Evil Horde

Modulok – Evil beast with a thousand bodies (1985)

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The last Masters of the Universe figures I would ever get as a kid were Rokkon, Stonedar and Modulok, for my birthday in 1986. By this point I was really getting into G.I. Joe. Colorful characters like the B.A.T. (which was kind of a Roboto clone), Viper, and Serpentor (he fit right in with the MOTU Snake Men) had finally pulled me over to the Joe side. Despite that, I was always happy to get a few more He-Man characters to add to my collection. Modulok had come out in 1985, of course, but the figure was new to me.

Modulok was given the most metal toy commercial possible. Compared to most 1980s toy ads, this was like Slayer meets Black Sabbath:

Over the years, Mattel designers toyed with several centaur-type designs, with four to six legs, and in at least one case, four arms.

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Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest. Scan via Jukka Issakainen

Modulok could be configured like the either of the above designs, but he was much more insect-like than previous concepts, as shown below:

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Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest. Scan via Jukka Issakainen.

Often in the development of Masters of the Universe toy designs, prototypes and concepts ended up appearing in mini comics and cartoons, due to the long lead time required to produce them. While comic artists were busy putting together mini comics, Mattel’s toy design team would continue to develop the figures. Often the finished product was noticeably different from early concepts, and that is certainly the case with Modulok. In the comic book that shipped with the figure, The Treachery of Modulok!, Modulok is based on that original concept look:

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Image via He-Man.org

The concept/mini comic Modulok featured a set of crab-like pincers, a set of He-Man-like legs, a set of Skeletor-like legs, and a set of insect-like legs. It may be that the designer (which I believe was Ted Mayer) intended for Modulok to reuse these parts to cut down on costs.

Another Ted Mayer design, Brainiac, demonstrates a similar design philosophy:

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Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest. This version has one set of human hands and one set of claw hands, like Modulok.
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Image courtesy of Ted Mayer. This version has two sets of clawed hands and lacks the Horde symbol of the black and white version.

The final toy came with no shared parts at all (unusual for MOTU at the time, but characteristic of Evil Horde figures), and his build was much slimmer than any figure that had come before, with the exception of Teela and Evil-Lyn.

Rather than crab-like pincers, Modulok was given three and two-fingered claws, in addition to his set of human-looking arms. Rather than Skeletor or He-Man legs, he was given one set of human-like legs with green knee pads, one set of legs with a kind of grasshopper-like design, and another set of legs that recalled the design used on Clawful and Buzz-Off. His overall look is something like a Martian crossed with an ant.


Modulok included several segmented thorax pieces, giving him an ant-like look when they were connected. He included the two heads from the concept drawing, along with five two-pronged connectors that could be used to give the figure various head, arm and leg combinations. He came with two tails, one of which could support legs or arms. He also came with a double-sided laser rifle that could be split into two pistols.

Modulok has one of the more clever names in the MOTU toyline. It’s a marriage between the words “modular” and “lock”. His construction is modular, his pieces lock together, and the hybrid word certainly sounds like a credible name for a villain.

The artwork on the box Modulok came in was very true to the overall design of the toy. However, where the action figure featured dark blue paint on some of his arms and legs, those parts were colored light purple in the box art.

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Image courtesy of Axel Giménez
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Image via Jukka Issakainen

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The front and back of the packaging featured illustrations of Modulok in dozens of different configuration. The idea, I’m sure, was to help kids engage with the toy more by giving them many different ideas for play. I think I eventually tried out all of them.

The scene on the back of the packaging shows Modulok transforming into various configurations mid-combat as he confounds Skeletor’s Evil Warriors:

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The instruction manual that came with Modulok provided even more ideas for putting him together in bizarre new ways, including some ideas that would require purchasing multiple copies of the toy. It was a bold attempt by Mattel’s marketing department to move more units, I’m sure, but I don’t know that many parents would have been convinced to buy the same toy two or three times over.

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Argentinian manufacturer Top Toys produced a version of Modulok that was packaged on the standard sized blister card. Since there was no such card set up for Modulok, Top Toys reused the cardback from Kobra Khan. The figure itself came with green limbs and is highly sought after today.

The Treachery of Modulok! mini comic was included with the toy (although not in the Top Toys example above), and as mentioned previously, depicted Modulok with his concept design rather than his final form. In the story, Modulok is a defector from Skeletor’s crew. He approaches Hordak with a plan to infiltrate Castle Grayskull. In a rather gruesome and devious plot, he mails his body parts to the heroic warriors, who are baffled by them. After the heroes leave his parts unattended, Modulok assembles himself and wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting heroes.

Modulok is the only member of the Evil Horde without the Horde bat insignia (with the exception of Multi-Bot, who was something of a robotic sequel to Modulok). It may be that his inclusion in the Horde faction was something of an afterthought. And indeed, that may also be the reason he is depicted as non-original member of the group in the mini comic and other media.

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Modulok’s back story is spelled out succinctly in Mattel’s official style guide (with artwork by Errol McCarthy). These origins don’t appear to have anything to do with the story in the mini comic.

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Image via Jukka Issakainen

Formerly Galen Nycoff, evil scientist. He constructed a device while in prison to help him become the most deadly villain on Eternia, and emerged… Modulok! He has since allied himself with Hordak and the Evil Horde.

The Filmation series origin for Modulok follows the same basic formula, expanding upon it and giving pre-transformation Galen a pretty standard evil scientist look.

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Image via Jukka Issakainen
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Image via Jukka Issakainen

Filmation’s take on the character design was created by Fred Carillo and Lou Ott. (Fred also did artwork for quite a few Masters of the Universe Golden Books story books and coloring books.) Here Modulok has been given purple shorts, a green belt, black markings on his legs, and some modifications to the design of his chest and hands.He is always depicted with three legs.

Modulok makes several appearances in the UK Masters of the Universe comic book series, albeit with an altered backstory (images via He-Man.org):

Modulok also makes several appearances in posters by William George, Earl Norem, and others. Notice in the last example below (from William George’s Eternia poster) that Modulok has been combined with Multi-Bot to form “Megabeast”.
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(Poster images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen.)

Evil Horde

Leech – Evil master of power suction (1985)

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Leech is one of those figures that that is permanently etched in my memory. I got Leech and Mantenna for Christmas of 1985 (my brother got Grizzlor). At the time I was just starting to get distracted away from Masters of the Universe by G.I. Joe. I remember my cousin making the argument that G.I. Joe was cooler than He-Man because you could “put them in better poses.” I wasn’t terribly interested in army toys, but I looked up to my cousin and was easily swayed by his opinions. By 1986, Hasbro was putting out G.I. Joe figures that were much more colorful and weird, maybe in an effort to attract the attention of He-Man fans (it certainly worked on me). In any case, getting Leech and Mantenna sucked me right back in to the world of He-Man.

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Masters of the Universe had long been a toyline filled with colorful, freakish monsters, but the Evil Horde took the bizarro factor to a whole new level, and Leech was an instant favorite. An evil green monster with suction cups for hands and a suction cup mouth? Sold! Leech reminded me of the salt vampire from the original Star Trek series – the creature also had a sucker face and suckers on its hands. That episode gave me a serious case of the creeps as a kid, so to have something a little like it in figure form was thrilling.


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Leech was not the first suction cup monster to be sold by Mattel. In 1980, Mattel released a character called Suckerman (invented by Roger Sweet), covered head to foot in suction cups and made from a flexible vinyl material:

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There are a couple early concepts for Leech, one from Filmation and the other from Mattel. My understanding is that the Evil Horde concepts originated from Filmation, and Mattel took those concepts and often took them in a different direction.

Several years back, James Eatock shared an early Leech concept created by Charles Zembillas. This incarnation of Leech was not quite the freak show character he ended up being. In fact stylistically he fits right in with the type of character designs Mattel had put out in 1984 for the Evil Warrior faction:

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Image source: James Eatock/The Power and the Honor Foundation

Back at Mattel, designer Ted Mayer took the concept in a much different direction. Ted’s concept (below) presents a character that is much more alien looking, with more prominent suction cup hands and a face also dominated by a giant suction cup. Leech’s limbs here are much slimmer than the actual figure, but this design is otherwise much close to the toy design than the Zembillas drawing.

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Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog, Vol 1

As noted in The Power and the Honor Foundation catalog (image above), the Horde insignia on Leech and the rest of the Evil Horde was originally envisioned as an alien creature that controlled the actions of these monsters. It was an interesting idea, but was ultimately dropped.

This close to final prototype (sculpted by Eddy Mosqueda, who also worked on Grizzlor, Sssqueeze and Eldor) appeared in the 1985 Mattel Dealer Catalog. The sculpt is final, and the figure appears to be hand-painted. As you can see, the prototype lacks the painted teeth on tongue inside his suction cup face. The suction cup itself is shallower than the final version, and lacks the wide rim on the toy (thanks to Manic Man for pointing that out). Unlike the final toy, the armor covering his left shoulder is painted orange, and the Horde bat insignia on his left arm is painted red. He also has black nostrils.

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Compared to most other MOTU figures, leech was much more solid and bulky. His action feature required a fairly large torso. The suction cups on his hands (which never seemed to work all that well) were typical suction cups other than the sculpted finger details, but the suction cup on his mouth actually had a hole in the middle of it, with a tube leading down to a rubber bladder in the center of Leech’s torso. A button on the figure’s back would force the air out of the bladder through the hole in Leech’s mouth. This would create a vacuum in the bladder, resulting in a stronger suction force to better keep the figure attached to smooth surfaces.

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In this scene Man-At-Arms is holding Mekaneck‘s club. Leech is based on his prototype, with black belt buckle and painted orange shoulder armor.

There are a several different production variants for Leech, the most notable being the version with a black belt buckle and light green abs. This is likely the first release version of Leech, as it is closest to the cross sell artwork (and the prototype figure that the artwork was based on):

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Aside from his single carded release, Leech was also sold in a J.C. Penny two-pack with Mantenna. There was also a planned three-pack with Hordak and Mantenna, but as far as I know no one has seen one in the wild.

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Image via Grayskull Museum

The mini comic that came with Leech is no doubt the strangest piece of the entire series. In the story, Mer-Man (who is inexplicably bearded) is running from terror from Leech, who in this story is the size of the mountain, but has undersized two-fingered hands. Sy-Klone manages to temporarily defeat Leech (delivered with one of the best quips of all time – “Try a taste of knuckle sandwich, blubber gut!”), and the heroes take the frightened Mer-Man back to the palace to discuss the new threat with King Randor (who for some reason has a pink beard here).

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As I said before, Leech is a giant behemoth in this comic. When he returns to Hordak empty-handed, it’s clear that Hordak is human-sized. However, when He-Man takes on Hordak in the Talon Fighter, Hordak is also giant-sized. Reading this comic as a kid, I assumed that both Leech and Hordak had the power to grow or shrink at will. I’m not sure if that was actually a power they were intended to have, or if this comic book can best be explained by the effects of a bad acid trip. Either way, I was left scratching my head. Still, for some time afterward I believed that Leech had this ability, and when I had him facing off against the Heroic Warriors, I would often pretend that he was a giant.

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I wasn’t aware until some time later that Leech was actually a frequent character on the Filmation-produced She-Ra cartoon. Certainly there was nothing on Leech’s packaging that connected him to She-Ra in any way.

His appearances were enough to get me interested enough to watch a couple of episodes. It was fun to see Leech in action, but it was also tough as a little boy in the ’80s to admit to being into something that was branded for girls.

The Filmation version of Leech was a bit different from the toy version (and radically different from the  Charles Zembillas concept). Compared to the toy he had a more realistic mouth, a yellow belt, and symmetrical yellow shoulder armor.

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Errol McCarthy’s depiction of Leech was based on the cartoon incarnation:

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Leech didn’t make any appearances on box art, but he was a background character in several posters by William George, Earl Norem, and others (images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen):

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I won’t say that Leech is my all-time favorite Masters of the Universe figure, but he’s definitely in the top 10. He left a big enough impression on me that he was the first vintage MOTU figure that I repurchased as an adult.

Mini comic images and Errol McCarthy artwork are from He-Man.org.

Evil Horde

Mosquitor – Evil Energy-Draining Insectoid (1987)

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Mosquitor is one of the few late Masters of the Universe figures that I was aware of as a kid. The last figure I got was probably Rattlor (1986). At that point I was more interested in G.I. Joe (although I loved the Snake Men, and in my mind associated them with Cobra-La). Occasionally though I would wander the isles of the toy store and see what was new in the world of He-Man. The three I remember best from 1987 were the Sorceress, King Randor, and Mosquitor.

When the Evil Horde was introduced in 1985, it represented something of a revival for me in my interest in He-Man. The Horde was composed of some very creepy-looking villains, and they captured my imagination. I owned Grizzlor, Leech, Mantenna, and Modulok, and spent quite a bit of time playing with them, even long after I had stopped collecting Masters of the Universe toys. In my opinion, Mosquitor fits right in  with the original Horde lineup.

Mosquitor had quite a striking design and a bold black and red color scheme befitting his membership in the Evil Horde. In fact, his head and especially his eyes bear a striking resemblance to Mantisaur, released the year before.

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Image via The Art of He-Man

Mosquitor had a blood-pumping action feature that circulated blood inside his chest, causing the blood to drip down the clear screen on the front of his chest, only to be collected at the bottom and pushed around again to the top. An early incarnation of this action feature appeared in Mattel’s 1980 Gre-Gory vampire bat.

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Another early concept that would have implemented a similar action feature was Ted Mayer’s Braniac, which would have pumped fluid around the giant brain had it been produced:

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Image courtesy of Ted Mayer

The earliest design known for Mosquitor was done by David Wolfram. In terms of shape, this concept is quite close to the final toy design, with the exception of the feet, which have individual “toes”. However, the color scheme is quite different from the toy, with a blue body and black and purple accents, rather than his final black body with brown and purple accents. At this point in his design, his eyes are completely black:

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Image source: The Art of He-Man

Mosquitor was sculpted by Pat Dunn (special thanks to Pixel Dan for the tip!). As noted earlier, his sculpted design is quite close to the original concept drawing, and is one of the nicer sculpts to come out of the tail end of the Masters of the Universe line:

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From the 1987 Mattel Dealer Catalog

Some Top Toys-produced versions of Mosquitor have black “blood”. It’s not clear if the blood was originally black or if it has darkened with age (update: apparently it was originally red, per Axel Giménez):

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Image via He-Man.org

Other versions, like this Spanish Mosquitor, came with a blue gun rather than a purple one:

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Image source: Arkangel

The front of Mosquitor’s card features a great illustration of the character. Given that Bruce Tim did several pieces like this for other characters released that year, I would guess he did this one as well.

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The back of the card features a great scene (artwork by Errol McCarthy) of Mosquitor assaulting Rattlor (somehow without directly contacting him), as well as some artwork demonstrating how his action feature works. Given Mosquitor’s design, it’s obvious that he’s a blood sucker (like Leech before him), but I would guess that Mattel’s marketing department wanted to soften the gore factor and he is depicted as sucking “energy” instead. Notice that his “Roto-Laser Blaster” on the illustration below is silver rather than purple.

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Artwork by Errol McCarthy. Image via He-Man.org

Mosquitor’s cross sell artwork is very faithful to the final toy:

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Errol McCarthy also created a couple of other pieces depicting Mosquitor in a battle-ready pose (images via He-Man.org):

Mosquitor also appears in William George’s Eternia and Preternia Posters (thanks to Jukka Issakainen for pointing that out and for the Eternia poster image):

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Image via Monster Brains

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Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen
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Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Mosquitor was composed of 100% new parts, and it shows. None of his parts were ever reused in another toy, but there were plans to do so. His legs would have been used in this unproduced mashup character that featured parts from Trap Jaw, Rattlor and Whiplash:

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Image via He-Man.org

Mosquitor made his mini comic debut in Enter … Buzz-Saw Hordak!  In the comic, Mosquitor proves to be a quite a menace for friend and foe alike. He nearly defeats He-Man by sucking out his life force:

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He also makes an appearance in Star Comics issue number 8:

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Mosquitor came out too late to make an appearance in Filmation’s She-Ra cartoon, but if he had, he might have looked something like this:

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Artwork by Dr. Omega

For more about Mosquitor, check out this video from Pixel Dan, who is possibly the world’s biggest Mosquitor fan:

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