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He-Man: an appreciation

By IHCOYC in Media
Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:53:36 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Over the past weekend, Cartoon Network debuted the movie-length premier of their new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series.

Go ahead and admit it. You're a fan of this funny and cheesy Eighties cartoon.

It's pretty good. The animation quality is better, albeit slightly more animé influenced. There is more martial arts stuff in this version. The look is almost the same, and the animation style has only been slightly updated to more resemble newer works. You will recognise the characters immediately; their costumes are variations on the old ones.

The characters have their same personalities, and the story --- an origin story of He-Man --- is in continuity with the original series as far as I can remember.

The voices are even recognisable, except for Prince Adam's, and I suspect he has a high pitched voice because this series is set when he was sixteen years old, being an origin story. King Randor and Skeletor were voiced almost identically to the eighties series, with Skeletor's voice acting having a bit of Tim Curry's Dr. Frank N. Furter added to it, which is so right. Evil-Lyn has been given a major power boost, and appears here as Skeletor's most dangerous ally and rival.

Mercifully, no sermonette was added!

I was moving some old files onto a new machine, and I found this old, old review, which was originally written on the C=64 and published. Perhaps people now don't understand how badly children's fantasy/action series sucked in the late Seventies. There was a renaissance in the genre led by such series as Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man, Thundercats, and GI Joe. These series stuck in several peoples' memories, it seems. Now they're nostalgia topics, and several of them have been resurrected in various forms. Since I know several of these series have major fans among the readers of the list, I thought I'd share this:

"He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"
Originally appearing in Dreamshore magazine, No. 15 (August, 1984)

Once again we shall consider the role of fantasy in children's television, in the context of a review of the programme He Man and the Masters of the Universe. In so considering, it is appropriate to begin at the logical beginning, and so I shall: with a discussion of Cato the Elder.

Now, there may be some stockfish among the readers who failed to immediately grasp the relevance and logical importance of Cato to the issues at hand; indeed, there may in fact be some second-form tyro who is unaware of who Cato was and what he did. I counsel these: read on! I told you I would discuss him, didn't I? All shall be set plain.

If I were writing the dramatis personæ of a bad play, I might be tempted to cast Marcus Portius Priscus Cato as a "lovable old curmudgeon." In fact, he was the Jerry Falwell of his era. He was always hot for war with the Carthaginians, who from the Roman perspective were like the Russians and the Nazis rolled into one. The Carthaginians were the ones who sacrificed babies to Moloch -- this, at least, was one of the moral, uplifting tales I learned in Sunday School. If the Carthaginians had won the Punic Wars, we'd all be speaking Aramaic. Yecch.

Cato fought the Carthaginians and Hannibal in the Second Punic War, serving under Scipio Africanus. This wasn't enough for him. After all, Carthage was still out there. As a Roman Senator, he ended each of his speeches -- regardless of whether they were anti-abortion on demand or pro-CIA -- with the words "Remember, Carthage must be destroyed!" He lived just long enough to see this objective accomplished in the Third Punic War.

Cato was also against the infiltration of Rome by "Greek culture." To most Romans, Greek culture meant Plato and the Iliad; but to Cato, the phrase meant about the same thing as it means in certain modern pornographic literature. Of course, he'd be against it.

This portrait of Cato, however, is very one-sided; hee had another side that was very different. When not completely absorbed by the threat of Carthage, he would retire to his Tuscan farms and estates. This was where the man's heart was at.

He wrote several works on agriculture. These works describe a world that might have been designed by Monique Cagle. He loved to dote upon the Ægipans and Fauns that haunted his woods and fields. He was a past master at magick. His works preserve the spells used in rural Latium to placate Unfriendly Ghosts, and the chants in honour of the Spirits of the Vineyards.

This is another reason why he was hostile to Plato and Aristotle. He felt that their emphasis on "philosophy" and "logic" was undermining the Romans' ability to see and feel all of these magical things, and leading them to dismiss them as "myths" or "fairy tales." He was right. I told you he would fit in somewhere.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a cartoon that is set in a swords-and-sorcery planet called Eternia. Eternia is ruled by King Randor; his son is Prince Adam, the chief character of the stories. Prince Adam is a cowardly blond muscleman dressed in a Cote d'Azur chemise. However, he possesses a magic sword, and when he holds it aloft and says the magic words "By the Power of Grayskull," he is transformed in the-Man, the Most Powerful Man in the Universe. He-Man is a brave blond muscleman in a skimpy, ineffectual looking baldric. Prince Adam's pet is a cowardly cat named Cringer; but when Prince Adam changes to He-Man, Cringer becomes a giant green tiger named Battle-Cat, who has a saddle He-Man can ride in, and a more useful looking suit of armour.

The Power of Grayskull mentioned above has its seat in the aptly named Castle Grayskull, the entrance to which is indeed a big grey skull. A Sorceress resides therein; she is part bird and part woman, and possesses the talent of changing herself into a falcon. She also communicates telepathically with He-Man, and apparently was the person responsible for showing Prince Adam the knack of changing into He-Man.

He-Man has other allies, many of whom are in the King's service. There is Teela, Captain of the Royal Guard, who often assists He-Man in his battles. Her father is known simply by his title Man-At-Arms; he invents weapons and other useful devices for the King. He-Man's friends also include Orko, an inept magician from another dimension. Orko can levitate; that's how he gets around. When Orko is just showing off around the palace, all of his magic usually goes awry; but when push comes to shove, he can usually pull through. There is also Ram Man, whose head is useful for knocking things down, and Stratos, who flies.

He-Man's chief adversary is Skeletor. Skeletor is a blue muscleman with a skull for a head, wearing a cowl. How Skeletor is able to see is not explained. He lives in Snake Mountain. Snake Mountain is a classy place, much classier than the royal palace or Castle Grayskull. It's made completely of polished black basalt, and it has a giant stone snake coiled around it. I wouldn't mind living there myself.

Skeletor's allies include Beast-Man, who's hairy all over and can control the animals; Evil-Lyn, a witch with the usual complement of malevolent powers, who wears a black swimsuit and bathing cap; Mer-Man, Beast-Man's cousin from Innsmouth, half human and half fish, who controls the sea; and Trap-Jaw, who holds the same office in Skeletor's clique as Man-at-Arms holds in the King's.

The leitmotif of the episodes is Skeletor's repeated attempts and repeated failures to gain admission into Castle Grayskull. Apparently, were he to succeed, he would be able to wrest the power of Grayskull from He-Man, and conquer Eternia. He-Man, not surprisingly, resists these attempts.

The stories are often surprisingly good. He-Man is permitted a somewhat larger scope of action than Action for Children's Television (ACT) is comfortable with; not surprisingly, the show has been denounced for "violence." He-Man is allowed to hit people (what's a muscleman for?); and occasionally he will grab Skeletor by the cowl and throw him over the horizon. Skeletor, for his part, is allowed to give He-Man a run for his money sometimes. He has made He-Man weak by stealing all the oxygen in Eternia. He has made Castle Grayskull disappear. He has gotten hold of a "power element" that made him as strong as He-Man.

This makes the cartoons refreshingly superior to such ACT-diluted programmes as The Superfriends, wherein the superheroes have such overwhelming powers in comparison to their adversaries as to make their mere appearance enough to stop the action.

Alas! All of these strong points are overshadowed by a fatal flaw. Each show must contain a sermon. Often, the point of the sermon is made painfully obvious in the plot; but in case any of the viewers didn't get the message, He-Man or one of his allies will appear at the end of the programmes to deliver a thirty second lecture on the Moral Principle illustrated by today's episode. There is a remedy, however. You can turn the set off or change the channel.

Didacticism is a symptom of a dying culture. When Cato was born, no one doted self-consciously on the "traditions" and "moral values" of Roman citizenship. They didn't need to. They just lived them, without being told what they were doing. Cato, however, was born into a changing world. Romans were being tempted by Greek "philosophy" and "reason" to dismiss their legends as fanciful nonsense; and with them, the values these legends implicitly expressed began to fade. Soon, their Republic was transmogrified into an Empire; the Senators became puppets; and all the early Emperors repeatedly and self-consciously urged the Roman citizens to remember their Traditions and Values. And of course, all of this earnest exhortation had no effect whatsoever.

Similarly, the producers of the He-Man cartoons are uncomfortable with pure fantasy and fun. They feel compelled to put moral points in every plot, unaware that their audience simply tunes them out. The legends and magic of the He-Man cartoons may live on and influence minds and culture in the future, and its influence may be a good one; but the 'moral points' so pointedly scored at the end of each episode are dry as dust, and forgotten as soon as the set is off.

Now, fortunately, things are very difference. The controversies over enforced pacifism in children's programming are now mostly behind us. It is difficult to imagine that in the current political environment, claims that children's entertainments were being used to market toys would have much of a chance of a hearing.

Like it or not, the commercial backing sparked a renaissance in children's action programming in the early 1980's. He-Man was a big part of that renaissance. The money involved brought back production values to US-market animated programming after the Hanna-Barbera dominated Seventies. (Admittedly, these values were more often present in animation from outside the USA.) For that, He-Man continues to deserve your attention.


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Favourite 80's cartoon series
o Dungeons and Dragons 9%
o Thundarr the Barbarian 2%
o Thundercats 16%
o He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 6%
o She-Ra, Princess of Power 7%
o Transformers 36%
o GI Joe 7%
o Other 13%

Votes: 166
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Cartoon Network
o He-Man
o Dr. Frank N. Furter
o Thundarr the Barbarian
o Thundercat s
o GI Joe
o Action for Children's Television
o The Superfriends
o Hanna-Barb era
o Also by IHCOYC

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He-Man: an appreciation | 86 comments (72 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ah, the classics... (4.00 / 4) (#1)
by kphrak on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 01:02:08 PM EST

GI Joe was probably one of the better kid's cartoons I'd seen (certainly in terms of art), and the heroism and violence depicted appealed strongly to my 8-year-old mind...as indeed, it did to thousands of others. Hey, maybe now that everyone's exploiting patriotism for all it's worth, they'll bring it back.

Great, in-depth article, and apparently well-researched. The downside is, now I've got the jingles from those cartoons running through my head. +1FP.

Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.

GI Joe - Bah (4.50 / 6) (#4)
by duxup on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 01:09:21 PM EST

GI Joe was for the "special kids" who couldn't deal with a real show like Transformers.

[ Parent ]
It is on (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by theboz on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 01:48:43 PM EST

Cartoon Network at 1:00am EST during the week. Of course, I've caught a few episodes, and it is very stupid. I don't understand how I liked it when I was a little kid, and it almost seems like it would make great government propaganda, except for the thing about them being individuals.

[ Parent ]

Come on, just admit it. (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by IHCOYC on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 03:31:21 PM EST

You had a crush on the Baroness.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.
[ Parent ]

I didn't. (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by Apuleius on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 06:40:44 PM EST

But I do now.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
the action figure... (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by Perianwyr on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:22:24 PM EST

The Baroness' action figure looks less like a sexy international terrorist mastermind and more like a librarian that put on a headless Guyver suit.

[ Parent ]
Ewwww. . . (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by IHCOYC on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:09:17 PM EST

. . . She's going to have to work on those thighs.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.
[ Parent ]

He-Man origin story? (4.60 / 5) (#3)
by Rogerborg on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 01:07:48 PM EST

As far as I can tell, he's a character created to fit a line of Conan toys that had to be rebranded after Mattel actually saw Conan the Barbarian and realised that they'd spent a bundle making kids toys for a movie consisting mostly of tits and gore.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

heh. Dino de Laurentis. (2.00 / 1) (#49)
by martingale on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:46:35 AM EST

I liked the Evil Dead III better, though.

[ Parent ]
Yuck ... (4.57 / 7) (#11)
by pyramid termite on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:02:41 PM EST

I'm sorry, but I think He Man, Thundarr the Barbarian, etc. etc. etc. etc. suck. I mean, crap, just look at the names. He Man? Thundarr? The dialogue's crap, the plots are as original as ice cubes and thin as toilet paper and saying that the animation is better than Hanna-Barbera cartoons is not saying a great deal. The Batman show they had on afternoons on Fox in the 90s was far, far superior - it not only had dialogue, plot and animation, it had atmosphere.

But that's a rare exception in the general run of mediocre or downright awful American TV action cartoons. Two words suffice -

Looney Tunes. These are the best cartoons ever made and probably will stay that way.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
Bugs Bunny Rules... (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by crowbraid on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:19:21 PM EST

Are you forever unable to hear some classical music pieces without seeing WB cartoons in your mind's eye? Like Elmer chanting 'kill the wabbit' in the Wagner opera take-off.

[ Parent ]
oh most definitely yes sir most definitely oh yes (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by martingale on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:44:00 AM EST

Classic songs: Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony,
Stuck a carrot in his cap, and called it macaroni!

Besides Bugs, I just loved the Road Runner cartoons. Except those vile 70s episodes. Those just beeped.

[ Parent ]

Now I have to ask. (4.71 / 7) (#12)
by Apuleius on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:23:12 PM EST

Have any of you ever gone to a stall in a men's room, used it, and shouted "by the power of Greyskull!" before flushing?

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
That was you? [nt] (none / 0) (#43)
by wrinkledshirt on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:48:56 AM EST

[ Parent ]
I'd wish. But I was there. (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Apuleius on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:56:09 AM EST

And now, it's my duty to say, one day, "by the power of Greyskull, I now pronounce you, man and wife."

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Smurf (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by KOTHP on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:31:33 PM EST

The smurfs in the smurf are all pretty smurfy but I think you left out one pretty obvious smurf!

Smurf Drinking Game (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by Mzilikazi on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 06:31:21 PM EST


Take a sip every time you hear the word "Smurf".

By the time you've finished a half hour episode, the world around you will appear to be full of toadstool homes and little blue bastards. :)


[ Parent ]

Smurf out some of those substitutions. (5.00 / 3) (#23)
by astatine on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:03:46 PM EST

*puts on the Brainy glasses*

I see how you're trying to smurf up your dialogue a bit, but you've broken a smurfy rule: never smurf a noun (as Peewit found out in one 'toon, "I want a smurf" just doesn't resolve). You can smurf verbs or even a smurfy adjective here and there, but don't smurf overboard or you'll smurf out the meaning.

Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.Celia Green
[ Parent ]

Smurf your smurfing smurf hole :) (nt) (none / 0) (#40)
by prator on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 11:14:43 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Robotech (4.87 / 8) (#14)
by jabber on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:34:17 PM EST

Now there was a great cartoon!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Yes, yes, yes! [nt] (1.00 / 1) (#28)
by vyruss on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:16:02 PM EST

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
no such thing (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by minus273 on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:49:04 PM EST

i was really sad when i found out that Robotech is FAKE.. it is macross, southern cross etc.. .all unrealted and mishmashed into robotech

[ Parent ]
Yeah, well, so? (5.00 / 3) (#53)
by jabber on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:34:54 AM EST

Hey, when I was little, it had enough continuity to keep me interested. Even if the three seasons were unrelated, they were well explained as one continuum over three generations of time. It made sense, dammit! :)

What made it great was not the fact that it was a seamless whole, not at all. No, what made it great was that it was respectful of its audience.

Even though we were kids, we were faced with real issues. People died, right there on the screen. Even the good guys died. Even the idols that the main characters looked up to. They bled, they hurt, they screamed and they burned alive (like Roy Fokker). I was 11, and I didn't feel patronized.

We were kids, and we got to see the silliness and anguish of unrequited love. We got to see the love triangle between Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes and Lynn Minmei, and we were appalled that he seemingly chose some mindless bimbo twat over a thinking and skilled pilot and strategist. At 11, I learned that matters of the heart were not simple.

We were children, and we got to see Yellow Dancer, the cross-dressing Invid killer. We got to face the idea of Invid hive-minds, the eugenics of the Robotech Masters, technological scavenging in Macross and the will to survive and the need to struggle in the whole deal. We were gently introduced to the idea of genocide before we could even pronounce the words "Holocaust" "Treblinka" or "Noremburg". When I was 11, the big and complex world was shown to me, and explained in terms that kept be from retching when I found out that most of the nastiness I saw in the cartoon was for real.

So, I don't really care if it was three small series glued together with string and popsicle sticks. It was a great show, and a good collage of apparently unrelated parts. It was one of the very few pieces of children's programming that wasn't outright insulting to my developing intelligence.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Yes but... (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by ttfkam on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:12:10 AM EST

Roy Fokker died from loss of blood while sitting on Claudia's sofa.  Holes in his back and all of that.   Ben Dixon was probably the pilot you were thinking of; he died when the omni-directional barrier chain-reacted.  Then again, if you go back and watch again, quite a few people met their end in a fiery blaze.  Quite gruesome really.

Also, Lisa may have been a thinking character and a skilled strategist, but she was never seen piloting anything in the series.  But I agree that Minmei was damned annoying at times.

That said, I'm in total agreement.  War with consequences?  You mean people don't always parachute out of their helicopter/jet just in time?  (G.I. Joe)  You mean the guys in charge aren't always right? (He-Man)  You mean your opponent isn't doing bad things just because they are bad? (almost all)

Robotech had it all: interracial relationships, war-mongering vs. peace protesters, survivors' guilt, genocide, raw hatred and vengeance, total arrogance, utter humility, death of friends and loved ones, honor, treachery, and loneliness.  How often do you see the Earth torched and turned into a slave colony in "a kids' cartoon"?  Sometimes it amazes me that it got past the censors, but I'm truly glad that it did.

Too bad the movie didn't make it past early screenings.  If memory serves, they gave it a G rating because it was a cartoon and some small children freaked out about the content.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

Good 'ole Robotech (3.00 / 1) (#66)
by jagg on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:35:41 AM EST

As a 10 year old, I can specifically remember thinking that the utter lack of diplomacy (Aliens arrive in orbit! They must be evil! KILL THEM ALL NOW!) everyone exhibited was unrealistic. Now I wonder whether or not the creators of the show were attempting to convey a subtle message about the consequences (destruction of the earth) that come when diplomacy isn't tried in favor of xenophobic war mongering. Or maybe I'm reading to much into a children's cartoon show :)

Goddamn Minmei was annoying. Whatever uber-RIAA like company on post-apocalyptic Earth that wiped out all other musical artists for years in favor of a three song talent-less hack, should be slowly cooked over the flames of Minmei's "album" :)

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]

Were we watching the same cartoon? (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by ttfkam on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:51:09 AM EST

In Macross the SDF1 was boobytrapped to fire on the approaching alien ships.  The original builders of the ship knew who was coming and left humans out of the decision-making process.

In Southern Cross some hothead disobeyed orders and launched missiles against the Robotech Masters.  So says the general in charge, "Now we're committed..."

As far as the Invid are concerned, they came, they saw, they walked all over planet, and kept some folks alive to work as slave labor.


Or were you referring to the writers of Robotech rather than the actions of the characters?

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

Well, (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by jagg on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:19:52 AM EST

I never saw Southern Cross and only a handful of the Invid series, but...

First, I was referring to the writers, not the characters. Sorry for the confusion.

Second, yes the SDF1 was booby-trapped to fire on approaching hostile aliens, but couldn't the people of Earth say, "Uh, sorry, we didn't know that was there, what is it you guys want?" Notice that they never really knew why the aliens had come. Apparently for the SDF1, but why? Couldn't the two sides try to talk to each other first, rather than attacking? Also, just as they were about to start actual negotiations, both sides leadership seemed to get a bit hawkish. The apocalyptic result for both sides, I cant help but think, was a commentary about what happens when reactionary forces decide that war is the only option.

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]

not that it's important (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by ttfkam on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:21:52 PM EST

but the Zentradi were a wee bit hawkish to say the least.  But following the timeline, the Zentradi were out near the moon and away from contact (and missiles) for a while.  It was them who made the next move and blew away most of the human resistance at that point.

From Earth's point of view, diplomacy wasn't ever really presented as an option.

But then, it was only a cartoon.  :)

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

he-man was a bully. (4.80 / 5) (#18)
by waxmop on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 03:30:58 PM EST

so the new episodes really don't have any preachy "knowing is half the battle" type messages tacked on at the end? wow. so the toy manufacturers don't even have to pretend that there are socially redeeming and / or educational values to these shows.

i never really liked he-man. there wasn't a brainy character that outsmarted the enemies on the show. it was just he-man, out-muscling skeletor. a clear parable that might makes right if i ever saw one.

and, besides that, the church my parents belonged to decided that he-man was sacreligious because there is only one true "master of the universe". so i wasn't allowed to watch the show or buy the toys anyway. in the 80s, bible-belt christian parents were really worried about occult influences on their children, and they imagined secular-humanist conspiracies everywhere.

i watched transformers a lot - but mostly because i was obsessed with the quintessons. did each face have a separate consciousness, or were they just reflections of one entity's different moods? i think the artists that dreamed them up must have been inspired by those southeast asian statues of the gods with dozens of faces.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar

He did make glass out of sand once! (none / 0) (#83)
by gmol on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:33:56 PM EST

Funny I can babrely remember the plot to a whole episode (god knows how many reruns I watched, and I brought my plastic sword to the movie with me), but I remember learning that glass was made from sand in on e of the epidsodes where he makes a big ass piece of glass...but I can't remember why...was it a mirror for some death beam or something?

[ Parent ]
Boring (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by vadim on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 03:43:20 PM EST

How about something more interesting, like Kenshin? I only watched He-Man when there was nothing better on TV. Now I don't watch anything besides Simpsons. Kenshin got replaced by some "dumb bunnies" crap :-(
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
Uh.... no, I don't think so ... (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by kaemaril on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:15:09 PM EST

Go ahead and admit it. You're a fan of this funny and cheesy Eighties cartoon.

Uh... no. I'm really not. I much preferred Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, to be honest :)

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?

yeech (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by martingale on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:58:10 AM EST

That sucked. I grew up with Albator, and of course the invincible Goldorak.

[ Parent ]
OMG (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by Josh A on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:16:16 AM EST

I had forgotten about that show! I was only about five when it was on. I used to love it, along with Thundercats and  She-Ra, although He-Man was my favorite.

I never really liked Transformers, and I couldn't stand GI-JOE. I need some magic or other oddity.

Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney

[ Parent ]
Turbo Teen (none / 0) (#82)
by nitzmahone on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:01:58 PM EST

Nothing like watching a dorky teenager transform into a sportscar...

[ Parent ]
The notables in the He-Man pantheon (5.00 / 7) (#26)
by Perianwyr on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:36:16 PM EST

Most of the heroes (especially the main characters) were pretty boring. I was always a bigger fan of the ancillary characters, because they had bad ass figures. Some of which possessed interesting features  (some of which, if there is a God, you'll never see again.) Most notably:

1) Kobra Man or something like that. I can't remember his name exactly. But his head came off and you could fill his body up with water, then place the head back on, push it down, and it would spray mist. Extra points if you put red food coloring in the water. I guess you could even put cleaning solution in there and clean the bathroom with him.

2) Leech. He was part of the weird "Horde" that eventually showed up later in the series to mess with everyone. His notable power was that his body had several suction cups on it- including one on his head that was activated by a vacuum bladder. You'd push on the back of his head, and that would compress the sac inside, and expel air. Then, you'd stick his big leech lips on something and let go of the button, attaching the action figure to whatever you put him on. Now, you could stick him on windows or on the TV set, but the real fun was had by sticking Leech on the backs of your friends' necks. They'd notice, all right, but the vacuum and the weight of the action figure would leave a big red hickey at the attachment site. Kickass.

3) Finally, the God-King of all he surveyed, "Stinkor". Given the "active" nature of the previous figures, I think you can be pretty sure what's coming next. He, well... stank. Badly. My uncle got me this particular fellow for Xmas one year, and you could faintly tell from 10 feet away, when he was wrapped up, where he was. When you opened the box, you were treated to the real deal- a strange, acrid chemical smell that would make you the envy of your friends, as you possessed the only toy that required a two-day soaking in tomato juice to be cleared for Christmas vacation. The son of a bitch still stinks, even after about 13 years. He had a counterpart on the heroic side named "Moss Man", who was something like a cross between Swamp Thing and a Chia Pet that smelled like Pine Sol.

Those were the DAYS.

Prepare to face the wrath of Stinkor! (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by IHCOYC on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:22:14 PM EST

I had a Stinkor too. Skeletor still rides the rear view mirror of my car, and Stinkor's around here somewhere.

There may have been several batches of Stinkor's fragrance, though. I distinctly remember that, once the initial reek wore off a bit, Stinkor's lasting odour seemed to have a strong patchouli and musk note. This is probably not the thing that would appeal strongly to a ten year old boy, but when I found the figure a decade later and recognised it, I did not find it unpleasant.

As far as I can recall, Stinkor never got his moment to shine on the animated series. I've long since lost Stinkor's mini-comic. I really really hope that the new series can find a prominent role for Stinkor. My Unlimited Adventures module with a He-Man plot features Stinkor prominently, if only because his basic power could be duplicated by the game engine with stinking cloud and cloudkill spells and the ghoul odor attack.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.
[ Parent ]

IIRC... (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by Perianwyr on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:29:56 PM EST

Stinkor's mini comic involved him gassing people with his evil stench, but what drove him away in the end was the smell of flowers.

Whatever. He was still a badass regardless.

[ Parent ]

That smell is burnt into my brain (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by prator on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 11:12:09 PM EST

Anytime I smell anything that is remotely like that, I immediately think of that stinky little bastard.


[ Parent ]

I had Moss Man (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by sypher on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:14:43 PM EST

and you mentioning him reminded me of his smell, like a garden centre he did.

I had another figure too, it was a man at arms crony with a spring loaded base, but it forget his name, maybe ram-man or something.

I dreamt of it once, now I fear it dreams of me
[ Parent ]
Oh yeah (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by tpv on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 02:04:30 AM EST

  1. It was just Kobra IIRC. There was a good version as well. I think it was an elephant guy, but I never had him. Also one the the Skeletor variants had a monster on his back that squirted a mist.
  2. Leech was cool (but the button was on his back)
  3. I never got to have Stinkor. :(
Some other ones that were cool:
  • Modulak (or something like that). He was like a lego guy, and his bits came apart and could be arranged in multiple ways. He had two heads, two tails, 6 legs, 4(?) arms, two torsos... Very cool. He was in the Evil Horde.
  • Webster. He had a backpack with a rope (string) and a grapling hook. Pull the end of the string, and he'd climb the rope. (Evil)
  • Dragster. Another Horde guy. He had a rip cord and would ride along the ground (he had a wheel in his chest).

'I would therefore like to posit that computing's central challenge, viz. "How not to make a mess of it", has not been met.'
Edsger Dijkstra (1930-2002) EWD1304
[ Parent ]
haha webster (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by Perianwyr on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 03:34:35 PM EST

He doesn't get mentioned because his damn string always got tangled up and knotted and it took an hour to get it off of whatever it got tangled on :) Still a cool idea, an action figure with a zip line...

I found out that snake dude was actually called "Kobra Khan".

[ Parent ]

Kobra Khan (2.00 / 1) (#62)
by tpv on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:09:46 AM EST

Yeah. Dammit. I can't believe I forgot that.
'I would therefore like to posit that computing's central challenge, viz. "How not to make a mess of it", has not been met.'
Edsger Dijkstra (1930-2002) EWD1304
[ Parent ]
What about the guy with giant metal fist (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by Stick on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:17:51 AM EST

All you would need is a goatse man action figure to match.

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
Fisto (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Perianwyr on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 03:35:51 PM EST

That's a dead-on observation. Maybe you could make one with some Sculpey, some imagination, and 1d10 Sanity loss.

[ Parent ]
ah memories (3.50 / 2) (#34)
by phraggle on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:20:16 PM EST

I loved He-Man when I was younger. One of the earliest memories I have was losing the plastic sword that went with one of my many He-Man figures.

The intro to the original He-Man was the best part:

I am Adam Prince of Eternia, defender of castle Greyskull. This: is Cringer, my fearless friend. Fabulous powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said..."BY the power of Greyskull! I have the power!". Cringer became Battlecat and I became... He-Man: The most powerful man in the Universe!

Apparently not the most modest man in the Universe, however.

Transformers. (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by AnalogBoy on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:45:11 PM EST

There was no better cartoon when i was growing up.  The latest variations of it, RiD and Armada, seem to suck (but the toys for armada seem nifty.)  They took the original transformers, added in a little power-rangers-esque cheese factor, and cranked out the tripe they called RiD. (Yes, i know it was originally a japaneese kiddie show.)   The originals, as i watch them again, seem to be more.. i dunno, adult isn't the right word.. but they usually weren't as childish and shallow as the new series.

I wish they'd adult-ize the transformers a bit more, and have a movie that continues the original (perhaps port over Headmasters from Japan).. for the fans that loved it when they were growing up.  

Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas.
Religous Tolerance (And click a banner while you're there)

Dreamwave (2.00 / 1) (#37)
by Matrix on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 10:37:50 PM EST

Might want to check out the Transformers comic that Dreamwave's doing, then. They're about halfway through the six-issue run of the miniseries based off the original toy line/TV show, and it seems very mature so far. That might change as things go on, but I doubt it. Definitely worth a look.

The later seasons of Mainframe's Beast Wars show also qualify, sort of. First TF show to have a coherent plot, at least.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

comics (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by martingale on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 08:06:16 AM EST

I remember reading a couple of Transformers comics in the 80s, I think they were Marvel, and really sucked. Nothing like the TV series. Are you saying these new comics are better?

[ Parent ]
Marvel VS Dreamwave (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Matrix on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:29:42 AM EST

Yes, the old Marvel comics did suck. The new Dreamwave ones seem to me to be better - the art's good, the story's interesting, and they don't insult my intelligence. Give them a try - they're cheap, so its not going to cost you too much at all.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Where (none / 0) (#85)
by x31eq on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 11:10:59 AM EST

I used to read the comments. Once they got going, they were really good. Much better than the TV series. But this was in Britain. I think the American comics were completely different. All I saw was a plot summary, and it was following the TV series more closely.

Eventually the quality did slip because

  1. They had to bring each new toy into the story
  2. The Decepticons were much harder than the Autobots, and the only logical plot conclusion was for them to take over the world. So it got silly instead.

I think Dinobot Hunt was the best story, although I haven't read it for a long time. It's good children's stuff but don't expect any miracles if you do find it now ;-)

[ Parent ]
Transformers... (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:07:07 PM EST

The new KidsWB transformers aren't bad. They've actually got plots that span several episodes.

It is freaky though, watching them with my son and yelling "That's not right! They changed Megatron!"


Remember we're talking about government forms here. They don't have to make sense, they just have to be tidy.

[ Parent ]

He-Man: (2.00 / 7) (#38)
by Nine Eleven on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 10:40:13 PM EST

Truly an American icon.  He will surely be missed.

tragically, (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by turmeric on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 01:01:39 AM EST

the people who actually wrote the heman stuff talk about how it was all just marketing to push new toys from the manufacturer. new toy comes out, they have to make up some story about it. or was that the he-man comics? damn im too lazy to look it up.

wasn't it? (2.00 / 1) (#47)
by llamasex on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 07:42:01 AM EST

when they figured out that the toys made for Conan the Barbarian wouldn't work becuase the movie was too violent for the kids they were targeting.

Howard Dean punched me in the face
[ Parent ]
Mattel press release (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by IHCOYC on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 10:55:34 AM EST

This press release from Mattel contains at least some information about their marketing plans in connection with the current situation.

I wonder whether the He-Man brand is that valuable anymore, though. The cartoons haven't even been running as syndicated reruns for more than ten years, after Filmation's successor priced them out of the market. My assessment would be that they definitely need to do some work on rebuilding the franchise.

At least He-Man's fate is not as dismaying as that of Hot Wheels, which the release calls a "lifestyle brand for guys of all ages," whatever that means.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.
[ Parent ]

Rewatching Old '80s He-Man (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 03:40:37 PM EST

A friend of mine got into watching the old He-Man and She-Ra episodes. The shows are hilarious! It's not just because of the cheesy animation and plot, but also the amount of sexual overtones. While watching an episode together, we tried counting the amount of phallic objects and lost count. Try watching an episode again if you feel like having a good laugh.

He-Man showed me why I shouldn't be an animator. (4.75 / 4) (#60)
by mingofmongo on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 05:38:43 PM EST

When I was in college (all those years ago) one of my art classes took a trip to Filmations, who made said cartoon.

A few people got to do creative stuff, and the vast majority just got to ink and color. If you squinted your eyes, you could almost see them rowing to the beat of the drum.

They reused everything, which isn't bad in itself, but there was only about three minutes of original animation in each episode of He-Man and Sheera.

It was almost exactly the same kind of cubicle farm that I work in now, so I guess I didn't avoid the mennace...

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

The Adventures of The Galaxy Rangers! (3.50 / 2) (#64)
by Jaxxe on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:14:21 AM EST

Come on folks! You've all got to remember Shane Gooseman!! He da man, the some!

Beta Mountain: Galaxy Rangers (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by Jaxxe on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:16:39 AM EST

Just thought I'd post the url here: http://www.betamountain.org/ They certainly have perhaps one of the coolest theme songs too!

[ Parent ]
Poor Cringer! (4.87 / 8) (#68)
by Blarney on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:15:19 AM EST

Many years ago, I enjoyed He-Man, as well as the She-Ra spinoff. However, there always seemed something funny about Cringer/BattleCat and the way he behaved. I'm not sure that it was fair for Adam/He-Man to put that poor animal through all the stress of their adventures. Adam, like many superheroes, has a secret identity. He spent the beginning and ending of every episode as a normal, well adjusted young man. However, the main part of each episode revolved around him becoming He-Man and beating everybody up. While he knows that he is really He-Man, he prefers to live a normal life between adventures as a superficially powerless mere human. This is a time-tested superhero story formula.

Cringer, on the other hand, is not human. He's only an animal and cannot integrate concepts well enough to understand that he is really BattleCat after all, and only pretends to be a cowardly, lazy, enormous housecat (like the one dozing off on my bed like now, only somewhat bigger and a lot greener). Whatever he sees or does at any particular moment is reality to him - as he is an animal, he cannot comprehend the secret identity masquerades that superheroes.

The writers of He-Man were faced with this problem of how to give an animal a secret identity. The solution they chose was that Cringer and Battlecat were different personalities of the same animal, one of which was induced by Adam's magical sword. Cringer and Battlecat only vaguely share memories, as they are distinct consciousnesses. The secret identity problem is solved now! Although Cringer isn't aware that he really is Battlecat, thanks to this plot device he doesn't have to be.

This makes the ending of each episode somewhat tragic from Cringer's perspective. Adam struts off proudly to ask girls out on dates, take his exams at school, do all the normal things that young men like him have to do armed with the confidence gained from being He-Man and defeating enemies of all humanity. Cringer just whines in a corner, his body scraped, cut, and exhausted, the taste of spent adrenaline lingering in his mouth, remembering very little except being zapped yet again by Adam's magical sword. He doesn't understand what happened to him - and being only an animal, with limited brainpower, he never will.

Limited brainpower (none / 0) (#81)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:03:56 PM EST

I always thought Cringer was smarter than Ram-Man or Orco.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Go transformers! (1.00 / 1) (#71)
by Juan Rojo on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:06:24 AM EST

(the poll says it all :)

He-man is WRONG (5.00 / 3) (#73)
by mrdanko on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:56:39 AM EST

Ok, I've been a K5 lurker for quite sometime, but this post has me riled up enough to actually create an account. There's really only one reason to watch He-man, and it's Skeletor. Skeletor never gets the credit he deserves. I mean, Prince Adam/He-man is a total wuss. Yes, you read me correctly, He-man is also a wuss. Plays around with his cat, wears furry undies, ignores Teela, and his best buddy is Ramm-man. What kind of role model is this for our kids?

Now on a more serious note, Skeletor REALLY needs to take on Spaceghost and take over the hosting duties of Coast-to-Coast. Can you imagine Brak and Skeletor in the same room? Skeletor's staff is WAY cooler than SG's arm zappers, and I imagine that would be a killer show addition.

Galaxy Rangers (3.50 / 2) (#74)
by jared on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:12:18 PM EST

With that Clint Eastwood ripoff character Shane Gooseman and those cheesy talking eyeball computers.

Galaxy Rangers (1.00 / 1) (#78)
by Jaxxe on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:05:48 PM EST

"Rocked the Casbah", then some. 'nuff said.

[ Parent ]
My favorite '80s toons. (2.00 / 1) (#75)
by Raventail on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 05:21:04 PM EST

Mighty Orbots
Thunderbirds 2086

he-man.. (5.00 / 5) (#77)
by lucid on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:37:07 PM EST

When I was a kid, I derived great satisfaction from trying to flush He-Man and related figures down the toilet. With the way the arms were manufactured in a pseudo-muscular pose, it would look like He-Man was trying to hold on for dear life.

I don't know why I'm telling you this.

What about MASK and Starcom (none / 0) (#79)
by MattyBoy on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:51:18 AM EST

Mask and Starcom where the greasted toys dude!! Starcom transformed on its own!! and it had cool magnets

RocketBike does rad wheelies for the freedom of the homeland turf!
He is SO deep... (5.00 / 2) (#80)
by Jeff Coleman on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:45:29 PM EST

A direct tap into the unconscious. Read your Jung. GraySkull is home to the anima, the all-knowing woman who gives power to the otherwise ineffectual man. Notice that she lives inside a head. They are all archetypes in this show, they represent internal forces.

Eternia. That's great! I forgot all about this stuff except for "By the Power of GraySkull!" which I will shout at odd moments. Nobody gets it.

Pirates of Darkwater (none / 0) (#84)
by Emissary on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:19:36 AM EST

Does anyone else remember this show? I was born too late for the He-Man thing, but from reading the article and what little I know of it it seems as if Pirates Of Darkwater was my generations version of it. Pirates of Darkwater, Toxic Avenger, and Reboot... classics. It's too bad the networks don't have cartoons on saturday mornings anymore.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
Holy Shit (none / 0) (#86)
by JahToasted on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:02:03 PM EST

Just bored at work and reading old stories... I remembered that show but I could never remember the name of it. I remember they were searching for some crystals and thaey had all but one, but then the show just seemed to disappear, so I never found out what happened. I do remember it was a pretty cool show though.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
He-Man: an appreciation | 86 comments (72 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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