The Masters of the Universe He Man action figure was first released in1982. The Masters of the Universe line is also often referred to as He-man or abbreviated to MOTU, and was a toy series created by the American toy company Mattel in early 1981.
The franchise has since generated a variety of products, including but not limited to, six lines of action figures, four animated TV shows, one feature live action film, as well as several comic book series.
The action figures were in most cases sold separately and packed individually with a transparent plastic clamshell on a cardboard backer.
Each figure came with a mini comic, as well as one or more accessory such as weapons, staffs and shields. The back of the card backer had pictures and names of other Masters of the Universe figures available at the time. The backing cards for the first wave featured 8 or 12 figures pictured on the back. These are commonly referred to as a 12-back or 8-back figures. Alongside the action figures were also many vehicles, creatures, playsets and a number of accessory packs. Some of these were battery operated.
All the figures, vehicles and playsets were available in the United States with a few exceptions. Certain figures such as the 12-inch Megator and Tytus were produced in Italy and distributed in Europe only.
The Masters of the Universe He Man was purposely made to look bigger and stronger and more colourful than all the other toys in an effort to grab attention. The design of this figure would set the stage for the entire line, with many of the figures released in the line over the next five years, reusing the same basic body design.
Aside from including removeable, armour, and multiple weapons, He-Man also featured a spring mechanism in his waist and by turning the figures waist while holding his arm the figure would quickly snap back into place once the arm was let go, delivering a power punch to his foes.
This power punch action feature was the most common in the line and was recycled for many of the various figures released.
The Power Sword accessory almost looks like it's held backward in his hand due to the way it was made. As a result, a lot of kids posed him holding the sword in his open hand using the hand guard to keep the sword clicked on, with the handle actually being on the outside of his hand.
As a result, it is not uncommon to find loose swords on the aftermarket with broken hand guards. The sword also had a unique feature, which was technically only half of the Power Sword.
There was a purple version, that came with his arch enemy Skeletor, that had the ability to fit together with He-Man’s to create the full Sword of Power. This was a direct tie in to the story found in the included comics.
For accessories Masters of the Universe He Man came with a shield, sword, and axe. There were several different mini comics issued with He-Man, these were:
A common variant of this figure was produced in Malaysia, which had some subtle differences to the original figure, with the most notable being a handguard added to the axe. The original He-Man figure can be found on either 8-back or 12-back card.
A couple of fun facts are that He-Man was not originally going to come with a sword, but the split sword was proposed by the marketing department for a commercial and so the Sword of Power was born.
One of the early marketing concepts for Masters of the Universe was that He-Man was going to be Skeletor’s son.
*(Note: I did a search on eBay and I couldn’t find ANY carded original Masters of the Universe He Man figures sold on 8-back or 12-back in the last YEAR!!)