Masters of the Universe is without doubt one of my favourite properties of the 80s. It’s possibly the thing I am most nostalgic about from my childhood. One of my most vivid memories from my youth is of playing with my He-Man and Skeletor action figures. Those toys seriously went everywhere with me. Everywhere. Every millimetre of them is imprinted on my brain. I also loved the cartoon and the mini-comics, and my mum made me an Orko cake for my birthday. Masters of the Universe was a pretty big part of my childhood.

I don’t necessarily think that He-Man or Masters of the Universe get the love that they deserve nowadays. Some people take the mickey out of it, calling it more childish than other toy lines, saying the macho characters are homo-erotic or focussing on the questionable or silly names of some of the characters such as Fisto, Ram-Man, Stinkor etc (perhaps I can’t really argue with that last point). It’s a property that, without doubt, has a certain unabashed, naive charm, but it is also very rich in content, a fact that is often overlooked. Its character roster and backstory timeline is huge and extremely intricate. There are actual several timelines which are all ‘canon’ in different ways. Many people have absolutely no knowledge of that side of Masters of the Universe (MOTU).

Most people only know the toys or the original Filmation cartoon. But there have been 4 cartoon series in total (the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, The New Adventures of He-Man and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe the 2002 series), there was the 1987 movie (not everyone’s cup of tea, but still good fun), dozens of mini-comics, hundreds of newspaper strips, many UK and US magazines and books, not too mention what is one of the biggest ever merchandise ranges, probably second only to Star Wars (seriously, you could get He-Man related EVERYTHING back in the 80s). And there is also a toyline out right now (albeit an adult collector’s line), Masters of the Universe Classics which has been going for about 7 years now.

He-Man Montage

He-Man has certainly not gone away but he has been lurking in the shadows for too long. He needs his spot in the modern limelight like Star Wars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles have had.

One of the reasons that it was so successful when it came out was that it’s got a great mix of fantasy and space. Magic and science. Genres that you don’t often see mixed. It also had every kind of character included in its ranks; animals, cowboys, ninjas, robots, you name it.

And then there’s the artwork. It arguably had the best artwork of any toy property’s packaging and was probably the last big franchise to use real paintings as the artwork. Fantastic artists like Rudy Obrero and Earl Norem painted amazing scenes such as the ones below for boxes and poster. This gave it all a real sense of class.

MOTU art 1

MOTU art 2

Also, not many people really know the history about how much Lou Scheimer at Filmation did for animation in America by refusing to outsource work to the East and also putting forward a whole new platform of syndication to the studios which in turn gave animators much more work in the US. The He-Man cartoon, led by Scheimer, was a blueprint in many ways for toy lines and cartoons for the rest of the 80s and onwards. The He-Man toys had broken the mould for toy design, with their chunky body design, and the cartoon was revolutionising things too.

And lastly, it has been the birthplace of many a glittering career in the worlds of art and writing with people like J Michael Straczynski and Larry DiTillio both starting as writers for the He-Man cartoon.

All the above, coupled with the fact that Dark Horse books, a well respected publisher, has produced two books in the past two years about Masters of the Universe and have three more in the pipeline, really highlights just how much there is in the He-Man world and that it’s not just about toys and a cartoon.

I was, therefore, hugely excited to be lucky enough to attend Power-Con in LA earlier this month, June 2016. To be honest when you tell someone you’re going to a He-Man convention they probably imagine the worst ’nerdy convention’ image they have in their heads, but this really was an educational, inspiring and creative event with loads of talented people involved in the property available for talks and chats. I was very excited to experience a bit of the history of this property I loved as a kid. When the immigration officer at LAX airport asked me what my reason for visiting the US was, I looked him straight in the eye and said “He-Man convention”. He paused for a second and then replied with a big smile, “No way, that’s so cool. Can I come?! I grew up on that stuff!”.


Power-Con is an event run by the people from, the most popular He-Man fan site on the internet. It consists of two main areas. A showroom, full of tables and stalls of voice actors such as the original Skeletor and She-Ra, plus the Skeletor and Orko from the 2002 cartoon available for autographs and photographs, large companies like Mattel and smaller companies like Super7 shilling their wares, sculptors such as The Four Horsemen, amazing comic book artists and designers like Pop Mhan, Axel Gimenez and Nate Baertsch, second hand toy merchants and smaller craft stalls. The other room was the panel room where there was a constant stream of panels and workshops that you could attend.

I was lucky enough to have a PowerPass which grants you several VIP benefits. You automatically get a front row seat in all the panel session without having to queue, you get access to the showroom 30mins before everyone else and you also get access to the Green Room where you can hang out with the artists, writers and actors during lunch or before they go into their sessions. I have to say this PowerPass made the event 10x better for me. Especially the Green Room access. I had some fascinating chats with people from Mattel who were involved in the original toyline, the Skeletor and She-Ra voice actors (Alan Oppenheimer and Melendy Britt) and lots of talented film-makers and artists.

Probably the highlight of the whole event for me happened in the first 30mins as I got early access to the showroom floor and I managed to speak to Alan Oppenheimer before his table got too busy. I had a very nice chat to the lovely man and he kindly left a voice recording to my son, in the voice of Skeletor. I could have left the event there and then and been a very happy man. A very surreal moment, having Skeletor talk to your son.


Another big highlight for me was just perusing all the stalls of people selling MOTU merchandise and toys. One of my main loves back home is to just go round retro shops, charity shops and car boot sales looking for retro goodies, and this was like nirvana, as some of the things that you find in the world’s biggest He-Man event in LA are very hard to find elsewhere. I could have spent a serious amount of money and I had to be very careful with my self discipline. Some stalls, for example, had mint condition, carded, He-Man figures from the vintage line which were going for over $1,000 dollars. Gulp. See the pic below for some of the cool things I bought. Also check the bottom of the blog post to see what other cool merchandise there was that I didn’t buy.


I have to give a shout out to the amazing artists and also custom figure creators that there were. The custom guys modify or create their own action figures, often by sculpting themselves or by taking moulds and casting new versions which they then paint or modify to create some very cool creations. It’s a fascinating art and one I’d love to give a shot one day. I particularly liked Master English and Chris Hunter Knight’s work. Check some of them out below.



Mythic Legion



It was also great to meet James Eatock at last. James is from the UK, is generally considered the world’s expert on the Filmation cartoon and has written a couple of books on the subject and recorded commentaries on some of the DVDs. Not to mention his incredible Cereal:geek magazine that I have mentioned several times before on this blog. We have spoken several times digitally but never had the opportunity to meet in person. I look forward to meeting up again soon with James in London.

Then we get to the panel room. This room took up about 80% of my day as I found nearly all of the panel topics fascinating and I was also scared that if I spent longer in the showroom I may have to remortgage my house.

Panel Room



Some of the standout panels for me included the following:

The Design of MOTU – Martin Arriola and The Four Horsemen
This was a great one as Martin was involved in the original line and had some great stories about how it all started, but he was also trading questions and answers with the Four Horsemen, world renowned sculptors, about modern day sculpting techniques. It’s fascinating to hear just what goes into making sculptures and toys and it gives you a whole new appreciation for both the art of sculpting and toy design, but also the manufacturing and production challenges that toy companies face.

This is a small company based in San Francisco that is making things that they want because no-one else was making them. Mostly pop-culture influenced, and a lot of the things they are making are MOTU related. Again very interesting to hear the ins and outs of how small companies make their products. I really love what they do.

Twin brothers Garrett Sander and Darren Sander, who both work at Mattel, gave a nice, quick session where they showcased some very cool toy prototypes and some amazing artwork by Errol McCarthy which they had recently discovered in the Mattel archives, and which had not been seen for about 30 years. Very cool.

Dean Stefan’s writing workshop
Dean Stefan is probably regarded by many as the best He-Man cartoon writer. He predominantly worked on the 2002 cartoon. This session was great as he essentially did a workshop on how to write a cartoon episode and he involved the audience in deciding where the plot went. The audience basically wrote the episode and Dean was acting as a guide to help the narrative flow. Fascinating to watch him do this totally spontaneously. A lot of the writing tips he was giving would be relevant for novels or screenplays but he also pointed out the special tips that were unique to animation. Very interesting.


The voice actors panel
Probably the standout panel for me. Amazing to be only a couple of metres away while Alan Oppenheimer (80s Skeletor), Melindy Britt (80s She-Ra), Brian Dobson (2002 Skeletor) and Gabe Khouth (2002 Orko) were exchanging stories about their voice acting in the MOTU universe.


The Live Podcast
One of the main reasons I really wanted to go to Power-Con was because of the Roast Gooble Dinner podcast. The podcast run by the people from that I’ve listened to for about 6 years. I’ve wanted to meet all the people for years and it was fun for all the hosts of Roast Gooble and MastersCast (the first ever He-Man podcast) to do a joint live podcast after the drinks had been flowing. Lots of fun.



Cosplay contest
Cosplay does still get a bit of a bad rap by us cynical Brits still, and I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from the Cosplay Session on the Saturday night. There hadn’t really been anyone walking round the showroom floor in cosplay apart from the professional cosplayers in attendance, whose outfits are amazing, and most people who brought cosplay were waiting to show it off in the cosplay competition. Pretty much all the cosplay contestants were in two camps; adults who had serious craft or sculpture skills in creating outfits and armour and weapons etc, and also children who obviously had a real passion for the He-Man and She-Ra universe. It was a really fun session and everyone got a huge round of applause. Great family atmosphere.



Just on that point about family atmosphere, one thing I really loved about the whole event was the family atmosphere that it had. It wasn’t just sweaty dudes in black t-shirts like you might get at some geeky conventions. There were men, women and children aplenty, and all the children had an obvious love for the property too. I think that’s one of the things I like about Masters of the Universe. It’s very accessible by anyone. It’s not just about war and fighting or space, or just about princesses and horses and hair and rainbows. But it’s got all of that and it’s got something for everyone of all ages and all interests. My 4 year old son is already hooked on Masters of the Universe and it’s not as if I’ve been force feeding him it. I’ve just had the toys in my collection available for him to see and he’s gravitated towards them. We even regularly have games where we make up random He-Man names. Splashor, Tree Man, Burpo etc. My hope is that there is a new toy line or cartoon released again soon by Mattel so that he can enjoy this property with all his friends at school too.

It was fascinating to hear all the talented professionals at the event talking about the property and the industry, it was great to see a bigger array of He-Man and retro memorabilia than I’ve ever seen before, but one of the highlights for me was meeting the people. In particular meeting the people who I know from the website and podcast. I’ve been looking at the site and listening to their podcast, Roast Gooble Dinner, for years now. You could almost class them as ‘celebrities’ in the He-Man world, just because we hear them on the podcast all the time and you feel like you already know them. But these guys are working hard. All of them were hard at work, helping during registration, recording videos of sessions or interviews with the voice actors, moderating panels, running around looking after the special guests etc etc. And in many cases with their wives or husbands coming along to help too. It was truly an awesome effort by all these guys to make this event run so smoothly. And what’s really great is that because it is such a small, niche event it really is very intimate in size and you get to speak at length with the ‘stars’ like the voice actors but also hang out in the bar at night with the organisers and podcasters and have real in-depth conversations about our shared passion. I had some great chats with Pixel Dan, Daniel Benedict and Rob Base in the bar on the Saturday night and also Rob McCallum who is currently filming a Masters of the Universe documentary.

One random memory I have is off chatting to Gabe Khouth who played Orko, and as we’re walking down the hotel corridor, up ahead in the distance we see someone cosplaying as Orko, in a full body suit of the cartoon figure. A very funny moment as Gabe puts on his Orko voice and then essentially has an ‘Orko-off’ / game of chicken as they approach each other in the corridor.

So to sum up, I want to say huge thanks to all the organisers, particularly Val Staples (the main organiser of the event) and also Jon Kallis, ‘Pixel Dan’ Eardley, Danielle Gelehrter, Daniel Benedict, Nate Baertsch and Rob Base. An amazing, friendly, family atmosphere at an event that was both educational, inspiring and fun. They certainly have ‘the Power’.

And biggest thanks to my amazing wife who actually surprised me by buying me the ticket for the event and the flights out to LA as part of my 40th birthday present! I know how lucky I am. I don’t imagine I’ll get to go again but I’m so so glad that I did get to go this time. It was amazing.

Here is a video walk round the showroom floor, and a selection of pictures of some of the great toys and merchandise that I was barely strong enough not to buy.


He-Man napkins. I very nearly bought these!
Very tempted to buy this He-Man wrapping paper, but I think it was quite pricey.
I did buy this lenticular ruler. I mean, who wouldn’t?


There were some great non-MOTU toys for sale too. Check out these awesome Commando, Clubber Lang, Over The Top and Fall Guy toys. Plus a beautiful boxed Optimus Prime.




And I decided to pass on this $2,000 He-Man Eternia playset.