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Thread: Do you think He-Man would have been as successful if he had stayed just a barbarian?

  1. #1
    Heroic Warrior Dr Kain's Avatar
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    Do you think He-Man would have been as successful if he had stayed just a barbarian?

    So obviously with the classics line, He-Man is a pretty successful series. However, do you think it became successful because it came out right at the perfect time? Was it the cartoon that made it successful? Do you think that if Mattel and Filmation had stuck with He-Man being just a simple barbarian it would have still be the hit it was in both toys and cartoons, or do you think the series would have ended sooner?

    As I have said before, I grew up on the cartoon, so to me, He-Man was Adam and all that stuff. However, I just recently looked into some of the pre-Filmation concepts and gazed through the original mini-comics on the site (I tried to read them, but when the pages have no semblance of order, it is kind of hard) and I have to say that there were some things in there I saw that were quite impressive. In fact, I hate to say it, but I think He-Man is much better with a smaller cast of just a few characters instead of this huge amount of friends and family and soldiers and subjects and others running about. Plus, I think they could have really taken the concept of the sword halves somewhere if they had truly desired to.
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    Evil Warrior Invicta's Avatar
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    It is possible as a concept, but I think they had to soften him up for "prime-time". Even Filmation cartoon was under fire by the vocal minority of people who considered whole cartoon evil and violent. It was just the times.

    Today you can get away with more violent cartoons, I guess.

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    Heroic Warrior Dr Kain's Avatar
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    Yeah, they talked about them being under fire in the Xmas Special DVD, which I do not even know how when nobody ever really hit anyone. They always jumped out of the way, deflected laser beams, and then threw each other. All He-Man ever did with his sword was juggle it and then use it to transform.
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    Fighting Foe Fan Whiplash7's Avatar
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    Yes, it would have been just as successful. It was successful before the cartoon, just simply b/c of the "HE-Man, HE-Man" chants from the toy commercials.
    If the cartoon had followed the original storyline, it still would have been just as successful. I'm very glad they've going back to a lot of those concepts and designs in MOTUC.

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    Heroic Warrior He-Kal's Avatar
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    Maybe somewhat, but not as much as now. The filmation, extra cast, etc... introduced later only added to the image of this character to make him an icon. if he just stayed a barbarian we would have had a blonde Conan, whereas with what we have a cross between Conan, Starwars (the technology) and Superman.

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    Fighting Foe Fan Whiplash7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He-Kal View Post
    Maybe somewhat, but not as much as now. The filmation, extra cast, etc... introduced later only added to the image of this character to make him an icon. if he just stayed a barbarian we would have had a blonde Conan, whereas with what we have a cross between Conan, Starwars (the technology) and Superman.
    It already had technology. It was a warrior fighting a skull-faced guy, for control of a skull castle, using both primitive and scientific weapons and vehicles. It was also the same cast of characters as when the filmation cartoon started.

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    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Do Orko, Cringer, and a secret identity really make him all that different from the Pre-Filmation He-Man? He-Man, Skeletor, Power Sword, Battle Cat, Teela and Castle Grayskull are all still there. He-Man might have been a barbarian, but he was still heroic.

    I think He-Man was successful PERIOD as it was because it was the FIRST toyline to get a cartoon, after the FCC rules were lifted, not because he suddenly had a secret identity.

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    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Kain View Post
    So obviously with the classics line, He-Man is a pretty successful series. However, do you think it became successful because it came out right at the perfect time? Was it the cartoon that made it successful? Do you think that if Mattel and Filmation had stuck with He-Man being just a simple barbarian it would have still be the hit it was in both toys and cartoons, or do you think the series would have ended sooner?

    As I have said before, I grew up on the cartoon, so to me, He-Man was Adam and all that stuff. However, I just recently looked into some of the pre-Filmation concepts and gazed through the original mini-comics on the site (I tried to read them, but when the pages have no semblance of order, it is kind of hard) and I have to say that there were some things in there I saw that were quite impressive. In fact, I hate to say it, but I think He-Man is much better with a smaller cast of just a few characters instead of this huge amount of friends and family and soldiers and subjects and others running about. Plus, I think they could have really taken the concept of the sword halves somewhere if they had truly desired to.
    This is a good source for the old mini comics (other stuff there too):

    http://www.goodolddays.net/comics/index.pl?id=22
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    There were a LOT of toys around that time that were awesome. MOST only lasted a wave or two. Some awesome concepts didn't even GET toys...

    Conan, Thundar, Barbarians were nothing new even 1982. "I" got hooked after seeing that castle the first time... But I really don't think it would have had NEAR the following if the cartoon didn't inflate it up.

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    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    I think he would have been as successful with the mini comic universe. They had some technology, but it was leftover from an earlier age. 80% sword and sorcery elements with 20% leftover technical toys is a good combo. Too much tech and it just gets messy.
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    Heroic Warrior FutureRetro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    ...But I really don't think it would have had NEAR the following if the cartoon didn't inflate it up.
    This. As it's already been pointed out, He-Man was under fire before the cartoon was released. The public was terrified of their children watching some barbarian hack people up with a sword. That's why when the cartoon was created, He-Man rarely used his sword unless he was deflecting something or hacking at a robot or plant-monster. If the cartoon had followed the path of the mini-comic, the cartoon would have been banned or never even sold in to syndication as every TV station would have been scared to go anywhere near it.

    I personally prefer the mini-comic ideas over the Filmation cartoon, but my own personal ideas are a blend of both. I tend to not like the Prince Adam aspect of He-Man. Although if I had to make a movie about He-Man, I would probably keep the mini-comic origin of an advanced civilization almost obliterating itself in to extinction, leaving behind barbarians and sorcery. The royal Prince/King aspect would be a role that He-Man had to grow/evolve in to instead of the other way around. Maybe he would pick up one half of the sword in pursuit of the other half and once both pieces were united he would become King.

    I think another version of the original question could be, if released today - Would a mini-comic origin story be more popular than the Filmation origin story?

  12. #12
    Born Villain dedset13's Avatar
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    I don't think He-Man would have been as popular if he'd remained a Barbarian. He'd have been just another Conan/Tarzan type of character. Granted, both Conan and Tarzan are cool characters, but they are a bit generic.

    Without some of the things that FILMation brought to the table, He-Man would not have been anywhere near as popular as he was in the 80's.
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    Heroic Master of 200X MegaGearMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureRetro View Post
    This. As it's already been pointed out, He-Man was under fire before the cartoon was released. The public was terrified of their children watching some barbarian hack people up with a sword. That's why when the cartoon was created, He-Man rarely used his sword unless he was deflecting something or hacking at a robot or plant-monster. If the cartoon had followed the path of the mini-comic, the cartoon would have been banned or never even sold in to syndication as every TV station would have been scared to go anywhere near it.

    I personally prefer the mini-comic ideas over the Filmation cartoon, but my own personal ideas are a blend of both. I tend to not like the Prince Adam aspect of He-Man. Although if I had to make a movie about He-Man, I would probably keep the mini-comic origin of an advanced civilization almost obliterating itself in to extinction, leaving behind barbarians and sorcery. The royal Prince/King aspect would be a role that He-Man had to grow/evolve in to instead of the other way around. Maybe he would pick up one half of the sword in pursuit of the other half and once both pieces were united he would become King.

    I think another version of the original question could be, if released today - Would a mini-comic origin story be more popular than the Filmation origin story?
    No. Like it or not, the whole transforming prince gimmick is how most people know and recognize He-Man. The question would be if Adam is He-Man with pale skin, if Adam is a younger kid or at least a different looking character or does Adam train into becoming He-Man? The only way we might see an Adamless He-Man is a one-off "Legends of the Dark Knight" type anthology story. If it takes off, who knows.

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  14. #14
    Co-Creator of the NV
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    I think He-Man would have been successful in either case. However, I feel that the stuff that filmation added (e.g. the secret identity, warmth, "humor", etc.) helped make the franchise more successful than it would have been otherwise. I don't know if that would remain true if the character was created today, but my feeling is that in that era it did.

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    Heroic Warrior FutureRetro's Avatar
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    I absolutely agree. If a movie is made, Hollywood WILL take the Prince Adam route as that is how the majority of the world knows He-Man. And more than likely, they will show Adam train and become He-Man. I'd be very surprised if they don't use the Dark Knight route every other super hero movie is rebooting under.

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    Heroic Warrior gbagok's Avatar
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    Personally I thought the pre-Filmation stuff most resembled Thundarr the Barbarian with Eternia being a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, and He-Man, Teela, and MAA as a troika hero set each with their own ride (Battle Cat, Charger, and the Battle Ram). I could see a road/chase series with them trying to find Castle Grayskull, Skeletor chasing them wanting the other half of the sword that he'll need to open the castle and become all powerful--which is starting to sound like Blackstar. You could probably get some cool stories out of the premise, but if that would have been more successful back in the 80s, I'm not so sure. I mean Blackstar, Thundarr, Galtar....none of them were the hit He-Man was and is now. I also think the large selection of characters was part of MOTU's appeal, and that the rather small main cast of the Filmation cartoon was a weakness more than a strength (compared to the character overload we got from Transformers and GI Joe's cartoons).
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    Sorcerer of Night Lord_Of_Destruction's Avatar
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    No. Now stop asking!
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    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedset13 View Post
    I don't think He-Man would have been as popular if he'd remained a Barbarian. He'd have been just another Conan/Tarzan type of character. Granted, both Conan and Tarzan are cool characters, but they are a bit generic.

    Without some of the things that FILMation brought to the table, He-Man would not have been anywhere near as popular as he was in the 80's.
    I think just the fact that it was a TV show that supported the toys really helped sell a lot of figures. I think it could have been truer to the early mini comics and done just as well. Just having a fun adventure cartoon series in conjunction with toys I think was the key, and a novelty at the time.
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    Lord of the Patch baronterror's Avatar
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    of course not.

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    Heroic Warrior hauke's Avatar
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    He-Man was quite succesfull in Germany and the cartoon did not air here until 1988 when the toyline was as good as over. But granted we did not have a lot to choose from action figure wise so He-Man had an advantage here even without the cartoon.
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    Heroic Warrior Dr Kain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Of_Destruction View Post
    No. Now stop asking!
    Thank you for adding your wonderful insight to the discussion.
    Can someone PM me the US number for Matty? I want to talk to someone who might has a clue of what is going on.

    Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

  22. #22
    Heroic Warrior wundarwarrior's Avatar
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    I think the more family friendly aspect to MOTU made it more appealing to parents. I was not able to read when my mom was buying the vintage line for myself and older brother but I was aware of the cartoon's story and the secret identity. I personally don't think parents would've wanted to buy products that were similar to Conan for their kids. I love the 200X era the most but the vintage line being made into what it was with Filmation made the 200X era possible. I just read the SOH Bible and Lou Scheimer was big on teaching kids morals and I really think that belief is what made MOTU so huge.

  23. #23
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    No. He-Man would have not styed as popular if he stayed barbarian. The multi-dimensional retro sci-fi genre is more powerful than most people believe.

    And there would be far less MOTU fans the world over without Filmation and it's gimmicks, humor, or silliness.

  24. #24
    Über Fan Adam_Prince of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbagok View Post
    Personally I thought the pre-Filmation stuff most resembled Thundarr the Barbarian with Eternia being a post-apocalyptic fantasy world . . . I mean Blackstar, Thundarr, Galtar . . . none of them were the hit He-Man was and is now.
    This. The MinEternia Masters of the Universe was strikingly similar to Thundarr the Barbarian, and Thundarr was not even close to being as successful as He-Man.

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    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_Prince of Eternia View Post
    This. The MinEternia Masters of the Universe was strikingly similar to Thundarr the Barbarian, and Thundarr was not even close to being as successful as He-Man.
    But He-Man was pretty successful right out the gate as an action figure series, wasn't it? I mean the first wave. No cartoon yet either.
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