Heroic Warriors

Sy-Klone – Heroic fist-flinging tornado (1985)

I was a little conflicted about Sy-Klone as a kid. For whatever reason I was bothered by his blue and yellow dominated color scheme, but fascinated by the Saturn-like rings around his helmet, gloves and boots (a Jetsons-like design choice, to be sure), his lenticular chest radar sticker, and of course his spinning action feature. I would tornado him around the house using the wheel on his belt until my thumb got sore.

Sy-Klone was created by Mattel Designer Roger Sweet, under the working name “Tornado”. The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog shows two early concept designs for the character.

This version [below] doesn’t have lot in common with the specific design details of the final figure, other than the circular shape on his chest and the general design on the crotch piece.

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Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog

This version of “Tornado” (below) is closer to the final design. Note the presence of the arm “fins” and the various retro-futuristic rings on the costume. Significant differences from the final toy include the shape of his chest radar and his color scheme, which is has a great deal of green in it.

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Image source: The Art of He-Man/The Power and the Honor Foundation

As is often the case, elements from a concept version of Sy-Klone ended up in the minicomics – specifically Spikor Strikes (which came packed with both Spikor and Sy-Klone). The design is almost identical to the second concept version of the character, except the “fins” on his arms are mounted on oval plate-like structures, which resemble the design of the shield that would come with him. He also has a Caucasian face, rather than a blue or metallic one, and carries a Mekaneck-like club (as does Spikor). This likely represents a third version of the concept art, or even an early prototype. Note that in the third image below, he is referred to as “Tornado”, although he’s called Sy-Klone throughout the rest of the comic:

The patent for Sy-Klone’s spinning mechanism was filed December 14, 1984. The following drawings were included, showing the inner workings of the mechanism. Note that the figure drawing still follows the look of the early concept artwork:


Sy-Klone wasn’t trademarked until June 17, 1985. I suspect he was released somewhat later than other 1985 figures, given that his trademark filed later than any other 1985 figure.

The final toy is a somewhat streamlined looking version of the second version of the concept art. His color scheme is simplified to blue and yellow, with red highlights. He lost the rings around high thighs and biceps, and the top of his helmet was modified. He was given a space-themed belt, and of course his chest radar was made circular. The cross sell artwork is closely based on the final toy, and reflects all these changes.

Sy-Klone cross sell
Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Sy-Klone reuses no previously existing parts. He is one of the few vintage Masters of the Universe figures with ball-jointed shoulder articulation. The ball joint was very loose, allowing the arms to raise on their own with centrifugal force as the figure began to spin. Sy-Klone’s face, like Mekaneck’s face, bears a strong resemblance to He-Man.

Like many figures released in 1985, his only weapon is a shield. In examining the 1985 wave of heroic and evil warriors (leaving aside the evil horde), some clear patterns emerge.

Looking at the non-variant heroes and villains, there is one of each that is an entirely (or nearly) new sculpt, with almost no reused parts (Two Bad and Sy-Klone). There is one of each that has significant new tooling, but also reuses some parts (Spikor and Roboto). There is also one of each that is entirely made up of preexisting parts (Stinkor and Moss Man). Clearly this was planned out ahead of time and likely based on budgetary concerns.

Of the six 1985 unique heroic and evil warriors, half of them (Sy-Klone, Stinkor and Two Bad) have a shield as their only accessory.

Spikor was released on the standard blister card, with artwork on the back by Errol McCarthy (images via Jukka Issakainen and Starcrusader).


Errol McCarthy also illustrated the character for use in licensed products, as well as the 1987 Style Guide.

The guide had this to say about Sy-Klone:

sy-klone style guide
Image via He-Man.org

Power: Ability to fly and plow through enemy lines with turbulent fist-whirling action.

Character profile: His built-in radar screen enables him to sense oncoming attacks. He often senses the physical presence of evil long before others of the Heroic Warriors. Sy-Klone is extremely fast on his feet and quick with his fists.

Sy-Klone was sold in a couple of giftsets – in a three pack with Hordak and Roboto, and in a JCPenny two pack with Moss Man (images via Grayskull Museum):
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Sy-Klone makes appearances in box art for the Eternia playset as well as Monstroid and Tower Tools:

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Sy-Klone makes some brief appearances in the Filmation He-Man cartoon, showing up in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere”. In the series Sy-Klone has the ability to spin his entire body in tornado fashion, or just his arms. His Filmation look is quite close to the toy counterpart, with the exception of his  radar screen, which is  greatly simplified (color images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen; color model sheet originally from He-Man and She-Ra: A Complete Guide to the Classic Animated Adventures):

As mentioned previously, Sy-Klone came packed with the Spikor Strikes comic. In the story, his unique powers and courage allow him to rescue Teela from Skeletor. He also plays bit parts in the following minicomics:

  • Leech – The Master of Power Suction Unleashed!
  • The Flying Fists of Power
  • The Terror Claws Strike
  • The Menace of the Multi-Bot!
  • The Hordes of Hordak

He is illustrated with variations on his concept art look until his appearance in The Hordes of Hordak, which probably comes down to artists using Spikor Strikes as a reference.

Sy-Klone appears on the cover art (illustrated by Earl Norem) in the Golden Book story, Power From the Sky. He does not, however, show up in the story itself.

Sy-Klone is given an origin story in the hardback Golden Book story, I Have The Power. In it, Skeletor inadvertently gives an acrobat called Human Tornado his powers using a “mechano-ray” device.

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Image source: He-Man.org. Note that Sy-Klone is modeled after his concept design.

Sy-Klone makes several appearances in the German Ehapa Verlag comic series. This image comes from the end page of issue nine from the 1988 run (image via He-Man.org):


Sy-Klone also appears in posters by William George and Earl Norem:

Minicomics

L’Impossible Combat – French Minicomic (1984)

Several months back I was looking for He-Man information via Google’s French, Italian and German search engines, just to see what fans are talking about and sharing outside of my own U.S. bubble. I stumbled upon a French blog called Super Shogun, with quite a lot of great Masters of the Universe material, some of which I hadn’t seen before.

One post in particular caught my eye, about a short French minicomic called L’Impossible Combat. According to Super Shogun, this was given out with registration for Club Des Maîtres De L’Univers in 1984.

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Image source: Super Shogun
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Image source: Super Shogun
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Image Source: Super Shogun
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Back cover, which includes an image of the prototype version of Tri-Klops. Image source: Super Shogun

Like the Italian Più series of He-Man comics, this very short issue was clearly influenced by the artwork of Alfredo Alcala. Beyond that, there are several pieces directly taken from illustrations by Mark Texeira. It’s not just the style – distinct scenes and poses from He-Man and the Power Sword, King of Castle Grayskull, and The Menace of Trap-Jaw! are replicated in the story, like a minicomic mashup. In fact, almost 100% of L’Impossible Combat is borrowed material. Take a look:

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Despite the comic’s dire lack of originality, it’s a fun piece of memorabilia, and I’m always happy to see more comics in the style of Alcala and Texeira (even if the artist’s reproductions can’t match the skill of the originals). I do have to give credit for the ingenuity of taking scenes totally out of their original context and constructing a new story from them.

Update: ManicMan has kindly put together a “scanlation” (a translation edited into the comic pages) of the story, below. Thanks again, ManicMan!

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Reviews

MasterEnglish Customs Red Beast Man

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Image source: MasterEnglish website

I recently purchased my first custom action figure by MasterEnglish customs. As a rabid fan of the early Masters of the Universe minicomics (particularly those illustrated by Alfredo Alcala), his take on the first appearance of Beast Man inspired me to sell off a few things so I could add this savage brute to my collection.

Early appearances of MOTU characters in minicomics often draw from unfinished concept art or prototypes. Often minicomics and toys were being developed simultaneously, and there was no time to go back and modify minicomics after the toy had undergone significant changes.

In Beast Man’s first appearance in He-Man and the Power Sword, he is colored entirely red, with the exception of the yellow medallion on his chest, as well as his teeth, eyes and claws.

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That’s reflective of earlier iterations of the design, which were also dominated by red.


However, by the time the toy got released, Beast Man was given orange fur, a blue loincloth, and white and blue patterns on his face. That got reflected in later minicomics, but the change happened too late for He-Man and the Power Sword.

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Mark Taylor’s b-sheet design, published by Super7/The Power and the Honor Foundation


MaterEnglish’s custom seeks to recreate the look of the first appearance of Beast Man, using the original vintage toy sculpt. It is cast in bright red plastic, with hand-painted gold, white, yellow and black details, expertly applied. Given the amount of red on this character, a new cast is really the only way to go. Trying to slather a vintage figure in that much red paint really wouldn’t work well.

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Whatever material was used by MasterEnglish for the body, it’s very close to the look and feel of the original mass-produced made in Taiwan figure. The armor feels slightly more flexible than vintage, and the head of course is not the soft, hollow polyvinyl of the original, but I wouldn’t expect that from a custom. Unlike the late hard head releases in the original vintage line, the hard head on Red Beast Man remains as sharply detailed as the original soft head release was.

Red Beast Man does not include the original spring-loaded waist action feature, but this is again something I wouldn’t expect from a custom, hand-cast figure. The arm joints are a touch loose, but remain poseable. He comes with a red version of his signature whip, complete with red string, which is a nice touch. He is packaged on a resealable card that gets at the general feel of the original MOTU packaging without replicating it too closely.

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The back of the card shows off more vintage-style customs by MasterEnglish, including his (sadly) sold out, brilliant take on the Goddess/Sorceress character that also appeared in He-Man and the Power Sword.

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Red Beast Man works surprisingly well as an action figure, despite his monochromatic color scheme. I understand why the original designer (Mark Taylor) modified the colors of the figure before its release. Orange, red and blue work well together, and help break up the design. An almost universal design characteristic of MOTU figures is their bright complementary and contrasting colors. Still, a mostly-red Beast Man looks great in hand.

This is, of course, not the only take on a red Beast Man action figure. There are red variants of the character in the Masters of the Universe Classics line as well as the Loyal Subjects MOTU line, but I feel like the 1980s format most closely resembles the general body shape of Alcala’s depiction of the character.