I believe Prometheus posted one on youtube.
so where is the page by page art book review? have i somehow missed this though my relentless scouring of the .org the past few restless nights?
come art book owners...spill the goods.
I want NA Skeletor and Rio Blast and I want them now!
I believe Prometheus posted one on youtube.
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Im a huge motu fan and i would definatly pay the 50 bucks to get a copy... but im too smart to pay 150 dollars... just my two cents but i still really want a copy!
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yeah the one on youtube i have seen. the guy goes to fast when going through the pages and is annoying cause you want to see what is on the pages.
i just want a detailed description on what is on each and every page, especially the movie and pre-motu concept stuff
I want NA Skeletor and Rio Blast and I want them now!
I have to agree with Prometheus' assessment of the book. 53 pages of material is really not worth the $50 from what we saw on there. I'm sure there are some cool concept drawings and such, but that price is a lot to ask. Add to that the chaos surrounding the way it was sold and resellers getting their hands on large quantities, and it's left a bad taste in my mouth regarding the book.
I had posted the link in a thread, but it was removed. I found the removal kind of odd considering it's now on the front page as part of the news. Ah, well...looking forward to Pixel Dan's review!
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Just got mine today too. I was hoping it to be all artwork but a little history don't hurt none!
Now, about the "future" movie art concept...
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River’s Very Long, Informal Commentary and Page by Page Review of the MOTU Art Book- I beat ya Pixel Dan! *hug* Well, Pixel Dan and Gay Comic Geek can have the video review, I'll be the written review guy...
The book is divided up into four different sections, the first of which being devoted to the vintage line. There are several early story conceptual notes which explore the barbarian roots of He-Man, as well as notes on the development of what would eventually become the short-lived Powers of Grayskull line. It’s nice to see images of the Big Jim Eagle, Tiger, and Gorilla toys. Eagle and Tiger of course eventually went on to become Zoar and Battle Cat, while a proposed Gygor Gorilla character never made it into production.
Apparently The Fighting Foe-Men was an early working title for the Masters of the Universe line, which included characters by the name of Vikor the Barbarian, Red Beast, and Demo-Man. The images of Vikor and Demo-Man, and much of the early concept work featured in the art book are available on the Grayskull Museum website, or by searching the internet. Vikor, a barbarian warrior with a very strong resemblance to Frazetta’s rendition of Conan, obviously went on to become the character we all know and love as He-Man. Red Beast, Demo-Man, and Wing Man would soon become Beast Man, Skeletor, and Stratos. Most of the original notes and color swatches for these early concept designs are included as well. A few of the early concept drawings are of images that I haven’t seen previously, such as Ram Man, X-Man (Trap Jaw), Sultress (Evil-Lyn), and Man-E-Faces.
Moving on, we are subsequently treated to several images from Mattel’s catalogue ad pages, which featured images of the actual toys. These are in really nice quality, and it’s especially good to see the catalogue ad image for the Eternia play set and images of later figures such as Scare Glow, Ninjor, and Sorceress. Next, we come to a brief mention of the mini-comics. While we are shown a few pages from the very first mini-comics, I feel that much more could’ve been done with this section. As the Gay Comic Geek mentioned in his video review of the art book, maybe other volumes will delve into the mini-comics further. By contrast, the card back art is represented quite well, with over two dozen card back images depicted.
The first section of the book wraps up with images from the vintage box art and a brief overview of the He-Ro character. Although the oil paintings are well reproduced, it seems as if there is nowhere near enough represented here. The cropping also seems to be a bit of an issue. Perhaps something happened during the printing process, but with the Eternia play set painting for example, a significant portion seems to have been cropped off around the perimeter of the image. Regardless, a few of the oil paintings featured in this volume escaped the heavy cropping, such as those which depict the Land Shark, Slime Pit, and Battle Bones.
At this point we come to the second section of the book, which is devoted to the space adventure themed He-Man toy line. I was surprised to see such a large section devoted to this particular era, seeing as how it wasn’t particularly well-received at the time. Maybe part of the reasoning behind this was to have the New Adventures function as a bridge between the vintage line and the proposed movie designs at the end of the book, which are considerably more technological in nature (but we’ll get to the “can of worms” movie designs later). Regardless, I did enjoy the He-Man toy line and its corresponding animated series, so it was great to see images of these character designs and card back paintings as well. A few of the images depicted from this era are of the Nordor play set, Hydron, Kayo, Flipshot, and a bird character which never made it to action figure form (although I believe it appeared in the New Adventures animated series). A minor gripe about this section: the Evil Mutants are incorrectly referred to as the “Space Mutants” and Starship Eternia is referred to as “Spaceship Eternia.” It’s no biggie when compared to the various spelling errors, grammatical errors, or run-on sentences which appear throughout this volume. It is nonetheless irksome when one considers that various editors probably went through this volume several times prior to production and Mattel personally oversaw this project. It reminds me of the recent “Evil Leader of the Evil Horde” debacle. It’s almost like no one even bothered to check, which is strange.
The 2001 Masters of the Universe line comprises the third section of the book. Here, we mainly see various images of prototypes created by the Four Horseman, as well as early concept art which seems to have been quickly executed for the purpose of testing various He-Man and Skeletor design concepts with young audiences. The most interesting images however are of an armored He-Man sculpt, complete with ponytail, and another sculpt which sports more of a samurai aesthetic, complete with shaved head. Again, while these are interesting, they bring to mind a “through the grapevine” story of how three different He-Man prototypes were presented when the original vintage line was being pitched, in which He-Man was presented as (I believe) a futuristic space man, a barbarian Viking warrior, and a military soldier. Perhaps the more futuristic, space suit depiction and the samurai monk version were rendered with a movie pitch in mind. Of course, I’m only speculating from what is shown in the art book, but they are interesting concepts nonetheless.
There are also other concept sketches included within this third section. They depict Webstor, Snake Armor He-Man, the War Whale, Attack Squid, and what appears to be an updated version of the Road Ripper. There is also a sketch of what I believe is a completely new character, which seems as if he was intended to have some sort of chopping action, similar to Jitsu. A conceptual montage piece of 2001 designs, which was previously exhibited at a San Diego International Comic Convention as that era came to a close, is featured as well. It includes various renderings of Hordak, Rattlor, She-Ra, and many designs of later figures and vehicles from the last days of the 2001 line. As the Gay Comic Geek noted, this is the only Princess of Power element which appears within the entire volume. The current Masters of the Universe Classics line is also touched upon briefly at the end of this section, and features nicely executed photographs of figures such as He-Man, Beast Man, King Grayskull, Zodac, Tri-Klops, and Skeletor.
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the final section of the art book, which focuses on character designs and concepts for a modern live-action film. It is here that we fall head first into the can of worms which I mentioned earlier, and descend into madness.
Now, before I go further, though the original Masters of the Universe live-action film seemed to get many things wrong, most of which were probably due to financial reasons, one of the things that it got right were the character and conceptual designs. For the most part, Skeletor was recognizable as Skeletor, and He-Man was recognizable as He-Man, and so on. With the exception of Teela, those designs from the original film remained faithful to the source material.
In regard to the movie designs which appear here in the art book, I’ll flip into a different mode, and be a bit more specific, as I know many here on the boards are excited about a possible film.
There are two Teela designs on page forty-eight. The one in the top left of the page sports the ponytail hair and the cobra staff, but aside from that the costume doesn't seem to retain much of, well, Teela. Some of the hemlines are the same. In regard to the other design that is shown on the lower right, I get a little bit more of a Teela vibe. She has the ponytail, leaf designs on the armor, the collar, and the breast plate does retain the design "swirl" pattern. The face keeps throwing me off though, as she looks exactly like Liv Tyler from the Lord of the Rings live-action trilogy (which, I wouldn't be against her portraying Teela at all, it's just throwing me off a bit initially, because it's so blatantly Liv Tyler's face).
There are two different versions of Man-at-Arms shown. One version, also on page forty-eight, is much closer to how we all know him. It depicts him as an older, mustached man, and isn’t too far removed from the 2001 design. The other Man-at-Arms design on page fifty-two seems to depict him as African-American in a very manga inspired body armor suit, and with a design which seems vastly different. I was almost unsure as to whether or not this was Man-at-Arms, but he seems to have very subtle hints of Duncan’s armor, and is mustached. **amended note: this could possibly be Dekker, and not Man-at-Arms.
There are also two different designs for Skeletor. Again, one looks much more manga inspired and technological. In regard to the manga version, a skull face and a staff seem to be the only recognizable character traits. With the other design, it looks like he could possibly be wearing a gold mask (which would fit with the Marks’ script). However, if I were to put my hand over the face of either one of these designs, “Skeletor” wouldn’t resonate. I would think “villain,” but not Skeletor. I’m assuming that the gold masked version would have a skull underneath, but with that aside, the only other design elements that could possibly say “Skeletor” are the hood and cape. The “gold masked Skeletor” color scheme is gold and blue, while the manga inspired color scheme is gray and blue. Both armor designs are completely new.
The Sorceress design, on the other hand, is easily the most faithful. She seems very true to the design which we are most familiar with: Feathers, wings, bird headdress. Ram Man is also recognizable, as is Beast Man (although I’m not quite sold on the stubby chicken legs and the huge spikes sticking out of his back).
Spikor seems to be re-imagined by someone who loves the artist Brom. The design looks very gothic, and he appears to be a grotesque, gray humanoid with exaggerated proportions in a black armor suit of spikes (no trident).
Trap Jaw looks like another Brom creation, but the only recognizable character trait is a mechanical hook arm which seems to feature a blend of organic and technological elements, and the large shoulder armor piece. A large metal mask covers his head. One of his legs is spindly and looks grotesquely deformed. There are also a few concept sketches for random Eternian warriors, and a creature which reminds me of an evil version of the stilt animals from The Dark Crystal film.
Finally, the He-Man designs take the cake as far as being unrecognizable. The cross seems to be the only design element left intact on the designs, and even with that, on the "manga space suit" version, which is featured on page forty-nine, it's so small that you have to squint to see it. To me, it's ridiculous, and reeks of glibness. The artists were obviously trying so hard to present Adam/He-Man as this fully clothed, unquestionably bad a+* macho everyman, that everything else got thrown out with the dish water.
Something I thought was interesting:
One of the very first He-Man concept designs is featured in the art book on page four. I’m referring to the drawing of Vikor the Barbarian. Catch the word? BARBARIAN. A minimally clothed savage warrior with large musculature and a shield and axe. Now, I can buy that design and that person as being the most powerful man in the universe.
If we then flip to the end of the book however, and take a look at the next to last image, we see a concept design of Adam/He-Man for the new film. Obviously, nothing about it says barbarian. "Average Looking Guy in Gold Space Manga Knight Suit" is what that translates as to me. It is a complete 180 degree turn from a barbarian. In other words, we no longer have the same character. He may use that techno sword to "power-up" and he may have a teeny tiny cross on his armor, but again, that isn't He-Man. It's the Twilight guy in a space knight suit. Mattel, does that really say the "most powerful man in the universe" to you? I won’t even go into the Adam design with the blue suit (which looked like it came straight out of a Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game manual), or the red-haired He-Man (which just looked like a hot mess).
But, I digress. My overall reaction and opinion of the art book, good and bad, is as follows:
The image quality is very good, but as I mentioned, there is a cropping issue. Some portions of the book, especially those which were allotted for the mini-comics and the oil paintings, could’ve been much more comprehensive and fleshed out. It was nice to see some of the early concept drawings for the first time however. So, as a whole, the vintage section was done well. Again, maybe more volumes will follow (and will hopefully not be such a nightmare to obtain, and will be printed as a run of more than a thousand copies). The price point of later volumes needs to be more affordable as well, as fifty bucks was too much for this, even with it being a limited edition. The book should’ve been offered for twenty or twenty-five dollars at most. Also, as I mentioned previously, the book seems a bit rushed, with little attention given to spelling errors and so on. I had to read many of the sentences two or three times, because they didn’t make sense grammatically.
Mattel does quite a bit of self-praising throughout the book, which gets pretty nauseating. Things like "Mattel artists and designers once again took up the call" and "unselfishly give their talents” become a bit much.
Curiously, there is absolutely no mention of Filmation. With the direction that Mattel apparently wants to go in, as depicted by the live-action concepts, I’m not surprised however. Aside from the one image of She-Ra, Princess of Power is nowhere to be seen either.
All in all, I feel like Mattel’s main intent with this art book was to stir up interest for a major motion picture. That may not even matter so much anyway, because plans for the film could very well just fall through again. Regardless, with the exception of the Sorceress, I thought that these movie designs were either unrecognizable or simply bland and generic. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s my first reaction.
My main complaint about the art book however, above everything else, is that not one of the artists who did those great oil paintings, or any of the artists and writers that did so much work on those mini-comics, was mentioned by name. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see one name mentioned. William George’s name only appears because he signed his artwork in a way that incorporated his signature into the piece itself. I know that Mattel thanks all the “thousands of hard working artists and writers” at the beginning of the book, but a brief mention, by name, of even a few artists such as Norem, William Stout, and Alcala would’ve gone a long way. Mattel took the time to praise itself throughout the art book- so my point is, why not take the time to thank some of these commissioned artists by name? If only a few of the artists had been mentioned, that would’ve been more appropriate in my opinion. I know there is no way to thank everyone, but it just seemed to be a bit on the cold side.
On a side note, I met William Stout briefly while out in San Diego (he worked on many of the character and conceptual designs for the 1987 film). I asked him if he would ever consider putting together a book of all of his design work for the original film and presenting it to Mattel... maybe for possible publication. He said that when he was working on the original film, he put all of his work for the project together in a book- just to keep for himself. *Sigh* we didn’t know how good we had it with those character designs.
Grade for the art book itself: C+
Grade for Mattel's manner of getting it out there: zero.
Last edited by River; July 29, 2009 at 10:40pm.
Wow, River, thanks for that review! I'm sure I'll see all of those new movie designs eventually, and I will probably have the same reaction as you. I wonder if Mattel put those designs in there so they could gauge the fans' reaction to them. If that is the case, then, Mattel: Don't do those designs!
It also ticks me off that they had cropping issues and grammatical mistakes. I mean, to charge $50 for such an unprofessional publication is just careless and shows how little Mattel cares for the He-Fans. I wish that the Four Horsemen could take total control of the property.
"Everything comes to he who waits."
I haven't seen the movie project designs yet, only a glimpse on youtube, but by the description, sounds like, once again, in the fear of the movie looking cartoony or childish or whatsoever, they're planning to make a new movie on He-Man that isn't about He-Man again
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And I agree with you on the "space armor" and "bald monk" maquettes, they could very well have been done with a movie in mind. Though I personally feel that a full suit of "space armor" and a "bald monk" concept don't exactly= He-Man. Though I enjoyed it, I think that is one of the main reasons why the New Adventures line did so poorly... it strayed too far from the original concept and look of He-Man.
Last edited by River; July 29, 2009 at 10:41pm. Reason: add note
Thanks for the long and in depth review River, it made for very interesting reading.