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He-Man ("The Most Powerful Man in the Universe") is the fictional heroic lead character in the toy series Masters of the Universe and the various spin-off products and media related to it. The most prominent is the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, produced by Filmation Studios. The syndicated series premiered in 1983 and ran until 1985, for a run of 130 episodes. In the series, He-Man and his friends defend Eternia and the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the evil forces of Skeletor.


Overview

As with many parts of the Masters of the Universe story, He-Man's background and origins were somewhat revised in successive versions of the story and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the various versions.

In the earliest series of mini-comics released with the original toys, He-Man is a wandering barbarian on the world of Eternia, which is dealing with the aftermath of a Great War that has devastated the civilisations that once reigned. He-Man is given special powers and weapons by The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull and sets out to defend the secrets of Castle Grayskull from Skeletor.

Starting with the third series of mini-comics the scenario was somewhat revised. He-Man's true identity is Prince Adam, the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena, the rulers of the planet Eternia. Marlena is from the planet Earth, making He-Man only half-Eternian.

In the new version of events Prince Adam was granted the power to transform into He-Man by The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull by holding aloft his magic sword and proclaiming "By the power of Grayskull... I have the power!"

Prince Adam's pet is a cowardly green tiger named Cringer. When Adam changes to He-Man, Cringer becomes a giant (and brave) armored green tiger named Battlecat, who serves as He-Man's steed. Adam is friendly with Teela, the female Captain of the Royal Guard, who has a crush on He-Man.

Castle Grayskull, which resembles a gigantic skull, is the source of the Power of Grayskull. Inside the Castle lives the Sorceress. Part falcon and part woman, she possesses the magical ability to fully change herself into a falcon. The Sorceress is among the most powerful magic-wielders on Eternia. She has limited use of the power held within Castle Grayskull, but only for the purpose of its protection. She also communicates telepathically with He-Man, and was the person responsible for granting Prince Adam the power to become He-Man.

To protect his family, He-Man keeps his double identity secret, sharing the knowledge only with Man-At-Arms, Orko, Cringer/ Battle Cat and The Sorceress. The original cartoon series also indicated that the dragon Granamyr and the cosmic enforcer Zodak also knew his secret.

Adam has a twin sister named Adora, theoretically the Princess of Eternia, but in fact a leader in the Great Rebellion against Hordak on the planet Etheria. Adora, like Adam, has been given the gift of the power of Grayskull and has her own sword which she uses to transform into She-Ra, Princess of Power. He-Man made several appearances in the She-Ra: Princess of Power television series.

He-Man's chief adversary is Skeletor, a blue-skinned sorcerer with a skull for a head, wearing a cowl. He is skilled in black magic as well as all forms of combat. Skeletor's weapon of choice is his Havok Staff, a ram's skull atop a large rod which serves to channel his magic and amplify his powers. Though his origin is mysterious, and the cartoon described him only as a 'demon from another dimension'.

Skeletor's base of operations is Snake Mountain, a fortress made of polished black basalt, which has a giant stone snake coiled around it. Snake Mountain is located on the Dark Hemisphere of Eternia.


Powers and abilities

He-Man is the "most powerful man in the universe". However, since he is half earthling, half Eternian it is ambiguous whether his physical abilities limit that of humans or Eternians. Because Eternians seem to have an over-all better physical condition than humans (as evidenced by other Eternians in the He-man cartoons) it may be assumed that He-man is the strongest Eternian man in the universe.

In any event He-man is strong enough to over-power most and nearly all his adversaries. He has lifted and hurled mountains in several of the filmation episodes, and in one instance lifted Castle Grayskull. However he rarely just beats someone up, but instead will try to outwit his opponent. Because of his extreme physical strength He-man has a high stamina and is not easily worn out. Despite his bulging muscles he is quite athletic and agile. He can jump immensely high and is a fast sprinter. In the 1983 cartoon He-man was occasionally displayed as having the ability to fill his lungs with air and release it with such force that he can actually knock enemies off their feet (fans tend to ignore this power, as they consider it to be quite silly). The cartoon also indicated that He-man could spin his sword fast enough to create tornadoes and in various older episodes he could summon a vehicle to his side simply by whistling.

He-man is also known for hiding small helpful gadgets under his vest such as flash-bombs, scanners and others. His lack of clothing however often caused problems for animators when explaining where He-Man carried anything, the episode The Search for the VHO is particularly infamous for containing a sequence where He-Man sticks the VHO down his pants. He-Man's sword is also displayed as being able to deflect anything from laser-beams to various magical projectiles and even (in the case of dragons) fire (this ability was used quite often as running joke in the original series). He also wears a special harness made of a rare mineral called Korodite which helps add to his physical strength.


History of the He-Man action figure

Original Toy Line

The first He-Man action figure was released by Mattel in 1981, and had a twist waist and power punch action. The figure came with the power sword, a battle axe and a shield, together with a removable harness. In 1982 the figure was re-released in a set with either Battle Cat or the Wind Raider vehicle. Again, the figure was re-released in 1983 together with Teela and Ram-Man. The figure was again re-released in 1986 together with the Jet Sled vehicle.

In 1984, an alternate version, entitled Battle Armor He-Man was released. The chest had three "damage indicators" which rotated round. Again, the power sword and battle axe were included. The figure was also re-released the same year, packaged with the Road Ripper vehicle. In 1986, the figure was re-released again, together with Battle Armor Skeletor and Orko.

In 1985 another alternate version was released, with the name Thunder Punch He-Man. The toy was powered with caps to make a bang when he threw a punch. The power sword and shield were released with the figure, together with some red caps. The same year, Battle Armor He-Man was re-released with Battle Cat, and again in a collector's pack with Man-At-Arms and Man-E-Faces.

1986 saw yet another version, named Flying Fists He-Man. The figure's arms moved as his waist rotated. The figure included a spinning trident mace and a rotating shield. A double-pack was later released containing both Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor.

In 1988 a final version was released for the original toy line, entitled Laser Power He-Man. The figure was limited to releases in Italy and Spain, although appeared in some major department stores in London, England.


New Adventures Toy Line

The new toy line started in 1989, and He-Man was released as his new space personality, complete with power sword, shield and helmet. The figure also included two-piece snap-on space armor. He was also released in double-packs with any of Skeletor, Flogg and Slush Head.

In 1990 an alternate version was released, named Battle Punching He-Man. The figure had some different joints to allow more points of articulation, and included the power sword and shield.

In 1992 a final figure, again titled Thunder Punch He-Man was released with a twisting punch action.

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