Master Baiting

I loves Masters of the Universe, I does. I had a handful of toys as a kid, and watched the cartoon occasionally on Channel 4 in the early hours of the morning. It’s a shame that I’m not quite old enough to remember the craze in full swing – the toys had long since disappeared from the shelves by the time I could go and explore the toy shops myself. Most were given to me by older friends and relatives. They were chewed up a bit, and smelled like engine oil and creosote, but I didn’t care.

One more thing I played with as a kid that they banned.

One more thing I played with as a kid that they banned.

I had He-Man and Skeletor, obviously, along with Battle Cat and Castle Grayskull. Filling out the ranks were Orko, Man-At-Arms, Roboto, Buzz-Off, Ram Man and a few others. Nowadays these toys and characters seem pretty ridiculous, but they were hardcore at the time. Well, except Orko.

These characters got a makeover for the 2002 He-Man series, and have remained in the public conciousness. However, there were many, many more Masters of the Universe, and some of them were insane.

I like nothing more on this blog than to dig up the past… Well, except maybe that incident at Pony World. The way I see it, a “ride” is open to some interpretation, and they should clearly state the parameters in future. Anyway, we’re going to delve deep into the annals (that’s what got me in hot water in the first place!) and have a look at those Masters of the Universe that are probably better off forgotten.

Scare Glow – Evil Ghost of Skeletor!scareglow01

Now, we’re all thinking it. First of all, Scare Glow looks so much like Skeletor, you wonder how the toy ever made it past the design stage. Secondly, the description on the packet is extremely vague. “Evil Ghost of Skeletor”. Does that mean he is literally the ghost of Skeletor? That he died and came back as a ghost? Or does it mean he’s a ghost that belongs to Skeletor?

The English language pretty much shrugs its shoulders and goes “meh”.

Also, why would a ghost need bones? I’ve never heard of a ghost skeleton before. The concepts seem to be mutually exclusive. Also, I wonder what Scare Glow’s purpose was in life, before he became a ghost? Scaring crows, perhaps, or hanging around in corn fields to catch a glimpse of Judy Garland. Who knows? Moving on!

Blast Attak – Evil Blast-Apart Robotic Warrior!

blastattack10

“Of course I know how to spell! Why does everyone keep asking me that!?”

Another baddie! What do you think the chances are of getting an extended warranty on this guy? Skeletor must be pretty stupid to send a robot after He-Man – who has a demonstrable ability to destroy robots – that is built to blow apart.

What are the advantages of that, exactly? Surely you’d want a robot called “Rokk Solidd – Evil Indestructible Concrete Bastard” – not one with his beguiling ability/weakness as part of his name. Can you imagine this guy coming over the horizon, onto the battlefield? The Masters of the Universe would roll about laughing.

“Don’t worry guys, I thought it was Skeletor but it’s just that guy that blows himself up. Take five!”

"AAAHHHG! KILLLL MEEEE!"

“AAAHHHG! KILLLL MEEEE!”

Clamp Champ – Heroic Master of Capture!

clampchamp020

“This is a clamping zone, please move your green tiger immediately. This clamp ain’t for his legs, man.”

A goodie this time!

Unusually among the Masters of the Universe, Clamp Champ has no obvious deformity or physical enhancement. He doesn’t have a giant fist or a claw where his head should be or anything. He’s just a guy. Who captures things.

Now, Clamp Champ stood as the one and only dark-skinned character in the original Masters of the Universe line. Hailing from the distant planet of Eternia, you could argue that he’s not meant to represent any particular Earthen race. But let’s not kid ourselves.

It’s a shame that the line wasn’t more diverse. Can you imagine going into a toy shop, and the only action figure that looks remotely like you (or maybe your dad) is some bloke with a giant clamp? Playing He-Man in the playground must’ve been boring as hell.

"Alright! I'll be Man-at-Arms! Jenny can be Teela, and Mike can be -" "Yeah, yeah, I'll get the clamp..."

“Alright! I’ll be Man-at-Arms! Jenny can be Teela, and Mike can be -“
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll get the clamp…”

Extendar – Heroic Master of Extension!extendar01

You just can’t make this stuff up. How is being able to extend your limbs (I hope it’s just the limbs) in any way useful to a warrior? It just gives the baddies more of you to chop off. Or maybe they’d be so terrified of your Inspector Gadget spaghetti-legs that they’d run back to Snake Mountain and hide under the bed.

I doubt it. Extendar probably earns his ‘hero’ status by hanging around the local Somerfield helping old ladies with their shopping. “Yes madam, that cereal is too high. Yes, I don’t know what they were thinking. Would you like me to carry your bags? What’s that…? You killed your son with a trowel in 1946?”

Rotar – Heroic Master of Hyper-Spin!

rotar

Alright, that’s enough, Mattel! You can’t just put “heroic master of -” in front of whatever you like and expect it to make a good toy.

Look at him! This is what would happen if Raymond Burr got stuck in a top-loading washing machine. In real life, that would be tragically funny (mental note: lay off Raymond Burr), but apparently on Eternia this qualifies him to be a “Master of the Universe”. Rotar probably joined the Masters in the hopes of a quick death at the hands of Beast Man or any one of Skeletor’s deadly machines.

Nice combination of axe and flail, too. You could very easily lose an eye with that thing, Rotar.

 

BONUS FEATURE:

When I was little, I had a great many storybook cassettes. For any younger people reading, a “cassette” is how we stored audio before Tim Bernard Matthews invented MP3s. And a “book” is a bit like a Kindle that you never have to plug in. Ask your grandparents.

"I was inspired when I stuck a fish finger in my ear"

“I was inspired when I stuck a fish finger in my ear”

Anyway, I mostly had Transformers stories and assorted fairytales from Ladybird Books. Just recently, when searching for these online, I came across a He-Man one. I settled down for a bit of a listen, expecting the usual poorly-acted story where one guy tries to speak in two dozen voices while ridiculous sound effects drone on in the background.

What I did not expect is a bloody EPIC intro song! It sounds like the Masters of the Universe put on a play!! You can imagine them in a kick line on stage at Butlins. It’s incredible, it’s earnest, and it goes on forever. I dare you to listen to it.

I effin’ dare you. It’ll make your day.

Oh, when the story does start, listen out for Prince Adam’s transformation into He-Man – “By the power of Castle Grayskull!”

The sound of a forehead being slapped has been bouncing around the recording studio since 1984. It can still be heard to this very day, to those that believe.

“No obvious deformity”

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