Has it been seventeen years since the first wave, a mere four figures, vehicle, animal, and playset bearing the "Masters of the Universe" logo, hit the shelves? Seventeen years since a toyline later spawned a cartoon series, two comic books, a movie, a live stage show, a magazine, no less than three spinoffs, and countless other items, and captured the hearts and minds of a whole generation of children, as well as some adults?
Seventeen years since the beginning of a journey some of us are still on?
In 1983, I discovered He-Man. I'd become intrigued by the new action figures that kids were bringing to preschool and that I simultaneously was seeing in Christmas catalogs. I quickly fell in love with these "Masters of the Universe," as they were called. After a few months of pestering my parents, I began a saga that has spanned fifteen years of my life ... with little end in sight.
December 25, 1983 was the beginning. I received Man-at-Arms and Skeletor for Christmas that year, and remember being heartbroken when I had opened what I thought were all my presents and found no Castle Grayskull. I did get the "fortress of mystery and power," though, and I can still remember the hours of fun I had dropping Skeletor through the trap door. The next month, for my fifth birthday, I received He-Man as well as a videodisc containing four episodes of the cartoon: "Diamond Ray of Disappearance," "Teela's Quest," "Disappearing Dragons," and "Colossor Awakes." This was the first time I saw the cartoon and, likewise, I fell in love with it instantly.
For the next four years, the "Matter of Eternia," as I've come to call it, dominated much of my life. I watched the cartoon with religious fervor. I collected the toys with a passion, and acquired everything but the three Power Gear sets during that first wave of collection. I subscribed to the magazine, picked up the Star comic semi-regularly when it started coming out, and enjoyed the storybooks, mini-comics, and anything and everything else I could get my hands on. I got to see both "The Secret of the Sword" and "Masters of the Universe: The Motion Picture" on the big screen, attended the Power Tour, entered the motion picture contest (winning, I might add, a Battle Bones and ten figures!), and just generally dove into anything He-Man-related that I could find.
I'm still not entirely sure why I love the line as much as I do. The cool mix of science fiction and fantasy was probably a large part of it, in addition to the well-designed toys and the great characters and stories of the cartoon. Or maybe it was just the fact that it was in the right place at the right time in my life.
But, like all things in life, it didn't last forever. The toyline died in 1987; I acquired the movie figures and Snake Face as my last new toys. I picked up a few figures I'd passed on previously, and finished up the collection (as best I knew it) with Teela on Christmas of 1988. I gathered the rest of the comics I'd missed (I didn't even know there was a DC Comics series until 1988), acquired a better taping of the movie, and watched the show on and off in reruns until it was finally taken off the airwaves. It was winding down, albeit against my will.
The epilogue came in 1989, when I saw the relaunch of the saga under the "He-Man" line that July. I purchased the He-Man/Evil Mutant two-pack (my evil mutant was Skeletor). I watched the new show a total of five times, and while I was interested in some of the figures, I never asked for them and thus never got them. It just didn't recapture the magic. For all intents and purposes, my He-Man days were over. The journey had ended.
Or had it?
I got Internet access in November 1994, and found Kevin Herbert's page (devoted to his childhood He-Man memories) shortly thereafter. In December of 1995, I made a brief post on a He-Man thread in the rec.arts.animation newsgroup on Usenet and answered a question on Adam Tyner's site. Adam contacted me about the He-Fans shortly thereafter. I became a charter subscriber to the Scrolls of Grayskull, and later, to the Guardians of Grayskull listserv. Over Christmas Break in 1996, I watched the five-part SOTS tape I had again for the first time in ages. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality -- I didn't expect the show to be as good as I remembered, but it had held up well. Those impressions were reinforced when, in the spring of 1997, I bought a couple of tapes of He-Man episodes.
The toy aspect was also expanded, as I first heard about the "laser figures" when Adam first mentioned them in the Scrolls, although to this day, I've not seen them in person, nor the legendary giants, Tytus and Megator. That spring, though, I bit the bullet and bought the Cliff Climber, Tower Tools, and Scubattack for exorbant amounts (as most of us have done at one point or another).
And now, we begin the celebration. This memoir marks the launch of He-Man.org, which we hope will become the center of Internet He-Fandom. There is reason to believe that the cartoon is returning to the airwaves very, very soon. Who knows what other surprises might be on the horizon?
My own contribution? Adam Tyner and Matt R. have asked me to write a regular column on the MOTUniverse and He-Fandom in general. I plan to explore all ranges, from often-neglected media such as the comics and the movie, to character analyses and plot possibilities, examination of subsets of the line, and pretty much anything else I can think of. So stick around!
Over the next few years, from the twentieth anniversary of the line in 2002 to the commemoration of She-Ra's launch three years later, I hope to see He-Fandom rise to greater heights than we ever dreamed possible.
Let the journey begin.