal chain together simply by pushing the links together.
In the episode ‘She-Demon of Phantos’, he was shown to be the only person to break Photanium (claimed by Man-At-Arms to be the strongest metal in the universe).
On the original action figure’s packaging and in the introductory sequence of the 1980s cartoon series, He-Man is claimed to be ‘the most powerful man in the universe’.
His strength was derived from magical powers within Castle Grayskull.
In the episode from the original series called ‘Eternal Darkness’, He-Man was shown pushing a moon of Eternia into a specific orbit, and then later returning it to its original position by hand.
We don’t know about you, but personally we like to think of him as indestructible and invincible!
22. He-Man Might Not Be As Good A Role Model As We Thought
Adam, Prince of Eternia, is softly spoken and sweet, where He-Man is “the most powerful man in the universe”.
This is of course the opposite of his arch-nemesis Skeletor, who tended to try and use his intellect to gain victory.
You could probably dig down into the black and white psychology of that if you wanted, but there’s no doubting which of the two our 5 year old selfs preferred.
According to a book by Michael G. Cornelius, He-Man is considered ‘a narrow definition of masculinity’.
Personally we don’t really like to delve into this side of it too much.
He-Man was simply one of our favourite cartoons of all time, and he someone we looked up to as a fairly small child.
The fact that he uses his strength to solve every problem doesn’t change that one bit!
Please do let us know your memories of He-Man, we would love to hear from you.
Please do share your memories of He-Man with us by writing a comment, and be sure to share this post with your fellow He-Man loving friends and family!