He-Man fans, here is good news. By the power of the Grayskull, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is set for a revival at San Diego's Comic Con on July 20. The animated superhero, with a cult following in the early 1980s, will air with a new episode for the first time in 30 years.
The American television series was produced by Filmation, inspired by Mattel's toy line—Masters of the Universe. It featured the adventures of Prince Adam as He-Man, who was the most powerful man in the universe. The cartoon premiered in 1983 and aired till 1985.
To celebrate the superhero's modern-day comeback, let us look at his history.
1. He-Man was initially a viking: The sword-wielding hyper-muscular superhero was initially modelled as a stern-looking viking. But the brute donning a horned helmet, with a scorn on his face, was absolutely unappealing. Mattel's sculptor Tony Guerrero redesigned the hero, giving him a blond haircut to make him look more child-friendly. This prototype was sent for market research testing. It is said a young boy was so enamoured by this toy that he tried to steal it. And that is how a young thief taught Mattel that they were on to something promising. The rest is history.
2. He-Man merchandise made over $2 billion: Mattel garnered $38 million in the first year of launch of the He-Man merchandise—toys, clothing, tooth brushes. By 1987, before sales dropped, He-Man toys are said to have brought more than $2 billion to Mattel's pockets. He-Man may not have stuck around for a long time, but it remains one of the biggest toy success stories of all times.
3. He-Man cartoon was initially turned down by everyone: After the huge success of their toy line, Mattel wanted to take He-Man to television viewers. And so began the hunt for a production company to help them launch a cartoon based on the superhero. After Hanna-Barbera turned them down, they turned to Filmation, a company that had produced an animated commercial for them. However, CBS, NBC and ABC turned them down for a Saturday morning slot for He-Man. Filmation president Lou Scheimer suggested they produce a 65-episode first season they could syndicate for stations to run five days a week. At the height of its popularity in 1984, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was seen by more than 9 million viewers every afternoon.
4. He-Man has his own charity: Believe it or not, there is a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the legacy of creative minds behind the 1980's superhero. At the Power and Honour Foundation, founded in 2010, you can catch a glimpse of original illustrations, toys and documents from Mattel and Filmation. These are digitally scanned and stored to preserve and educate the public about the creative origins of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
5. He-Man's legal battle: When He-Man debuted, it was heavily rumoured that Conan the Barbarian, a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was a source of inspiration for the character. Mattel trashed the rumours by saying they had conceptualised and developed the Masters of the Universe franchise in 1980, two years before the movie released. Conan Properties International sued Mattel over the similarities they claimed to see between the characters of He-Man and Conan, but Mattel won the battle in court, retaining the rights to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.