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Thread: Did Filmation Really Cause MOTU To Stop Being About Sword & Sorcery?

  1. #1
    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Did Filmation Really Cause MOTU To Stop Being About Sword & Sorcery?

    * I'm putting this in the MOTUC section since I feel that, while Filmation's cartoon came out in the vintage era, if it is at fault, it has affected things all the way up until the MOTUC toyline. *


    I know a lot of fans whose introduction to Masters Of The Universe came from the toys & mini-comics blame Filmation for taking MOTU away from its heavy "sword & sorcery" influence. I never really thought about it, but I usually agreed that this was probably true. I too was around for the toys before Filmation but felt the addition of Prince Adam cried "superhero secret identity" more than barbarian warrior.

    I started thinking about this again today after reading some opinions in another thread about whether or not Filmation made POP less popular with fans. After doing so, I started thinking that Filmation wasn't at fault at all. Sure, Prince Adam was added in their cartoon but, if I wasn't already a superhero fan, I doubt his sceret identity would have ever made me think of another genre. Mattel also seemed to start right off the bat by including flying vehicles & a "spaceman" name Zodac in their very first wave of toys. They continued to offer up even more oddball characters(at least for a medieval fantasy world) that, minus the furry underoos, would be just as at home in Star Wars as MOTU. Most of the characters that Filmation created for MOTU were familiar looking to anyone who knew anything about the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons or Lord Of The Rings(Widgets, sorcerors, wizards, dragons, Trollans). If anything, I feel Filmation stayed closer to the fantasy beginnings of MOTU than most of the later waves of Mattel's MOTU toys.

    What do you think?
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    Court Magician
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    I agree with you. I think the action figures started the ball rolling away from "Sword and Sorcery" stuff before the cartoon did. Trap Jaw and Zodac are both glaring cases for this.

    If Filmation did anything right, I'm glad it took MotU out of that stupid "post apocalyptic" setting the early mini comics had created.

  3. #3
    Do it right or not at all Reboot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenbane View Post
    I'm glad [Filmation] took MotU out of that stupid "post apocalyptic" setting the early mini comics had created.
    I fully agree with this.

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenbane View Post
    If Filmation did anything right, I'm glad it took MotU out of that stupid "post apocalyptic" setting the early mini comics had created.
    You're right! I forgot all about the mini-comics' hints of Eternia being a post-apocalyptic world. If anything, MOTU was more Thundarr than Conan until Filmation gave it a setting much closer to the typical European medieval fantasy. Good call and I totally agree!
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    Hover Robots in MOTUC! RockinHard's Avatar
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    I like Filmation, but as an adult, I really like the barbaric roots. I hope they go more that route with the movie.
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    Heroic Warrior He-Man123's Avatar
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    Prince Adam appeared in the 3 issue DC Comics mini series, before Filmation.
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    Master of Dreams Sandman's Avatar
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    Oh boy, a thorny subject.

    First off, no, the Filmation cartoons are not responsible for taking MOTU -or- PoP away from their "fantasy" roots. As you correctly stated, Mattel were branching their toylines out quite independently of the cartoons (in fact, I don't think they ever made more than 3 figures based on the cartoon rather than the other way around) and those new figures included robots, aliens and whatnot.

    What I feel that Filmation did change, and this is the bit that makes me a bit iffy about the whole thing, is make MOTU a bit more whimsical and very very politically correct. Filmation did fantasy, yes, but it was the kind of fantasy you'd see on the Smurfs, or any other saturday morning TV show. Actually it is arguably much less of an adventure show than contemporaries or even older shows, much because of the many self-imposed limitations of it.

    I guess what I'm saying is, other media tended to play the franchises as "straight" fantasy to much larger degree. The DC comic certainly did, as did the UK comics (which were built on the Filmation show but with a more serious edge to it).

    Of course, a lot of this is because of how american TV censorship worked back in the day. Cutting people with swords was obviously right out... And then the Filmation editors added their own moralistic yoke on top of that (like He-Man not being allowed to hurt plants) and the result became a bit... watered.

    I guess I'm rambling, but to the main question; no, even in the original four minicomics MOTU was clearly science-fantasy.

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He-Man123 View Post
    Prince Adam appeared in the 3 issue DC Comics mini series, before Filmation.
    I wasn't sure if Prince Adam was used in Filmation after Mattel told them to or if he was featured in the DC Comics mini-series after Mattel heard what Filmation was planning on doing in their cartoon. I didn't even bother bringing it up since I didn't know for sure but I do know that it's usually Filmation that gets the blame and not DC's MOTU stories.
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    Master of Dreams Sandman's Avatar
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    Prince Adam, as well as Marlena being from earth and a lot of other things were from the "story bible" written by Michael Halperin under Mattel's supervision which was later adapted both by the Filmation cartoon and various other media.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Shokoti View Post
    I wasn't sure if Prince Adam was used in Filmation after Mattel told them to or if he was featured in the DC Comics mini-series after Mattel heard what Filmation was planning on doing in their cartoon. I didn't even bother bringing it up since I didn't know for sure but I do know that it's usually Filmation that gets the blame and not DC's MOTU stories.

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman View Post
    Prince Adam, as well as Marlena being from earth and a lot of other things were from the "story bible" written by Michael Halperin under Mattel's supervision which was later adapted both by the Filmation cartoon and various other media.
    Now I know and knowing is half the battle.

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    Heroic Warrior Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Shokoti View Post
    Most of the characters that Filmation created for MOTU were familiar looking to anyone who knew anything about the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons or Lord Of The Rings(Widgets, sorcerors, wizards, dragons, Trollans).
    While I do think MOTU/POP is a type of fantasy- Overall I would not classify it with D&D or LOTR. Both those are medieval fantasy.

    MOTU/POP has more of a Flash Gordon ala Scifi Pulp or Scifi Fantasy. Filmation add a fairytale flare to the property.

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    Heroic Warrior victoryleo19's Avatar
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    wait! so queen marlena being from earth was in the MOTU bible? i feel like that is debated a lot, maybe i was confused though.


    that means that she could have known....john blackstar...oh lord the possibilities...

  13. #13
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    Huh...

    Magic sword... Check

    Haunted Castle ... Check

    Evil wizards... Check

    Dragons... Kind of...

    Rampaging monsters... Check


    I've ALWAYS thought of Filmation as Sword and Sorcery. The VIOLENCE was scaled back... But I don't see where you need blood and violence to call it sword and sorcery... or even fantasy...

    All the elements are still there.

    Quote Originally Posted by victoryleo19 View Post
    wait! so queen marlena being from earth was in the MOTU bible? i feel like that is debated a lot, maybe i was confused though.
    I THOUGHT that it was mentioned in the DC presents vs. Superman too... I COULD be wrong... but Didn't he-man 'recognize' Superman from the stories from earth?

    It's been at least a decade since I've read... maybe someone with the new versus packs can verify that...
    Last edited by phantom1592; October 25, 2010 at 06:30pm.

  14. #14
    Grew up on a horse Baena's Avatar
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    MotU has always been, from the beginning, a mix of Sci-Fi and Sword 'n' Sorcery.

    Look at the Battle Ram. Look at Zodac, all these things have been mentioned.

    Thing is Star Wars is also a mix of Sci-Fi and Sword 'n' Sorcery.

    I think it's all in the ratios... Star wars was more Sci-Fi, MotU at the beginning was more S 'n' S.

    However, as MotU Progressed it became more half and half of the two elements.
    I think that's what most early MotU fans have a problem with.

    Filmation was more like the toys in the first season, but as it progressed, and as Mattel created new toys, I feel BOTH Mattel and Filmation pushed it more half and half.

    That's my take on it all... I like it more like it was at the beginning, more S 'n' S, with hints of Sci-Fi instead of the half 'n' half it became.

    Wow, I typed " 'n' " a lot!
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    Heroic Warrior Mern-Ra's Avatar
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    I recall plenty of swords and plenty of magic in Filmation.
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    Heroric Drummer Brian Ozone's Avatar
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    I love the sword and sorcorey stuff that's why the dc stuff is great.
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    Heroic Warrior Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    Huh...

    Magic sword... Check

    Haunted Castle ... Check

    Evil wizards... Check

    Dragons... Kind of...

    Rampaging monsters... Check
    For Filmation add:

    Cyborgs (Trapjaw, Triclops, Meck-a-nek, Man-e-faces, Hordak, etc.)... Check

    Sci-fi Weapons and armor... Check

    Mechanical craft... Check

    Space travel... Check

    = Sci-fi fantasy


    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    I've ALWAYS thought of Filmation as Sword and Sorcery. The VIOLENCE was scaled back... But I don't see where you need blood and violence to call it sword and sorcery... or even fantasy...

    All the elements are still there.
    Classifying it as Sci-fi fantasy has nothing to do with the level of violence. Yes, all the fantasy bits are there, but there is quite a bit of futurist stuff in there that can not be ignored.

  18. #18
    Heroic Master of Sleep Lay Ze-Man's Avatar
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    Early MotU (toys, box art, comics, etc) was more on the 'sword 'n sorcery' side.
    Later MotU toys went more 'hodgepodge fantasy' IMO (Snake Men, robots, more bizarre mutant creatures, real world "types" etc).

    My problem with Filmation wasn't that it was responsible for taking away sword 'n sorcery.
    It was the overt Scooby-Doo feel.
    Even as a kid, I could never take it seriously.

    This all said, I don't NEED MotU to be more sword 'n sorcery.
    I feel the ideal MotU world has yet to be created.

    But visually-speaking, for me that would be the following recipe:
    one part vintage art, one part 4H 200x sculpts, and one part MOTUC.

  19. #19
    Heroic Warrior Teacher of Madness's Avatar
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    I think the 200X cartoon did more to remove the sword-and-sorcery feel than any other format. Filmation had a whole lot of S&S as far as I'm concerned, with a bit of tech stuff here and there. The minicomics seemed about the same. Magic and generally "fanciful" creatures and concepts were all over the place. Technology was a useful tool, but not the main source of power.

    200X took the concept of magic and almost seemed to make it a byproduct of technology. It is as though everything that appeared and happened on that show was based on that stupid Arthur C. Clarke quote that everyone loves to spit out during discussions like these.

    I think Filmation did a fine job. I don't think "politically correct" is necessarily the right term, more just kid friendly. While violence was removed, perhaps to an extreme, the episodes still had a lot more thought and care put into them than most things one finds for the same demographic now. Many cartoons now are just absurdist drivel, like ideas picked from the scrap bin at a "house of buggin'" writer's house. (notice I didn't pick a GOOD sketch comedy show there)

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steph View Post
    For Filmation add:

    Cyborgs (Trapjaw, Triclops, Meck-a-nek, Man-e-faces, Hordak, etc.)... Check

    Sci-fi Weapons and armor... Check

    Mechanical craft... Check

    Space travel... Check

    = Sci-fi fantasy
    There's no denying that, but those ideas all came from Mattel. You may not be one of those people, but I always hear how Filmation stopped MOTU from being a "true" sword & sorcery based toyline. I was just pointing out that Mattel stopped that from being true from the very beginning.
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    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say it stopped the sword and sorcery aspect, but it did kiddify those elements way down by adding secret identities, saturday morning cartoon mascots and morals. I guess it had to be done to get the Parent's groups off their backs.

    After 1985, the whole Ah-nuld sword and sorcery craze was over, adding even more of a death knell to the barbarian aspect. Now Cyborgs and transforming robots were in vogue. I guess MOTU changed to reflect that change. As a result, we had less barbaric characters and more technological ones.
    Last edited by MegaGearMax; October 25, 2010 at 08:22pm.

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steph View Post
    Classifying it as Sci-fi fantasy has nothing to do with the level of violence. Yes, all the fantasy bits are there, but there is quite a bit of futurist stuff in there that can not be ignored.
    True but some MOTU fans feel that He-Man and his pals will never be true fantasy/sword & sorcery archetypes unless their blades are dripping with blood after battle. That is another charge levied against Filmation. Making it family friendly was the beginning of the end for MOTU's Conan like beginnings. I don't feel it was ever there to begin with. Except for the occasional monster, He-Man almost always only fought the villains that were toys. Mattel was never going to have Beast Man lose an arm during battle no matter whether Filmation came around or not.
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    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Shokoti View Post
    True but some MOTU fans feel that He-Man and his pals will never be true fantasy/sword & sorcery archetypes unless their blades are dripping with blood after battle. That is another charge levied against Filmation. Making it family friendly was the beginning of the end for MOTU's Conan like beginnings. I don't feel it was ever there to begin with. Except for the occasional monster, He-Man almost always only fought the villains that were toys. Mattel was never going to have Beast Man lose an arm during battle no matter whether Filmation came around or not.
    MOTU was always sanitized for violence. Aside from the Glorm (Ram Man mini-comic) and the Sandsnake (Sunbird Legacy), He-Man attacked enemies, but never drew blood. You see this in Man-E-Faces mini-comic.

    MOTU can have barbarian action and feeling without having boobs and gore.

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    Widget Wrestler Mr. Shokoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MegaGearMax View Post
    MOTU can have barbarian action and feeling without having boobs and gore.
    Who said anything about boobs? Get your mind out of the gutter!
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    Master of Dreams Sandman's Avatar
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    Queen marlena was also from earth in the pre-Filmation DC mini-series. Her origin is recapped in the first issue of that series (complete with a more realistic space capsule).

    Hope that helps!

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