Monday, August 16, 2021

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine - Summer 1987 Review

During the prime of  He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe in the 1980s, I was very young without my own money so I could only get things if my parents would buy them for me. At the time my parents didn't have a ton of money and if I was allowed to pick something out at the store I would go for a new action figure every time compared to a magazine, that is until I grew up a bit and started to read more. Because of this I never had any of the MOTU magazines from the 80s but I know for a fact if I'd seen this issue at the stores I would have begged for it since it had the movie He-Man on the cover.

As I said I never had any of the MOTU magazines so when I bought this issue recently it was my first time ever reading one so I didn't know what to expect, besides Dolph Lundgren as He-Man. I'll be reviewing this issue with you and we'll see if I would have been happy with this when I was a kid. 

This issue came out in the summer of 1987 and cost $1.95 which in today's money would cost around $4.66 which isn't too bad compared to current magazine costs. The biggest shock when I opened up this magazine was the page count, there are a total of 28 pages which, at least in my opinion, is pretty bad. I purchased another magazine from 1987, Joe Weider's Muscle & Fitness. Why? Because Dolph Lundgren is on the cover as He-Man and it has an article about his workout regime during the filming of the movie. This magazine cost $3.95, adjusted for inflation that's $9.45, for 264 pages. The Muscle & Fitness costs $.014 cents per page while the MOTU magazine costs $.0696 per page which means the MOTU magazine costs nearly five times as much per page. Right off the bat He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine seem to be a bit of a ripoff, but maybe the content will make up for it.

As far as content I'll break down what you get in this issue. First, there is a content page followed by a greeting From He-Man and Gwildor with an excellent painting of the movie He-Man and Gwildor by the famed Earl Norem, who in my opinion has made some wonderful art in the MOTU world. 

Next up is The He-Man mailbox which has some letters from kids to the magazine stating how they like He-Man and the magazine as well as some MOTU art by kids. To me, the best part is Dolph as He-Man in the top corner with a shot of him I've never seen before. I also find it cute that the kids addressed their letters to He-Man himself.

The next page is called Orko Earth Report where the terrible magician tries to make some money on the side with a review of upcoming books and tv shows including Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow which was one of my favorite shows as a kid. There is also a mention of Max Headroom, it doesn't get more 80s than Max Headroom.

Orkos' book report is interrupted with an ad for Striped Chips Ahoy! cookies. Orko also writes up a profile of Benji Gregory who was the son of another 80s TV show, Alf. Alf was a big hit in my family so I remember Benji. I like at the end it says you can write to Benji or Alf by writing to the Alf Fan Club, it's fun to imagine the puppet Alf going through his fan mail and making sure to set aside all of Benji's mail. The end of Orko's report mentions the upcoming movies Benji The Hunted, I vaguely remember the movie and a snippet of the upcoming movie Superman IV The Quest For Peace. While it's true that a lot of He-Man fans would also be interested in a Superman movie, including myself, I think the mention of Superman's worst movie is in here because it's made by the same film company that made Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture, Cannon Films. Superman IV The Quest For Peace is a bad movie for numerous reasons but one of the biggest reasons is that the 32 million dollar budget was slashed to 17 million during production and a lot of that money was spent on Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture which in the end is fine with me.

The next five pages contain a He-Man comic. It, of course, is about Skeletor trying to get into Castle Greyskull and He-Man and allies have to stop him. The story involves Skeletor capturing Gwildor and using the Cosmic Key to bring from the past a squad of Tyrantisaurus Rex's to help break into the castle. The story has many well know characters like He-Man, Skeletor, the Sorceress, and the rest being late-released characters like Clamp Champ, Snout Spout, and four characters from the movie. You get the three figures that were released as toys, Gwildor, Blade, and Saurod but it also has Karg who was in the movie but wasn't released as a toy. I do not know the story of why Karg was in this comic but not a toy, to the best of my knowledge he is the only movie character that appeared in other media but wasn't released as a toy. 

In the story, Saurod shoots lasers out of his mouth like his toy does. Saurod never shoots lasers out of his mouth and uses a hand blaster like everyone else. The creators easily could have had laser shoot out of his mouth but he doesn't which is another mystery to me. If anyone knows why Saurod's toy shoots lasers out of his mouth I'd be interested to know. 

The comic also features the Eternia playset which is neat, I never had it as a kid and I don't remember seeing it in any stores as a kid, I'm sure if I did I would have begged for it but it was very expensive at the time, and even worse now! Before I finish up with the comic one thing that puzzles me is the fact that the characters never talk with word bubbles, they only use boxes which to be honest I don't ever remember seeing in any comic. 

Just like the movie comic book, all the characters that existed before the movie are depicted in their regular look. The story itself is basic and the artwork is ok at best, it has little detail but all the characters are easily identifiable and for a kids' magazine that's all that's needed. I would have enjoyed it as a kid, mostly because the movie characters are in it, but as an adult, there isn't much to it.

The next two pages are about the movie with the first page having pictures from the movie including a nice full body shot of He-Man and six smaller pictures around him of the characters and of the Castle Greyskull throne room. All of these pictures are great and a few of them I've never seen before so that's a bonus for me! 

The second page has a shot of Skeletor and a larger one of He-Man and Blade dueling from the movie. The text is the basic information of the premiere of the movie, the actors in it, and a short paragraph summarizing the movie. Even though there are only two pages on the movie I would have been very happy as a kid for these two pages.

Now before I mention the next section I'll state a fact, I'm not a big fan of She-Ra. I couldn't get into the cartoon as a kid and the She-Ra action figure came with a comb. In my young mind, Barbie's came with combs, and action figures came with swords. I will say that I watched the new She-Ra cartoon with my kid and I enjoyed it so it's not so much that I didn't like the character, it was just the presentation that turned me off as a kid.

Anyway, the next three pages contain a She-Ra story. Apparently, there was a separate She-Ra magazine at the time and they discontinued it and added this story into the He-Man magazine. I know I wouldn't have enjoyed this as a kid for the reason mentioned above but also because it's a text story. The first two pages do have an illustration that takes up the bottom and right side of the pages and the third page of the story has the bottom third of the page with an illustration. 

After the She-Ra story is a full-page ad for a Star Trek 20th Anniversary plate from the Hamilton Collection. Does anyone remember these kinds of plates, do they still sell these? It's a great-looking plate from the classic episode The Trouble With Tribbles when Captain Kirk opens up the storage bin and tons of dead tribbles fall on top of him. This plate is the first out of eight in the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Collection and costs $29.50 ($70 today) each plus $2.14 shipping. The original Star Trek was 20 years old at the time and Star Trek The Next Generation still had a few months before it debuted, damn I feel old.

Up next is a Summer fun section that has a cartoon contest and a list of holidays coming up. After that is an ad for a subscription for the HE-Man and the Masters of the Universe magazine for the low low price of $6.00 for four quarterly issues. On the other side of the ad is an article about the history of ice cream and another about zoos and how June is Zoo and Aquarium month!

After an ad for the new cartoon Bravestarr which I barely remember, I believe my friend had the action figure, comes a Royal Portrait Gallery puzzle. The page contains 10 paintings of MOTU characters but it's only a section of the character and you have to figure out who each painting is. I only have one word for this, lame. Unless you were blind, and no offense to blind people, it would be very, very easy to figure out each painting if you know anything about MOTU. I figured each out all by myself without having to ask my parents for help. I included the puzzle for you to try out but I edited out the answers to preserve the answers for you.

The next page is an ad for VHS tapes of episodes of current cartoons. You can pick from the cartoons Pole Position, I remember the video game but not this show, The Get Along Gang, absolutely no memory of this, Mask which I do remember as a rip-off of Transformers, and Inspector Gadget. I loved Inspector Gadget and that would have been my pick of these cartoons on VHS.

The last three pages contain one ad for The Disney Channel and two pages of Power Puzzles. One puzzle is a simple maze where each room has a picture and you have to write the first letter of the picture in a square before moving to the next picture in the maze. I aced this one and the summer message is HAVE A SUPER SUMMER.

The last puzzle is the Warrior Name Game. There are ten names to fill in with a brief description of who it's about. Each word has one or two letters with a line under it and a number, once you finish all ten characters you write down the letters on the bottom in order of their numbers to decode three more character names. I know this is a magazine for kids but this is stupid easy. I didn't realize until I finished the puzzle that each character is drawn down the sides of the puzzle making an easy puzzle idiot-proof.

Once you've read the magazine cover to cover, it takes minutes, you can take out the poster that's on the inside. The poster is another wonderful painting by Earl Norem of He-Man and Blade sword fighting in the Castle Greyskull throne room while Skeletor, Saurod, Karg, Man-At-Arms, and Gwildor watch. If I'm being honest this poster is the reason I bought this magazine that is until I opened the magazine. The problem is if you remove the poster you lose the last page of the He-Man comic, both pages about the movie, and the first page of the She-Ra story. I'm sure it was done to keep costs down but this is just cheap and disappointing. I did find a company on the internet called Mad Duck Posters that sells not only this poster but many MOTU posters based upon original art from the 80s and some new ones done by current artists. I'm not being paid to mention them, if you see this Mad Duck you can send me any of your MOTU posters and I'll review them for you,  but they have many posters that look great and I'll probably be buying a few from them including the one from this magazine.

Click here to buy this poster from Mad Duck Posters!

Unfortunately, we've come to an end to this issue. If you count the ad for the magazine itself, there are a total of 8 pages of ads. If you count the front and back cover you can add three more ads to the count for a total of 11 ads, 8 of these on interior pages. When you only have 28 pages and 8 are ads it makes me feel a bit ripped off. 

Overall this magazine is disappointing to me both as if I was a kid reading this back then or as a grumpy old adult today. The only thing that would have interested me then or now is the He-Man comic, the two pages about the movie, and the great poster that I'd have to butcher my magazine to hang on the wall. I don't care for the mailbox, the Orko Earth Report, the She-Ra story, or the puzzles. I'd recommend this issue to people who are collecting this magazine series or to someone who had it as a kid and wants to relive the "fun" of completing the puzzles, or to people like me who collect anything to do with the MOTU movie, everyone else should avoid this magazine. 

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