The Evil Horde Fright Zone

The Evil Horde Fright Zone playset was released in 1985 for the Masters of the Universe toy line. It featured a caged cell, a dead tree that could capture action figures and a “snake” that could drag off unsuspecting foes. It wasn’t the largest playset the MOTU line had to offer, but it was a great companion piece to Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain.

I was still very deep into all things Masters of the Universe in 1985, and already had Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. But the Fright Zone eluded me for some reason. Maybe my parents were suffering burnout from all of the MOTU stuff in the house or me running around yelling “I Have the Power!”. Whatever the reason, I never ended up with this.

While a lot of fans my age would rather have had the Slime Pit, the Fright Zone was where it was at for me. Maybe it was the Halloween vibe it puts off or the way it feels like an outpost in some far-off corner of Eternia, but either way, I wanted it then, and I wouldn’t say no to it now.

Five of My Favorite Christmas Gifts

With Christmas getting ever so closer, let’s take a break from everyday life to remember some of our favorite old Christmas gifts. I’m listing five of mine here for you to check out, but please, drop some of your favorites in the comments at the bottom!

Castle Grayskull

I’ve got a feeling I got this in 1984 since it probably wouldn’t have been like my old man to buy it in 1983 when my fandom was just blossoming for all things He-Man.  He generally liked to wait until he was sure I was really into something before dropping a lot of dough on it.  But what kid out there who was lucky enough to get this for Christmas wouldn’t enjoy it?  I know I flipped for it.  I’ve got an old polaroid of me just after opening it, and I’m crying.  They had to be tears of joy.  But this was the highlight of my Christmas that year, and countless battles were fought around, in, and for Castle Grayskull in the following months and years. 

Cobra Terrordrome

You’ll remember that I rambled on in-depth on the Terror Drome back when I described my mega haul of Christmas toys from 1986, so I won’t add much here, except to say that this was the largest piece I had in my assortment of G.I. Joe toys.  With G.I. Joe being both my favorite toy and cartoon at the time, it was a huge deal for me to get such an important piece of the toy puzzle with this thing.  I absolutely loved this thing and used it for so much of my G.I. Joe play.  It was also very handy when it came to having wrestling matches with my figures too.  Forget War Games, I was having Terror Drome matches.  The REAL most dangerous match in the world. 

G.I. Joe Tomahawk

Also from Christmas morning of 1986, the Tomahawk would also go on to see a ton of playtime in all of my G.I. Joe battles.  The Joe side of the battle had plenty of vehicles, and with the exception of the Whale Hovercraft, this was my favorite one.  I never owned the hovercraft myself, so this was the best thing I owned on that side of the fence. 

Super NES Super Set

I was a Nintendo guy.  I had friends who were Sega guys, but this old boy was firmly in the Nintendo camp.  I played Nintendo daily, so when this thing came out, it was all I could think about asking for in the 1991 Christmas season.  It was touch and go on whether I would actually get one or not.  My brother kept telling me that I wasn’t getting one because my Dad’s line of thinking was that I already had a Nintendo, so why would I need a new one?  But it turned out that was just a ruse, because on Christmas morning, there it was under the tree.  Of course, it went on to see hundreds or thousands of hours of playtime, and it still ranks as my favorite video game system of all time. 

DC Comics Silver Age Classics Box Set

I got this set in 1992…right at the beginning of my comic fandom zenith.  I was soaking up whatever comics I could find like a sponge, so my Mom thought I would like this set.  It featured old stories, so it would have to be worth something she thought.  Well, in monetary value, she was wrong.  But in pure enjoyment, she couldn’t have been more right.  I was over the top with excitement at the fact that I could now read some of the most important stories in the history of the DC Universe.  It was a twelve-issue set and featured reprints of the issues that featured the first appearances of the JLA, Flash, Green Lantern, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Swamp Thing.  It also featured the first team-up of Green Lantern and Green Arrow, as well as the first appearance of the “new look” Batman.  Who knew you could put such a price on happiness? 

Well, there’s some of my favorites Christmas presents from through the years.  Be sure to share some of yours in the comments. 

He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special debuted on television in 1985, and I was there for that original broadcast. While the franchise was on the verge of starting to lose steam as a property, it certainly wasn’t losing steam with me. I was still watching both half-hour cartoons every afternoon after school, and still playing with the toys on a daily basis at this point. So when this special dropped, I was excited for weeks on end leading up to it. For years and years, there really wasn’t any way to see this special again, but thanks to the power of the internet and online videos, we can watch it any time we’d like.

With that said, find some time to relax and give this old special a watch again. I’m sure it will bring all kinds of memories flooding back for you.

Old Masters of the Universe Ads

Friday Five is a quick list of five things with a common theme, and instead of doing a big write-up, I’m doing it in pictures (or videos) with just a couple of sentences to give context to the picks. You can play along by adding some of your own in the comments.


The early days of the Masters of the Universe brand were fascinating. I’ve covered a couple of the early ads here and here, and in this Friday Five post, we’re going to take a look at five more.


I’m not sure exactly when this ad is from, but it’s either from 1981 or very early 1982, as the quip at the bottom of the scroll says more figures will be coming later in 1982. And the fact that it only features characters from the original wave of figures, solidifies that thought.

The Beast Man interpretation is pretty cool in this one. I’m sure it would have been difficult to convey this look onto a plastic action figure, but that would have been a great-looking figure. It would have also been good if this interpretation was what we had gotten in the animated series as well. It would have been pretty hard to portray him as a goof like they did if the character looked like this.

Here’s another one from the early days, and it’s a sale ad from a newspaper. Again, only some figures from the original wave are featured. It’s interesting that it’s Beast Man and Stratos featured in the ad and no He-Man and Skeletor. But even though they are featured prominently, the ad seems geared more toward promoting Castle Grayskull instead of the figures.

While that $21.47 price tag after rebates sounds appealing, if you adjust it for inflations, it works out to be $65.92 in 2022 dollars. That’s right in the range I would think it should be. The figure’s price of $3.88 translates to $11.91. At that kind of price point, I’m surprised I ended up with as many figures as I did as a kid.

This ad is from 1982 and from a newspaper as well. Besides advertising several cool toys, this ad promotes the ability to meet He-Man and Skeletor in person at the local department store.

Those in-person meeting opportunities still fascinate me. They certainly weren’t going to happen in my neck of the woods. I’ve seen just a few pictures online, and don’t believe I’ve come across any stories from anyone who actually went to one. If you ever got to go to one, by all means, please share your story in the comment section.

This is a beautiful ad right here. It’s an ad from some kind of trade magazine trying to entice store owners to carry the product. Using Star Wars figures in the background is a nice move as they try to show that those toys are the past, and He-Man is the future. It details how popular the line was the year before, selling over five million figures, and promising more new figures to come. Towards the end, it mentions the opportunities for in-store experiences like we saw in the previous ad. I’m sure with the powerful imagery featured, and those statistics on sales numbers from the year before, this ad convinced a few more stores to get on board.

And finally, we come to an ad from late in the brand’s heyday. This is an ad for the Masters of the Universe magazine, which was a quarterly magazine that was only available through subscription. It features three actual issues in this ad, and if you want to see what this magazine was all about, check out the Time Capsule feature here on Retro Ramblings to browse through the entire issue pictured on the far right.

When it came to magazines like these, I always drooled over them. They were available featuring brands like MOTU, G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, Barbie, and more. The closest I ever got to that was a subscription to LEGO’s Brick Kicks magazine in the late ’80s. I was disappointed by it, but I believe I would have found this magazine fully worth the time since I was a bit younger and it would have been geared more towards my age.


If old Masters of Universe stuff is your thing, then don’t leave the sight without checking out the full scan of the 1986 Masters of the Universe Toy Catalog.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine From 1985

Back in the 1980s, there were more magazines out there than what was just on your local magazine rack. You may not have seen a lot of them, but there were magazines available and devoted to all kinds of kids’ favorite properties. He-Man, G.I. Joe, Barbie, The Smurfs, and numerous others. In most cases, you had to subscribe to these magazines, and you would receive a new issue every quarter.

I knew of the existence of these magazines but never was fortunate enough to be able to subscribe to them. In theory, I could have saved up my allowance money and subscribed, but that allowance money was usually going to wrestling magazines on the newsstand instead.

But for those of us who didn’t really get to experience these magazines, I’ve got a treat for you. In this Time Capsule, we’re going back in time to 1985 to check out the 2nd issue of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe magazine! It’s mostly intact, but I did remove a couple of irrelevant ads just to make the size of the post more manageable.

I hope you enjoy this trip back in time via this Time Capsule, and if you have memories of these magazines, drop me a line in the comments.

Masters of the Universe Toys Ad (1984)

This may be my favorite ad out of all of the many ones that were printed for the line. If it’s not at the top of my list, it’s certainly in the top five. The image of the kid having a ball playing with the MOTU figures with his Mom over his shoulder fills me with nostalgia because my own Mom would sometimes watch me play with various toys.

I have no idea where this ad originally appeared, but I can tell it was a two-page spread. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to be thumbing through some magazine and all of a sudden you turn a page and BAM!, this ad smacks you right in the face!

Looking at the figures that are prominent in the ad, it can be guessed that this ad is from 1984. Everything pictured was on the market by 1984, and I don’t see anything that was released in 1985 or later.

There are 18 different action figures from the line pictured, and I had 17 of them with the lone exception being Webstor. But I did get a chance to play with Webstor on occasion because my cousin Tim had him. I really dug the Webstor figure because of his cool backpack grappling hook feature that allowed him to scale objects with the pull of the string coming out of the bottom of the backpack.

Of the figures pictured here, it’s hard for me to narrow down my favorite. The Battle Armor He-Man and Skeletor figures were cool with their rotating check plates that showed increasing damage during battle. But Cobra Khan had the cool “spitting” feature where you could fill him up with water and pump his head like a spray bottle and it would squirt out of his mouth. Then there are Fisto and Jitsu with their action arm features, and Whiplash with his elongated rubber tail. Dang, those figures were just so much fun back then.

Besides the figures, you’ve also got both Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain present, showing off the cool playsets that were available as part of the line. I had both of those too. I got Castle Grayskull for Christmas one year, but can’t recall when and where I got Snake Mountain.

In closing, this ad just brings a ton of memories flooding back to me, and I wish I could go back in time…not just in body, but in mind and youthfulness and live through the boom period of the Masters of the Universe again.

Thoughts on Masters of the Universe: Revelation

I finally got a chance to sit down and watch the new Masters of the Universe: Revelation series on Netflix this weekend. I had been under the weather all week and didn’t want to start the series until I was well enough to really pay attention to it and soak it in without being in a medicinal stupor.

While I managed to avoid actual spoilers all week long, I wasn’t able to avoid reading all the negative thoughts and comments on the series. I saw takes that decried how the property was now dead thanks to what Kevin Smith had done with it, and takes blaming the “wokeness” of the times taking over and causing the series’ focus to be changed, and takes on how the whole thing was one big bait and switch. But because I love the franchise so much, I was determined to watch it and decide for myself how I felt about it. And boy am I glad I did. For this edition of Retro Ramblings, let me share with you my thoughts on it.


*Spoilers Ahead*

First, let me just get my overall take out of the way… I LOVED it! I feel like some of the folks complaining about it are only upset that it didn’t fit their expectation of what they were wanting to see, and not judging it on what it actually is. What it actually is is a very well-conceived and executed next step in the Masters of the Universe mythos. Like, if you think of the original series and the 2002 series as an era in the history of Eternia, then Revelation is the next era, and it’s a really exciting and intriguing era. The beauty of it though is that it wouldn’t be near as enjoyable without all of the history we already know. If Revelation is your first foray into this universe, there’s probably not much that is going to stand out to you. But for longtime fans, there is so much greatness highlighted that every episode has numerous things that catch your attention. Here are some of the things I enjoyed most about the first five episodes:

  • The battle at Castle Grayskull in the first episode. So many warriors on each side made it look like a scene from a Lord of the Rings movie.
  • Learning that Castle Grayskull was just a facade put up to hide the Hall of Wisdom.
  • Having the power sword broken in half, bringing back the mythos of the two swords from the original mini-comics
  • Preternia being represented on screen by what the huge Eternia playset looked like
  • The conflict between backers of both magic and science and how the two are at odds. The original toy line and series was based on the fact that Eternia was where magic met science. I love this concept.
  • The alliance of characters that set out to find the two halves of the power sword. Blurring the lines of good and evil by putting them all together with great motives for being involved.
  • All of the characters that got screen time like Scareglow, Mer-Man, Clawful, Stinkor, Fisto, Roboto, Whiplash, and of course all of the usual suspects like Evil-Lynn, Beast Man, and the rest.
  • Portraying Man-at-Arms Duncan as the real most dangerous man in Eternia.
  • Tri-Klops as the leader of a science cult.
  • Orko finally getting to show what a badass he could have always have been.
  • Teela getting the spotlight.
  • Showing what a powerul and deep character Evil-Lynn really is.
  • And that scene when Prince Adam is calling down the power of Grayskull only to be struck down from behind by a returning Skeletor. That was certainly an unexpected by much appreciated moment.

As you can see there, I found a lot to love about this new series, and now I can’t wait for the next five episodes to drop.

If folks out there want to see more stories in the same mold as what we’ve always gotten featuring the struggles and battles between He-Man and Skeletor, I guess this probably does disappoint them. But we already have so many of those stories, and while there is probably a limitless amount of more of those stories that can be told, I genuinely appreciate this bold new direction. It’s like we’re no longer stuck in the endless loop of battle that we’ve seen so many times, and now we’re rocketing into the future with new and unexpected developments.

From all I’ve seen online, I guess this puts me in the minority, but I really dig this new series and look forward to seeing more of it. For the first time in many years, I have no idea what to expect from the Masters of the Universe, and that makes me feel like a kid again.

    Masters of the Universe Model Kits (1984)

    I was flipping through some old comics books the other day, and came across some random title from 1984.  As I was flipping through it, I came across a bevy of kick-ass old advertisements.  These are too cool not to share, so here is the first one. 

    We’re starting things off with my favorite one of the batch.  Up until I saw this, I never had any idea that Monogram made model kits of the MOTU vehicles.  I was big into model kits back in the day, and He-Man was my hero, so how this escaped me for all this time is mind-boggling.  This Talon FIghter and Attak Trak just look bad-ass, and I wonder if any of these kits could still be found on eBay? 

    Yep.  A quick search pulled up an Attack Trak kit still sealed in its box for $225. 

    Digging a little deeper, I also find a Roton still in its box for $92!  That seems like a steal.  The box looks a little beat up, but I’d personally be looking to pick one up to put together, not leave in the box. 

    And with even more digging, I just found the Talon Fighter!  It says it’s complete and the only thing I see missing is the plastic wrap from around the box is missing.  It’s currently listed for $95.  You can click on any of the links I added to go right to the auction listings for each. 

    So what say you?  Do you even remember these things?  The prices sound reasonable in today’s market?  I’m going to have to think on this for a bit. 

    What I Got For Christmas in 1986

    In an earlier post here on Retro Ramblings, I posted about how 1986 was the year Santa became real for me. I briefly talked about some of the things I got for Christmas that year, but those little snippets just don’t do all those wonderful toys justice. So here, in detail, is what I got for Christmas in 1986!


    The big one that Christmas morning in 1986 was the G.I. Joe Cobra Terror Drome.  At that time in life, my world revolved around four toys.  G.I Joe, Masters of the Universe, Construx, and Legos….with G.I. Joe being at the top of the list.  Knowing this, it was no surprise to my parents that the biggest hit of the holiday season would be this huge G.I. Joe playset.

    It had room for plenty of figures, so massive battles were a foregone conclusion.  I stockpiled this sucker with every bad guy I had in my collection and then began a full-on assault with all of the good guys I could find.  Even Bo & Luke Duke in their 3 3/4″ figure form and the General Lee got in on the action on the side of the Joes!

    The initial battle was a stalemate, with Cobra barely able to hold off the tremendous might of the Joes, as they retreated back a little way to regroup and plan for a second assault.  Now of course this stalemate was only to ensure that the Terror Drome was intact to play with again the following day.  I spent a while Christmas afternoon interacting with various parts of this set.  The Cobra vehicles re-fueled at the re-fueling station built into it, while some of the top Cobra brass interrogated a captured Joe down in the holding cell area.

    The shine of this toy didn’t wear off anytime soon, but I had gotten quite a few other new toys this Christmas that required my attention, so I had to let the action cool down a little so I could get on to some of the other stuff like…..

    Construx Super Set

    Even though Construx was probably third on my list of favorite toys, getting a Super Set like this one requires almost immediate attention.  I can’t remember exactly what the structure was that this set was designed to build, but I knew from the looks of it that would come in very handy to members of the Joe team on their next assault on the Terror Drome.

    Once I had this thing put together, it could drive right up to the Terror Drome and lift several Joes at once to the top of the Drome and unload them right in the heart of the command center!  What better way to strike right at the heart of Cobra than a direct assault on Cobra Commander and the Barroness?!?  

    Once the great battle of the Terror Drome was over, this set of Construx went on to be featured in lots of other playtimes.  I used the pieces to create all kinds of new toys.  I once built a scaffold to put over the top of my wrestling ring with which to re-create the infamous Scaffold match from Starrcade ’86.  Along with building “steel cages” and assorted other wrestling-related toys, Construx seemed to go along with most other toys I played with.  

    I had a smaller set of Construx, but getting this Super Set for Christmas gave me plenty of pieces for projects all year long.

    Tonka Steel Monsters Destroyer

    I had plenty of hand-me-down Tonka trucks from my brother through the years, but this may have been the very first one that was mine first.  It doesn’t quite look like your normal Tonka truck.  This one seems to be more inspired by Mad Max than construction sites which were the norm for Tonka.  And I didn’t have any of the other vehicles from this particular line, but that didn’t slow down the playtime.

    Now I didn’t take the photo above, but as you can see, it was perfectly sized for G.I. Joe figures, and I made great use of it, as it became the main vehicle for my Dreadnoks figures.  They themselves seemed to be inspired by the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max as well, so it seemed a perfect fit.  With the bladed grill on this bad boy, it seemed like the perfect counter-offensive to the new Construx weapon that G.I. Joe had in its possession. 

    G.I. Joe Tomahawk

    One thing that Cobra didn’t count on that fateful Christmas day, was G.I. Joe achieving air superiority.  And why should they?  The Terror Drome had the awesome Firebat that could launch right from the Drome itself.  But G.I. Joe had brought a new weapon to the fight in the form of the Tomahawk helicopter.

    The Tomahawk held the pilot and a co-pilot in the cockpit, Two more Joes in the back manning machine guns, and room for several more who could repel out of the rear hatch right into the middle of any hot zone on the battlefield!  It would go on to play a key role in the battle of the Terror Drome, and many other battles in the years to come.

    The Tomahawk was one of my absolute favorite G.I. Joe toys through the years.  It probably saw as much playtime as any other toy I ever owned, and I actually still had it years later when I was too dumb to hold onto all that old stuff and sold it off in a mass sale.  If anyone is looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for me THIS year, put this on the list!

    Masters of the Universe Grizzlor Figure

    I had accumulated a nice size collection of Masters of the Universe figures since ’84 but had few Hordak figures.  This was okay to me though, since a bad guy is a bad guy, and they could just easily align with Skeletor in his battles with He-Man. 

    Grizzlor was a cool one though because of all the fur.  And as a side note, to anyone who still has this figure, I wouldn’t suggest having him get trapped in the Horde Slime Pit.  That stuff is near impossible to get out of his fur.

    I’ve mentioned before that I used G.I. Joe figures to simulate my wrestling playtime.  I would rename them to popular wrestlers of the day like Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, and others.  But I had always had a hard time finding any G.I. Joe figures that resembled my favorite tag team of the Rock and Roll Express.  That problem was solved on Christmas Day 1986, and when the greatest tag team of all time arrived at my house that Christmas morning, Grizzlor had met his match!

    G.I. Joe Tomax & Xamot Figures

    This awesome 2-pack of Cobra figures was kinda highly sought after if my memory serves me.  And if not on a national scale, it certainly was in the circles I ran in. I know I personally had been asking for them for months on end, and they finally arrived that Christmas morning.  With the matching outfits and the silver boots, the minute I opened them, I knew I had finally found my Rock and Roll Express!

    Now to this day, I have no idea why I chose this as the first way to play with Tomax and Xamot.  I didn’t use them in the great battle of the Terror Drome.  No, I held them back, and later in the day, they squared off against Grizzlor on my Dad’s pool table in a weird two-on-one wrestling match with Grizzlor.  Come to think of it, I have no idea why I didn’t get out any of the MOTU figures for play with Grizzlor either.

    Either way, this Rock and Roll Express went on to defeat their hairy tormentor that day, and for probably at least a year, didn’t lose a tag team match in my wrestling rings either.  Still to this day, Tomax and Xamot are in my top five favorite G.I. Joe figures.  Whether they were winning tag team gold in a toy wrestling ring, battling hairy beasts from another universe, or being their intended badass selves on the side of Cobra, they were some of the best action figures I ever had.

    Hot Wheels Snake Mountain Challenge

    I mentioned earlier how the Masters of the Universe was one of my favorite toy lines.  Now, what a treat it was on that Christmas morning to find that they had merged that line with another favorite of little boys everywhere…Hot Wheels!

    This was one of the cool Hot Wheels sets that featured the orange pieces of track, a launcher for the car, and some kind of obstacle.  In this set, the obstacle was a cardboard rendition of Snake Mountain that the car had to jump through at the end to escape, hence the name, Snake Mountain Challenge.

    It even came with a cool silver car with the MOTU logo on the sides of it!

    My Dad set the short track up on the pool table, and he, my brother, and I took many turns that day trying to escape Snake Mountain with little success.  While my Dad and my brother each picked other cars from our Hot Wheels collection to try and make the jump with, I stuck with the great-looking He-Man car for all of my attempts.  It was a super fun way to spend part of Christmas afternoon that day.  But as the hours wore down, it was time to take a little rest and watch some TV.

    G.I. Joe VHS Tape – Satellite Down

    The VCR was new in our home, and I hadn’t had anything to watch on it really.  That is until Christmas morning when Santa saw fit to leave me my very first VHS tape.  It was a single episode of the G.I. Joe series titled Satellite Down.

    It told the tale of a G.I. Joe satellite that crashed in the wild, and both Joes and Cobras raced to the scene to recover it.  There, they met with a weird group of creatures called the Primords who found it and had taken it as a God.  When all was said and done, G.I. Joe came out victorious once more.  I had to watch it twice in a row just to be sure they won both times.

    After those viewings, it was time for the second offensive on the Terror Drome.  The goal was no longer to destroy the Terror Drome, nor to capture Cobra Commander.  Now the mission was to retrieve a downed satellite that Cobra had captured and was storing at the top of the Terror Drome!

    I won’t bore you with too many details, but the assault was a success.  Using the new Construx weapon to lift Joes to the top was a failure since the Dreaknoks new Destroyer dump truck rendered it inoperable.  Cobra thought they were going to have the advantage when they launched the Fire Bat, but it was knocked out of the air by the Duke boys jumping the General Lee off a cliff and knocking it out of the air.  That left the Joes and their Tomahawk with air superiority, and they used it to lower Joes to the top and hook up to the satellite and fly away.  All’s well that ends well I guess.

    I’m sure I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and hugging some toy like Ralphie did his B.B. Gun in A Christmas Story.  The events and gifts of that Christmas are burned brighter into my memory than any other Christmas, because like I told you in the feature, The Year Santa Became Real, Christmas up to that point was somewhat lacking.  But the mega haul of Christmas ’86 solidified my belief in Santa and gave me a lifetime of great memories of that day.

    1986 Masters of the Universe Catalog

    Presented complete, and in all it’s glory, here is the Masters of the Universe section of the 1986 Mattel Retailers catalog. It features almost every toy from the line, presented in some of the most stunning photos you’ll ever see of the figures and play sets.

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