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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.

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!!

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.


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:

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.

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!

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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Spring 2011 Utrecht Collectors Convention

“Spring is in the air”

Yesterday I visited the Spring 2011 edition of the Collector’s Convention, which is being hosted twice a year in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It has grown to become the biggest convention of vintage collectables in the whole of Europe. Several giant halls are filled to the brim with everything you’d want to collect, ranging from stamps, coins and postcards, to antiques of all sorts and one hall dedicated exclusively to vintage toys and comic books! It’s as close as you can get to all those major conventions you find in the U.S. The Spring edition is traditionally a little less crowded than the Fall edition, but I had a great time nonetheless with some great bargains that I snapped up!

“Yo Joe!”

Right off the bat upon entering the convention I found a nice MOSC (mint-on-sealed-card) motorized G.I. Joe Cobra vehicle on a European card for the measly sum of 3 euros. After pocketing that I encountered another MOSC Batman: Animated Series character that I swiftly added to my growing collection of this wonderful toyline.: Bane! Can you believe this was just 5 euros?

“And now the leg, huh…”

Strolling along further across the countless of rows of vintage toys I soon saw these two posable Scarface action figures. Scarface is one of the coolest gangster flicks of all times (“Now the leg, huh…”) Truely one of Al Pacino’s coolest roles ever. Mezco Toyz created a total of eight 7-inch Scarface action figures in 2005 and these are “The Player” variants in white and blue suits and at 13 euros a piece I just couldn’t pass up on snapping them up both! They look amazing up close with real nice paint jobs. You can even see Tony Montana’s tattoo on his left hand. How cool is that!

“Masterfully crafted classics”

Most of my money went to a set of 4 Masters of the Universe Classics from Mattel. Now, I usually only collect vintage MOTU stuff, but I have been sitting on the fence for quite a while wondering whether I should buy some of these amazing MOTU Classics that have been coming out since 2008. They’re basicly the same as the vintage He-Man action figures, but crafted masterfully by the Four Horsemen and with way more articulation than you ever had with the vintage stuff. Having been on the verge of buying one of these online for so long, I finally decided this was the time to invest in this toy line and I bought a MOSC King Randor, Buzz-Off (which I originally owned when I was a kid), Orko and the Mo-Larr vs Skeletor set! I wasn’t disappointed!! The articulation and detail on these action figures is so frickin’ cool it’s unreal! Just look at King Randor here with his big ass sword!

I busted open the Mo-Larr vs Skeletor set and placed the MOTU Classics Skeletor next to a loose vintage Skeletor I had lying around. Just look at the difference.

Pretty cool, huh? I have a sneaking feeling these won’t be the last MOTU Classics I will be adding to my collection….I will leave you now with some more cool poses that I quickly whipped up of the dark lord Skeletor!!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Batman,G.I. Joe,He-Man and have Comments (2)

Masters of the Universe – Sorceress

Here’s a very, very nice looking Sorceress in European packaging. It looks like the toy just came fresh out of the factory! The colours on the card are still vibrant and there’s absolutely no yellowing or denting of the bubble.

The Sorceress played an important part in the orginal Filmation cartoon of Masters of the Universe. Regardless, it was only in 1986 that Mattel finally released a toy version of the Sorceress, which begs the question as to how much the cartoon ultimately ended up influencing the toy line instead of the other way around.

Whatever the case may be, please enjoy these photgraph of the European packaged Sorceress. NEW! ;-)


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Masters of the Universe – Evil-Lyn

It’s not easy finding European Masters of the Universe action figures that are MOSC (mint on sealed card) and especially not ones that are in this great of a condition! Here’s an absolutely stunning Evil-Lyn on a European 8-back card that I added to my collection somewhere in 2009.

Evil-Lyn is one of the most memorable characters from the Masters of the Universe cartoon, brilliantly animated by Filmation. The back of the card has a copyright notice of 1983, although I’m not really sure that Masters of the Universe toys were available in Europe back then. The cartoon itself was not broadcast in mainland Europe until 1985 by Sky Channel.

Still, Evil-Lyn was a great character and featured prominently in the Filmation cartoon and I was pretty stoked to have found such a nice looking European MOSC sample!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in He-Man and have Comments (2)

Tytus boxed prototype goes for $7,600!

Well, this is one for the books. Last week an original prototype of Tytus was auctioned on eBay for a winning bid of $7,600 U.S. (approximately EUR 5400). Now, Tytus usually goes for a hefty sum boxed or not, but nowhere near this sum. What made this auction stand out was the fact that it was, reportedly, one of four prototypes made in Mexico. But on top of that it is the only one in the known world inside U.S. packaging.

Tytus is considered by many MOTU (Masters of the Universe) collectors to be the Holy Grail of MOTU collecting. Tytus was supposed to be released in 1987 as part of the so called “Powers of Grayskull” line that Mattel had developed as part of the Masters of the Universe toy line. For various reasons “Powers of Grayskull” was canned and only a few (if any) of the announced toys actually shipped in the U.S. In Europe, some of the announced “Powers of Grayskull” figures did end up in the shops, albeit under the regular Masters of the Universe name. Tytus being one of them.

Tytus was a pretty special MOTU figure, not in the least because he was gigantic compared to the regular figures.  An evil counterpart to Tytus was also created, the giant ogre called Megator! Megator also goes for insane prices whenever he pops up for sale or auction.

Both Tytus and Megator are pretty rare, or so it is claimed. Problem is, I’ve seen both popping up on eBay fairly often in the past few months, which begs the question…. how come they still go for insane prices? As a matter of fact, at the time I am writing this posting there are 3 auctions on eBay right now all selling Tytus either boxed or unboxed with asking prices starting at least somewhere around EUR 1500! I would expect such a rare item to turn up a lot less on eBay. But then again, there could be several explanations.

One of them is that although Tytus (and Megator) do appear on eBay from time to time, they are highly wanted posessions by MOTU collectors, which is no far stretch to the imagination. Another explanation is the fact that we’re at the end of a very rough period economically speaking. The perceived increase in supply of Tytusses (or is that Tyti? ;-) ) could be due to the fact that some of the sellers need the money. A third explanation is the whopping $7,600 paid for this very special Tytus. It will no doubt have inspired some other collectors to put their Tytus on the market. As a matter of fact one of the Tytus auctions currently on eBay is claimed to be manufactured in Mexico as well.

Still, it’s great to see these items go for such prices. Congratulations to both the seller and new, happy owner!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in He-Man and have Comments (9)