Deep Thoughts :: Masters of the Universe
The year was 1982.
For some reason I received a present from an aunt out in California. It was early in 1982, or perhaps some time in the summer. It was definitely before Fall; I know because I wanted (and got) Beastman for my birthday that year, so by November '82 I was certainly well aware of the Masters of the Universe...well...universe. Well enough to know what baddies I needed to add to my collection anyways.
The present I received early in 1982 was the He-Man and Wind Raider gift set. At first I honestly didn't know what to make of it. Was this a doll? I certainly wasn't used to such large action figures (Star Wars dominated my toy collection up until that point, and having completely missed the Mego boat but having an older sister into Barbies, I knew clearly the distinction between dolls and action figures. This 'He-Man' was nearly nude, am I expected to provide pants?) Was it a baby toy? (He-Man's simplistic construction, rubber head and wobbly leg joints, coupled with the fact that my aunt was notorious for sending me toys much more suited for toddlers even though I was about to turn eight had me wondering...)
But the packaging showed some pretty fantastical stuff; warriors and monsters with massive bladed weapons couldn't possibly be for babies, or girls, right? I don't recall if the set came with a mini-comic but if it did that hauntingly beautiful Alcala imagery certainly hit me full force too (I know the comics swept me away eventually, I just don't remember if it started here or later.)
And by gum, the vehicle was pretty darn neat, with it's wind-up winch and stickers and such. And He-Man...okay he was a hugely muscled nearly naked nordic specimen of manhood...an odd choice for a child's plaything indeed...but boy was he armed to the furry-shorts-wearin' teeth!
I think I dig this thing!
Masters of the Universe consumed my toy collecting for only a couple short years. I had Greyskull and Skeletor and Panthor and Zoar and Clawful and Man-At-Arms and what seemed like a ton more. I played with them outside in the dirt and in the snow and at my cousin's house and with friends; and once I even duct taped old Castle Greyskull shut and checked it as my luggage on a plane trip to Grandma's (you should have seen the people at the luggage turnstyle when a green skull-faced castle popped out and began rotating past them.)
But as fleeting as childhood is, those moments of toy-obsession can be all the more fleeting; by 1984 my interest in MOTU was waning and I was moving away from such 'childish' toys and into more mature themed toys like Transformers and Go-Bots.
I believe Clawful was the last new MOTU figure I ever received, and some time in 1985 I was offered a bunch of money for my 'toys I wasn't playing with anymore' and sold my whole MOTU lot to Dad's coworker's kid.
I don't regret it at all. I wouldn't have changed my mind at the time (I was too young for nostalgia) and I'm glad the toys went to a kid who got to enjoy them. And hey, I made some money which I turned right back into more toys at the time anyways - many of which I do still own.
Yet somehow something that my 7 to 9 year old mind mused over daily, be it during playtime or afternoon toon time or during school with erasers-not-toys; somehow those two years of direct almost daily contact have turned into a lifetime of fandom even though all those original toys left for new adventures long ago.
A Psychologist could have a field day culling the reasons that period in my life cut such a deep groove in my psyche. All I know is that the toys and themes present in the Masters of the Universe left a mark on me in ways not even Star Wars (a pre and post MOTU obsession) or Transformers (post MOTU) or even Batman (still to this day) can truly contend with.
Of course I have since gathered together more original MOTU toys in my adulthood than I originally owned as a kid (in retrospect I realize I did not really own that many - it just seemed that way to me at the time,) and I have a handful of Masters of the Universe Classics (mostly favorite childhood characters, plus one or two oddballs.) I also have hundreds (maybe thousands) of toys of different genres and from different eras, and something shiny and new or retro will invariably pop-up tomorrow or the next day to catch my wandering attention.
But all others will always pale in comparison to the Sci-Barbarian He-Man and his Future cum Medieval ilk and the lasting effect they had on my impressionable young mind.