ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

With the recent news of bodybuilder and model Mike O'Hearn's casting in the upcoming Masters of the Universe movie taking the internet by storm, it's not too surprising that interest in He-Man and his gang of scantily clad, muscle-bound and unflaggingly heroic adventurers has been raised to its highest level in ages.

After all, we're talking the classic one-two punch of an iconic (and intensely nostalgia-inducing) 80's phenomenon, and a forthcoming movie adaptation of it. That's the pop cultural equivalent of an underground earthquake, setting loose an online tsunami of monstrous proportions.

And, so, to celebrate He-Man's return to modern-day cultural relevance, we though it would be a good idea to take a look at the strange and wonderful history of the hero, and at...

10 of the Most Intriguing Facts Behind the Masters of the Universe

First up?

10. He-Man Never Hit Anyone

That's right. He may be built like the proverbial poop-house made of brick, but you can watch all 130 episode of the original animated series, and never see He-Man through a single punch at a living thing. With the show's creators under a lot of pressure from the FCC, they opted to have the hero only use his sword to destroy obstacles, and to simply throw his enemies into a convenient barrel or pool of water, rather than actually hurting them.

Unless they were robots, of course, in which case they were fair game...

9. He-Man Merchandise Made Over $2 Billion

Yup, you're reading that right. Back in the 80's, before sales fell off after 1987, He-Man is estimated to have garnered more than $2 billion for the lucky folks behind the extensive range of Masters of the Universe merchandise.

Who'd have thought you could make so much money from themed sleeping bags and weird-smelling action figures?

Speaking of which...

8. The Weirdest Action Figure Didn't Make it into the Animated Series For Being 'Too Dumb'

Remember Stinkor, the action figure that quite literally stunk?

Well, he was deemed far too ridiculous for the animated series, and thus never made it to the small screen. The action figures, though - having had patchouli oil added to the plastic while it was being molded - often still smell terrible, so at least ol' Stinkor gets to live on in infamy...

7. The Action Figures Were Directly Inspired By Star Wars

Or, rather, by Mattel's decision to turn down the rights to make Star Wars action figures. Watching Kenner essentially print money with their iconic range of Hans, Lukes and Leias prompted the company to come up with their own toy range - which, seeing as it made them a fortune, worked out better than they probably expected.

Also, it probably explains why that initial 'sci-fi' design for He-Man up above looks an awful lot like Boba Fett...


6. The Animated Series Was an Afterthought

Specifically, Mattel's Marketing Director Mark Ellis came up with the idea during a meeting with Toys 'R' Us that wasn't going all that well. With the toy giant unimpressed with the previously suggested mini-comic inserts (figuring that kids wouldn't read), Ellis simply told them that there was a one hour animated special on its way, figuring that they could always throw one together if they went for it.

And so, a beloved animated series was born...

5. Orko Was Only Called Orko To Save Money

Y'see, classic incompetent wizard-thing Orko was originally going to be called Gorpo - but Filmation Studios (who made both the He-Man and She-Ra cartoons) realized that by transforming the giant G on his chest to an O, they could re-use all of his animation by simply flipping it over to reverse it, giving them double the footage for no extra cost.

And so, Gorpo became Orko, and Filmation saved a butt-load of money...

4. The Cartoon Once Caused a Riot By Being Taken Off TV

Specifically, Abilene, Texas' KTXS-TV took the show off the air back in 1985 due to dwindling ratings - and was showered with fan complaints. To make up for it, they arranged an in-person appearance by a Mattel-endorsed 'He-Man'.

Who was swiftly engulfed by 8000 screaming kids, and had to be removed from the premises for his own safety.

Despite the cartoon's riot-inducing popularity, though...

3. The Masters of the Universe Movie Wasn't Based on the Cartoon

In fact, producer Ed Pressman bought the rights to a movie based on the action figures before the cartoon actually aired.

Which probably explains why the two on-screen versions...uh...differ, somewhat.

2. Masters of the Universe 2 Would Have Been Insane

Y'see, Dolph Lundgren apparently hated making the first movie so much that he refused to reprise the role of He-Man, and so professional surfer Laird John Hamilton (above) was lined up to play the hero. Which is a little odd, but not especially so for the 80's

The planned plot, though?

"He-Man would be back on earth, disguised as a pro quarterback, while Skeletor would also be on earth, masquerading as an evil CEO (sigh) named Aaron Dark."

Which would either have been the worst movie of all time, or the absolute greatest. Sadly, the film's producers - Cannon Films - went bust before they could make the movie a reality...

1. He-Man is Why We Didn't See a Spider-Man Movie in the 80's

Yup, that's right. The same folks at Cannon Films who produced both the live-action Masters of the Universe and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace also held the rights to a Spider-Man movie, which they intended to make using the proceeds from the former two films.

Which, when both proved unsuccessful at the box office, obviously didn't happen. Which means He-Man indirectly saved us from a series of terrible 80's Spider-Man movies.

If you didn't love him already, you've got to now, right?

What do you reckon, though?

via io9, GeekTyrant, MentalFloss


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