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WHO IS HE-MAN?

In the early 1980's, Mattel was supposed to create a line of toys that resembled "Conan the Barbarian" action figures. But the marketing department must have decided that an uncivilized pagan sword-wielding barbarian might not be the ideal role model for children, and so the toy line was converted into the "Masters of the Universe" series of toys.



Mattel hired the film studio Filmmation to create a television cartoon to go along with the toy line, as was the trend in the eighties. Their background artists created some stunning and surreal settings for the action, and the incidental music by Shuki Levy, Haim Saban and Erika Lane was often haunting and lyrical. "He-Man" had a storybook type feel, but it was an adventure for boys.

 













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The series started off straightforwardly enough, telling simple adventure stories from the planet Eternia. The prince of Eternia, Adam, has a magic sword which can transform him into He-Man, an incredibly powerful defender of the kingdom. His nemesis, the evil Skeletor, plots with his henchmen to conquer Eternia, and also to control the mysterious Castle Greyskull from which He-Man gets his power. After throwing in a few allies for He-Man, a lot of melodramatic comic-book dialogue, and the occasional magic artifact, another typical cartoon adventure series was born.

He-Man" proved to be a victim of its own success. The first season was so successful as a merchandising vehicle that other manufacturers, eager to seize upon a profitable idea themselves, quickly began bringing toy-based cartoons of their own into production. Within two years the market for syndicated cartoons was saturated and hopelessly overcrowded, and programs began to fail left and right. "He-Man", despite its earlier success, became one of the many casualties.

Shows like Transformers, Gijoe, Go-Bots, Droids, Voltron all started copying the He-Man formula of success and it was all ruined. But it was great growing up in the eighties where there were so many cool toys and television shows for kids. What can I say, the eighties kid was spoiled rotten.

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