It was around 1990 or 1991... I remember wondering why it had brown hair, but figured it went with the motu toyline so I asked my mom to buy it for me. It was $.25 and mint condition... I still have the figure!
It was around 1990 or 1991... I remember wondering why it had brown hair, but figured it went with the motu toyline so I asked my mom to buy it for me. It was $.25 and mint condition... I still have the figure!
I think Wonder Bread He-Man, Savage He-Man...whatever you want to call him...I believe he's the real deal. I collect Cher and Wonder Woman MEGO dolls and there are many MEGO outfits that randomly pop up that were store exclusive outfits no one knew about. Montgomery Wards is the perfect example. They advertised most of the outfits in their catalogs, but just the other day I found pictures of a few more that have never been shown anywhere.
I'm guessing this He-Man figure was a similar thing. He was exclusive to a certain store and probably given away in a baggy when you purchase X amount of MOTU toys. *shrugs*
Anyhow, I've been trying to follow up on vertigoink's information. It's funny, but this may be a case where the answer is on microfilm. The internet can only take us so far. Not all the newspapers make their archives available to the public online.
It's not a PERFECT example because people knew she existed because of the cardback...but...it's sort of similar...kinda. :holol:
So I've been working hard to uncover the truth about this figure.
Earlier today I stumbled upon something that's possibly of interest and sort of gives credence to the idea that the figure may have been linked with Wonder Bread. We can't be totally positive though.
While doing a search, I happened upon an article about the Wonder Bread trading card promotion in a 1986 publication called Milling & Baking News. The brief article describes "in-store" display materials, including action figures. Could this possibly be the reason why the figure was originally associated with Wonder Bread? Perhaps the brown-haired He-Man figures were part of a closed display and then given away after it was over? Or maybe folks actually got one? Just a thought. Here's the article:
1986 Milling & Baking News
Wonder bread offers trading cards
St. Louis, Aug. 25 - Continental Baking Co. in conjunction with Mattel Toys, is offering free "Masters of the Universe" collector trading cards inside specially marked packages of Wonder bread beginning Sept. The 'Masters of the Universe' characters and TV show are extremely popular with kids today." said Sandra P. Young, product manager, Continental Baking. "We think children will be excited about the cards and will want to trade with their friends to collect all 15."
The promotion is being supported by newspaper advertising in Sunday comics sections and includes a 15 cent-off coupon for Wonder Bread. In-store display materials include pole-toppers, animations, shelf talkers and toy action figures.
Another possibility is that the figures may have been given away as part of in-store drawings. I did some research on another promotion, the one involving Nestle Quik, and I noticed this in one article:
Dealers participating in the promotion qualified to conduct drawings for "Masters of the Universe" sleeping bags
Continental Baking Co. requested a special variant He-Man figure from Mattel to be used as part of in-store point-of-sale Wonder Bread displays, which also included pole toppers, animations and shelf talkers. These figures were meant to grab shoppers attention and not intended to be sold to the public, but rather were possibly given away to customers, donated or taken by store employees after the trading card promotion ended. I feel this is a plausible explanation for a number of reasons:
1. A 1986 article in "Baking and Milling News" lists "toy action figures" as part of Continental's/Wonder Bread's in-store display materials. Over the years, when fans (and later Mattel) contacted the current owners of Wonder Bread, nobody ever mentioned the fact that actual toys were linked with the promotion. It was always thought that it was just the trading cards.
2. No packaging would be required if the variant He-Man was part of a store display. They would probably just send them to dealers in plastic bags along with instructions on how to set up the displays.
3. The reason nobody remembers the variant being part of the display? The promotion started September 7, 1986 (see newspaper ad that was cropped from this date) and ended the same month. (Source: 1986 Bakery Production and Marketing, Gorman Co.) It lasted just over 3 weeks and then it was over. That's a very small window of time.
4. Continental Baking Co. didn't advertise the promotion on television like Jell-O and Nestle Quik did for their promotions. For this reason, Continental Baking may have had additional funds to invest in a He-Man variant to make the in-store displays stand out a bit more.
5. I feel the variant He-Man was someting that was requested of Mattel from a company for their own use/purposes, because every Mattel-sponsered freebie giveaway (at toy stores) that I've come across in various newspapers had store employees handing out rather cheap items: Coloring books, iron on patches, posters, plastic rings, She-Ra crowns, punch-out cardboard Man-E-Faces laser gun, etc. A figure would have been a big deal. Also, thus far, all of the toy prizes I've seen mentioned were always boxed/produced items that were available to the public as well.
6. The Wonder Bread trading card promotion came at kind of a bad time. Late 1986 when MOTU was already declining.
I think that if Wonderbread requested a unique variation on the existing action figures available they would not have advertised the cards as the promotion but the figures themselves. Because the promotion was so short lived I doubt that Mattel would produce a figure for them when they failed to produce a figure for one of their own promotions i.e. Fearless Photog. Cards are relatively easy to produce cost wise and time wise. There are multiple examples of existing promotional materials in advertisement and packaging that only promote the cards as prizes or give-aways from Wonderbread. At this point one could speculate anything as anything is plausable but with Wonderbread I don't think it is probable. Many attempts have been made to verify any link other than the cards with Wonderbread and there isn't any yet. At this point there is still no photographic proof of existence of the figure prior to the 1990s. I think there needs to be solid proof that they existed in the 1980s and are not just hoaxes/customs prior to speculating on origins or promotions.
Anything is possible. But the thing is, Continental Baking Co. may not have had the money to invest in tens of thousands of variant figures to give away as part of the promotion. But a few thousand units for use in store displays, as an eye-catcher, would have been managable. Hypothetically speaking, if they produced the variant and intended to give them away, presumably they would have officially set up something through Don Jagoda Associates (as was the case with prior promotions) or store dealers to handle the actual sending/handing out of figures. That may have cost more money that Continental wasn't willing to spend. Another scenario, is that Wonder Bread delivery men/women came to take apart the store displays, collected the figures and then donated them.
Fearless Photog? - Keep in mind that you're comparing something that would have had new tooling, a comic, packaging and been mass produced for the public vs potentially a few thousand units of a figure with just some deco changes and no packaging. Way easier for Mattel to handle. Also, when Fearless Photog was announced as the winner through newspapers in 1985, it was stated that he was intended to be part of the 1987 line-up, so the immediacy wasn't there whereas Mattel may have planned for variant He-Man before FF if Continental and Mattel were negotiating in late 1985 or early 1986.
Anyhow, I do agree that a picture of this He-Man in a collection from the 80s would be awesome/possibly help in some way, but it may not exist given how few were produced. (I do try to search for them, though) Several folks have stated that they had this figure during their childhood or still have it. While some of them could be lying, what are that chances that ALL of them are? :p Also, I'm trying to think of what the pay-off would be if Savage He-Man was a 90s hoax? Think of everything that would be involved - making sure the figures were stripped of their original deco, giving them a professional looking paint job etc. Then there's the fact that they show up in several different states, mostly the eastern half of the U.S.
I dunno. I guess maybe for the "ha ha! I got everyone!" factor. :lol: Just seems unlikely to me.
I think a possible link between Wonderbread and the Savage He-Man has been investigated to exhaustion without new evidence surfacing. You are right of course it is easier to apply a different paint scheme and plastic color during the molding and figure manufacturing process. It is possible that it did come from Mattel but from an indirect source/unauthorized/not intended for the public etc. Motivation for a hoax would not be for a ha ha factor or an I told you so, but to drive up price in a collector's market on a perceived unique or rare item as has been proven to be the case of public perception considering the average price of a "legitimate" Savage He-Man. People can be unintentionally misled, convinced by the power of suggestion or wishful thinking, etc and not be deliberately lying. Saying what are the chances of all of those who remember seeing/owning one as a kid are lying is a perfect example of the ad populum fallacy in that any number of people who agree or believe in something is used as proof positive in itself in the absence of tangible proof. 25 percent of the population believe in Bigfoot/Sasquatch with a fair number of eyewitnesses that can't all be lying. All the cool kids do it. Every culture on earth has a belief in a deity or higher power therefore one must exist. My neighbor's friend of a friend's brother's mother-in-law knew a kid who had one. 7 out of 10 dentists agree. A fair number of people believe to have been abducted by aliens, the earth is flat was believed by the majority, etc. Not saying that any or all of those possibilities wouldn't be cool if they turned out to be true but it is an example of testimonial in exchange for tangible evidence. I want Savage He-Man to be legitimate because it would be cool and mean that we have not wasted an enormous amount of time in investigation to prove it so. However the fact remains that prior to the Fowler's example there is no tangible evidence that has surfaced yet. All apologies to bigfoot/alien/dentist enthusiasts and in no way am I trying to start a theological debate. I lean towards legitimately made by Mattel but not intended for the public and from an unknown source over outright hoax. However motivation for fraud has always been money or gain and once a scarce or rare collectible example surfaces it is bound to be copied and passed off as original if the cost to produce it is less than the potential amount made from the unsuspecting. Accurate numbers of legitimate appearing Savage He-Man figures are impossible to estimate given that they are relatively easy to produce from existing figures or molds that can fool even the most experienced eye. If it were a hoax in the beginning I would suspect that the original hoaxer never imagined the demand or that they would be duplicated. I would suspect that most examples out there are fake even to those who need to defend or justify their several hundred dollar purchases in some cases. I do hope for a plausible answer to the figure's origin coming directly from Mattel with photographic evidence to back it up of either the product in a datable photo during the 1980s, or a legitimate offer from Mattel with product numbers, shipping numbers, packaging, copyrights, etc. Sadly I don't think it will happen though.
Believe me, I've been following this thread for a number of years and I am very much aware of the fact that folks can unintentionally create false memories based on what other members post in this thread, or be motivated by greed/attention. By no means am I saying that numbers alone are definite proof of anything. Totally agree with you there. I probably didn't make my point very well, but it's the numbers combined with all the other information, such as Savage He-Man showing up randomly in collections on eBay, without a mention in the title or description, and prior to this figure being heavily publicized through ToyFare and this thread (sometimes by sellers that didn't have a history of selling this type of stuff) that adds to the believablity factor. And just personally knowing within myself that Savage He-Man is real, as I feel there are certain characteristics that the real ones have in common. I feel like the majority of the frauds aren't that well done. Of course, one can forever say: "that doesn't constitute tangible evidence", but personally I don't always feel that I need a written document or photographic evidence to believe that something is true or false. (i.e. the idea that Savage He-Man is a legitimate variant) I guess I'm really driven by my insticts, patterns, understanding human behavior etc...if that makes sense. Most humans tend to be really predictable...lol At some point I make an educated guess on certain things. I think most folks do whether there's tangible evidence or not. It's a 'game' of probability... Like with what you said regarding Savage He-Man maybe being unauthorized/coming from a Mattel source. Personally I'm leaning away from that direction, because enough of [what I believe to be] the 'real ones' have appeared in various states. If it was the scenario you describe, I feel like the variant would be concentrated in one specific state, more-than-likely California, and that we would have heard similar stories from multiple people that lead back to a source. It's not following that pattern, imo. Same goes with the hoax scenario.
If you are looking at pattern analysis I think a hoax pattern fits well. Consider that there may be as few as one legitimate made in a factory sample of Savage He-Man made for whatever purpose: give away, employee testing colors or preferences without permission, made for employees, etc. Let us say a very small sample of legitimate figures. There are no accounts so far of any employees of Mattel manufacturing, remembering, or 1st person owning with knowledge of what company party, perk or give away they are from. But some make it to the secondary market (Ebay) yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets. He-Man enthusiasts locate one and purchase it as an oddity and tell other collectors about it. Speculation ensues as to the origin of said figure or figures. Some decide to make one sort of as a reverse engineering process to see if it can be done and a duplicate can be produced in similar quality. Turns out they can be relatively easy by customizers. Meanwhile because of scarcity perceived value then goes through the roof because supply is far less than the demand. Internet sales start to creep up in price into hundreds of dollars. Many who would like a figure if proven to be legitimate to complete a collection cannot afford the ridiculous prices the figures are now demanding. Many instead of buying them duplicate them for their own personal collection. Some unscrupulous decide to duplicate them to make a profit. Going from unheard of prior to the late 1990s early 2000s suddenly there are Savage He-Man figures showing up regularly in auctions on-line etc. Because so few might actually be legitimate well made falsifications are used as a standard to compare and verify legitimate figures. Fakes compared to fakes to prove legitimacy. Clear examples of legitimate figures are impossible to distinguish from well made fakes. In an attempt to deduce the figure origins every detail and measurement of supposed "real" figures is measured and photographed making forgeries that much easier. No evidence shows up despite a decade or more of investigation into possible leads of company offers, Mattel employees, and childhood remembrances. I don't mean to be the voice of doom and gloom, but at this point further speculation will lead us nowhere. We must have tangible evidence. Without it there will likely be another decade of I remember vividly having one but can't remember where it came from or I remember getting it from blank company while another remembers a different company. Meanwhile the prices continue to rise as the chance of owning one grows because the scarcity drops because suddenly the market is full of figures but the prices remain high because it is a collector's item and a "rarity".
You bring up some though-provoking points, however, if Savage He-Man was falsified as often as you believe, wouldn't there be a multitude of "first appearances" coming from the western half of the United States as well? There haven't been very many instances of that happening. The amount is a pefectly acceptable "margin of error" and I didn't make my observations known right away. I dunno. You really don't see Savage He-Man initially showing up for sale in, say, California, Arizona, Nevada etc. unless it's someone that's reselling one they bought.
Anyhow, I'm not giving up on this just yet. :lol: It seems to me we made a little bit of progress, what with the article I posted earlier regarding toy action figures being part of the Wonder Bread display? That was previously unknown. By no means am I saying that it definitely has to be linked to WB, though. It could be that it was some rare promotion. It's happened before:
I haven't given up either. Although I don't think the barbie comparison is accurate. With Barbie it was a known although rare example with examples of packaging and advertisement flyers for the company promotion. It was not a completely unknown figure. Mattel and collectors had knowledge of it prior to the latest example surfacing. The fact that there seems to be little or no first appearances of Savage He-Man from western states may be good or bad. It does seem to confirm an eastern states origin possibly from a company promotion. Or it may be bad in the fact that Mattel during the 1980s time frame (correct me if I am wrong) was based in Hawthorne California while production for the figures was happening in Taiwan and Mexico for the early runs. No evidence of Mattel employees from Taiwan, Mexico, or California remembering manufacturing, ordering, designing, or promoting the figure for any reason. There is no paperwork, shipping records, or patents for a limited run He-Man that matches Savage for promotional purposes or other. The disparity could also point to the spread of rumor or fake figures from the east coast just as much as it could mean a legitimate source. I have been playing the devil's advocate lately hoping that people will do some research as you have or proof will surface instead of the tired old I had one as a kid but don't know where it came from and have no proof to back up my claim. I do appreciate any proof of promotions like the Wonderbread article you found mentioning figures because it is tangible and can be researched. But I think we are at a dead end because of lack of records at Continental Baking Co. concerning product marketing featuring Masters of the Universe. I would loved to be proved wrong though. If all the Savage He-Man figures that are reported to be authentic factory manufactured pieces are legitimate that would place the numbers in the hundreds. Chances are someone out there if that is the case has promotional material showing the figure, company records, or someone who received one from a legitimate source to have a childhood photo. So far there are none that have surfaced. The Barbie comparison is that the figure was known to Mattel, there are company records, there are patents, there are promotional materials, and collectors knew about it even though there were only 4 still known to exist from 1967 prior to the recent ones surfacing. That is 14 years prior to Masters of the Universe being sold and over 30 years prior to the Savage He-Man figure surfacing without anyone having any knowledge of it prior. Keep possibilities coming though Tallstar we may get lucky.
With the "Barbie Loves The Improvers" Inland Steel promotional Barbies, my understanding is that the overall Barbie collector community was unware of their existence prior to the article in Barbie Bazaar. While I don't have that particular issue, I do know that the bulk of the contributions for [the now defunct] Barbie Bazaar would come from fans around the world, not Mattel. I don't believe it was Mattel that uncovered the truth. Anyhow, I wasn't really trying to say that the scenarios were exactly the same; I was just trying to make the point that it's a rare promotion from like 45 years ago that surfaced and eventually was traced back to Inland Steel and the same thing can happen with Savage He-Man. There are probably folks 'out there' who do know something or could point us in the right direction, but more-than-likely MOTU is not on their minds and it's a matter of us trying to track them down. I think our best bet at the moment would be to attempt to locate Sandy P. Young from the "Baking & Milling News" article or possibly ex-Mattel employee Dave Capper. I've seen his name in a number newspaper articles commenting on stuff like Fearless Photog and the Eternia "mall tour" thing. He may know something. Also, chances are that there are more publications like "Baking & Milling News" and "Bakery Production and Marketing" that possibly contain some images of the actual display. I was able to locate an image of the point-of-sale display for Jell-O/MOTU in an old student book on Advertising off all places, and it even showed there was an actual commercial for the promotion. (Which isn't available online)
Haven't you guys heard of paragraphs?
Just some information to the people who are investegating this, In Norway ive never seen or heard about wonderbread he man. But we had all the releases of the motu line.. So my point is that this had to be America only thing, in the 80 coupons for toys were unheard of , so if anybody was giving out he mans for free .... the figurers were expensive in Norway so kids had maybe 3 or 4 figures or maybe an castle.. a freebe would have spread like fire...
I wonder if the "hair color preference study" entailed doing a run of brown-haired He-Man figures to test with kids. :hmlol::hmlol:
Alas for fable tradition, they came about as a result of extensive market research conducted by Mattel because of their competitor Kenner's successful Star Wars dolls. Mattel ran 17 different studies on everything from boys' play habits to their hair-color preference. "We went back to the basics of value, durability and imagination, rather than leaning so heavily on fads and technology," says Paul Cleveland, a Mattel vice-president. The findings showed that boys like figures that represent strength and power and prefer a fantasy environment. If they acquired one doll, Mattel further found, they were likely to become collectors of the set.
i have not read anymore posts on this, but i'm assuming there is still no answer to the origin of this figure
I have no proof, other than a few Wonderbread cards, but when I was a kid my Aunt gave me some of the Wonderbread cards and showed me the He-Man she mailed away for to give my cousin (her son). I looked at him in the baggy he came in and thought... "He-Man doesn't have brown hair, that's weird".
Yes. We only ate whole wheat bread in our house as kids. We would only eat white bread (always wonder bread) at my Grandmother's house. My Aunt and Uncle lived with my Grandmother because my uncle was a part owner of the family farm. So my Aunt saved me some of the cards that came the bread. At the same time she gave me the stickers she showed me the toy and said she sent away for him. My Mom even made a joke about how it was too bad we didn't eat wonder bread at home.
I checked with my Aunt (and she checked with my cousin) neither one of them remember anything about it. I was little, so I know my cousin was really young. I'm not real surprised my Aunt doesn't remember it... who remembers everything they ever mail ordered for their kid 25-30 years later?
The kid I went to in Oslo had one and def not a custom & he prolly had the maroon weapons as well , where he got it from I don't know......he might've gotten it from the US (maybe his parents went overseas and got it on a trip , maybe he had a US relative who sent it to him for x-mas......endless possibilities) as I doubt they were given away in Norway.
i cant believe this thread is ten years old! awsome!
Nice story Buzzchuck!