ill LYTeracy - On the Appeal of He-Man to Me

By Luke Y. Thompson in Toys
Monday, January 28, 2013 at 8:00 am

And then it occurred to me that to maintain the balance of power, He-Man had to win. If He-Man wins, Skeletor and his guys are still around, but if Skelly wins, all the good guys die, and there are no more stories to be had. That the mini-comics which came with the figures presented a marginally less kiddiefied version of Eternia helped. And by this point, the appeal of the toys wasn't necessarily about god archetypes any more, but about gimmicks - each figure had a different, unique action feature, and it was always exciting to find out what the next line would bring - I think King Hiss shedding his outer skin was the one that really made me lose my shit with excitement.

My parents divorced before I turned ten, though divorce wasn't legal in Ireland (they hadn't gotten married there, so it didn't matter as far as that went, but it made me a freak to everyone else). I found my stability in pop-culture, from the weekly TV shows I had to watch religiously (some of them reruns, but we didn't own a VCR, so it was time-slot viewed or nothing) to the recurring adventures of He-Man versus Skeletor versus Hordak (Hordak made for an interesting three-way dynamic) that took place on my bedroom floor. I didn't think I'd like Dolph Lundgren's portrayal (the cape bothered me in the promo images) but I wound up finding the live-action movie to be most representative of how I saw things. It was also a reminder of my real home country - when I'd visit America there'd be brand new and wonderful Masters figures that wouldn't see their way to Dublin's toy shelves until a year or so later.

So I can't speak for Rob, but He-Man and Skeletor helped me through childhood. And when the 2002 animated series arrived, I realized there were fans like me who had enjoyed the potential of what the story could be, and happy to remove some of the silliness of what it had been. I look at the Filmation cartoon now in the same way, perhaps, that fans of the Paul Dini animated Batman look at Adam West's TV show - it's not my preferred interpretation of He-Man, but it can be enjoyed as the camp take. (Just don't get me started on the atrocities of the She-Ra cartoon like Madame Razz and Broom. And giving Hordak a boss after the figure's card art declared him "the most evil being in the universe." I enjoyed the idea of the bad guys being in charge, for what that was worth.) And Rob has thoroughly dissected the Christmas special, so I'm not even gonna go there.

I did often fantasize that I could visit Eternia, though - the guns they used never killed, and no matter how much you screwed up, He-Man would save you. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I tried to influence my anesthesia dreams, Nightmare on Elm Street 4 style, and wish myself into Eternia the only way that might actually, briefly work. I only have vague memories but I think it was the Lundgren movie version.

And today, I still buy a bunch of plastic crap to keep the dream alive.

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