Well, I said I’d bust out the next part if I was in need of a larger post, and here it is. I won’t be able to give my next article idea proper time if I want the post up on time, so let’s go back to the retrospective of the Masters Of The Universe toy and cartoon franchise by the folks at Midnight’s Edge.
In part one host Andre Einherjar went over the early years of the Masters Of The Universe toyline, the early Conan influences, the DC influences, and eventually how Filmation formed the iconic version of Eternia, Castle Grayskull, and all that surround it. Part two focuses on the new addition to the family, quite literally since we’re talking about She-Ra, Adam’s sister.
No matter what the new show makers want to claim, She-Ra is as tied to Masters Of The Universe as Wonder Woman is to the DC universe. The original show is considered part of the franchise, despite being the “girls” line. It exists because the strong female characters in He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe spoke to the little or big sisters forced to watch their brother’s show. Granted, on Eternia, aka “planet deathtrap”, you kind of have to be strong to the point that the only time I’ve see a girl who wasn’t strong was in a story about her becoming stronger by the end. Not necessarily physically but emotionally as well, an inner strength you don’t need power from ancient secrets in order to obtain.
And yet outside of the Filmation series something has been…off about how Mattel promoted this series. It’s something I’ve brought up when reviewing the Princess Of Power minicomics during Free Comic Inside. In this installment of the Masters Of The Universe retrospective Andre may have answered some of my questions…but not all of them.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if Filmation and the girls’ division didn’t just happen to come up with similar ideas at the same time. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. Filmation did create shows for girls as well as boys, as well as shows they might both enjoy. The Shazam/Isis Hour showed you could get boys to watch a show with a lady superhero and girls would watch a boy superhero. They even tried spinning off a show about teenage detectives through The Secrets Of Isis, though that didn’t work out. Like with She-Ra, Captain Marvel (the original version, not Marvel’s Carol Danvers) even teamed up with Isis on both their shows as a sort of cross-promotion, which is what happened with He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe and She-Ra: Princess Of Power.
The Secret Of The Sword would actually be kept as part of She-Ra: Princess Of Power, each episode with its own title and including its own linking elements but collectively known as “The Sword Of She-Ra”. The first two episodes even had an alternate opening, not revealing Adora was She-Ra before it happened in the show, which is a nice attention to detail and shows you care about not ruining the story for your audience.
This divisional rivalry was a mistake. To the kids, some whom already would have GI Joe backing up the Rebel Alliance and calling in the Voltron Force and Super Powers heroes for further support, saw these shows as part of the same series. I have no problem with the girls division adding in the brushable hair or tailoring certain aspects to girls but these were girls who were drawn into He-Man’s world along with the boys. This was a time when “tomboys” didn’t really exist to toylines and many storytellers. Nowadays there seems to be an outright hostility since every tomboy has to be a butch lesbian, trans, or non-binary and not just a girl who was into more traditionally boy things but still a girl. Apparently we still can’t get over these stereotypes.
During Free Comic Inside reviews of Princess Of Power comics I’ve gone over how this factored into the mini comics as well. The Horde only shows up in later stories, where it devolved into the illustrated storybooks Masters Of The Universe began with in their early waves. The stories themselves were often so girly that I still suspect that time Catra wanted to take over Mizar she just wanted to be a fairy princess. Other stories had, and I’m not really exaggerating, fighting over jewelry (and dress-up jewelry at that) and boys, specifically Bow. In these same stories there was no visible difference between She-Ra and Adora. I don’t mean in the “cynics who can’t believe Clark Kent’s disguise works way, I mean all she does is put on an oversized tiara when she allegedly transforms.
I don’t think the girl’s division realized what they should have been making were figures so that the sister could play Defend Grayskull with her brother and their friends while still having something they could play on their own, a mix of the girly and action aspects of the concept. That was a huge mistake on their part just because their ego was bruised. I’m not even sure it has to be a “battle of the sexes” thing, it could be all business. “Barbie basically made Mattel so we should be top dog.” I wonder what would have happened if Hot Wheels was the #1 toy? Barbie already has a giant car.
So the question is what brought down the champions of Eternia and Etheria? Midnight’s Edge is already up to that part so check the link under the video and check out the story there or wait until I need a post again to do part three. Hopefully they complete the series before I get caught up.
[…] part 5 before I get to part 4) and this one is a bit more of a commentary piece than the first and second parts. While those were just collecting information on the origins of the toyline and cartoons for […]