Many fans are familiar with the 1996 He-Ro: Son of He-Man pitch from Lou Scheimer Productions. Other fans have heard of the 1989 New Adventures (NA) pitch from Filmation which was entitled He-Man and the Masters of Space (see cereal:geek issue 14). However, when MOTUC brand manager Scott "Toyguru" Neitlich informed the fan community of yet another 'Son of He-Man' (SOH) pitch in Mattel's possession, many were stunned because they had never heard of it. A few fans even doubted its legitimacy. I am here to tell you that this series bible, which has heretofore been unseen by the public outside of some very small glimpses, is 100% authentic.
Scott was kind enough to bring this extremely rare series bible to the 2014 He-Man.Org Power Party. As I approached him to say hello, he pulled the booklet out of his backpack and held it up. My eyes widened as I enthusiastically begged for a peek. Scott smiled, handed it over and said, "Absolutely no pictures!" I brought it over to a nearby table where TheShadow, Pixel Dan, and PrincessAdoraNJ were all hanging out and, in a scenario which can only be described as MOTU Story Hour, I read it aloud from cover to cover. I also briefly showed it to several other fans including Busta Toons and JVS3.
For anyone still doubting its authenticity, let me reassure you that it is a legitimate piece of Masters of the Universe history. I pored over the bound pages and scrutinized them for some time. I'm quite certain that Scott did not undertake the arduous task of finding an old typewriter, typing the entire thing out on old paper, xeroxing it, and then putting it in the sun to age it.
Photos were strictly forbidden, but I absorbed as much of it as I could. I have forgotten a few names and some details, but this article should give fans an overall picture of what this unproduced pitch was like.
The series pitch is dated 1988 and the familiar FILMATION logo is splashed across the front cover. This is followed by the title of the proposed series. The He-Ro Son of He-Man font is exactly the one used for the 'Son of He-Man' logo stickers found on some of the MOTUC packaging.
This pitch is very clearly part of the development for the New Adventures of He-Man. Familiar NA characters like Icarius (this name is used as opposed to Flipshot), Hydron, Brakk (aka Flogg), Optikk, Lizorr and others are referenced and described. However, instead of He-Man and Skeletor leading their respective groups, it is He-Ro and Skeleteen who are affiliated with these characters.
The story begins on Eternia. He-Man and Teela, who now rule Eternia, bear a son. This boy is their biological child and is not adopted as he is in the later Lou Scheimer Productions pitch. Meanwhile, another boy is born to the evil Skeletor and... Shadow Weaver! Scott explained that he changed the mother to Evil-Lyn in MOTUC as it made more sense to have her be the mum. It is made clear in the bible that, while Skeletor is evil, he has paternal feelings for his son and wants to protect him. Incidentally, Shadow Weaver is the sole reference to POP that I saw in this series bible.
Shortly after the birth of these children, a new threat surfaces on Eternia. In a turn of events very reminiscent of Superman, Eternia becomes endangered by an "evil force" which threatens to consume and destroy the entire planet. In an effort to save the infant son of He-Man and Teela, Man-At-Arms and Orko work together (for once) by combining technology and magic to build a spaceship called, The Javelon. The accompanying illustration of the Javelon is essentially Starship Eternia. He-Man uses this ship to send his son far into space and far into the future. Unbeknownst to him, Skeletor has also secretly stowed his own son aboard the ship in order to save the boy’s life.
When the Javelon crash-lands on a planet in the Tri-Solar system, it is discovered by Darius who finds a child within. He names the baby “He-Ro.” Darius is a prominent character in this pitch and functions as He-Ro’s mentor throughout the story. Incidentally, I did not see the name Dare mentioned at all in this bible, though it is possible I missed it. I’m presuming Scott chose the name Dare because it appears in the more familiar Scheimer Productions pitch. I think the planet He-Ro lands on is called something akin to Primus, but I can’t recall the exact spelling.
The son of Skeletor and Shadow Weaver is also discovered, but he is found by Brakk (Flogg), who senses the child’s potential for evil tyranny and dumps him in the Quagmi swamp. There, the infant is found by tentacled beings (Slush Head’s race) and is raised by them. This swampy upbringing explains Skeleteen’s later aversion to anything slimy.
He-Ro grows into an active and reckless teenager and eventually enters into an academy where he is trained by Darius. He also discovers a mysterious dagger at some point and carries it with him.
The illustrations for He-Ro show very clearly that he is wearing NA He-Man’s outfit. He has the armor, helmet, pants, etc. Skeleteen looks like a teenaged Skeletor. His skull face does not appear to be a mask in the images, though I could not tell for certain. He wears a hood in most of the illustrations, but there is one of him with the hood pulled down where we can see him sporting a Mohawk and riding the Skelecycle (this image has been released to the public in the past). There are also several illustrations of other denizens of “Primus.” These denizens are much more sword & sorcery/fantasy in appearance. However, there are notes written in pencil next to each of these characters which say, “no” or “too barbarian” which indicates a desire to lessen the sword and sorcery roots of the vintage brand. It is unclear whether these notes were made by Mattel or by Filmation. There is also an illustration of the Tri-Solar galaxy which features familiar celestial bodies such as Denebria, and Nordor.
Skeleteen has inherited some of his father’s evil power and starts to become a tyrannical threat. As this is going on, He-Ro has a vision. In his vision, he sees his father He-Man who is communicating with him from the past. He-Man has defeated the evil force that once threatened to destroy Eternia and has located his son in order to tell him about his destiny. He-Ro is destined to protect the Tri-Solar system from evil. He-Man explains that He-Ro’s dagger is not an ordinary weapon and that it is magical. He-Ro then holds his dagger aloft and says, “By the Power of the Ancient Masters! I am He-Ro!!!” He is then imbued with great power. He isn’t as strong as He-Man, but he is quite powerful and resourceful in his own right. During the series, he sometimes has to call on his father for help. Meanwhile, Skeletor senses the power surge when He-Man contacts his son and manages to contact Skeleteen as well. Like He-Ro, Skeleteen can contact his dad when he needs help.
This is where things get really wild. The sequences featuring He-Man and Skeletor communicating with their teenaged sons were going to be done in LIVE-ACTION! They were going to communicate with their sons via View Screen and these scenes would be filmed in live action. However, whenever He-Ro or Skeleteen needed direct assistance from their fathers, their famous dads would transform into cartoon characters “by the power of animation” and arrive in person to help out.
Other characters include a furry creature/sidekick for He-Ro who resembles something one might have seen in Filmation’s Ghostbusters. There is a savage teenaged girl/love interest for He-Ro. Her name is Me-log (no relation to the POP cartoon character) and. she quite resembles the female archer on the Megator box art who many fans speculate was supposed to have been Sharella. There is another character from the academy who helps He-Ro as well, though I can’t recall much about him. I believe the series bible says he is tall and intimidating. My memory is a bit fuzzy regarding this character. There are also four cartoony wizards who appear to be early versions of the accursed NA Scientists. In addition, many of the familiar New Masters, or Galactic Guardians as they later came to be known, are depicted here. Icarius, Hydron, and Nocturna appear. Two concepts for Nocturna are seen. One depicts him as a male and the other depicts Nocturna as a female character. The design for Detector, who later evolved into Vizar, appears here as well. Note: the early designs for the toy characters were surely provided by Mattel and given to Filmation for use in the development of the series bible. Characters such as Hydron were created by Mattel. However, as was the case in the classic series, Filmation created some of their own supporting characters as well.
Skeleteen assembles a group of evil mutants who, of course, are the ones we know from New Adventures. The design for Crystoll, who later became Karatti, appears here but he has a completely different name. Sadly, I do not remember what it is. Other character profiles include Lizorr, Optikk, Slush Head, and others. The design for Brakk (Flogg) looks quite different from the Flogg we know, though there are elements which made it through to his final design (helmet, weapon, etc).
The pitch refers quite often to the humor in the show and explains that while action and adventure would be plentiful, the emphasis on humor would be stronger than it was in the original series. For example, Skeleteen would have some bumbling moments.
That’s most of what I remember. There are details I’m forgetting, but I think this will give fans the overall gist of the pitch. Surely, there were several pitches written during the early production of New Adventures. This is but one of them. As I mentioned earlier, Filmation & Scheimer Production revisited both NA and, later, SOH in 1989’s He-Man and the Masters of Space and in 1996’s He-Ro Son of He-Man, respectively. Ultimately Son of He-Man never saw the light of day (until MOTUC) and NA was taken over by Jetlag/DIC once Filmation closed its doors. It is fascinating to imagine what other undiscovered series pitches might exist out there. For example, there was supposed to have been a full-on Live-Action television series at one point, but that’s another story.
I would very much like to thank Scott for allowing us to have a peek at this fascinating piece of Masters of the Universe history. I sincerely appreciate it. Also, thanks to TheShadow for remembering a couple of the cool details I had forgotten.
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