Monday, 12 January 2009

Classic Skeletor Through The Ages

Skeletor is returning! Cower mortals for from the bizarre techno-fantasy world of Eternia, the comedy Lord of Darkness is packing his lunchbox to bring terror upon the world once more.

Yes, Mattel have decided to launch a new Masters of the Universe line, but one for adult collectors rather than children (and really, what business do children have near toys anyway?). They're starting with the classics, namely He-Man, Skeletor, and uh, Beast Man and Stratos. Also you can only buy them from their online store at the moment, which honestly doesn't seem like a winning formula, but then I'm not in the toy business.

So Skeletor is back with a look that’s so old its new. But then again he's always been keeping up with fashion trends. Lets take a look at Skeletor through the ages and see how the King of Evil was also the King of Cool!
1982 - Original Skeletor
Now, I've already received criticism for slamming some of the line's simpler figures elsewhere on my site, but hear me out. I talk not just with my own voice, but with the voice of the 5 year old little Matty Boy advising me. And whilst I loved the character of Skeletor, the original toy usually stayed in the toy box

Lets face it, the original Skeletor was a strange figure. We've got used to him now, mostly through familiarity and the genius of the cartoon. But at the end of the day, Skeletor is this really, really buff blue skinned guy with a green and yellow skull head.

He's interesting, but he never did that much for me. He's got his power sword that combines with He-Man's, he has his staff and he has his bondage-harness. Skeletor is also mostly purple and blue, which is a rather boring combination. Sorry!

Honestly, if it weren't for the more streamlined cartoon model and the hilariously brilliant voice performance of Alan Oppenheimer, I don't think Skeletor would be nearly as fondly remembered.

Also I always thought his shoulder pads made him look like a fish!

1984 - Battle Armour Skeletor
Now THIS is more like it. Battle Armour Skeletor keeps his staff and sword, but gains sweet armour. No longer prancing about in a tiny slip of leather, Skeletor wears black and purple, with a cool green and magenta bat logo on it!

I loved this figure, I loved the design, its a classic and a shame they never remade it. Sure, he's not exactly the same as the cartoon, but he has Battle Armour!

The best thing about this figure is that like Battle Armour He-Man, he had the greatest gimmick ever. When you hit him in the chest, the centre piece rotated to show a metallic slash across it! Then if you hit it again, it had another slash!

It was a very interaction-friendly toy for a little scamp to play with, and I find it odd that the gimmick has never been repeated, because it worked really well and was one of the more popular ones! Also to a young mind, it was like magic itself. The extra splashes of colour on Skeletor didn't hurt either!

1985 - Dragon Blaster Skeletor
Dragon Blaster Skeletor was an intriguing toy, if only for the amount of fascinating questions it raised. Why has Skeletor got a dragon chained to his back? Why does the dragon shoot water? Does the dragon mind? What good does shooting water do? Is it hard for Skeletor to carry the dragon about all day or does he get a bad back? How does Skeletor sit down, has he got a specially modified chair?

The possibilities are endless! Skeletor was obviously going for a bit of popularity here, copying the cool water spray feature of his erstwhile colleague Kobra Khan, and he even painted his armour to look a bit like the dragon. However, he was always onto a loser since the He-Man released opposite him was Thunderpunch He-Man, which used real explosives to cause bangs and smoke. Not even a cute pet dragon could help him to win!

Still though, the added red is nice, and Skeletor has a little pet to talk to about all his woes. The chain is a nice touch, since adding a chain to a toy, even a cheap chain turns it into something special. Don't ask me why, it is something unexplainable and will probably lead to many psychiatrist hours.

1986 - Terror Claws Skeletor
Wearing a purple chrome bra was a brave choice for Skeletor, but he really pulled it off. I didn't even realise how bizarre he looked until much later. At the time, it was "Skeletor in a bra, sure!"

Skeletor obviously chose the bra to match his delightfully long nails, the titular 'Terror Claws'. Fitting these accessories over his hands, you could wiggle Skeletor and his arms would move up and down, slashing away at you! Obviously at some point he had decided that the best way to defeat He-Man was to have gigantic hands, and he would never have to buy a foam hand at a football match again.

He also had room on his back to carry about a skull-like dragon head that would snap open and shut. I don't know where he got that from but...

...oh no! Skeletor did you forget to feed your pet dragon? :(

Once more, Skeletor was trumped by He-Man, this time in his Flying Fists incarnation, mostly because He-Man used a ton of chrome and metallic paint, whereas Skeletor just had a bra. But it still looked cool (not that I would try it! Again!)

1988 - Laser Light Skeletor
Laser Light Skeletor is one of the figures I wish I'd had when I was little. Not because it was cool - he's as ugly as sin - but because he's worth about a million pounds now!

In a seeming attempt to copy Darth Vader, Skeletor went all techno, with bronze armour and tubes all over him. He also bought himself a proper cloak, not just a hood. Its a good attempt, but the original molded plastic hood just looked better! His face is also pretty strange with a more horrific skull-look rather than the comedy skeleton we all know and love.

The main selling point with Laser Light Skeletor though was that he lit up! His entire right hand was made of transparent red plastic, which was supposed to light up his havoc staff. It was a nice try, but we all know that these things never work, so he had a glowy hand, but that was about it.

Still, at least he tried. It was a bold attempt at a new look, going where no buff blue skeleton had been before.

1989 - New Adventures Skeletor
Yeah, so sue me, I liked The New Adventures Of He-Man. I'm not going to judge something on what it isn't but what it is, and it was a decent attempt to do something new with the He-Man line, whilst keeping in continuity with the old one.

Anyway, New Adventures Skeletor is rather similar to Laser Light Skeletor, keeping the techno-armour and the cloak, but swapping his hood for a rather silly hat. It was a decent attempt but the whole outfit never really gelled for me, looking more like a saucy pirate. He suffered from the gimpy look of the New Adventures line as a whole, and from his rather strange looking head. If you can tell me what's going on there, you win a prize.

1990 - Disk of Doom Skeletor
Skeletor obviously felt the same as me, so barely a year later he updated his design. Gone was most of the gimpyness and instead was a heavily armoured Skeletor with glowing eyes!

New Adventures was often panned for not being imaginative enough (most of the good guys were really dull concepts) but Skeletor ups the ante here, with not just a disk-shooting gimmick, but thigh-high metal boots, chest armour that looks like himself and what can only be described as a cupboard on his head. He-Man couldn't hope to compete with that! What could he do, put a chest of drawers on his noggin?

1992 - Battle Blade Skeletor
Unfortunately it all fell to pieces. In an attempt to one-up He-Man once again, Skeletor obviously went into the wardrobe and tried to wear absolutely everything. He had giant purple and green boots, a bronze crown, a huge skull-face chest, and... well it doesn't work.

Perhaps the worst crime though was that Skeletor decided to have no hat and instead had a delightful long, luxurious mane of hair. Hiding this was the reason for the cupboard on his head I think, and he should have kept it there!

2009 - Classic Skeletor
That was it for the original Skeletor, who had to watch in the sidelines as his more badass namesake fought He-man in the new 2002 series. But now Mattel have remade him in all his original glory.

Well, nearly. For some reason, this new Skeletor doesn't have boots but instead bare feet like the 2002 version. It seems odd to me to be very slavish in recreating the old toy with improved articulation but to then remove his boots.

He does look cool though, far far better than the original figure. Its the original cartoon Skeletor that I love and this guy captures it more than the first toy did. Will we see any more crazy Skeletor versions in the new line?

We can only hope and pray!


  1. I only ever had the original skeletor but I remember terror claws Skeletor just looking so pants!

  2. The only Skeletors i didn't have from the list were the LazerLight and Battle Blade incarnations. Although looking at the Battle Blade version, that may be a good thing.

    Battle Armour remains a firm favourite.

  3. I wonder if you might do an article with your favorite variants of Skeletor from the ill-fated 2002 line. Even though the over abundance of them and He-Man variants pretty much were one of the things that killed it, some of them were pretty cool.

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  5. Classic Skeletor is the shizz nizz

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