20th Century Toy Collector

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Masters of the Universe: Cliff Climber

In 1987 one of the most popular action figure toy lines ever, the Masters of the Universe, was dying. Mattel’s flagship product of the 1980′s somehow took a wrong turn and managed to drop from record revenues of 400 million dollars in one year to something that barely registered on the radar. What the hell happened? Well, I don’t know… But by looking at Mattel’s 1987 dealer catalog it certainly didn’t look like it was due to a lack of trying. One of the last items to get released in 1987 as part of wave 6 of the Masters of the Universe toy line was the Cliff Climber.

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Cliff Climber was part of a new gimmick that Mattel introduced, which featured “motorized power paks” that were driven by AA batteries. As soon as you had inserted a battery into the “power pak” you could use it to power various aspects of the accessory. In case of the Cliff Climber you could use it to power the pulley mechanism, which allowed the action figure wearing the Cliff Climber to hoist itself up any mountain in sight!!

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Another way to use the power pak was to stick it inside the “Chest Crawler”. By doing this and putting the action figure flat on its chest, it would crawl along the surface! Still yet another way to use the power pak was to use it to drive the Roto Drill. A special arm attached drill that would rotate through the awesome power of the power pak.

“Motorized Power Pak”

Yeah, I know it sounds kinda cheesy when you read it like that, but this shit is actually pretty cool if you look at it through a haze of 1980′s nostalgia. Mattel released a total of three accessories that made use of their new motorized Power Paks gimmick. Besides the Cliff Climber there were also the spectacular underwater Scubattack and the awesome Tower Tools specially made for “Castle battles”, whatever those may be. Here’s a snapshot from a 1987 commercial that featured all three motorized Power Paks.

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“Collection”

Yesterday, I got a MISB (mint-in-sealed-box) European version of Cliff Climber in the mail that I bought from a Dutch collector. I bought some other Masters of the Universe stuff from him that I will feature here soon. Part of what appealed to me was the incredibly amazing packaging artwork. As with most boxed Masters of the Universe artwork it is just such a sight to behold. I mean, just look at it:

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The above artwork was created by the enormously talented William George. For me personally, there are two Masters of the Universe mythologies. One is the awesome Filmation cartoon that most children of the 1980′s will know and love. The other is the even more exciting, mythical fantasy world that lives in my imagination, evoked by the wonderful Masters of the Universe packaging artwork. Of all the cool 1980′s toy line packaging (and there were many), the Masters of the Universe packaging is the unequivocal number one in my book. Even though I’m well into my thirties now, I’m still amazed at how much of an emotional response some of this artwork manages to trigger in me. Here’s a close up of Man-at-Arms again wearing the Cliff Climber.

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And below here’s a snapshot of He-Man wearing the Cliff Climber in “Chrest Crawler” mode while he is crawling down a mountain path against a fantasy, indigo sky. I just never tire of looking at Masters of the Universe box art!

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Stay tuned for more Masters of the Universe posts in the near future along with some Wheeled Warriors and G.I. Joe posts. It’s a veritable 80′s toy bonanza!!

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