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Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part One: 1982

Masters of the Universe, for all its diversity and creativity, was quite an economical toyline, creatively (and sometimes uncreatively) using and reusing the same molds over and over again throughout its run. Sometimes this was done fairly invisibly, and other times it was as plain as the nose on Faker‘s face.

In this series I’ll be cataloging the reuse of existing molds, in context of what is known and what is likely about which figures were created in what order. For example, He-Man’s prototype was almost certainly finished before Man-At-Arms, so Man-At-Arms reused He-Man’s legs, rather than vice versa. I’ll also include parts that were reused from other toylines.

Sometimes existing parts were modified for use in new toys. For example, Beast Man’s chest seems to have been based on He-Man’s chest sculpt, albeit with a great deal of hair added to it. This didn’t save money on tooling, but it did save some time and effort for the sculptor. I’ll point this out whenever I see it. Whenever a modified part is used again, however, I’ll refer to it as belonging to the toy that used it first (for example, Stratos and Zodac reuse Beast Man’s chest).

I won’t comment on “invisible” parts, such as neck pegs or waist springs that are normally not seen.

First, the toys from 1982 that had (when they were created) all new parts:

He-Man

Teela

Castle Grayskull

Battle Ram

Wind Raider

These toys from 1982 reused some existing parts:

Skeletor

Beast Man

Man-At-Arms

Mer-Man

Stratos

Zodac

Battle Cat

More in this series:

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15 thoughts on “Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part One: 1982

  1. I’ve done this mentally myself a few times. 1983 will see a mix of parts that were never used again and parts that got heavy use for the rest of the line. And one year will see parts reuse _only_ for the faction leaders.

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    1. Yes, I’ve done this mentally many times as well. I decided to finally write a post about it. 🙂 Interestingly the two (IMO) weakest full years (1986, 1987) have the most unique tooling used.

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      1. Maybe it’s the lack of reuse that contributes to parts of those waves feeling ‘less MotU’ than the others? (I love the Snake Men, and think the core of 1987 is actually pretty solid–it’s the Energy Zoids and Movie Figures that feel less right–but I agree that they’re probably the weakest two years of the line.)

        OTOH, if what we’ve seen of 88 had been released, that might have been regarded as a shark-jump to rival the New Adventures.

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        1. I think in a way it is partially because of lack of reuse (ironically), but also I think there were some major stylistic changes, especially with characters like Rio Blast, Blast Attak, etc. Sssqueeze is neat but he looks like a knockoff figure. They also lost Tony Guerrero early on, and so a lot of the new pieces didn’t have the same sharpness and definition that his work had.

          I love the 1986 snake men – I think they hit a home run with them. I wish the other 1986 figures felt like them. The snake men use new parts, but a lot of it is also based on Tony Guerrero’s work (Rattlor’s arms are modified from He-Man, as are Tung Lashor’s limbs). But, it’s not just the sculpt, but the stylistic choices. The Snake Men look like they could have come out of the 1984 line.

          There are some strong figures in 1987 too – King Randor, Clamp Champ, Scare Glow Mosquitor, Sorceress, etc. Some of that is new sculpting, and some of it is reused. But 1986-87 feel hit or miss, while 1982-1985 feel consistently strong.

          All of that is just my opinion of course!

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          1. I argue like mad with people that the limits of the time often ADD a lot to a product. A TV show on a cheap budget often becomes.. not the same, not always worse, not always better, but not the same when given a huge budget. Comic stories of a live action show often do things which they would NEVER have allowed on TV which again, makes it a different thing..

            For all it’s strengths and weakness, MOTU was done within a budget and reused parts where they could. Often then the newer ranges try to do there new versions of characters, the action features, the reuse of parts etc, are completely missing and it’s not the same.. I personally think worse in most cases, but I more argue the point that it’s different. one thing I really hate with a lot of ‘return to’ ranges is the old “I loved this when I was a kid, but It should have grown up with me”.. not the same thing at all and I think worse..

            anyway, MOTU reused parts, most of the time that was a good thing. While in some cases, like Man-at-arms, you didn’t get much new, it worked. It was part of the range as much as the twist and punch waists and villains being evil

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  2. As a kid I could spot the re uses a mile off, but i never knew about the recycled parts from other toys untill I started reading your amazing articles. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    Great stuff as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love when they’d reuse parts.
    A new colour, a new head, some new accessories or combos, and you have a new character who fits perfectly with all the others.

    It’s hard to keep things consistent especially when you add a pile of new sculptors to the mix, but if you keep a bit from the old each time, it’s a lot easier and more likely things will mesh together well.

    A good example of this is G.I. Joe, even though the figures stayed the same scale, the figures quickly started to look bulkier and more muscular, even if they were of the same previously released person, and not look right next to the others.

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