By the Memories of Grayskull!

Category: Masters of the Universe
Last article published: 12 February 2012
This is the 9th post under this label

When the big action figure boom of the 80s hit, the line I got interested in was Masters of the Universe. I got my share of Super-Powers and Secret Wars figures - as superhero comics were becoming my main hobby - and certainly, today I wish I'd invested more in THOSE, because I couldn't really tell you why He-Man fired up my imagination. After all, I was at least a couple years away from getting into Dungeons & Dragons and from there, fantasy novels. It wasn't that. Maybe I just got a couple figures for a birthday because they were the hot-selling toys and decided I wanted to collect them. I really don't remember. What DO I remember?

Well, I didn't collect for too long as all the figures I had (yes, had, my mom dropped them at a Salvation Army-type place when I left for college) were from the 1982 to 1984 lines. He-Man, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Teela were my basic group, maybe Zodac too, and in beyond whatever adventures they lived through in our cheap basement apartment, Teela and Beast-Man were carrying on an affair, possibly to He-Man's dismay. In '82, I was all of 11, to give some context to these romantic awakenings, and the animated series wouldn't exist for another year to dictate any actual relationships. That Christmas, I got the Castle Grayskull, and wasn't it keen!
It's weird, but I don't remember BUYING figures, not the way I did superheroes or indeed, my brother's G.I. Joe and Transformers only a couple years later. They were mostly gifts. Although I DO remember buying MOTU knock-offs, like the lizard men - Snake Man and Gecko - from Remco's Warrior Beasts action figure line (kind of attached to the Warlord toys)!
We LOVED these two guys. Snake Man was might, Gecko my brother's, and the first summer we spent in Texas, he took Gecko everywhere to the point where the parental unit would threaten him with confiscation. My brother doesn't remember this, but he just walked around in a traumatized fog; Gecko was his emotional anchor. Both lizards were sent to the second-hand store with He-Man, but truthfully, they were the only ones I had any attachment to. One day, I'll find them on eBay, send Gecko to my brother, and put Snake Man on a special shelf.

MOTU or not, large fantasy figures were the thing. The NEXT Christmas over, every family member got me a figure, seems like, and the collection grew just as I was outgrowing IT. I had a couple figures from the 1984 line that was in that batch - Battle Armor He-Man and Skeletor (when you hit their chest, the armor would spin to show more and more damage), and possibly Jitsu (his armor is beautiful which is why I remember him at all). Pretty sure. Otherwise, the coolest figure was Ram-Man. Even if he was totally off-model compared to the others. To make him spring-ram other figures, he had to be an empty vacuum form, so no hard plastic body, no soft head, and no waste articulation. I also got Man-E-Faces and ugh, Faker.
I remember being very disappointed to get Faker, because he's just He-Man with the wrong colors. Take him armor off and his chest has a badly-applied sticker - yes, a STICKER - of his robotic circuits. The He-Man mold is so CUT that the sticker had to straddle his pecs more stupidly. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Looking at lists, I think Stratos might have been in toy chest as well, but he's too early for that Christmas.

After I hit 13, it seemed like the toy market was aiming for smaller figures. Transformers could be big, but humans in relation would have looked very small. G.I. Joe and the aforementioned superhero ones were much smaller than the big fantasy figs. So I bought much in the way of toys during my teen years, they tended to be smaller so they could better interact with the loads of Joes showing up in the house, and fit the vehicles of course. Thankfully, it looks like I brought the superheroes with me to college because they survived the purge and I still have them.

Anyway, the memory can cheat, but that's what I remember. It kind of feels like my love and quick abandonment of them is a signpost on the road from childhood to my teenage years.


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