thrift store finds: he-man and the masters of the universe magazine

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

In this day and age, I imagine very few children’s toy properties rate their own magazines.

A cursory look over the magazine racks at our local supermarket bears me out on this- although there are a couple of kid-friendly properties like Star Wars and Star Trek, those are not specific enough to make me think those magazines are intended solely for children. When I was a kid, I subscribed to a few periodicals tailored specifically to my toyetic interests; offhand, I remember there being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Magazine that I got in the mail, as well as a Tiny Toons Magazine.

Often repositories for bad jokes, fan art, and the occasional nugget of news and information about your favorite toys, they were fun and I remember loving to get ’em in the mail… which is why I was pretty pleased to find this He-Man and the Masters of the Universe magazine in a stack of books our neighbor gave to Elliot a few days ago. You may remember Elliot enjoying our neighbor’s last gift, a paint-by-water She-Ra: Princess of Power book that I scanned a couple of pages of around this time last year.

Firstly, it’s clear that our neighbor’s daughter did NOT subscribe to any He-Man magazine. As is made clear by the blue paper banner that encircles the magazine, Rhonda actually subscribed to the She-Ra: Princess of Power magazine… which had been, as of this issue, combined with the He-Man magazine. Both toy lines were losing steam by  1987, so it makes sense that the publisher would consolidate. It seems almost nuts to me that both properties could have EVER supported their own individual magazines, but here we are.

This month’s issue of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe magazine is dated to Summer of ’87 and concerns itself mainly with pimping out the awful Masters of the Universe movie starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man. I was pretty obsessed with He-Man as a kid, but by 1987, my interest had cooled considerably. While I probably would have moved on to greener pastures regardless, I remember the Masters of the Universe movie as being the final nail in that proverbial coffin. As a six year old, I wasn’t able to square the massive changes between the cartoon and the live-action flick in my mind. Instead of the familiar and beloved Orko, we had Billy Barty as some kind of weird dwarf magician, as seen in the “Greetings from Eternia” page.

There’s a bunch of coverage of the Masters movie, but the real star of the show is a six page He-Man comic titled “Blast from the Past” with art and story by Paul Kirchner.

This comic is notable for a few reasons. The first is that it combines both the characters from the Masters of the Universe cartoon and the characters newly created for the MoTU movie. This is  something that, had I read it at the time, would have put my young self at ease when I was six. One of my big problems with the He-Man movie was that it seemingly had NOTHING to do with the cartoon I had invested a good portion of my childhood in watching.

So you’ve got familiar characters like Skeletor and the Sorceress… some lesser known quantities like Clamp Champ and Snout Spout…

but you’ve also got “Who the heck are they?” characters like Karg, Saurod, and Blade. These were the new characters introduced in the flick.

The other reason this comic is sort of interesting is it’s clearly trying to get kids interested in the last wave of Masters action figures which hit stores at the end of MoTU’s dominance of the toy aisles. For example, in the first page above, Skeletor’s holding Castle Grayskull hostage with a pack of Tyrantisaurus Rex. The Tyrantisaurus Rex toy came out in one of the last waves of MoTU when Mattel tried to refresh the line by introducing dinosaurs into the toy line. Similarly, you also get a picture of the Eternia playset

which was the final GIGANTIC playset to come from the toy line and now commands ridiculous sums on the secondary market. Seriously, if you’re a collector and you want to own this thing, mortgage your house. Heck most of the toys profiled here fall under that category, if a quick look on eBay is to be believed.

It’s also interesting to me that this comic is told entirely in captions rather than word balloons. It’s clear that the characters ARE talking and it’s not overly hard to figure out who is saying what to whom… but it’s a weird choice to make. Despite that, Kirchner’s art is fun and appealing.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine also came with a gigantic poster, which my lovely wife will model for you. It features Blade instead of Beast Man, Tri-Klops, or Mer-Man so I am positive it never quite made it onto the wall of any young subscriber to this magazine.

Anyhow, an interesting artifact of a toy line I used to love. The magazine is also full of eye-bleedingly awful ads such as this:

Nothing says “I’m cool” like a pink radio and a taste for peanut butter, kid.

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One Response to “thrift store finds: he-man and the masters of the universe magazine”

  1. […] book also has something in common with my last He-Man discovery, the comic included in this issue of Masters of the Universe Magazine. Caverns of Fear is, at places, a weird picture book/comic hybrid. It’s very oddly done and I […]

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