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Thread: The mysterious Savage He-Man variant formerly known as "Wonder Bread He-Man"

  1. #3051
    Heroic Warrior jzguitars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_Prince of Eternia View Post
    That is a fairly succinct summation, and what we have suspected for many years. The only remaining question is why these colors were chosen. For example, was this figure a test run for Faker that was liquidated through a limited, regional, mail away promotion; or did Meijer Thrifty Acres commission this figure for a promotion that could be advertised exclusively in their stores? That is the real mystery, and the answer could actually reveal something we did not know before.
    I think the colors were chosen randomly by Marketing dept. If these had been some stock of rejected prototypes or Conan figures, someone would remember that. I think the reason no one remembers is because it just wasn't worth remembering. And I don't think the design department had anything to do with it. I firmly believe this was to boost the market in the mid-west, handled solely by marketing, and was produced in such small numbers that it didn't even blip the radar of anyone associated with designing MOTU at Mattel.

  2. #3052
    Über Fan Adam_Prince of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    I think the colors were chosen randomly by Marketing dept. If these had been some stock of rejected prototypes or Conan figures, someone would remember that. I think the reason no one remembers is because it just wasn't worth remembering. And I don't think the design department had anything to do with it. I firmly believe this was to boost the market in the mid-west, handled solely by marketing, and was produced in such small numbers that it didn't even blip the radar of anyone associated with designing MOTU at Mattel.
    I do not think they necessarily would. People are more inclined to remember the final, and disregard the drafts. If this was a test scheme for Faker, for example, and it was decided it was not distinct enough, so they colors were changed shortly into the run, and these were liquidated through this promotion, so Mattel would not take a loss on them, most people involved would probably only remember today that Faker is blue, and forget this brief run under a different color. Something like this letter might jog their memory, but it is not very likely that the choice was random. When a company is spending money, the choices are deliberate.

  3. #3053
    Heroic Warrior jzguitars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_Prince of Eternia View Post
    I do not think they necessarily would. People are more inclined to remember the final, and disregard the drafts. If this was a test scheme for Faker, for example, and it was decided it was not distinct enough, so they colors were changed shortly into the run, and these were liquidated through this promotion, so Mattel would not take a loss on them, most people involved would probably only remember today that Faker is blue, and forget this brief run under a different color. Something like this letter might jog their memory, but it is not very likely that the choice was random. When a company is spending money, the choices are deliberate.
    Sadly, we will probably never know for sure. As more time passes, memories fade more and more and there seems to be no paperwork in existence regarding this particular figure. At least we now know for sure it was part of the buy 3 get 1 promotion and was issued by Mattel.

  4. #3054
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    It's very clear that the Fowler's figure is NOT the original packaging. It makes zero sense to include the same promotion card that the figure was obtained from, therefore the entire contents of that package is suspect and cannot be taken as definitive proof that's what it came with.
    The only point we agree on here is that the plastic bag containing the Fowlers' sample was not the mailer itself. The mailer would have been either a box or a padded envelope that may or may not have been clearly marked that it was from Mattel.

    Aside from the special edition figure, the contents of that mailer are unknown, but it would have had to have contained some sort of indication of what the figure was and where it came from. The most common form of identification for mail-away items is a letter from the company saying essentially, "Thanks for playing! Here is your free merchandise." See the sample below for the type of letter typically identifying such promotion rewards.

    motujellocontestwinnerheman12backg4cardmexicofigure.jpg

    Identification and confirmation is necessary for both the consumer and the company, among other reasons because a company could be sued for false advertising for not sending promised promotional items if they didn't - particularly if the item could not be readily identified on its own. An unpackaged, heretofore unseen special edition figure fits that bill.

    In lieu of a letter from Mattel, the 3-for-one coupon owned by the Fowlers serves the same purpose. Including this coupon confirms that the item shipped was the response to Mattel's mail away promotion. An included letter would certainly have been a more formal and standardized means of providing this information, but that doesn't mean that's what Mattel did. If the folks who mailed these figures to consumers didn't have access to standard promotional response letters at the time these figures were to have been mailed, they would almost certainly have had access to pads of the 3-for-one coupons.

    offer.png flyer-front.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_Prince of Eternia View Post
    For example, was this figure a test run for Faker that was liquidated through a limited, regional, mail away promotion
    I may be able to shed some light here.

    Because the special edition figure has dipped boots, we've been trying to identify when the boot dipping process began exactly, because it may give us insight into the early timeline associated with this figure.

    I've long been under the impression that boot dipping began before production of Teela and Faker, the two earliest figures for which no samples of sprayed boots was known. The following are all samples of Teela with dipped boots.

    dippedteela.jpg dippedteela5.jpg Attachment 124400 Attachment 124401

    However, Lich Leech and Springor Spanior pointed out that early Teelas may have sprayed boots, as this sample may illustrate.

    Attachment 124402

    While I'm not sure I'd say this is definitive simply because I would prefer a clearer view, I think I agree that this early sample of Teela has sprayed boots. In addition, I've looked at a few other samples of Teela and I think some of those might be sprayed, as well.

    sprayedteela.jpg sprayedteela2.jpg

    Again, I'm not 100% certain about these samples being sprayed, but I'm leaning into the likely possibility.

    As for Faker, I'd similarly never noticed a sample with sprayed boots. That is, until I came across this Faker with a G0 cardback.

    earliestfakersprayedboots4.jpg earliestfakersprayedboots5.jpg earliestfakersprayedboots6.jpg earliestfakersprayedboots10.jpg

    While it's a pretty good paint line, the give away is the three points where we see over-spray: the front left shin and the back of both calves.

    So to wrap up my point here: if this sample of Faker holds up as definitely sprayed, then the earliest Fakers were in production before the special edition figures were produced, which means that the special edition figure could not have been an early Faker prototype.

  5. #3055
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    I know we want a more interesting and romantic story behind the figure but it's kind of like Battle Cat, re-use of an existing mold simply because they ran out of tooling money and threw a saddle on it because it wasn't to scale.
    For me, this is settled unless some other new piece of evidence comes to light in the next 40 years
    I am admittedly guilty of musing about the possibility of a nexus to Conan, Faker or Prince Adam, but the desire for some romantic backstory is not really the cause of my obsession around this figure. Like many collectors, my obsession is borne out of the never-ending pursuit of context and authenticity. It’s true no doubt that the Hackenberg letter substantially resolves the question of authenticity of the figure itself. But there are still many questions around the accessories that are very much unresolved. If two of these figures were to be put up for auction, one with accessories and one without, which is the more authentic? And how much more should one pay for accessories if they are not true to the figure? This might seem like a trivial thing to fuss about, but it is not to the discerning collector. Take, as another example, the infinite number of Dragon Blaster Skeletor figures that are frequently dressed up on eBay in standard armor, paired with staff and sword, and sold as authentic. While the pieces are vintage, and arguably “complete”, nothing there is a true figure. And that may well be okay for the average middle aged collector looking to rekindle fond childhood memories, but not to me. And it’s certainly not ok for a figure of the stature of Special Edition He-Man. We must continue our pursuit for authenticity.

    And furthermore, now that Special Edition He-Man is an official member of the MOTU pantheon, how should the figure be portrayed? With a vest or without? All evidence we have in the letter suggests, as many of us thought, that the vest was never really an authentic part of the figure. However, it has become part of the figure in popular culture, much like viking helmets are always depicted with horns, even though there is no evidence outside of Wagner's operas to suggest that was ever true. So, then, do we go with the figure of myth or fact? Is Special Edition He-Man doomed to be forever portrayed with Zodac’s black vest, or is this an opportunity to re-visualize the figure, and properly place it within the 2nd wave where it belongs.

    These are just a few of the reasons why we continue to obsess about how it was made, when it was made and why it was made.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    However, Lich Leech and Springor Spanior pointed out that early Teelas may have sprayed boots, as this sample may illustrate.
    How about this one? Ignore the staff, which is Hong Kong manufacture. The figure is Taiwan.

    Teela Painted Boot?.jpg
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  6. #3056
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    How about this one? Ignore the staff, which is Hong Kong manufacture. The figure is Taiwan.

    Teela Painted Boot?.jpg
    It's easy to tell early spray boots because the spray line is both fuzzy (sprayed from too far away) and too low on the boot. Later spray boots are more difficult to discern because Mattel addressed both of these issues, spraying a much finer line right at the top of the boot. I was lucky that the Faker has artifacts which definitively show spray, because otherwise the line is so precise I wouldn't be able to tell.

    I find Teelas more difficult. There are no Teelas where Mattel was still early in its spraying methods, so we can only try to discern Mattel's later spraying process from its early dipping process. Additionally, dipped boots will occasionally have jagged lines, or lines that are too low on the boot, which gives the impression that it might be sprayed. So unless a dipped boot has obviously sharp lines, or a line above the boot itself, I can only give an educated guess.

    To me, the rough edge with specs above the paint line, as well as the barely perceptible horizontal line at the very top of her left front boot, both indicate masking, so my guess is sprayed. However, I wouldn't bet my lunch on it.

    Lich Leech might have a better eye for it.

  7. #3057
    Heroic Warrior jzguitars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    The only point we agree on here is that the plastic bag containing the Fowlers' sample was not the mailer itself. The mailer would have been either a box or a padded envelope that may or may not have been clearly marked that it was from Mattel.

    Aside from the special edition figure, the contents of that mailer are unknown, but it would have had to have contained some sort of indication of what the figure was and where it came from. The most common form of identification for mail-away items is a letter from the company saying essentially, "Thanks for playing! Here is your free merchandise." See the sample below for the type of letter typically identifying such promotion rewards.


    Identification and confirmation is necessary for both the consumer and the company, among other reasons because a company could be sued for false advertising for not sending promised promotional items if they didn't - particularly if the item could not be readily identified on its own. An unpackaged, heretofore unseen special edition figure fits that bill.

    In lieu of a letter from Mattel, the 3-for-one coupon owned by the Fowlers serves the same purpose. Including this coupon confirms that the item shipped was the response to Mattel's mail away promotion. An included letter would certainly have been a more formal and standardized means of providing this information, but that doesn't mean that's what Mattel did. If the folks who mailed these figures to consumers didn't have access to standard promotional response letters at the time these figures were to have been mailed, they would almost certainly have had access to pads of the 3-for-one coupons.
    I agree that Mattel would more likely include a letter and not the promotion card, but think about this...the 7 year old would not be receiving the package or opening it. The parent would both get the mail and open the package, and most likely discard any packaging or letter included and give their young child the toy within. (and even if we had a sealed package right from Mattel, it still wouldn't explain why a brown haired He-Man so the mystery will never end) The average 7 year old doesn't care about the nondescript packaging or a letter included. What makes more sense? That Mattel included the promotion card, or someone put together their own little package to sell a figure and get a premium for it? As the letter from Mrs. Hackenberg indicated, the figure came with nothing and that is firmly what I believe. That letter is far more convincing than a Scotch taped baggie sold at auction. I could put my figure in a bag with the card and Man-E-Faces weapons and tape it up right now, that doesn't make it any more legitimate than the Fowler's. I personally never thought that example was legitimate.

    We could also speculate that someone saved the figure with the promotion card to serve as a reference for where it came from, but what kid in the 80's would do that? I think that is far less likely than a collector, decades later, putting the package together simply to get a higher price for it. Nothing more than someone trying to legitimize the "mystery figure" and guessing right, as we now know it was in fact from a buy 3 get 1 promotion. And the fact that absolutely no other examples exist anywhere else in the world proves, for me, that the Fowler's example is a one off put together by a collector years later.

    I think after seeing the only tangible evidence related to "Special Edition" He-Man, there really is no mystery here. It was a cheap promotion that came and went and it's simply a dark haired He-Man with no official bio or accessories, and was produced specifically for this promotion. And was ended, most likely due to the complaint from Barb Hackenberg, as the internal letter following her letter indicated that she might be right about the kids being dissatisfied.

    But that's just my take on this with what we know for sure right now. I could be totally wrong here but I can accept that the mystery is over for me, for now.

  8. #3058
    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post

    How about this one? Ignore the staff, which is Hong Kong manufacture. The figure is Taiwan.

    Teela Painted Boot?.jpg
    Yup, that's an example. Mine is somewhat similar. My buddy has a Teela with green eyes on the snake armor - also with spray painted boots

  9. #3059
    Über Fan Adam_Prince of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    I may be able to shed some light here.

    Because the special edition figure has dipped boots, we've been trying to identify when the boot dipping process began exactly, because it may give us insight into the early timeline associated with this figure.

    I've long been under the impression that boot dipping began before production of Teela and Faker, the two earliest figures for which no samples of sprayed boots was known. The following are all samples of Teela with dipped boots.

    However, Lich Leech and Springor Spanior pointed out that early Teelas may have sprayed boots, as this sample may illustrate.

    While I'm not sure I'd say this is definitive simply because I would prefer a clearer view, I think I agree that this early sample of Teela has sprayed boots. In addition, I've looked at a few other samples of Teela and I think some of those might be sprayed, as well.

    Again, I'm not 100% certain about these samples being sprayed, but I'm leaning into the likely possibility.

    As for Faker, I'd similarly never noticed a sample with sprayed boots. That is, until I came across this Faker with a G0 cardback.

    While it's a pretty good paint line, the give away is the three points where we see over-spray: the front left shin and the back of both calves.

    So to wrap up my point here: if this sample of Faker holds up as definitely sprayed, then the earliest Fakers were in production before the special edition figures were produced, which means that the special edition figure could not have been an early Faker prototype.
    The problem with this is that it is a hasty generalization. There is simply not enough evidence to support the premise that there is a timeline-contingent universal standard for painting techniques. Different manufacturers in different countries used different techniques at various times with considerable overlap. Mattel may use a particular manufacturer in one country for tests, and another in a different country for runs, for cost and logistical reasons, and each could be using different techniques at the same time. Meaning that even if your hypothesis was true, it would not be disconfirming one way or the other.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    I agree that Mattel would more likely include a letter and not the promotion card, but think about this...the 7 year old would not be receiving the package or opening it. The parent would both get the mail and open the package, and most likely discard any packaging or letter included and give their young child the toy within. (and even if we had a sealed package right from Mattel, it still wouldn't explain why a brown haired He-Man so the mystery will never end) The average 7 year old doesn't care about the nondescript packaging or a letter included. What makes more sense? That Mattel included the promotion card, or someone put together their own little package to sell a figure and get a premium for it? As the letter from Mrs. Hackenberg indicated, the figure came with nothing and that is firmly what I believe. That letter is far more convincing than a Scotch taped baggie sold at auction. I could put my figure in a bag with the card and Man-E-Faces weapons and tape it up right now, that doesn't make it any more legitimate than the Fowler's. I personally never thought that example was legitimate.

    We could also speculate that someone saved the figure with the promotion card to serve as a reference for where it came from, but what kid in the 80's would do that? I think that is far less likely than a collector, decades later, putting the package together simply to get a higher price for it. Nothing more than someone trying to legitimize the "mystery figure" and guessing right, as we now know it was in fact from a buy 3 get 1 promotion. And the fact that absolutely no other examples exist anywhere else in the world proves, for me, that the Fowler's example is a one off put together by a collector years later.

    I think after seeing the only tangible evidence related to "Special Edition" He-Man, there really is no mystery here. It was a cheap promotion that came and went and it's simply a dark haired He-Man with no official bio or accessories, and was produced specifically for this promotion. And was ended, most likely due to the complaint from Barb Hackenberg, as the internal letter following her letter indicated that she might be right about the kids being dissatisfied.

    But that's just my take on this with what we know for sure right now. I could be totally wrong here but I can accept that the mystery is over for me, for now.
    ^ This. Especially, since the originally eBay seller noted that the form was not original, but was included with the auction as an example of the form that was completed to receive the figure in the mail-away promotion. It was his way of providing context for the figure, so buyers would know that it was a factory original, and not a custom repaint.

  10. #3060
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post
    So what did we actually learn from the new evidence?
    the figure is offical, and should be included in the original MOTU line
    the figure is from spring 1983, most store ads about the buy 3 get 1 free offer are in April.
    the figure came with no accessories
    the figure was a He-Man variant that the customer called "Special Edition He-Man
    the figure was discussed by Mattel and a reponse to the customer given

    the three letters shown in the video:

    https://i.imgur.com/IGoJimx.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/zk2CwKV.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/YW5hRzg.jpg


    Former Mattel employee Scott Neitlich discovered a 1983 letter from a Masters of the Universe customer to the President of Mattel in response to a Buy 3 get 1 free offer and the company's reply. All documents were held internally by Mattel at Mattel and two are on official letterhead making this discovery legitimate.

    Barb Hackberg's letter was recieved by Mattel on Aug 16, 1983 and recieved a prompt response. President Ray Wagner's office sent a memo to V.P. of Marketing Mark R. Ellis who sent an official response to Mrs. Hackenburg Sept 14, 1983.

    From the three documents we can gather that she received what she calls a "special edition" figure that was a version of He-Man that evidently did not incude weapons or armor. It can be then inferred that the figure is indeed savage He-Man because she points out it is different but makes no mention of blue skin or painted on white shirt eliminating Faker and Prince Adam from consideration. A naked figure that is He-Man but different could only be the brown haired figure as no other versions of He-Man are known. This is strong evidence that it is the origin of the figure, despite lack of a corroborating photo, that conclusively ties the figure to the promotion in 1983 as long suspected.

    Both Mattel letters pick up on Barb's description of the figure as the "Special Edition" figure and it is understood it is a He-Man variant for the Buy 3 get 1 mail in offer.
    We dont know for sure if Mattel ever had an official name specifically for this figure, but it is interesting they used her descriptive title internally.

    we tied it to a give away from the start and sleuthed the approximate manufacturing period based on the mold imperfections on the figure itself to 1983. Nice to get confirmation. We had many anecdotal reports of ties to grocery or other retailers.

    so we now know for sure where and when this figure came from and can now say it is an official product in the MOTU line (which we couldn't claim with any certainty before now) but many questions still remain.

    Was the brown haired He-Man variant created just for this offer? Or was it also intended or actually distributed by other means?

    Did it ever come with any accessories such as the maroon weapons which as far as we know only officially were released with Man E Faces concurrently in spring 1983 or the black ZODAC armor or blaster that was only officially released in the weapons pack in 1984?

    Did Mattel have an official name or reference for the promotional figure? Is there any other material or papers pertaining to the figure at Mattel or elsewhere?

    How many were produced and how many were redeemed or acquired by other means and found their way to customers? What happened to the rest?

    Was the figure replaced or added to during the promotion in response to the Hackenburg letter? Was the promotion ended or altered in response to the letter or other customer feedback? How long were the buy 3 get 1 free coupons actually honored?

    Which stores in which cities and states carried out the promotional offer? How widely was the figure distributed?

    Why is there a seeming lack of photo evidence for the figure prior to the 1990's if it was released in 1983? So far just one vintage picture with actual date, time, location and IDs of the kids in the picture unknown, has surfaced showing a brown haired He-Man.

    Why was it unknown to collectors prior to the mid 1990's?

    How does the Fowler bros figure bought on eBay that included a coupon, maroon axe and sword in an unsealed taped shut baggie fit into the mystery? Is this the original packaging from Mattel or were they assembled and bagged together by the private seller? If authentic from Mattel as packaged, why was the coupon returned? Why was it hole punched? was it redeemed that way to prevent second use or perhaps hung on a peg at the store? Why would a customer have the coupon and the figure? Did they save it as returned from Mattel or did the customer have a second copy of the coupon unused?
    who is Judy that signed the memo from President Ray Wagner's office?
    There are still a ton of questions to be asked about this figure (see my above quoted previous post for a few examples) sadly who knows if we will ever get answers. The mystery swirling around this figure continues.

    Now the biggest question remaining at the moment is:
    when will this figure finally be included in official MOTU product lists including the toy section of this very website?

    The Hackenburg/Mattel letters show without any reasonable doubt that this figure was made by Mattel for a spring of 1983 buy 3 get 1 free promotion and delivered as a mailer to customers, making it unquestionably official MOTU product.

    Wonderbread, Wun-dar, or Savage He-Man finally is official and unless we can learn what Mattel actually referenced the figure as themselves, he is christened with Mrs. Hackenburg's designation as "Special Edition He-Man" forevermore.

    All of the bootleg, test run, factory error, intended to be Conan, Asian market ethnicity speculation can finally be put to rest.

    We know it came sans weapons or armor according to the Hackenburg/Mattel letters, so the Many E Faces extra Castle Grayskull weapons rack weapons in Maroon and the Black Zodac armor and gun speculation can be put to rest as well.
    Unless of course, some NEW evidence comes to light that they did start adding accessories in response to customer feedback or whatever or if another means of distribution for this figure this time with weapons is discovered beyond the original buy 3 get 1 free promotion.

    We know those accessories are official MOTU product and exactly where they came from. The extra weapons are from Man E Faces in the exact same 1983 ads as the 3 and 1 promo easily explaining the association with this figure as customers gave Special Edition He-Man the weapons; why wouldn't they? Obviously they weren't going to give them to Many E Faces.
    The black armor was literally designed to be given to any figure in a 1984 weapons pack and naturally a bare chested figure with no weapons or armor is the best fit for those items, also easily explaining any association in people's memories as well. As natural as giving moss man the yellow Beastman armor included in that set.

    so we list it as free 1983 promotion Special Edition He-Man (variant brown hair color) in MOTU toy lists, and finally give it the recognition long overdue.
    Last edited by ravenloft; December 15, 2020 at 01:49pm.

  11. #3061
    Heroic Warrior jzguitars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post
    There are still a ton of questions to be asked about this figure (see my above quoted previous post for a few examples) sadly who knows if we will ever get answers. The mystery swirling around this figure continues.

    Now the biggest question remaining at the moment is:
    when will this figure finally be included in official MOTU product lists including the toy section of this very website?

    The Hackenburg/Mattel letters show without any reasonable doubt that this figure was made by Mattel for a spring of 1983 buy 3 get 1 free promotion and delivered as a mailer to customers, making it unquestionably official MOTU product.

    Wonderbread, Wun-dar, or Savage He-Man finally is official and unless we can learn what Mattel actually referenced the figure as themselves, he is christened with Mrs. Hackenburg's designation as "Special Edition He-Man" forevermore.

    All of the bootleg, test run, factory error, intended to be Conan, Asian market ethnicity speculation can finally be put to rest.

    We know it came sans weapons or armor according to the Hackenburg/Mattel letters, so the Many E Faces extra Castle Grayskull weapons rack weapons in Maroon and the Black Zodac armor and gun speculation can be put to rest as well.
    Unless of course, some NEW evidence comes to light that they did start adding accessories in response to customer feedback or whatever or if another means of distribution for this figure this time with weapons is discovered beyond the original buy 3 get 1 free promotion.

    We know those accessories are official MOTU product and exactly where they came from. The extra weapons are from Man E Faces in the exact same 1983 ads as the 3 and 1 promo easily explaining the association with this figure as customers gave Special Edition He-Man the weapons; why wouldn't they? Obviously they weren't going to give them to Many E Faces.
    The black armor was literally designed to be given to any figure in a 1984 weapons pack and naturally a bare chested figure with no weapons or armor is the best fit for those items, also easily explaining any association in people's memories as well. As natural as giving moss man the yellow Beastman armor included in that set.

    so we list it as free 1983 promotion Special Edition He-Man (variant brown hair color) in MOTU toy lists, and finally give it the recognition long overdue.
    Couldn't agree more!! +1 to officially include it in the Vintage MOTU list.

  12. #3062
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    I agree that Mattel would more likely include a letter and not the promotion card, but think about this...the 7 year old would not be receiving the package or opening it. The parent would both get the mail and open the package, and most likely discard any packaging or letter included and give their young child the toy within.
    You raise an interesting point which may yield information on a related mystery: who first called the toy "special edition" He-Man? I'd assumed it was Barb Hackenberg, but let's say her figure included a letter from Mattel: the letter would have identified the figure in some way. Such a letter would have probably called it a special edition figure or "special edition He-Man." That would explain both why Barb had an answer for her kids when they asked her what the toy was, and why Mattel picked up Barb's identification of the figure so readily - because it was the name they'd given the figure in this hypothetical letter.

    If anyone gets a chance to speak with Mrs. Hackenberg again, we'll have to ask if a letter was included which identified the figure.

    We could also speculate that someone saved the figure with the promotion card to serve as a reference for where it came from, but what kid in the 80's would do that?
    Perhaps a better question is, who besides someone who already had it could get their hands on one of these coupons almost twenty years later? I've been trawling eBay since the early '00s, and I've never seen one listed. The original owner of the Fowlers' sample had to have already had it. The only other samples that have ever been documented have been forgeries created by copying the Fowlers' original coupon after they posted images of it for the community.

    I think that is far less likely than a collector, decades later, putting the package together simply to get a higher price for it. Nothing more than someone trying to legitimize the "mystery figure" and guessing right, as we now know it was in fact from a buy 3 get 1 promotion. And the fact that absolutely no other examples exist anywhere else in the world proves, for me, that the Fowler's example is a one off put together by a collector years later.
    So you're saying they guessed right about the context of the figure, threw in some weapons it was never intended to have, then included an authentic coupon which happens to be both materially related to the figure yet impossible to find, but which also shouldn't have been included? And they did this in order to put into context a narrative that no one else knew because they still thought the figure should have black Zodac armor back then? IMO, that's a bit of a stretch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren View Post
    The WB He-Man we have came as is in a baggie. The coupon could have been another promotional offer, but who knows?

    The toy seller I bought it from said his wife ordered it through the mail, but does remember from who.
    I think you're forgetting that the Fowlers have had their sample since June, 2000. That's two years before this entire Wonderbread He-Man thread even existed. (Was it before He-Man.org existed?) The figure itself was never discussed on the old He-Man mailing list, which ran through January 1998. Whoever put the Fowler's sample in its baggy clearly knew more about the origins of the figure than anyone else did at that time. They clearly had insight into the maroon weapons and the coupon being associated with the figure, and they knew that other items associated with the figure at that time (such as the black Zodac armor and pistol) should not be included with the figure. Nobody knew that back then with any certainty. Only the original owner or Mattel themselves could have associated all of these items together. http://toyarchive.com/HemanWonderbread.html

    Putting these exact items into a bag wouldn't necessarily make the figure more valuable for collectors, because other collectors did not know if these were the items it was supposed to come with. Furthermore, creating a forgery to increase the value of the figure wouldn't have been worth very much in 2000, because this toy used to sell for less than a hundred bucks regularly back then. https://www.he-man.org/forums/boards...l=1#post247778

    Quote Originally Posted by alucard View Post
    I had one of these as a kid and after talking to my mother on how I got it she said all that she could remember was...

    You had to buy two or three figures and send in the pop/upc to Mattel and you had your choice. so if you were into barbie you sent in the barbie UPC's or hot wheels and so on. there was a postcard/entry form at the store were you could pick up the toys and the card. once you sent it in, you were sent a brown haired he man with maroon axe and maroon short sword.

    I know it had nothing to do with WB because like I said I had the figure and my parents never bought wonder bread.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skullface View Post
    alucard has hit it right on the head. Wonder Bread had nothing to do w/the offer. You just had to send in a few UPCs, and you got the He-Man figure in a baggie with the maroon axe & sword. Still have mine, minus the weapons...
    It's certainly possible that Alucard was misremembering whether his sample had the short sword and axe, and maybe he happened to have already had those items from Man-E-Faces and the Fowlers' sample made him think they came with the special edition figure. I think that's plausible. But that theory doesn't explain the actions of the person who chose to include those weapons with the Fowlers' sample. Nor does it explain this interviewee who said his came with a maroon shield. http://blog.timlybarger.com/2012/11/...an-savage.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam_Prince of Eternia View Post
    The problem with this is that it is a hasty generalization. There is simply not enough evidence to support the premise that there is a timeline-contingent universal standard for painting techniques.
    You're arguing, without evidence, against what has been long-established. If you have some alternative proposition, please supply your thesis and evidence and I'd be happy to discuss it.

    Different manufacturers in different countries used different techniques at various times with considerable overlap.
    Obviously, but we're not talking about different countries. We're talking about "Made in Taiwan" figures intended for U.S. markets produced in 1982/83. Those figures follow production techniques which are well documented on the Battle Ram Blog. I suggest you read up so you can properly participate in this discussion. https://battleramblog.com/1982-motu-...on-run-part-1/

    Especially, since the originally eBay seller noted that the form was not original, but was included with the auction as an example of the form that was completed to receive the figure in the mail-away promotion. It was his way of providing context for the figure, so buyers would know that it was a factory original, and not a custom repaint.
    Ok, now you're just making things up. Please cite your sources from now on so I don't waste my time researching them for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant Fowler View Post
    As Darren mentioned above, its also surrounded in mystery as the owner was not even sure where it came from. To my knowledge, this is the only figure to have shown up on ebay like this. I am not trying to say its legit, but it is different and there was a "free action figure" promotional card inside the bag. It came with the maroon sword and axe like the Man-E-Weapons did. Also realize these weapons look to have come out at about the same time Man-E-Weapons did in 83.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren View Post
    The WB He-Man we have came as is in a baggie. The coupon could have been another promotional offer, but who knows?

    The toy seller I bought it from said his wife ordered it through the mail, but does remember from who.

    This is a key detail, as well. Your theory goes that the eBay seller tried to make people believe this figure was an authentic Mattel mail-away product by including items which he guessed were associated with the original promotion. If he wanted to sell this narrative, he would have simply read the details on the coupon when the Fowlers asked where it came from, and claimed he sent in a similar coupon along with three proofs of purchase in order to receive the figure. He didn't have this information because, like the Fowlers, he didn't know that the coupon in the baggy was associated with the origin of the figure, and he didn't know that the coupon (which was folded) had this information on it. He could not read the coupon because it was in the bag which was taped shut, and to acquire this information would have meant unsealing the bag, which is what the Fowlers eventually had to do in order for us to all learn about the 3-for-one promotion in the first place.
    Last edited by Universe; December 16, 2020 at 12:47pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    You raise an interesting point which may yield information on a related mystery: who first called the toy "special edition" He-Man? I'd assumed it was Barb Hackenberg, but let's say her figure included a letter from Mattel: the letter would have identified the figure in some way. Such a letter would have probably called it a special edition figure or "special edition He-Man." That would explain both why Barb had an answer for her kids when they asked her what the toy was, and why Mattel picked up Barb's identification of the figure so readily - because it was the name they'd given the figure in this hypothetical letter.

    Your theory goes that the eBay seller tried to make people believe this figure was an authentic Mattel mail-away product by including items which he guessed were associated with the original promotion. If he wanted to sell this narrative, he would have simply read the details on the coupon when the Fowlers asked where it came from, and claimed he sent in a similar coupon along with three proofs of purchase in order to receive the figure. He didn't have this information because, like the Fowlers, he didn't know that the coupon in the baggy was associated with the origin of the figure, and he didn't know that the coupon (which was folded) had this information on it. He could not read the coupon because it was in the bag which was taped shut, and to acquire this information would have meant unsealing the bag, which is what the Fowlers eventually had to do in order for us to all learn about the 3-for-one promotion in the first place.
    we have a copy of Mattels letter to Mrs. Hackenburg. The first letter is from her to Mattel, the second from the President of Mattel's office to the V.P. of Marketing, the third is from the V.P. of Marketing to her. we can assume that is the letter sent with the merchandise mentioned in the letter. Barb originated the "special edition He-Man" name, and both Mattel employees Judy (who wrote and signed the internal memo) and Mark Ellis who responded to Mrs. Hackenburg both picked up on the Special Edition name from her. No mention was made of what Mattel called the promotional figure themselves.

    The Fowlers bagged figure was loosely taped not sealed at all. it would have certainly been possible to insert both weapons or the coupon in with the figure without removing the tape. The figure itself would have been impossible to put in or remove with the tape in place. First hand accounts mentioned the tape appeared old so was left intact until the community had a chance to see it and the contents were then opened and examined.

    That's not the problem (sealed or unsealed) however. The problem is provenance. The figure was bought on an auction website more than a decade after the original promotion offer.
    We simply have no way of knowing who put any or all of these items in the bag. It is plausible it was Mattel and it is an unopened sample of the mail away, but it is just as plausible that anyone could have put the coupon or weapons in while it was still taped or put the figure in and taped it shut for that matter.

    The Maroon weapons had long been associated with the figure in many anecdotal accounts of people who claimed to have one or knew someone who did as kids. The 3 get 1 promotion was the second leading hypothesis after the Wonderbread origin very early on. By the mid to late 1990s when the figure was being discussed by collectors and printed in magazines both associations were known. The eBay find didn't reveal that information, just made it more public.

    The Fowlers bagged figure became the archetype example of a "Wonderbread" He-Man and was the basis of comparisons and copy forgeries afterwards as the best known example. That's all. But it doesn't prove anything.
    The Fowlers themselves were honest and straightforward about where they got it and it's condition, never once asserting that it was an unopened original from Mattel, but not denying that possibility either. They simply didn't know.

    In archaeology if the "In Situ" of an artifact is disturbed before it can be documented then the piece loses context and historical relevance. They can determine it is old but not exactly how old or made by whom and left where, unless the exact provenance can be traced.

    That is what has happened here; we know the figure is authentic and the maroon weapons as well both from the same manufacturing period, but we have no way to prove they are associated beyond some childhood memories of those that remember maroon weapons and Savage He-Man, and a taped baggie with no traceable provenance to Mattel. Intriguing indeed, but hardly proof of anything.

    What we can prove so far is that the maroon weapons came with Man E Faces (unopened sealed factory examples with known provenance to the original customers that bought them, the stores, and Mattel) and only that figure alone so far as is currently known. And they were available during the same 3 get 1 promo period so it makes sense that both the weapons and the offer material are associated with Special Edition He-Man. We cannot prove how or with what it was mailed with (if anything) however, and the only hard evidence we have (Hackenburg/Mattel letters) makes clear it did not come with any weapons or armor at all.

    the Fowler find was not the origin of the maroon weapons association with the promo figure or the mail away offer hypothesis just the best known example of the figure; which then lent "credibility" to both ideas in the collecting community but not confirmation of either.
    We didn't have actual confirmation of the 3 and 1 offer as the source of the figure until 37 years after the figure was offered and distributed and more than 20 years after the Fowler find. We are still waiting for any evidence that can actually confirm that the maroon weapons are directly associated with the figure and it came with any of those, beyond the loose association of the promotion and those weapons itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    I agree that Mattel would more likely include a letter and not the promotion card, but think about this...the 7 year old would not be receiving the package or opening it. The parent would both get the mail and open the package, and most likely discard any packaging or letter included and give their young child the toy within. (and even if we had a sealed package right from Mattel, it still wouldn't explain why a brown haired He-Man so the mystery will never end) The average 7 year old doesn't care about the nondescript packaging or a letter included. What makes more sense? That Mattel included the promotion card, or someone put together their own little package to sell a figure and get a premium for it? As the letter from Mrs. Hackenberg indicated, the figure came with nothing and that is firmly what I believe.
    As far as I can remember I never participated in a MOTU mail away but certainly would have if I'd had known about any. But I certainly did do mail away offers for G.I. Joe and Star Wars as well as various cereal promotions as a kid.

    We watched the mail like hawks and any suspicious package was immediately identified as potentially "our toy" most of the time it was mom's AVON junk or a new book of checks in a box, but when a toy did arrive in the mail the return address immediately identified the figure inside without even opening it, even on blank packaging. If it said Kenner then it must be the Darth Vader Annikin Skywalker force ghost or emperor we mailed away for, or if it said Hasbro then clearly it was a G.I. joe such as Sgt. Slaughter, or if General Mills was on the box it was a monster cereal toy such as Boo berry or Count Chocula.

    Mom handed the package directly to us to open and we marveled at everything inside from the sealed vacuum poly bag surrounding the toy to the letter always included from the toy company with the fake printed signature. We often saved such artifacts for some time until the letter was lost and the box repurposed or crumpled and thrown away.

    I can assure you as twin 7 year old boys that we were very involved with the mail especially if something had our name on it, which it often did if mom mailed in UPC proofs of purchase on our behalf. We got a big kick out of seeing "Mr. so-and-so" printed or written on the package and checked the mail every day just like Ralphy from The Christmas Story and his much anticipated Ovaltine Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring mail away. We rarely got any other mail with our name on it as kids beyond a Christmas card or Highlights or Ranger Rick magazine subscription, so any package addressed to us was a very big deal indeed, especially when you often had to wait months for it to arrive.

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    what is nearly impossible to imagine is that any toy sent for in a mail away offer in the early 1980s wouldn't have been immediately opened upon arrival.
    Those toys were not "collectibles" by adult collectors back then, and usually were immediately given to the kids.

    We can only hope some package was closeted and forgotten about, or a dusty stack of mail away cases boxed on a pallet in some warehouse is discovered, but as the years go by such a discovery seems more and more improbable. We likely will never know exactly how the promo He-Man was mailed. Perhaps someone took a picture or two, but in the days of film cameras such things weren't often documented very unlike the internet unboxings of today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    I am admittedly guilty of musing about the possibility of a nexus to Conan, Faker or Prince Adam, but the desire for some romantic backstory is not really the cause of my obsession around this figure. Like many collectors, my obsession is borne out of the never-ending pursuit of context and authenticity. It’s true no doubt that the Hackenberg letter substantially resolves the question of authenticity of the figure itself. But there are still many questions around the accessories that are very much unresolved. If two of these figures were to be put up for auction, one with accessories and one without, which is the more authentic? And how much more should one pay for accessories if they are not true to the figure? This might seem like a trivial thing to fuss about, but it is not to the discerning collector. Take, as another example, the infinite number of Dragon Blaster Skeletor figures that are frequently dressed up on eBay in standard armor, paired with staff and sword, and sold as authentic. While the pieces are vintage, and arguably “complete”, nothing there is a true figure. And that may well be okay for the average middle aged collector looking to rekindle fond childhood memories, but not to me. And it’s certainly not ok for a figure of the stature of Special Edition He-Man. We must continue our pursuit for authenticity.

    And furthermore, now that Special Edition He-Man is an official member of the MOTU pantheon, how should the figure be portrayed? With a vest or without? All evidence we have in the letter suggests, as many of us thought, that the vest was never really an authentic part of the figure. However, it has become part of the figure in popular culture, much like viking helmets are always depicted with horns, even though there is no evidence outside of Wagner's operas to suggest that was ever true. So, then, do we go with the figure of myth or fact? Is Special Edition He-Man doomed to be forever portrayed with ZodacÂ’s black vest, or is this an opportunity to re-visualize the figure, and properly place it within the 2nd wave where it belongs.

    These are just a few of the reasons why we continue to obsess about how it was made, when it was made and why it was made.
    agreed. Authenticity and correct information on official MOTU products is the entire reason the figure is important at all.

    I feel that the Maroon weapons and even the Black Zodac armor are just as much a part of this figure's mystery and history just like the Wonderbread origin we can prove false. We don't have any solid evidence that those accessories ever came with it but it has become part of the lore.
    When I made my custom replicas for my personal collection (one from a old He-Man head on a Tri-klops body and the other a carefully painted prince adam) I gave one the maroon axe and sword as "Savage He-Man" and the other the black zodac armor and gun as "Wun-dar."

    A bare figure with no accessories is rather boring.
    That is the whole reason why Mrs. Hackenburg wrote her letter to Mattel to complain

    that is why people gave him random weapons from their extras to play with

    that is why he was dressed in black armor

    that is why a taped shut bag bought on eBay is still talked about and dissected 20+ years later

    That is why collector sealed cases that have been authenticated (by who????) and "professionally" graded get sold with the weapons

    That is why people argue about it nearly 40 years later

    That is why people believe the Fowler figure in a baggie with the weapons and a coupon originally came that way despite not having any proof it actually did

    that is why prices for those particular accessories have skyrocketed

    The simple truth is it was a "naked" cheap promotional item given away as part of a buy 3 get 1 free offer and nothing more. The truth is rather boring.

    So i think legends and lore should be considered when referencing the figure even if the myths can be debunked or the gossip can't be proved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post

    the three letters shown in the video:

    https://i.imgur.com/IGoJimx.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/zk2CwKV.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/YW5hRzg.jpg
    Who is the Judy that signed the memo from President Ray Wagner's office?
    Following up on the only line of hard evidence we have as to this figure's origins.
    Who is Judy that signed that letter authorizing free stuff for Barb and her son and nephew?
    would that be Judy Shackelford that worked on the Barbie and She-Ra Princess of Power lines?
    If she read Mrs. Hackenburg's letter and passed it on to V.P. Mark Ellis for a response to the customer she would likely remember it. Has she been questioned about the buy 3 get 1 free promotion or the variant promo figure?

    Interesting that Ellis gave Barb two figures and other unspecified MOTU merchandise rather than just the single free figure Judy thought MIGHT be appropriate. Hahaha.
    Last edited by ravenloft; December 16, 2020 at 08:45pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post

    Perhaps a better question is, who besides someone who already had it could get their hands on one of these coupons almost twenty years later? I've been trawling eBay since the early '00s, and I've never seen one listed. The original owner of the Fowlers' sample had to have already had it. The only other samples that have ever been documented have been forgeries created by copying the Fowlers' original coupon after they posted images of it for the community.



    So you're saying they guessed right about the context of the figure, threw in some weapons it was never intended to have, then included an authentic coupon which happens to be both materially related to the figure yet impossible to find, but which also shouldn't have been included? And they did this in order to put into context a narrative that no one else knew because they still thought the figure should have black Zodac armor back then? IMO, that's a bit of a stretch.


    I think you're forgetting that the Fowlers have had their sample since June, 2000. That's two years before this entire Wonderbread He-Man thread even existed. (Was it before He-Man.org existed?) The figure itself was never discussed on the old He-Man mailing list, which ran through January 1998. Whoever put the Fowler's sample in its baggy clearly knew more about the origins of the figure than anyone else did at that time. They clearly had insight into the maroon weapons and the coupon being associated with the figure, and they knew that other items associated with the figure at that time (such as the black Zodac armor and pistol) should not be included with the figure. Nobody knew that back then with any certainty. Only the original owner or Mattel themselves could have associated all of these items together. http://toyarchive.com/HemanWonderbread.html


    How do we know the example purchased by the Fowlers isn't a forgery?


    What I'm saying is whoever put the promotion card in with the figure did it to either confirm the provenance, or to create a false provenance and they guessed right. The fact that no other example of this card exists does not prove to me it's legitimate. Actually the opposite, I would think at least one more would have surfaced in 20 years.



    The Fowler's bagged figure CREATED the narrative we have been debating for 20 years, again, just because this one example sparked the debate and mystery doesn't make it legitimate. I've never heard of any mail-away coming with a copy of the original card, coupon, or ad that you sent in to get it. Simply doesn't make sense. It is quite possible the original owner kept the card with the figure in some incredible foresight that this would one day become a valuable item, but I find that highly unlikely. And this individual would be a collector themselves, but they never once came forward to explain the package or argue it's legitimacy in 20 years?

    I propose we call this Figure Swiss Cheese He-Man due to all the holes in every theory behind it's existance

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzguitars View Post
    How do we know the example purchased by the Fowlers isn't a forgery?


    What I'm saying is whoever put the promotion card in with the figure did it to either confirm the provenance, or to create a false provenance and they guessed right. The fact that no other example of this card exists does not prove to me it's legitimate. Actually the opposite, I would think at least one more would have surfaced in 20 years.



    The Fowler's bagged figure CREATED the narrative we have been debating for 20 years, again, just because this one example sparked the debate and mystery doesn't make it legitimate. I've never heard of any mail-away coming with a copy of the original card, coupon, or ad that you sent in to get it. Simply doesn't make sense. It is quite possible the original owner kept the card with the figure in some incredible foresight that this would one day become a valuable item, but I find that highly unlikely. And this individual would be a collector themselves, but they never once came forward to explain the package or argue it's legitimacy in 20 years?

    I propose we call this Figure Swiss Cheese He-Man due to all the holes in every theory behind it's existance
    the Fowler find did not create the narrative. It was always assumed Savage He-Man was a give away promo figure, the three widely known corporate promos for MOTU even at the beginning were Nesquick, Wonderbread and Mattel buy 3 get 1 free. The figure was identified as a promotional give away in collector magazines as early as the mid 1990s (albeit incorrectly associated with Wonderbread)
    The figure's origins were being discussed for years prior to the Fowler find. The coupon was known in Barbie collector groups as well.

    what the Fowler find did do that is remarkable is collect 3 items together from the correct promotion 20+ years before it was confirmed to be the actual origin of the figure.
    Man E Faces maroon weapons
    buy 3 get 1 free offer
    special edition promo figure

    the only mystery with the Fowler find is who put them together? was it the orginal customer? Was it Mattel and it is a sample of the mailer? Was it a subsequent owner? The Fowlers themselves?
    That taped shut baggie made the mystery famous, and increased awareness and speculation dramatically, but the mystery itself predates the eBay purchase as does the figure itself obviously.

    The most logical conclusion is that the original owner put the figure received in the mail with the weapons purchased with Man E Faces during the promotion and somehow also had a coupon for the promotion as well.

    Less likely is that it was all included in the baggie from Mattel. problems with that idea is that it doesn't make any sense to return a coupon for the promotion to the customer unless it was marked redeemed (the hole punch perhaps?) and as far as we know for sure so far the promo figure came with nothing (Hackenburg example) and the only confirmed source of any maroon weapons was "Man E Weapons" variant carded figure of Man E Faces. Most if not all such toy promotions also include a letter from the company.

    Least likely is that a clever collector actually knew the origins of the figure, collected the related materials and then advertised the "find." The huge problem with that idea is why wouldn't they just claim credit for solving the mystery instead? The Fowlers themselves never claimed anything just brought the semi sealed baggie to the MOTU collector community attention. The mysterious source of the figure wasn't conclusively known until decades later.

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    the Hackenburg/Mattel letters are our only solid evidence of the origin of the figure, and show that Special Edition He-Man came with nothing.

    The fowler sample is a tangential mystery that remains unsolved.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Fowler
    "The WB He-Man we have came as is in a baggie. The coupon could have been another promotional offer, but who knows? The toy seller I bought it from said his wife ordered it through the mail, but does [sic, probably meant doesn't] remember from who."
    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant Fowler
    "As Darren mentioned above, its also surrounded in mystery as the owner was not even sure where it came from. To my knowledge, this is the only figure to have shown up on ebay like this. I am not trying to say its legit, but it is different and there was a "free action figure" promotional card inside the bag. It came with the maroon sword and axe like the Man-E-Weapons did. Also realize these weapons look to have come out at about the same time Man-E-Weapons did in 83."
    The bagged figure with weapons and coupon was purchased on an online auction site more than 10 years after the original promo offer from a "toy seller", whose wife ordered it through the mail, but couldn't remember from who.
    I interpret that as she purchased the figure from a prior owner and recieved it in the mail as is, but couldn't remember from who, meaning she was not the original owner/customer who redeemed the offer.

    Alternatively it could be interpreted she WAS the original customer and couldn't remember the offer was from Mattel. I find that extremely unlikely because the Fowlers stated she was the wife of a "toy seller" implying a professional toy dealer who would know He-Man is made by Mattel, and she would have to had known where to mail the proofs of purchase to get the promo figure and want to get it in the first place. it seems highly implausible she forgot where she got it from if she was the original owner who mailed the proofs of purchase.

    Did the Fowler quote mean the eBayer they recieved it from was a professional toy dealer or simply a person selling a toy? I think it is clear the eBay seller was not the original owner from the Fowler quotes, and that they (Fowlers) were clearly aware of the maroon weapons actual origin with Man E Faces.

    I think the original owner of the baggied sample remains unknown and likely put all the items in the baggie themselves rather than Mattel, then sold the vintage toy to a toy dealer who then moved it on eBay where Darren Fowler bought it. this implies at least 3 owners maybe more and doesn't identify the original owner who participated in the offer to get the figure.

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    does anyone know what happened to the Hackenburg's special edition figure(s) owned by her son(s) or nephew(s) mentioned in the letter? I know she was contacted by phone by forum members, but what do her kids remember? What happened to their mail away figure(s)?

    What other MOTU figures and unspecified merchandise did they recieve mentioned in Mattel V.P. of Marketing Mark Ellis's response letter to Barb Hackberg?
    Last edited by ravenloft; December 18, 2020 at 01:59pm.

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    The Fowler's bagged figure CREATED the narrative we have been debating for 20 years, again, just because this one example sparked the debate and mystery doesn't make it legitimate.
    I agree, but with much of the mystery of the figure's origin solved, I think the Fowler sample deserves a fresh look with the benefit of our new knowledge. Before, there wasn't much of a reason to speculate too deeply about the Fowler sample: any hypothesis formed had basically a fraction of chance of a fraction of a chance of being correct. However, affirmation of the figure's origins changes that equation: we have now eliminated most possibilities regarding anything the figure may have been packaged with, yet everything regarding the potential authenticity of the Fowler sample is still in play.

    Additionally, the situation regarding Barb Hackenberg gives us reason to believe that Mattel altered their mail-away offer fulfillment: Mrs. Hackenberg and her kids were disappointed at a naked figure with no weapons, and Mattel agreed with her and sent her supplemental materials. It seems very likely that Mattel would have also addressed the situation with any remaining 3-for-one offers, and throwing a few spare weapons which had no other purpose at this point would definitely have been the cheapest way to address this issue. Whatever their action, it's likely Mattel did something if there were still 3-for-one requests remaining to be fulfilled by mid-August, 1983.

    The most logical conclusion is that the original owner put the figure received in the mail with the weapons purchased with Man E Faces during the promotion and somehow also had a coupon for the promotion as well.
    It seems plausible that the original owner put the mail-away figure in a bag with an original coupon he happened to still have. Maybe he did this for his personal record-keeping. It's possible that the maroon weapons were packaged with it for similar reasons, except "record-keeping" wouldn't have been one of those reasons. Including them would only confuse a later owner (or even himself) about whether those items were supposed to be attached to the figure. To do it intentionally screws up the record-keeping.

    And if it was the original owner that put those weapons in the bag, why two of the five weapons? Did he lose the other three (while ironically holding onto an original coupon)? Certainly possible, but still... strange. Strange enough that I'm not comfortable giving it my blessing as the most likely scenario.

    Here's a slightly different hypothetical: If, all along, the Fowler sample had been bagged with a couple of maroon weapons but no coupon, I would be less likely to believe its possible authenticity at this point. The original coupon adds (IMO) quite a bit of weight to the authenticity question since it substantially increases the odds that those weapons were paired with the figure far earlier than June, 2000. To me, this mystery is still unsolved.

    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft
    I interpret that as she purchased the figure from a prior owner and received it in the mail as is, but couldn't remember from who, meaning she was not the original owner/customer who redeemed the offer.
    I interpreted that line as "but does[n't] remember [the source]". Coupled with the "ordered through the mail" bit, it gave me the impression that she ordered it from somewhere but couldn't remember the source, which to me meant Mattel. There are people who order free stuff all the time through the mail for a number of reasons. Grandmothers do this for grandkids, collectors will do this and then keep everything unopened when it arrives. A toy seller might do this, as well, although it seems strange that they wouldn't have kept themselves a record of where it came from if they regularly did this kind of thing.

    I think that your interpretation of the line is also reasonable.


    Was it a subsequent owner? The Fowlers themselves?
    Well that settles it. We need to start accusing the Fowlers of orchestrating a massive conspiracy until they go through their eBay history and contact the original seller to pump them for more information to answer our pressing questions!

    - - - Updated - - -

    One other point regarding authenticity: the plastic bag itself. If you remember (or if you've dealt with a damaged MIB or MOC vintage figure in the last few decades), Mattel would actually use similar plastic baggies in their packaging which were only sealed by a single piece of scotch tape. Just off the top of my head, the ball of Megator's mace was packaged exactly like this, Stridor's helmet and tail were packaged exactly like this. Stratos' wings were originally held in place with scotch tape before they went to rubber bands, and minicomics were occasionally held in place with a piece of scotch tape across one of the corners.

    This is not conclusive evidence of anything, except that even the baggy itself cannot be eliminated as inauthentic. It conforms to standard Mattel practices used during the vintage MOTU toyline. Very easy to forge if one were so inclined, but is somewhat less likely if the narrative of pulling one over on an unsuspecting eBayer is eliminated. After all, Ziplocs have been around since way before 2000, and it's a much better storage system for vintage figures than a plastic bag with tape.

    (Also: in Mattel packaging, clear scotch tape was ALWAYS applied to plastic bags as follows: plastic bag folded over once, single piece of scotch tape (from 3/4" up to as long as 3") applied directly in the center of the bag where it meets the folded-over top. The tape was always applied vertically, never horizontally, although it was occasionally haphazardly angled rather than perfectly perpendicular. And the tape was always 1/2" clear scotch tape, not the 5/8" matte scotch tape you usually get in stores these days. I don't know what the tape on the Fowler's bag looks like, but if it conforms to standard Mattel practices, it would have followed this procedure.)
    Last edited by Universe; December 19, 2020 at 04:43am.

  17. #3067
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    One other point regarding authenticity: the plastic bag itself. If you remember (or if you've dealt with a damaged MIB or MOC vintage figure in the last few decades), Mattel would actually use similar plastic baggies in their packaging which were only sealed by a single piece of scotch tape. Just off the top of my head, the ball of Megator's mace was packaged exactly like this, Stridor's helmet and tail were packaged exactly like this. Stratos' wings were originally held in place with scotch tape before they went to rubber bands, and minicomics were occasionally held in place with a piece of scotch tape across one of the corners.
    All of this conversation about plastic bags and tape spurred me to do a brief search of the Worthpoint archives of bagged WB He-Men sold on eBay (easy to search: "wonder bread he-man bag"). There's not a lot, but still an interesting sample size nonetheless. A few observations:

    1. There are several examples that appear to have the same poly bag with what appears to be a half inch seam on the bottom of the bag. This is consistent with the Fowler example. Maybe that style of bag is more prevalent than I think, but I feel that samples that have that seam are more likely to be authentic. Here's an awesome fraudulent sample with no seam. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...otu-1801459472. And in this example, the seller acknowledges the bag is not authentic, and it is not seamed. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...vage-238407360.

    2. Although there are bagged figures that do appear to come with the axe and/or sword, there is one example with the laser gun. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...erse-129222953.

    I recognize that, as ravenloft says, it's rather difficult to place much weight on these loose bags covered with an old piece of yellow tape. At the same time, I also appreciate Universe's insight into the packaging of other examples of MOTU toys. The more I think about this, though, I wonder if our problem is that the packaging of this particular figure was ultimately more of a human process than with any other MOTU toy. What I'm saying is that, what if the packaging of each Special Edition He-Man was in direct response to the receipt of a 3-for-1 mail-in from a specific customer? In other words, I'm suggesting that these figures were not packaged in advance. Rather, a mail-in would arrive and be directed to someone in promotions. That person would then go and grab a plastic poly bag off the shelf, insert the Special-Edition He-Man, and then tear a piece of tape off the dispenser on their desk and apply to the bag. That could have been the process with the Barb Hackenberg mail-in. After that, someone brought a bin of maroon weapons into their office and said, throw a couple of those in next time. Thereafter, whoever was responding to the mail-in would grab a couple of weapons out of the bin like someone who grabs random pieces of candy out of a Trick-or-Treat bowl, and toss them into the baggie as well. That could explain why the weapons are different from bag to bag. Which means it might be hopeless to try to discern any further kind of provenance here, other than the manufacturing of the figure itself. The weapons may well have been like any other random Halloween candy thrown into the bag.
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  18. #3068
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    I recognize that, as ravenloft says, it's rather difficult to place much weight on these loose bags covered with an old piece of yellow tape. At the same time, I also appreciate Universe's insight into the packaging of other examples of MOTU toys. The more I think about this, though, I wonder if our problem is that the packaging of this particular figure was ultimately more of a human process than with any other MOTU toy. What I'm saying is that, what if the packaging of each Special Edition He-Man was in direct response to the receipt of a 3-for-1 mail-in from a specific customer? In other words, I'm suggesting that these figures were not packaged in advance. Rather, a mail-in would arrive and be directed to someone in promotions. That person would then go and grab a plastic poly bag off the shelf, insert the Special-Edition He-Man, and then tear a piece of tape off the dispenser on their desk and apply to the bag. That could have been the process with the Barb Hackenberg mail-in. After that, someone brought a bin of maroon weapons into their office and said, throw a couple of those in next time. Thereafter, whoever was responding to the mail-in would grab a couple of weapons out of the bin like someone who grabs random pieces of candy out of a Trick-or-Treat bowl, and toss them into the baggie as well. That could explain why the weapons are different from bag to bag. Which means it might be hopeless to try to discern any further kind of provenance here, other than the manufacturing of the figure itself. The weapons may well have been like any other random Halloween candy thrown into the bag.
    That summarizes my thoughts on the process for mailing out this figure pretty well. I recognize there's no hard evidence, and the evidence we do have is often sketchy and prone to memory failure. Still, the theory makes a lot of sense in my mind.

    As for those other bagged samples, I wouldn't put much stock in any of them after the Fowler's sample. As we all saw with the Zodac armor, people got hold of the special edition figure and then put the items with it they thought it was supposed to have based on what our community deemed to be "authentic" at the time. So for a while people were putting Zodac armor on their special edition figures when they got them, and people put the maroon weapons with the figure whether they were preparing to sell it or after they received it. I did the same thing, actually: despite that I got my sample of the special edition figure in a big eBay lot that hardly had any weapons or armor in the whole lot, my special edition figure is currently stored in a nice clamshell case with black Zodac armor, the maroon short sword and axe, and the set of Wonderbread MOTU cards.

    The Fowler sample I give weight to because it seems it got everything right (or at least not demonstrably wrong) way before anyone else did, and because it doesn't appear to be the product of a scam. Other than the Fowler sample, the only samples I put stock in are people who remember ordering the special edition figure when they were kids. While those memories may be faulty, collecting and examining those memories altogether can yield trends in data, and trends in data often point us in the right direction, even if they can't be conclusively proved for decades.
    Last edited by Universe; December 20, 2020 at 02:24am.

  19. #3069
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    All of this conversation about plastic bags and tape spurred me to do a brief search of the Worthpoint archives of bagged WB He-Men sold on eBay (easy to search: "wonder bread he-man bag"). There's not a lot, but still an interesting sample size nonetheless. A few observations:

    1. There are several examples that appear to have the same poly bag with what appears to be a half inch seam on the bottom of the bag. This is consistent with the Fowler example. Maybe that style of bag is more prevalent than I think, but I feel that samples that have that seam are more likely to be authentic. Here's an awesome fraudulent sample with no seam. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...otu-1801459472. And in this example, the seller acknowledges the bag is not authentic, and it is not seamed. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...vage-238407360.

    2. Although there are bagged figures that do appear to come with the axe and/or sword, there is one example with the laser gun. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...erse-129222953.

    I recognize that, as ravenloft says, it's rather difficult to place much weight on these loose bags covered with an old piece of yellow tape. At the same time, I also appreciate Universe's insight into the packaging of other examples of MOTU toys. The more I think about this, though, I wonder if our problem is that the packaging of this particular figure was ultimately more of a human process than with any other MOTU toy. What I'm saying is that, what if the packaging of each Special Edition He-Man was in direct response to the receipt of a 3-for-1 mail-in from a specific customer? In other words, I'm suggesting that these figures were not packaged in advance. Rather, a mail-in would arrive and be directed to someone in promotions. That person would then go and grab a plastic poly bag off the shelf, insert the Special-Edition He-Man, and then tear a piece of tape off the dispenser on their desk and apply to the bag. That could have been the process with the Barb Hackenberg mail-in. After that, someone brought a bin of maroon weapons into their office and said, throw a couple of those in next time. Thereafter, whoever was responding to the mail-in would grab a couple of weapons out of the bin like someone who grabs random pieces of candy out of a Trick-or-Treat bowl, and toss them into the baggie as well. That could explain why the weapons are different from bag to bag. Which means it might be hopeless to try to discern any further kind of provenance here, other than the manufacturing of the figure itself. The weapons may well have been like any other random Halloween candy thrown into the bag.
    I hadn't really seen any other alleged baggie samples that weren't clear forgeries (including the coupon scan) based on the fowler before, that is interesting. If any actually are legitimate examples of the mail away Mattel packaging or the Fowler find itself for that matter, it is certainly very plausible that Mattel reponded to Barb's letter or others like it with an adjustment such as tossing in a few weapons. I wish we could find some indisputable evidence that they did just that. it would tidy up a lot if anecdotal reports of memories and fit nicely.

    Wishful thinking or speculative notions aren't facts though. The Hackenburg/Mattel letters are all we have for certain to go on, so as far as we know the weapons only came with Man E Faces until proven otherwise.

  20. #3070
    Heroic Warrior King Kahn's Avatar
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    As far as a figure coming with a coupon for the same promo, it’s not uncommon.

    For promos I did at work we sent out coupons that were essentially the same idea. They sent in upcs, filled out a form, got the free thing and we sent them another form as well.

    Why? Because if this consumer was willing to partake in the promo then they were highly likely to do it again.

    Remember. The idea for the company to do the promo is to move product so why wouldn’t you want to resend the promo to someone already proven to engage. Plus many times you’re sending a bunch of other marketing things like catalogs etc with the gift anyway.

    GIJoe also did this with their mail away flag point program.

    I’d fill out the forms. Send in flag points. Get the figures or vehicles and they’d send the catalogs I just filled out, likely hoping I’d buy more.
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  21. #3071
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Kahn View Post
    As far as a figure coming with a coupon for the same promo, itÂ’s not uncommon.

    For promos I did at work we sent out coupons that were essentially the same idea. They sent in upcs, filled out a form, got the free thing and we sent them another form as well.

    Why? Because if this consumer was willing to partake in the promo then they were highly likely to do it again.

    Remember. The idea for the company to do the promo is to move product so why wouldnÂ’t you want to resend the promo to someone already proven to engage. Plus many times youÂ’re sending a bunch of other marketing things like catalogs etc with the gift anyway.

    GIJoe also did this with their mail away flag point program.

    IÂ’d fill out the forms. Send in flag points. Get the figures or vehicles and theyÂ’d send the catalogs I just filled out, likely hoping IÂ’d buy more.
    Thanks for that insight. Makes perfect sense to reissue another coupon if the goal is to sell three more figures.

    Interesting that only the Fowler find had a coupon (and the obvious copy cats who used that one as a template) while the worthpoint bagged samples posted above didn't appear to come with one.

    I need to examine the store ads better to see exactly how the maroon weapons were advertised. Several showed the extra weapons in illustrations (or perhaps a photo?) There may be some clue we missed.

    Another idea that I had is how did the original sand tan weapons rack weapons come packaged inside Castle Grayskull? Could certainly provide some insight.

    The baggies are fun to speculate about but even theHackenburg letter makes no mention of packaging to give us any confirmation how it was shipped.
    All of the maroon weapons bagged with the figure hypotheses hinge on the assumption that Mattel changed how they handled the promo and increased what they included in response to customer feedback.
    While interesting to entertain that possibility it is a pretty thin assumption based on zero evidence at the moment, no matter how logical we can make it sound.

    I would love to be able to add some actual evidence that the maroon weapons could be tied directly to the Special Edition He-Man figure.
    Last edited by ravenloft; December 21, 2020 at 11:11am.

  22. #3072
    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post

    Another idea that I had is how did the original sand tan weapons rack weapons come packaged inside Castle Grayskull? Could certainly provide some insight.
    The Castle Grayskull weapons came on trees, like the TMNT weapons:




  23. #3073
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    Although there are bagged figures that do appear to come with the axe and/or sword, there is one example with the laser gun. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...erse-129222953.
    I should apologize for only giving these a cursory glance before posting yesterday. Having looked at this again, I think it deserves some attention.

    The sample you identified appears to match the bag from the Fowler sample precisely. That doesn't mean it's not fake - it's certainly not too difficult for a scammer to find a bag that would match the Fowlers' - but at the very least it requires a discerning attention to detail, and if we suspected fraud, then we'd also suspect a copy of the Fowler weapons. For the sake of this conversation, I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    I think the whole 3-for-one promotion was kind of slapped together: sending a figure with no letter(?) or standard packaging to consumers; going to the effort of creating a whole new paint job for a figure, but then failing to advertise that they'd done so in any way; not thinking to include weapons or anything else, which they had to apologize for when an irritated customer called them out on it.

    That person would then go and grab a plastic poly bag off the shelf, insert the Special-Edition He-Man, and then tear a piece of tape off the dispenser on their desk and apply to the bag. That could have been the process with the Barb Hackenberg mail-in. After that, someone brought a bin of maroon weapons into their office and said, throw a couple of those in next time.
    It wouldn't surprise me if the sample identified by Springor Spanior is a legit sample, despite not having a coupon. I suspect mail order requests were fulfilled by hand, and coupons may have been haphazardly included: one person filling out orders may have thought to throw them in, the next person might not have. It would seem Mattel probably wasn't super strict in their instructions, which would make sense if they hadn't even bothered to have a 3-for-one response letter drafted and ready to include with each figure (still unknown).

    (It's also still plausible that the original owner added the original coupon to the bag after he received the figure just to keep track of it - I do similar things in order to keep my MOTU items organized. Less likely that he added the weapons if he knew that the weapons weren't supposed to be included.)

    The only other qualifier I would add is that, since we know Barb Hackenberg's sample was mailed without weapons, Mattel would have less reason to put the figure in a bag. However, a baggy still has utility for shipping because it protects the figure from the elements and from bouncing around inside a larger mailer, whether that mailer be a box or a padded envelope. My speculation is that Barb Hackenberg's sample also came in the same clear poly bag.

    If we get the chance, I think we need to ask the Hackenbergs a few questions:

    1) Was the original mailer a box or an envelope? Did the mailer have Mattel clearly written on the outside? (i.e., how did they know it was from Mattel?)

    2) Did their figure come with any sort of letter from Mattel. If so, what did it say? Did it identify the figure as a special edition He-Man?

    3) Did the figure come in a clear plastic bag? Was anything else besides the figure included in the package from Mattel (such as another 'Buy 3 Get One Free' coupon)?

    4) What were the supplemental items that Mattel sent them in response to Barb Hackenberg's letter?

    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft
    problems with that idea is that it doesn't make any sense to return a coupon for the promotion to the customer unless it was marked redeemed (the hole punch perhaps?)
    One point. This isn't a hole that's been manually punched. This hole is a hang tab so that the pad of coupons can be hung from a hook and individual coupons can be separated. If a coupon was pulled from a hanging pad, there would be a tear at the top of the coupon. The Fowler coupon was probably from a pad placed on a flat surface. I was hoping that the fact that their coupon is a little creased might hint about its origins, but since it looks to have been mailed in the bag with the figure, those creases may have all occurred during shipping.

  24. #3074
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    All I ask is that folks take a look at these bagged and yellowy aged taped examples. I'm not trying to overstate their weight as evidence. I merely ask that we look at them and compare to the Fowler example. They are, at the very least, interesting.

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...nder-468486148

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...-man-516381261
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  25. #3075
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    All I ask is that folks take a look at these bagged and yellowy aged taped examples. I'm not trying to overstate their weight as evidence. I merely ask that we look at them and compare to the Fowler example. They are, at the very least, interesting.

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...nder-468486148

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...-man-516381261
    Yeesh. The figures are legit, the bags look legit, and the story sounds fairly reasonable. I'm suspicious of the fact that he has two special edition figures and both have the short sword and axe, though. Our working theory is that these maroon weapons were created first for Man-E-Faces, then later may have been added to the special edition figure. Which means that the odds of another figure having the precise weapon configuration of the Fowler sample would be fairly low. Having two with the exact same weapon configuration would be extremely low.

    This guy also clearly knows everything discussed about the mail away promotion, so he's clearly been reading these forums, and to me that's the biggest warning sign. I suspect he bagged them himself, although I can't explain how he'd have yellowed the tape.

    Just goes to show that all of our speculations here about what's legit and what's suspicious may be wrong!

    Edit: Also suspicious that one of his samples has paint wear on the hair. I've seen untouched MOC figures with poorly painted hair, but actual paint rubs seems less likely.
    Last edited by Universe; December 22, 2020 at 12:14am.

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