Heroic Warriors

Teela’s Charger

charger-alcala-horse

In some of the earliest media produced for Masters of the Universe, Teela is often depicted riding a golden horse or unicorn. The animal is never given a name, but is referred to as a “unicorn charger”. Fans have taken to calling the steed Charger for that reason.

Charger’s origins may lie in a January 1, 1981 “He-Man Vehicles & Accessories” idea disclosure form filed by Roger Sweet. In the form, Roger writes:

The Barbie horse, fixed or poseable legs, can be adapted to He-Man by changed color and added parts of armor, etc to make a horse vehicle.

In fact, there was a Barbie horse named Dallas, released in 1980 or 1981, that bears close resemblance to Charger as depicted in the first series of mini comics.

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Several Masters of the Universe toys were reused from previous Mattel toylines, including Battle Cat, Panthor, Zoar and Screeech. Charger was never released in the vintage MOTU toyline, but I think he/she would have fit right in.

A concept drawing of a unicorn with a female rider was published in Tomart’s Action Figure Digest issue 90. The artwork is cropped, and we’re not given any information on the artist or the date. It’s possible that this is related to Teela and Charger, but it very well could be an unrelated concept (possibly for She-Ra):

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Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Charger appears as a unicorn in the first comic, He-Man and the Power Sword, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. The mini comic was shipped with the first wave of 1982 figures, and was probably in production in late 1981:

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There is a similar scene on the cover of the Masters of the Universe Friends and Foes coloring book (cover by Fred Carillo), published in 1984:

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Image source: He-Man.org

Charger appears as an ordinary horse in subsequent mini comics released in 1982, including Battle in the Clouds and The Vengeance of Skeletor. My speculation is that it would have been expensive to add a horn to the Dallas buck, so the concept was simplified to require no additional tooling. Of course it’s possible that this is just a fluke and not a planned change to the design of Charger.

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Charger appears a few more times in various forms. One of the most interesting is the Grenadier “Raid of He-Man” paint and play minifigures set. The set includes Teela seated on Charger (as a unicorn), along with Skeletor, He-Man, Ram Man, Stratos, Man-At-Arms, Zodac and the Castle Grayskull weapons rack (images via He-Man.org)

Charger appears in the 1983 Ladybird story, A Trap For He-Man, as well as in the 1984 story, Castle Grayskull Under Attack (images via He-Man.org):

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Charger makes an appearance in issue 43 of the Italian Piú comic book series:

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Image via He-Man.org; scanned and edited by MotuFlashes and Tommy. In the top panel, Teela’s snake armor is flying behind her as if it were a loose cloth hood.

Charger also shows up in various sticker and coloring books released throughout the first few years of the toyline (hat tip to He-Man.org user Whiplash7):

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10 thoughts on “Teela’s Charger

    1. Yeah, I think that might have been a factor that stopped them. Battle Cat could be out of scale because he’s a giant fantasy tiger mount. But a giant horse that was otherwise quite ordinary looking might have looked too strange. Still, I’d like to buy Dallas sometime and see if it works with Teela. If not the vintage, then maybe the Classics.

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  1. Another terrific article about MOTU minutiae! I’d never really noticed the ‘Uni-horn’ on Charger, even though the first Alcala mini-books* will always be how I envision the MOTU universe. A fascinating thought too, regarding the dropping of the horn for possible production/tooling reasons. I do wonder just how much product information Alcala had at hand when first painting the early stories, and what liberties he took with the material.

    Note: I use the term ‘mini-books’ to denote the first four Alcala stories included with the first figures, because it’s always amused me that they are deemed ‘comics’ – when they very clearly aren’t. They have a much different vibe and rhythm to the later ‘mini-comics’ (which are truly comics): Alcala’s sweeping watercolors and painterly compositions, combined with the traditional placement of text subservient to image, denotes much more a ‘book’ (or ‘mini-book’, due to the small quarto size).

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! We know Alcala must have had access to either early B-sheets, early prototypes, or both, as his designs mimic those early concept designs (see: https://battleram.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/mark-taylor-the-original-b-sheets-collection/). I don’t know for sure of course if he had access to any particular horse designs, but I do find it interesting that his Charger looks so much like Dallas.

      You make a good point about the mini comics. They aren’t really comics at all, but are instead story books (a format I prefer to comics). Mattel calls them “adventure books” Adventure Books

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      1. To tell the truth, they ARE comics. Comics weren’t invented in the 19th century but the earlist comics in the modern sense are british. They often were a series of panels with text under them in a block. While the text got smaller and even removed BEFORE the Dandy Comic in 1937, it is often claimed to be one of the prime movers into the only panels with text in them phase of comics. Of course, the long running Il Giornalino Comic predates that (an Italian Catholic comic which is now done out of Vatican city I believe), and also had text under panel. with the size of the mini-comic, one panel on page is not unheard of and was still being done (mostly for cheaper smaller mini-comics) well into the 90s.

        Anyway, it’s true that aren’t mini-comics cause Mattel never called them that unlike the later ones, but the storybook format IS a comic format ^_^ I hang out in comic history circles too much I think.

        Often names like Mini-comic come from stupid incorrect fan circles which, sadly, as happens these days, becomes officially adoptive by the ‘fan geared’ official lines… sigh.. too much when fans take over, they decide to do what they ‘as a fan and therefore all fans’ want more then true to what was intended.. but that’s another matter…

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