Tag Archives: She-Ra

Apparently 8 is the magic number…

So, in just a couple of weeks Branded in the 80s will turn 8 years old.  Though it’s kind of arbitrary, we tend to focus on the “big” anniversaries in the five-year increment territory, but I had a couple of milestones I really wanted to hit when I started this project.  The first was making it to the seven year mark because I have a special fondness for that particular digit.  The second is marking the 8th birthday of the site because again, it has a special meaning to me.  I first dreamed of having my own little spot on the internet back around 1998.  I’d been farting around the interwebs via AOL and Compuserve and I really wanted to stake out a small piece of the digital landscape to do something.  My best friend, who was in the midst of getting his computer science degree at the time, had just recently built a website for a class project and he promised me he’d help me build one of my own.  It never materialized, though a lot of that had to do with my not knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to do with a website.  Regardless, that marks the beginning of what would eventually become Branded, and it took me eight long years of brainstorming and procrastinating before I eventually settled on what I wanted to do.  So in the back of my brain I’ve always hoped that I’d be able to keep this thing going at least as long as it took me to get it off the ground.  Well, mission accomplished I guess.  As for my next milestone, well, I don’t really have one I guess.  I’m kind of curious to see what will happen at the eleven year mark considering that will mean that I would have spent slightly more time talking about the 80s than the decade itself lasted.

Anyway, when I look back at where the site started and where it really took off for me the one aspect that kind of changed everything was when I started investing in a pretty stupidly large collection of 80s stickers to scan and share.  Part of this came out of wanting to acquire a bunch of the stickers I had as a kid, but another was that there was a distinct lack of sticker scans floating around on the internet and I felt like it was an opportunity to contribute a small portion to the digital nostalgic pop culture zeitgeist.  One of the aspects I love about the nostalgia-minded community is the eagerness to share the cool junk that we love.  So it was pretty neat timing that while I was thinking back on all of this I was approached by the cool lady behind the rad RainbowBrite.co.uk website with to help share some fun stuff.

cologo01She obviously runs a pretty neat Rainbow Brite fan site, so she acquired a bunch of info and ephemera to post up there.  But in her research and collecting she’s amassed a bunch of other cool non-RB stuff that she felt needed to get out there.  So she graciously offered to send me some scans of a pretty neat 1985 Mattel Events Guide to share here at Branded.  Tying this in a bit more into my silly milestone is that I just happened to turn eight the year this Event guide was published (seriously, there has to be something to this, numerology-wise…)

Mattel Events Guide 1

These event guides were sent out to retailers as a way for Mattel to bolster excitement for their product lines and I’m sure to secure a larger market share of the retail market by encouraging stores to increase orders and devote more shelf and peg space to Mattel stuff.  They did this by helping to host local in-store meet and greet events with some of Mattel’s most popular brands and characters.  So if you were lucky enough to shake hands with Skeletor at a Toys R Us back int he day, most likely this was one of the guides that the store had to help them schedule and promote the event…

Mattel Events Guide 2

It’s really cool to get a glimpse into this aspect of the marketing and promotion of some of our favorite toys from back in the 80s.  Not only is it cool to see some rad artwork that only exists to promote these in-store events (like the neat illustration of the Hot Wheels play area that was shipped to the store), but it’s also awesome to see and read about some of the swag for the event that was either given away (like the Hot Wheels kid’s drivers licenses) or became a “free item with purchase” like the super cool Hot Wheels combination watch/wallet below!

Mattel Events Guide 5

1985 was also a great year for Mattel toys because they were hip deep in the Marvel Secret Wars toy line…

Mattel Events Guide 4

What really struck me about this Secret Wars event is that it wasn’t just geared towards boys.  Mattel makes it clear that “boys AND girls” will received a free water color poster.  That kind of inclusion back in the 80s seems pretty rare, but then again, Mattel worked on some pretty progressive toy lines like these two favorites, Princess of Power and Masters of the Universe!  I mean I know most of the boys who were into He-Man were also secretly into She-Ra…

Mattel Events Guide 3

Man, I feel like I missed out so much on these in-store events.  I never managed to attend one and after reading through this guide I feel like I missed out on some amazing experiences and swag.  So, I wonder if a little boy could have been initiated into the Legion of Good receiving a free golden power ring and poster?  I sure as hell hope so.  Also, holy crap, a 15 foot high replica of the Crystal Castle?!?  How awesome would that have been to see?  I wonder if the stores had to ship them back or of they were ordered to destroy them.  I have to imagine that one of these must have made it into a private collection.  Hell, at that size it would practically be big enough for kids to play in as a fort.  The mid boggles at the possibilities…

Mattel Events Guide 6

Apparently for ’85 Mattel introduced new full body costumes for He-Man and Skeletor.  I’ve seen photos of buff guys in the He-Man duds before, but never a full body costume like this complete with toy-accurate mask and all.  I like that they even managed to replicate the spiny fin on Skeletor’s wrists (like on the toy…)  Sadly there was no 15 foot Castle Greyskull or Snake Mountain, but there were some pretty rad glow in the dark posters!

Mattel Events Guide 7

A lot of this stuff has to be pretty rare.  I searched for awhile and couldn’t find and example of the glow in the dark Masters of the Universe poster (not even on He-Man.org!)  So it;s cool at least to get a glimpse into this promotional world to know that this stuff exists.  FYI, there’s a bit more to this Event Guide, specifically the Rainbow Brite section, but if you want to see that head on over to the cool RainbowBrite.co.uk to find out what was in that in-store event.  Thanks again to them for sharing this rad piece of 80s toy ephemera and helping to make the nostalgia community that much richer!

Mattel Events Guide 8

 

Thank you Mr. Scheimer.

I never had the opportunity to meet Lou Scheimer and I regret that I was never able, in person, to say those two little words that can’t even begin to express how I felt, “Thank you.”

Like so many kids who grew up or came of age in the 70s and 80s, cartoons were the cornerstone of our lives. For some maybe only during those formative years pre-K to third grade or so, but for others like me, cartoons have been an essential part of my life for over three decades. As a kid cartoons were an alarm clock on weekends, as well as my introduction to comedy, tragedy, drama, and heroes and villains. They were my inspiration to pick up a pencil and start drawing. They were an escape, a comfort. They helped instill in me a moral compass. They were/are magic. Over my lifetime there are a handful of studios that have greatly affected me to different degrees, Sunbow, Hanna Barbera, Ruby Spears, Disney and DiC, but at the end of the day there really was only one that helped to define my voice as a person and that was Filmation. And Lou Scheimer basically was Filmation.

FilmationTrio_Big

I’m well aware that no one person is solely responsible for a studio, and I have a very long list of artists, animators, writers, producers, voice actors, secretaries and interns to be grateful for, but from all the documentaries, interviews, and articles I’ve read, Lou Scheimer really did put his all into Filmation and so many of his ideas and principals shine through in every production they released. He wasn’t just a figurehead; he was involved and invested in the art that was being created. The more familiar you become with Scheimer, the more and more you see him in the Filmation stable of cartoons, not only in just tone, but in all aspects of production. The most obvious example is his contribution of voice-work for so many characters I grew up listening to. In so many of the live action series Scheimer provided both credits narration and was constantly heard breathing life into robots and creatures, over intercoms and on computers. He was Dumb Donald on Fat Albert, Bat-Mite and the super computer on Filmation’s Batman. He played Tracey the Gorilla in Filmation’s Ghostbusters, was Zero, the off-screen boss from the live action Ghostbusters show from the 70s, and was Sandstorm on Bravestarr. But to me he was one of the major players that helped to define the vocal sound of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra Princess of Power voicing so many of my favorite characters including Stratos, Orko, Trap-Jaw, King Randor, Swift Wind, Kowl, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Fisto, Spikor, Two-Bad, Moss Man, and the Attack Trak computer just to name a few. Scheimer’s voice has been with me in one form or another for practically my entire life.

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Scheimer was also instrumental in keeping animation in the US, and was one of the last hold outs with a studio that had all aspects of creation in-house for the majority of their run. Though a lot of people like to make fun of the studio for its budgetary restraints and re-use of animation, the work, to my eyes, is still beautiful and well worthy of study and deconstruction. I’m still really proud of the two episodes of the Saturday Supercast where Jerzy Drozd, Kevin Cross and I took a stab at breaking down the Masters of the Universe cartoon (Part one and Part two.)

If nothing else, I’m glad that Scheimer had a chance to see the impact that he had on so many lives and that over the last decade we fans have been treated to wonderful releases of a good majority of the Filmation library on DVD. These initial releases, the ones produced by BCI Eclipse, are also chock full of lengthy documentaries on Filmation, the shows, and Scheimer and his family. He made it out to conventions to meet with the fans and together they celebrated a lot of great animation art and childhood memories. Andy Mangels, who produced most of the special features content on those DVDs, also sat down with Lou and co-wrote his biography, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, so for anyone interested in his story, there is plenty to delve into.

It’s a little late, but I guess this is my way of saying thank you Lou, for all you did, for living the life that you did and making mine immeasurably better off for it. Thank you.

Bow before Hordak…

I just wanted to take a minute and share this awesome cover art for the upcoming She-Ra Princess of Power Season 1, Volume 2 DVD set.

I love how menacing Hordak, Catra and Shadow Weaver look here. The only thing I find kind of odd about this box art, which I don’t have a picture of yet, but if it follows the pattern the He-Man sets did, is that She-Ra will most likely adorn the spine of the set. Hordak was on the spine of the first set whereas She-Ra was front and center on the cover. You think they would have matched the spine to the cover since most people will be displaying these with the spine showing. It’s just kind of weird to have She-Ra after Hordak on the shelf. Stupid nit pick, but oh well.

Does anyone else wonder why Hordak wears those silly robotic duck boots?

She-Ra Princess of Power Season 1, Vol. 1 DVD review

So, out of all the 80′s cartoon DVD sets that I’ve procured in the past 7 or so years I keep getting amazed by the ones that stand out as my favorites as far as content and presentation. I grew up addicted to shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, the Silverhawks and Bravestarr for the most part; you know manly shows full of action and misfired lasers that never seemed to hit anything more important than rocks and the odd robot. There were a handful of shows that barely hit my radar like Robotech (too soap opera-y, you can see my thoughts on the show here), Jem (a guilty pleasure to be sure), and She-Ra Princess of Power, which just seemed like He-Man for girls.

When I sat down and started watching She-Ra recently, I was immediately struck by how wrong I was, and it’s made for a lot of fun recent cartoon watching. If you haven’t seen it, the show is a spin-off of He-Man that deals with the land of Etheria (which I think is actually a planet, though like Erternia in He-Man that’s confounded me for years) and its inhabitants battling to get free of Hordak and his evil Horde (a mixture of He-Man-esque villains and stormtrooper-like robot things) who rule over the world. As you find out in the five-episode movie, the Secret of the Sword, which kicks of the DVD set (also available on the Best Of She-Ra set), one of Hordak’s minions Adora (who was Captain of the Horde Troopers) is actually the long lost twin sister of Prince Adam, aka He-Man, who helps to free her of the magical hold that Hordak (via another minion Shadow Weaver) has on her. Adam brought a special sword (the Sword of Protection) for Adora, which like his Sword of Power has the ability with the power of Greyskull to transform her into the mighty She-Ra. Adora then bands together with a rag tag group of rebels to help build a rebellion against Hordak like so many Star Wars movie cliches.

This for me, is actually what sets She-Ra apart from He-Man and most of the cartoons of the 80′s in that the heroes are coming from the losing side against an evil that has for all intents and purposes already succeeded in it’s goal of world domination. Typically it’s always the other way around in cartoons, so to have the balance of power shifted is pretty interesting. I also really dig the oppressing technology-minded world of the Horde, which is destroying all that’s good and natural in Etheria. It ends up feeling very Matrix like in this respect.  The landscapes and backgrounds are a hell of a lot more interesting with disturbing hidden words like ‘obey’ and ‘evil’ in the various bits of machinery and stuff. It makes for an over all darker show and the motivations of the characters end up being a little more relatable.

Of course being an 80′s cartoon, the show does suffer from a ton of stereotypes. It’s truly a mirror image of the He-Man cartoon with a cast of mostly female characters, Princess Glimmer, Queen Angella, Frosta and Madame Razz (who is the equivalent of Orko) and only one guy, Bow (the bizzaro version of Teela) as well as Spirit, Adora’s horse who turns into Swift Wind the winged unicorn ala Cringer to Battle Cat when Adors becomes She-Ra. To sort of cement it as a “girl’s show” there are some very Disney-esque talking animals/animated-inanimate objects with the addition of Kowl, a weird creature that’s some sort of cross between an owl, a flying squirrel and a box of crayons as well as Broom, Madame Razz’s sidekick that is what it’s name suggests. The names of the places are all very “girly” as well, what with the Whispering Woods and the Crystal Castle (which has a gate keeper named Lighthope that’s one of four people to know Adora’s secret of being She-Ra (filled out by Kowl, Madame Razz & Broom.) Well I guess there are actually six people who know seeing as He-Man and the Sorceress also know. Damn it, there’s also Sprit/Swift Wind, and I’m sure Cringer/Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, and Orko all know seeing as Prince Adam confides in them as well. Fine, everybody probably knows. Secrets schmeecrets. Anyway, I think these 80′s stereotypes actually help to accentuate the show from a nostalgia prospective.

The show has also been fun to watch for its variations on common 80′s cartoon conventions, for instance the moral at the end of the show. In every episode of She-Ra there is a character named Loo-Kee (which I think is sort of named for Loki the Norse god of mischief) who is hiding somewhere in one of the backgrounds and at the end of the show he pops up to let you know where he was and to help you with the moral for the show. I thought was pretty ingenious as kids will be more likely to listen to what he’s saying because they spent the last half hour subconsciously trying to find him. The Show is also a great example of how you don’t need to stick to stereotypes to market a cartoon. Though it’s obviously for girls, it’s more or less a carbon copy of He-Man, which is stereotypically for boys and proves that both boys and girls can like the same things and don’t have to be separated. It’s surely a show that set up the groundwork for action shows like Justice League and Teen Titans that are marketed to both boys and girls.

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record with this, but once again this DVD set was released by BCI Eclipse, under their Ink & Paint division, which has done an amazing job with package and menu design, presentation of the content, not to mention a bunch of fun special features. There’s a new installment of the behind the scenes documentary series by Andy Mangels, which ran through the entire He-Man series of DVDs and just as interesting and informative, as well as games, character profiles and some commentaries. All in all, with 33 episodes, the worthwhile extras, and the beautiful packaging, for around $35 you definitely get your money’s worth with this set. This is the first volume of Season one; there are two more on the way, Season 1 Vol. 2 (here’s the awesome villain cover art for vol. 2), and Season 2 for a total of 93 episodes.

As a little bonus, below is great full-page ad from Stickers Magazine announcing the toy line from 1984…