Friday, March 27, 2009

He Man and the Masters of the Universe

He-Man ("The Most Powerful Man in the Universe!") is a heroic fictional character in the Masters of the Universe franchise. He is the alter ego of Prince Adam and also the twin brother of She-Ra. The character's name comes from the word he-man, which was once used to describe a strong, masculine and virile male. He-Man and his friends defend Eternia and the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the evil forces of Skeletor.
In the illustrated books released with the first series of toys and drawn by Mark Texeira, He-Man is a barbarian from an Eternian tribe. The planet's inhabitants are dealing with the aftermath of the Great Wars, which devastated the civilizations that once ruled supreme over all lesser beings. The Wars left behind advanced machinery and weaponry known only to select people. An early incarnation of the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull gives He-Man some of these weapons, and he sets out to defend the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the evil villain Skeletor. He-Man possesses one half of the Power Sword; the second half is possessed by Skeletor, who uses it as his main weapon. When joined, the two halves of the Power Sword will provide the key to Castle Grayskull. This is why the two figures' swords could combine into one sword, when the action figures were initially released. In one early illustrated story, He-Man and Skeletor actually united their two Power Sword halves to form the true Power Sword in order to defeat a common enemy.
In the 1980s series, He-Man/Adam is voiced by John Erwin, for many the definitive He-Man, a congenial hero with an endless supply of one liners. In the 1987 live-action feature film, he is played by Dolph Lundgren. Gary Chalk provides the voice of He-Man for the 1989 series The New Adventures of He-Man, and later the voice of Man-At-Arms for the 2002 series. He does not provide the voice of Prince Adam; Adam is instead voiced by Doug Parker, unlike the 1983 and 2002 series, where Adam and He-Man were voiced by the same actor. In the 2002 series, He-Man is voiced by Cam Clarke.
The first He-Man action figure was released by Mattel in 1981, and had a twist waist and power punch action. The figure came with the grey half of the Power Sword, a battle axe and a shield, together with a removable harness. In 1982 the figure was also released in a set with either Battle Cat or the Wind Raider vehicle. The He-Man figure was released again in 1983 together with Teela and Ram-Man; and the figure was also released in 1986 together with the Jet Sled vehicle.

Starting with the third wave of figures in 1984, a different He-Man variant, and corresponding Skeletor variant, was released with each new wave. The first alternate version was entitled Battle Armor He-Man. The chest contained a springloaded rotating drum bearing three "damage indicators". As before, the power sword and battle axe were included. The figure was also re-released the same year, in a two-pack with Battle Armor Skeletor, and the figure was also available packaged with the Road Ripper vehicle. In 1986, the figure was released again, together with Battle Armor Skeletor and Orko.

Another alternate version was released in 1985, with the name Thunder Punch He-Man. The toy was powered with caps to make a bang when he threw a punch. The power sword, colored mustard gold with this version of the character, and a new design shield (which could carry the power sword) were released with the figure, together with some red caps. "Dragon Blast Skeletor", featuring a water spraying armor and chains was its counterpart. Battle Armor He-Man was re-released with Battle Cat, and again in a collector's pack with Man-at-Arms and Man-E-Faces who was played in real life by Matt Tosunian.

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