Love He-Man? Got a thing for Skeletor? Then you might be interested to know that Dark Horse has recently published a rather large, rather interesting book called The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The 712-page book is an over-sized tome which takes an in-depth look at the action figures and playsets from the Masters of the Universe (MOTU) collection.
Beginning with the original 1982 toys, and running through to more recent sets from Mattel and Super7, the book is a visual showcase of hundreds of plastic playthings. The lines covered in the book include Masters of the Universe, Princess of Power, He-Man 1989, Masters of the Universe Commemorative, Masters of the Universe 2002, Masters of the Universe Classics and Masters of the Universe 2016 – pretty much every major MOTU toy since the ‘80s.
YouTuber and toy expert, Dan Eardley (aka Pixel Dan) was the project lead on this book, and together with a team of photographers, including Val Staples and Peter Wilura, he has produced arguably the biggest archive of MOTU toy content ever. The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe features a stack of photos, a wealth of interviews, and thousands of words all discussing, describing and delivering MOTU goodness to readers.
Now, as mentioned above, this book is available in print as well as Kindle. But, as a word of warning, if you’re buying the Kindle edition of The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, please be advised the digital release is separated into two parts, so you will need to make two individual purchases to get the whole book.
Part 1, covers everything up to the 2002 collection. Part 2 covers the Masters of the Universe Classics and the 2016 toys.
Yes, Part 2 does only cover two toy lines, which might seem odd when compared to the five toy lines covered in Part 1, but don’t worry, there is plenty of content. Masters of the Universe Classics is a HUGE line, which features three subsections (Collector’s Choice, Club Grayskull, and Ultimate Editions), so this is why Part 2 only covers two sets of toys.
So, what should you expect from this book? Well, if you have ever purchased any of Dark Horse’s previous He-Man-related books (the art book, the mini-comics book, etc) then you will know what you are in for – a book which is filled to the brim with MOTU content. This is a book made for people who love He-Man, by people who love He-Man.
Dan Eardley knows his stuff when it comes to MOTU and no stone is left unturned. The sheer amount of toys covered in this book is incredible and there are plenty of photos to highlight all the little details that make MOTU such a fun toy to collect.
In terms of the photos, the team have excelled. Some of the toys are incredibly hard to come by, so managing to gather them all together for this book has clearly taken a lot of hard work, and has even brought my attention to figures I never even knew existed!
I had plenty of MOTU figures when I was younger, and I even collected many of the 2002 collection too, and yet I found myself coming across a number of figures I was unfamiliar with. And as for the Princess of Power and He-Man 1989 collections, two lines I knew next-to-nothing about, seeing all of these figures in all their glory was fantastic!
But it’s not just the photos – a great deal of effort has been made to include as much information about each figure/playset as possible. This has been achieved via descriptive blurbs, factoids, and a set of interviews conducted with various MOTU insiders who have first-hand knowledge from working on the toys.
Their input is invaluable, as it really helps to tell the MOTU story. Their words put each era of He-Man toys into context, and this makes it much easier to understand why certain design details were implemented with certain characters.
OK, so those are all the positives, now onto a nit-pick about the book, which is connected to the way the book is edited.
In my opinion, before this book was published it needed another pass by the editor. There are some issues related to repetition which should have been fixed prior to the book’s release, and it is something which makes the book a little clunky to read.
There are numerous occasions throughout the book where some of the text is repeated again, and again, and again. This isn’t a mistake when printing, this is something which is present because the editing process wasn’t as thorough as it needed to be.
Each individual toy – be it a figure or a playset – is given its own page and some corresponding text. The text describes the toy, giving plenty of details.
However, some of the toys share the same attributes and therefore a choice has been made to include the same text. The most obvious example of this is the sections devoted to the Meteorbs – a rather bizarre line of transforming toys that were part of the original MOTU toy line.
There are about a dozen Meteorbs toys spread throughout the first chapter of the book, and each has its own page. But once you’ve said one thing about one Meteorb you’ve pretty much said all there is to say, so in order to cover the text requirements for each page, the descriptive blurbs are reused.
OK, so a sentence here and there is changed, but the majority of the text is copied and pasted from page to page. So, in the case of the Meteorbs the same description is used 12 times.
And this isn’t just an issue with the Meteorbs, it is a consistent issue across the book. Heck, even little factoids that are discussed on one page, are then repeated on another.
I understand that in some cases, there is simply not much to say about the toys, but there is still no need for repetition. This should have been an easy fix, by simply putting all the corresponding toys on a double-page spread, with one piece of text that talks about them collectively.
This issue doesn’t detract from the all of the hard work that has gone into this book, but it is a wrinkle that should have been ironed out. The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe should be a smooth read, but because of this editorial choice it does feel a tad bumpy in places.
I expect most people who buy this book will be collectors, but the beauty of The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is that it works for non-collectors too. Those who simply grew up on MOTU toys, and want to revisit the past, will find much to enjoy as they relive their younger days, and reconnect with the toys they always wanted.
Personally, I learned heaps about the different MOTU toys from reading through this book. And as a toy enthusiast/collector who goes to toy shows and reads up on different toy lines, believe me when I say it is always fun to come across new toys I didn’t know about.
The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has been put together with a great deal of thought and with a view to bringing a real love for MOTU toys to the printed page. Sure, there are a few issues here and there, but this doesn’t stop this from becoming the go-to book for He-Man toys, which has been well-researched.
Well done to Pixel Dan/Dan Eardley and the rest of the team for delivering this exhaustive book. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to spend the next three hours starring at pictures of She-Ra toys I will probably never own… but I wish I did.
Should you wish to check out the book, The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, it is currently available to purchase in hardback from all good book stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.
The Kindle edition can also be purchased through Amazon.
And should you want to check out more MOTU content (and why wouldn’t you?!), then be sure to click on the recommended reads below. Here you will find posts about He-Man and She-Ra, as well as a post about the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie.
Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
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