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Vintage Action Figure of the Week: 1981 Skeletor!

By March 4, 2011

1981 Vintage Masters of the Universe Skeletor Action FIgure

Before the Mattycollector revamp, before the 200X redesigns, before the failed "He-Man in Space" debacle, and even before the Filmation cartoon premiered, Masters of the Universe spent a solid two years as a ground-breaking and massively popular toy line, holding it's own in a world ruled by Star Wars and G.I. Joe.

And the main antagonist of this world that skillfully blended fantasy and science fiction, was a muscle-bound, skull-faced evil overlord, know only as Skeletor.

In those primordial days of Masters of the Universe, specifically before the release of the cartoon, which transformed Skeletor into a bumbling baddie with a ridiculously high-pitched voice (I, personally, never liked the cartoon, in case you can't tell), the boned-faced one was a far more menacing figure, with his clawed hands and ram-skull-topped magical staff, his ghostly visage looming out from under the darkness of his deep violet hood.

I discovered Masters of the Universe through my best friend in 4th grade, and we immediately went MOTU-crazy, snapping up as many figures as our lawn-mowing money would allow and filling our Christmas lists with characters like Merman and Stratos and bizarre vehicles like the Attack Track.

But before the collection received the ol' Christmas boost, I spent a couple of months with only two MOTU figures; He-man and Skeletor. These two figures, bristling with bladed weapons and rippling with coiled musculature, were, to me, like two mighty titans, battling over the very future of an entire universe; each clash of the swords spewing forth lightning; each brutal punch cracking and rumbling with thunder.

Later, Masters of the Universe, and Skeletor specifically, would become a bit watered down (again, I blame the cartoon), and the toys would begin to turn towards the silly, focusing far too much on gimmicks and less on character background (this would change greatly with Mattycollector's Masters of the Universe Classic line).

But for a brief period, in the early morning dawn of the toy line, Skeletor was a fearsome foe, a dangerous force of evil and one heck of an awesome action figure.


March 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(1) AdamEdg says:

Those were my first He-Man* figure too! Though I was probably only 3 or 4 when I first got Skeletor and He-Man…
Skeletor was always my favorite; I even had the Skeletor costume thing released around 82-84 (fuzzy memories).
Skeletor is the only figure I have now, but sadly it is not the original – his face popped off from his hood while storming Castle Greyskull circa 1988. The one I have now is from somewhere in the early 2000s bought as part of my quest to collect modern versions of my child hood favorites from various lines.
I’m with you on the cartoon though. I loved it back in the day, but having watched it recently on Qubo, it is a piece of s**t. It does not hold a candle to its contemporaries (GI Joe & Transformers) in any regard.
*Nobody I know ever called the line by its proper name.

March 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm
(2) BubbaShelby says:

“…and the toys would begin to turn towards the silly…”

That was right about the time they came up with Hordak, I believe. ;)

March 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm
(3) Reis says:

Ha! If anything, Hordak brought some coolness back to the line!

March 7, 2011 at 6:07 am
(4) TOMAX says:

My first MOTU figure was BATTLE ARMOR He-Man.I toted that guy around with me everywhere i went.There was something cool about that “i’m gonna crush you to a pulp” expression on HE-MANS face .Shortly after that is when i received my Warlord Arak along with others from that line.Not quite He-Man but they served their purpose.

March 8, 2011 at 9:25 am
(5) Reis says:

Oh yeah! I had several of the Remco Warlord series figures and also incorporated them smoothly into my He-Man adventures. I used to pretend that Warlord was He-Man’s long lost mentor who returned to help him battle Skeletor.

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