Evil Warriors, Heroic Warriors

Zodac – Cosmic Enforcer (1982)

Zodac Graphic2

The most enigmatic of all Masters of the Universe characters, Zodac was released in the second half of 1982. A late addition to the first wave of figures, Zodac was created to round out the original group of eight figures.

It’s probably fairly well known among fans now that two separate Mark Taylor characters, Teela and Sorceress (aka Goddess), were eventually combined into a single character (Teela). Apparently Mattel’s marketing group didn’t think there was enough demand for two female action figures in one year. That left seven figures for the first year, instead of the eight that were planned. Enter Zodac.

Another Mark Taylor design, Zodac borrowed Skeletor‘s arms and legs and Beast Man‘s furry chest. New parts included his head, armor, and blaster.

Zodac was originally called Sensor. Perhaps the idea was that his space-age looking helmet gave him heightened hearing and vision.

zodac-mt1
From the Mark Taylor Portfolio, published by Super7/The Power and the Honor Foundation

As indicated by the artwork above, the design stuck closely to the textured arm and leg sculpts used on the finalized versions of Skeletor and Mer-Man.

When the cross sell art was created, Zodac was given very similar forearms and boots to the ones used in the Skeletor and Mer-Man cross sell art, rather than the more textured look of the actual toys. Perhaps this was done to maintain consistency across the artwork:

zodac cross sell
Zodac cross sell art
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Skeletor cross sell art

The prototype is somewhat different from the final figure. Like the b-sheet, the lower sides of Zodac’s helmet are red (they are painted gray in the production version). The white design on his chest armor is quite thick compared to the final toy, and the gun seems to have a wider barrel but narrower “fins” and a shorter handle compared to the toy version.

zoto proto 1
Prototype Zodac

The final toy:

IMG_9641IMG_9643IMG_9644IMG_9645

Zodac’s armor has “bullets” stored bandolier-style at the sides of his armor. I think that’s a really interesting touch, as you don’t normally associate laser pistols with bullets. I like to think his weapon is a fairly primitive kind of laser pistol that can only get off one shot at a time using some kind of single-use cartridge – possibly scavenged from the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

bullets
Bullets!

Zodac was originally sold on the “8-back” with the tag line, “Cosmic Enforcer”. But what is a cosmic enforcer?

According to the 1981 Mattel licensing kit (the earliest material we have on Zodac), it meant that Zodac was a bounty hunter. The Empire Strikes Back had come out the year before, and Boba Fett was a very popular character. It may be that Zodac was portrayed this way to capitalize on that popularity. The original intent by creator Mark Taylor, however, was for Zodac to be a heroic warrior.

license kit zodac
Source: He-Man.org
Boba-Fett-Costume-Empire-Strikes-Back-03
Source: The Dented Helmet

The bounty hunter thing didn’t stick, and Zodac very quickly became a kind of cosmic observer (much like Jack Kirby’s Metron character), indirectly intervening in Eternian affairs only when absolutely necessary.

In the 1982 DC Comics MOTU series, Zodac is “rider of the spaceways”. Like Metron, he travels through space in a flying chair (in this case it’s the throne from Castle Grayskull). He is not aligned with the heroic warriors, but he does intervene when it looks like Skeletor is about to gain too much of an advantage:

In Fate is the Killer, Zodac describes himself as “neither good nor evil”. In the panels below, he tells He-Man that he must take him from Eternia, or else kill him, for the good of the planet:

In the 1983 Sword of Skeletor by publisher Golden Books, Zodac is described as a wizard, but he serves the same function as the DC comics Zodac. He intervenes to get He-Man into Castle Grayskull, so he can stop Skeletor, who has taken control. All of this is to keep the “balance between good and evil”.

zodac-sword_of_skeletor_pg_cleaned-up
From The Sword of Skeletor

In the 1983 comic, Power of Point Dread (the large version that came with the Point Dread & Talon Fighter playset and vehicle), Zodac again steps in at the last minute to aid He-Man. Zodac speaks of keeping a universal balance, which Skeletor has threatened by keeping He-Man from guarding Castle Grayskull. Zodac rights the balance by showing He-Man the Talon Fighter, which he uses to defeat Skeletor:

booklet_zodac-page01booklet_zodac-page02In the 1983 Filmation cartoon, Zodac is again presented as a Metron-like figure, stepping in at the last minute to indirectly intervene. In some ways Zodac is also a kind of Eternian god.

In the cartoon he is clearly an all-powerful character who sees and understands all. The most important of his three episodes is “The Search”, in which he sends He-Man out on a quest to prevent Skeletor reaching the Star Seed, a powerful object that will give him control over the whole universe. A twist ending reveals that Zodac set up the whole affair, telling Skeletor of the Star Seed and sending He-Man to defend it, in a test of He-Man’s ability to resist the temptation of using the Star Seed’s power for himself. – Wiki Grayskull

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zodac filmation
Source: Filmationcels.com  Colors by Jukka Issakainen

In the episode “Golden Disks of Knowledge”, it’s revealed that Zodac is the last member of the “Council of the Wise”. At the episode’s conclusion, Zodac transforms Zanthor (who had redeemed himself after some misdeeds) into a fellow cosmic enforcer. He’s even given the same costume as Zodac:

zanthor screen grab

The 1982 MOTU Bible, written by Michael Halperin, describes the character like this:

 ZODAC, the wise leader of the Council of Elders, called to the stars for advice… The Council listened to the vision which promised them that if ever the forces of evil should try overcoming Eternia a champion would arise to defend the planet…

Zodac gathered the Council of Elders in the Hall of Wisdom and collectively they concentrated their mind force until the sheer power of their consciousness created a mighty force field. At that moment, an implosion cracked through the corridors of the Hall and the Council disappeared in a blinding flash of energy. Only Zodac retained his human form as one of the Eternia’s guardians.

The 1984 UK Annual describes Zodac like this:

Although neither good nor evil, Zodac, the Cosmic Enforcer, has a vital role to play in this battle between good and evil. There have been many times when Skeletor has attempted to alter the balance of the universe – and several times when he has almost succeeded. In a situation like this, Zodac’s role is to prevent this – by tipping the scales to achieve another balance. This often means informing He-Man of what his enemy is planning to do – or by showing him the future if Zodac is successful, so that He-Man himself can do something about it. Zodac never interferes directly in the affairs of Eternia, but we may be sure that he is always watching.

Obviously not everyone at Mattel was on the same page with the story line that had developed between 1982 and 1983. On the 1983 reissued 12-back card, Zodac is portrayed unambiguously as an evil warrior. The artwork by Errol McCarthy shows Zodac attacking He-Man with his blaster.

zodac errol mccarthy large
Illustration by Errol McCarthy

By 1983, cross sell art appearing in minicomics and on packaging rebranded Zodac as the “Evil Cosmic Enforcer”.

attak trak back

attak trak back - Copy

zodak
Image source: Vaults of Grayskull. Notice that his name is spelled with a “K” here. That spelling would later be used in the 2002 MOTU series.

I should also note that Zodac also appears in another 1983 figure sheet as simply “Cosmic enforcer” (his name is also spelled correctly):

1983he-man

In this 1983 commercial featuring all Masters of the Universe characters produced up until that time, Zodac is grouped with the Evil Warriors:

In the Ladybird-published 1986 He-Man and the Asteroid of Doom, Zodac is portrayed as Skeletor’s evil flunky:

The 1984 mini comic “Slave City” originally featured a villain named Zodak. When the team producing the comic book discovered that “Zodak” had an actual settled on appearance, they changed the villain’s name to Lodar by altering some of the letters in the text:

minicomic-pg-lodar

zodak-to-lodar_reconstruction
Reconstructed by Jukka

Zodac appeared on the side of the Evil Warriors in this poster illustrated by William George:

1984 william george poster

rl allen
Artwork by R.L. Allen; Zodac is being attacked by Man-E-Faces

In several coloring books Zodac was portrayed as a heroic warrior:

5

1st wave poster
Icons of the first wave

Zodac wasn’t heavily promoted, and I don’t remember him being all that popular with my friends when I was a kid. Maybe it was because we didn’t know what to do with Zodac. But like Faker, he has become something of a cult favorite among MOTU fans today.

Rudy Obrero Zodac
Zodac’s one and only appearance in box art – from Rudy Obrero’s Castle Grayskull illustration

 Special thanks to Jukka Issakainen for providing valuable feedback and several images.

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27 thoughts on “Zodac – Cosmic Enforcer (1982)

  1. Okay, though that is a completely remade design sheet for a newer series version, something written on there is confusing me.. “In the B-sheet, Zodac was the only figure designed with the final sculpts for legs and arms.”.. that bit sounds more like it’s saying they knew which legs and arms to reuse so the design already took that into account.. that kinda makes sense (though not being the ONLY one).. but the next bit confuses me.. “For this figure, Kobra Khan parts an be used to mimic the B-Sheet look”. But Kobra Khan reused the Skeletor Arms and Legs (the same as Zodac) and re-used Zodac’s gun. So I don’t understand that comment at all.. probably not important though..

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    1. Hi there. Those comments were written by the artist. I think what he meant was that Zodac was the only character from the first 8 whose B-sheet takes into account the finalized toy sculpt. Fpr example, the B-sheet for Mer-Man doesn’t look like the final toy. But the B-sheet for Zodac does, because it was made after those parts were finalized.

      The comment about Kobra Khan parts is in reference to the Masters Classics line. Kobra Khan was I think the first figure in that particular toy line to get those scaly boots.The standard Skeletor figure in Masters classics is patterned after the cross sell art rather than the vintage toy design, and has smooth shin guards and forearms that have that “double glove” look.

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  2. Was always into Zodac because he seemed “rare” in Wave 1, as no one really knew what to do with him in the mini-comics, albums, and books. Being a Metron copy was a little too much in my view. And seeing him as a Skeletor lackey is too weird.

    Being a cosmic cop or mercenary (i.e. neutral) is more basic and easier to swallow than him being pitched as being more powerful (or wise) than He-Man in the cartoons.

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