"Their Evil Even Scares Me!!!"

Back at the Cincinnati Comic Con, I gave in to a fit of nostalgia and picked up a loose vintage "Leech" Masters of the Universe figure for $4.00. A good sized chunk of my childhood He-Man collection is missing* including Leech.

*probably the victim of a long forgotten garage sale, but  I still have a few left which I am planning on giving to the Unholy Spawn of the Undead to play with as soon as their old enough 

Leech's hands and feet are normal suction cups, but his mouth is a much stronger one that is activated by a button on his back. He could stick to windows, the fridge, whatever...
Like most kids middle class suburban kids in the '80's, I was pretty into He-Man. What's not to like? Muscle-men with swords and ray guns, crazy monsters, robots and magic -- toys with goofy gimicks and a tie-in cartoon that played every day after school?

Anyway -- sometime around 1985, I remember getting the chance to pick out a toy at a Walgreens one night and when I wandered over to look and see what options I had, where the regular old He-Man guys usually were was this thing. Most He-Man guys were made from the same handful of parts and typically just had different looking heads. Leech was huge and looked totally different from any other figure, which would have probably sold me on its own, but there was also the huge black and red logo front and center on the package:

I had no idea what "The Evil Horde" was, even though I'd faithfully watched every episode of the cartoon and poured over the mini-comics and read & listen books and records, but I knew one thing: it sounded F'ing awesome.

 
I soon learned, after looking at the back of the package, that The Evil Horde was a brand new team of super-evil badasses who wore bats on their clothes and used crossbows. I dutifully set about to "collect them all" as soon as possible.

The Horde's leader, was a skull/bat/vampire looking guy called "Hordak." After watching untold episodes of the cartoon and thereby seeing the visually impressive but completely ineffectual Skeletor fail at every opportunity, I was pretty convinced that he was not really a threat to He-Man. Hordak, however had not yet had his own series of miserable failures at the hands of She-Ra on her show, so he seemed poised to give Eternia a run for its money. 

I don't remember reading this, but Hordak's own card art is pretty telling. Skeletor was described on his packaging as the "Evil Lord of Destruction," which is admittedly a pretty scary title. Hordak ups the ante and goes for simply: "THE MOST EVIL BEING IN THE UNIVERSE!"

"The most evil being in the universe" Just in time for Christmas!

Looking back at some of this stuff as an adult, I'm a little amazed that these were actually produced and marketed directly at children. In my teens I laughed off stories of angry parent's groups protesting "satanic" games and books, because usually they were just over reacting. But here is a popular toy that is pretty much reveling in the fact that its newest characters are even more evil than their previous epitome of evil.

In a commercial introducing the Evil Horde toys, instead of  going with their typical strategy of depicting some kind of narrative with a struggle between the forces of good and evil with the latest figures, they basically show Skeletor meeting Hordak & Co. in a dark alley and basically getting the shit scared out of him. No conflict. No good guys, just a bad guy and some worse guys.



Not that I'm complaining, mind you -- I'm sure I saw this commercial as a kid and had a reaction very similar to the one I had when I found the clip on youtube recently. The Evil Horde is pretty clearly a gang of stone cold hard-cases who are about to lay waste to Castle Greyskull with their crossbows, extending eye-stalks and real fur; and I want to help make that happen.

As Mattel continued to roll out new toys for the grandiously named "Masters of the Universe Collection," they released upon the world one of the most weirdly diabolical toys of the decade: The Slime Pit.



 

As you can plainly see from the commercial, Hordak loves little more than whisking less effective bad guys away to his apocalyptic desert retreat where he can use all the bizarre extensive interrogation techniques he likes on them -- such as having a dinosaur skeleton vomit slime all over their helpless bodies. Again, no good guys vs. bad guys -- just a monster torturing another monster in a barren hellish landscape.


Again, I can't complain too much because it does look pretty fun, and I remember REALLY wanting this as a kid. Unfortunately, the slime Mattel used basically stuck to everything and what it didn't stick to it permanently stained. Moms of the world spread the news and The Slime Pit was banned at my house.

Comments

  1. As far as I know, all my He-Man stuff is still in my folks' basement. I remember having endless fun with Skeletor's voice modulation device.

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  2. Same here -- unfortunately my "Snake Mountain's" whereabouts are presently unknown...

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