Evil Horde

Mantenna – Evil spy with the pop-out eyes (1985)

I got Mantenna at the same time I got Leech, for Christmas in 1985. While I gravitated toward Leech at first, I kept coming back to Mantenna. His telescoping eyeball action feature wasn’t all that much fun, but his bizarre appearance kept drawing me back in. What was this guy? He looked like a cross between an an, an Elephant, and a space alien.

 

Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Designed by Ted Mayer, Mantenna is certainly the weirdest looking figure in the Masters of the Universe toyline. According to the Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog, Mantenna’s early working names were Sensor (also a working name for Zodac) and Raydor. All of his names are puns on devises used to sense things from a distance – hence his large, pop-out eyes and oversized ears.

This early version of the character (below) has the early detachable horde insignia. He also has white teeth, red hands, and lacks the horde emblem shinguards he would get later in his design evolution.

Image Source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest issue 202

 

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation/The Art of He-Man. His eyes appear to have some kind of hypnotic power.

This revised drawing by Ted Mayer gives the character red teeth, and the standard Horde insignia on his check, shin guards, and left arm. He was given a yellow belt and black trunks. He also had a strange staff weapon with some kind of creature wrapped around it. Hordak had a similar weapon in early concept art as well.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog

The prototype Mantenna is featured in the 1985 Mattel dealer catalog. The shape is finalized, but there are some color differences between this and the final toy. He has orange sides, rather than black. His chest insignia is outlined in black, as are his red teeth. His eyes seem to also have orange and red veins.

Mantenna’s cross sell artwork represents another intermediate step in his design – his sides are mostly black, there is still a strip of red or orange under his armpits. His teeth are also still outlined in black.

The final Mantenna has fully black sides and simplified teeth. At this point it’s really not obvious that they’re actually teeth. It really looks much grosser than that. It’s not obvious at first, but the toy does retain the original concept of having four legs – but the legs were fused together in pairs.

There is another Mantenna variant that has a color scheme on his chest closer to the cross sell art (with orange around the head of the bat design). It had a black lever in back, but the bats on his shin guards were not painted red:

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Mantenna’s pop-up eye mechanism was also patented, although it seems like a simple enough design. The patent was filed December 17, 1984, and it was trademarked on September 10, 1984.

Mantenna was sold on his own single card, of course. He was also sold in a JCPenny giftset with Leech.

Note that Mantenna has white eye stalks and a white weapon in this illustration.

Mantenna’s minicomic isn’t a fan favorite. I remember not being able to get through it as a kid – the artwork seemed too jumbled and hastily done. It should also be noted that although Mantenna’s name is in the title, he barely makes an appearance in it.

In The Power of the Evil Horde, illustrated by Bruce Timm, Mantenna has the ability to fire stun rays out of his eyes:

In the Mattel Style Guide (illustrated by Errol McCarthy), Mantenna is characterized this way:

Power: frightening ability to see and hear over great distances with his highly sensitive ears and periscope scanners.

Character Profile: Mantenna can do more than just see with those wild eyes. He can fire a variety of horrible beams from them as well, including paralysis beams, stun beams, etc. Mantenna is also an agile scout and often goes out well ahead of his companions to make sure their way is clear for marauding, pillaging and the like. Since he is no slouch in the combat area, either, Mantenna rarely needs assistance on his scouting missions.

Image source: He-Man.org. Note that Mantenna is colored like his prototype here.
Image source: He-Man.org. Black and white version of Errol McCarthy’s style guide illustration.

The 1985 Golden story, The Horde, seems to draw directly from Ted Mayer’s concept art in its depiction of both Mantenna and Leech:

Image source: He-Man.org

Mantenna’s grotesque appearance was toned down for the She-Ra cartoon series. He lost most of the fins on his limbs, and his mouth lost its sphincter-like look. He was also given simple yellow eyes rather than the bloodshot eyes of his action figure. Changes were made to his hands, feet, and costume as well. He was generally depicted a bumbling henchman, often dropped through a trap door by Hordak.

Dusan M. pointed out that this is an intermediate design – final design sheets had a visible tongue.

The Filmation Mantenna did have the ability to shoot various beams from his eyes, which he occasionally used to devastating effect:

Mantenna maintains his Filmation look in this Evil Horde poster by Earl Norem. It appeared in the Summer 1985 issue of Masters of the Universe Magazine (US version).

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Evil Horde

Grizzlor – Hairy henchman of The Evil Horde (1985)

I didn’t own Grizzlor as a kid, but my brother did, and (I got Leech and Mantenna at about the same time). Grizzlor is simultaneously hilarious and creepy, with his wild furry body and his vicious-looking face, like a cross between a Troll doll and mutant bear. With a predominantly brown color scheme, he’s actually one of the least colorful characters in the MOTU universe, but he certainly “pops” in other ways.

 

Horde faction
Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Grizzlor seems to have originated at Filmation. Several years back The Power and the Honor Foundation shared an early development image, reportedly created by Curtis Cim. The concept (below) is already quite well developed. Grizzlor wears an early version of the Horde insignia, some extra spikes, and sports five fingers, but otherwise he looks very close to his finished form.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation. Shared by Dušan M.

Another piece of Filmation development art for the character shows a look that is much closer to the appearance of the final action feature:

Image source: Dark Horse’s He-man and She-Ra

In another image from The Power and the Honor Foundation, we see Grizzlor in full color as depicted by Ted Mayer. He looks very close to his final toy form, except that he is holding a rather strange-looking ornate weapon. His face is quite a dark black/brown, which is how some version of the toy were colored, although most were produced in a lighter brown color. In this version he has two visible, prominent fangs, a hallmark of the look of the action figure.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog

Ted Mayer came up with a couple of somewhat related hairy henchmen concepts, including a mammoth/boar-like character (who has an identical pose to Grizzlor’s concept art) and a quite primitive-looking bear-like creature who, like Grizzlor, had two prominent fangs:

The first of the above two characters is often referred to as the Horde Mammoth by fans. However, Dušan M. pointed out a couple of interesting things about him. One, he isn’t straight Horde – his “Horde” insignia feature’s Skeletor’s face rather than Hordak’s. Another concept drawing by Ted Mayer, a Skeletor/Horde variant, features this same insignia:

T4 03a - Copy

The other thing about the Horde Mammoth character is he has no trunk. Other than the tusks, he looks quite like a wild boar. Grizzlor is described as a “wild boar” in the 1987 Style Guide, prompting both of us to wonder if these characters aren’t quite closely connected. The Style Guide is discussed in more detail later in this post.

A late stage Grizzlor prototype appears in Mattel’s 1985 dealer catalog. The prototype matches the look of the final toy, except that it is apparently hand-painted, and the Horde emblem on his chest is yellow:

As mentioned earlier, the most common version of the toy was produced with light brown molded plastic, and there was a rarer, darker version that took after Ted Mayer’s depiction. Both versions came with a green Horde crossbow with its spring-action  gimmick. Due to his action feature (if you can call mounds of fur an action feature), he lacked waist articulation.

“Black face” Grizzlor variant

 

Grizzlor’s cross sell art depicts the more common version of the figure. Note that Grizzlor’s unique crossbow appears in white here, rather than the final green.

Grizzlor cross sell axel
Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

Underneath all that fur Grizzlor had a very plain and flat body:

This Grizzlor has seen better days.

In the illustration on the back of Grizzlor’s card, he’s shown mid-leap in a surprise attack against Kobra Khan.

Image source: StarCrusader

Grizzlor was sold in two gift sets with Hordak – one of them a plain JCPenny box, and a more deluxe-looking set that came with a comic book illustrated by Bruce Timm. William George illustrated the scene on the front of the box, and the back was done by Bruce Timm:

Image source: Grayskull Museum
Image source: He-Man.org

Grizzlor’s name was trademarked on September 10, 1984. The name itself implies that he’s based on a grizzly bear, although looking I wouldn’t immediately associate him with that based on his face. He’s big and furry, which is I suppose close enough. However, as mentioned earlier, according to the 1987 Style Guide (illustrated by Errol McCarthy) Grizzlor is actually a kind of wild boar-like creature. Again, this brings to mind Ted Mayer’s “Horde Mammoth” character.

Power: Ability to ravage his foes with his wicked claws.

Character Profile: This humanoid boar has two sabretooth-like tusks and a large, shaggy body. He also has sharp, dangerous claws. Grizzlor has the same strength and ferocity of a wild boar, but he is no the greatest in the smarts department. Grizzlor is the prison keeper of The Evil Horde.

 

Grizzlor’s final look in the She-Ra cartoon series is somewhat more human-like than his action figure counterpart, and his harness is black rather than yellow, but it’s still a close resemblance. Grizzlor could be a bumbling underling or menacing henchman, depending upon the exigencies of the story, and also oversaw Beast Island. In some ways Grizzlor was the Beast Man to Hordak’s Skeletor.

In the minicomics Grizzlor was generally quite a menacing figure, most especially in the issue that he came packed with: Grizzlor – The Legend Comes Alive! (Illustrated by Bruce Timm.)

Grizzlor also makes appearances in:

  • Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde
  • Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revence
  • The Treachery of Modulok
  • The Power of the Evil Horde
  • Escape from the Slime Pit
  • The Warrior Machine

Grizzlor also appears in the 1985 Golden story, The Horde, where it’s said that he is the Horde prison guard. Here Grizzlor actually looks very close to Ted Mayer’s depiction of him:

Grizzlor appeared in a number of posters by William George, Earl Norem, Esteban Maroto, and others:

Grizzlor of course makes other appearances in a variety of comics and magazines, which is a topic I may explore in a future post.

Image source: BattleGrip
Evil Horde

Hordak – Ruthless Leader of the Evil Horde (1985)

Card art Hordak - Copy

For some unfathomable reason, Hordak was the only member of the original 1985 Evil Horde that we didn’t have in the house growing up. My brother had Grizzlor, and I had Leech, Mantenna and Modulok. But what’s a faction without its leader?

Hordak is the leader of the Evil Horde faction, which debuted in 1985. According to Roger Sweet, the character name and the concept of the Evil Horde were created by Dave Capper, Director of Marketing for Boy’s Toys at Mattel. Mattel and Filmation apparently worked in tandem to develop Hordak going through many iterations of the character before arriving at two final designs – one for the toy shelves and one for the She-Ra cartoon (information source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog).

Dušan M. put together a nice graphic showing the sequential evolution of Hordak’s design. You can check it out at the Ancient Library of Grayskull Facebook group. I’ll go through each design, following Dušan’s ordering. The Filmation images come from Dark Horse’s Art of He-Man, Dark Horse’s He-Man and She-Ra, Dušan M., and eBay.

In this early concept (below), Hordak, while menacing, has the look of a post-apocalyptic thug, like a He-Man character crossed with something from Mad Max.

In the concept drawing below (by Gerald Forton and Herb Hazelton), Hordak looks much less human, and more menacing, in an alien punk-rocker kind of way. The overlapping plates on his armor give him a bit of an H. R. Giger quality. An early Shadow Weaver concept is included.


This concept below looks quite close to the first one, although it lacks the Horde emblem on the chest.


In this concept image shared by Dušan, Hordak’s costume is starting to come together, although his face still looks relatively human.

The concept below is closer still to the final Hordak design, although he still sports a punk rock row of spikes on his head.

From here we get a couple of divergent looks for Hordak, one from Filmation and one from Mattel. Both of them dropped the one-armed look (although in the Filmation cartoon Hordak could transform his arm into a cannon, and Mattel eventually came out with a Hordak variant with arm attachments).

Both of them had a similar looking, mask-like face, with a bone cowl around the back of his head. Filmation’s Hordak had a blue body suit and symmetrical arm bands. The animated Hordak has a somewhat sharp, mechanical-looking head:

Note: As Dušan M. observed, an earlier version of this design featured upturned “spurs” on Hordak’s heels.

Meanwhile, at Mattel, Ted Mayer took an early Filmation model sheet and tweaked it slightly, adding a red cape (thanks to Dušan M for this information). Hordak was colored gray, black and red – good vampire colors. He was given a bat-shaped shield and a strange organic-looking weapon. He has Horde bat insignias all over his costume, including on the armband on his left arm (the Filmation version had two armbands with no insignia). His head has warty-looking bumps on it and looks organic rather than mechanical.

Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest
Image Source: The Art of He-Man/The Power and the Honor Foundation

The Evil Horde insignia is actually Hordak’s face, with batwings on either side:

According to Roger Sweet, Hordak’s face was based on a witch doctor’s mask. Interestingly, Ted Mayer did another concept that’s even closer to that idea, although this one is unlikely to have anything to do with Hordak:

The toy was based on Ted Mayer’s final design for the character, although the strange weapon was changed out for a crossbow:

hordak cross sell
Cross Sell artwork, showing the toy’s final design. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

In the illustration on the back of the packaging, Hordak and his minions make ready to storm Castle Grayskull. Interestingly, Hordak holds Skeletor‘s staff here:

Image Source: StarCrusader

Errol McCarthy also depicted the character in a number of different contexts (images below are from He-Man.org), including the 1987 Style Guide, which described him this way:

Hordak acquired his power while passing through the plane from Etheria to Eternia. He as since discovered how to retain and refine it.

 

 

 

 

Hordak was sold in a number of giftsets, including a couple of different sets with Grizzlor, and a Canadian set with Roboto and Sy-Klone. Hordak was also sold in 1986 together with Mantisaur, his insectoid steed.

As a toy, Hordak was marketed under the Masters of the Universe brand, despite being the primary villain in Filmation’s She-Ra series. Although Hordak was a constant presence is the She-Ra cartoon, Mattel treated him very differently in their own stories. He only shows up in She-Ra’s first minicomic (The Story of She-Ra). In the Princess of Power minicomic canon, Catra is actually She-Ra’s primary nemesis.

The beginning of this story mirrors the opening scenes of Secret of the Sword

Hordak, meanwhile, is a frequently-appearing villain in He-Man‘s minicomics starting in 1985, appearing in the following comics:

  • Grizzlor – The Legend Comes Alive
  • Leech – The Master of Power Suction
  • Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde
  • Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge
  • The Treachery of Modulok
  • The Power of the Evil Horde
  • Escape From the Slime Pit
  • The Menace of Multi-Bot
  • The Warrior Machine
  • The Hordes of Hordak
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place
  • Enter… Buzz-Saw Hordak

In Leech‘s surreal comic, Hordak and Leech both had the power to grow and shrink at will – which doesn’t seem to follow in any other stories.

LMPS (9)
Image via the Dark Horse He-Man Minicomics Collection

In the minicomics cannon, Hordak is generally less well-equipped on Eternia than he is on Etheria, the setting for the She-Ra cartoon series. In Etheria, Hordak’s Fright Zone is a massive industrial nightmare structure, and he has access to legions of troops and vehicles:

fz fhordak thronethrone2

In the He-Man cartoon series, the heroes are in power, and the villains are constantly trying to take it from them. The She-Ra cartoon series has it flipped – the Horde has already defeated Etheria, and She-Ra and her allies strive to overthrow Hordak (voiced by George Dicenzo). The Horde is something like the Empire in the Star Wars series.

When Hordak was introduced, he was written in as the former master of Skeletor; Skeletor is said to have betrayed Hordak and set up shop on Eternia. Hordak has the ability not only to transform his arm into a canon, but his entire body into various mechanical devices. He reports to his mysterious brother Horde Prime, who is the supreme commander of the Horde Empire across all its worlds.

 

arm

Hordak makes appearances in the following box art:

  • The Fright Zone
  • Hordak Grizzlor
  • Hordak and Mantisaur
  • Slime Pit
  • Beam-Blaster & Artilleray

Hordak also appears in several posters by William George, Earl Norem, Esteban Maroto and others. He is variously portrayed in both his Filmation and toy looks:

Hordak of course appears in a wide variety of published media. Because he’s a primary villain, it’s not practical to try to track his every appearance, but I’ll cover some representative samples here:

Golden, 1985: The Horde

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“Day of the Comet” newspaper story

Day of the Comet

UK MOTU Magazine, Issue 71
UK 71 (10) - Copy

German Ehapa Verlag, 1987, issue 3

 

As a villain, Hordak is certainly creepy enough, although he doesn’t have the archetypal quality of Skeletor. Skeletor is a symbol for death, and you instantly recognize what he’s about at first sight. Hordak has more of a horror movie creature quality. To me, Hordak is outshone by his even more freakish henchmen, while Skeletor is the most interesting villain in his faction. Still, I would have loved to have had this figure as a kid to lead my shambling band of bizarro Hordesmen.