ThunderCats, Transformers, Centurions, Visionaries - the list goes on and on. I loved every single one of these toylines and the universes the characters lived in. And it wasn't because they all had cartoons (aka 'half hour adverts') - despite what adults may think, children aren't stupid and want anything they see on TV. A lot of work went into some of those shows, but that's a story for another time.
The one that kicked off this toy/cartoon revolution was Masters of the Universe, created as a competitor to the Star Wars toy line. It wasn't the cartoon or even the comics that attracted me. It wasn't even the amazing artwork that adorned the toy boxes. What I really liked best were the figures themselves - just like the boys in the child focus group who attempted to steal the prototypes. As a child, I simply thought they looked fantastic.
When the 200x (as it is referred to due to its non-exact year of arrival) Masters of the Universe line arrived, I started lurking on the He-Man.org forums. It was from there that I began to learn the rich history of the toyline. The dispute over who exactly created created He-Man. The early mini-comic stories I'd completely forgotten about due to them being hugely overshadowed by the Filmation cartoon. When the Classics line began, characters such as Gygor appeared, who'd been designed for the 80s line but never gotten past the prototype stage.
And now a load of this information has been put into a book - The Power and Honor Foundation Catalog Vol. 1
The aim of the Power and Honor Foundation is:
To collect, archive, preserve, and educate the public about the creative origins of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra Princess of Power.Okay, so you're now wondering why anyone should care about the origins of a bunch of toys. Besides their obvious importance in one of the biggest toylines of the 80s, the most important reason is that hey were a very important part of my childhood. Even if you only vaguely remember who Stinkor was, or Buzz Off, I dare you not to read though this book and be fascinated by the development of the toys that were made, and many, many more that never made the final cut.
I thought I knew a lot about He-Man. Turns out there's a hell of a lot more. That's one of the great things about the catalogue - as well as loads of beautifully presented concept artwork there's a lot of text describing the pictures and their background. I really wasn't expecting to learn so much from reading it.
The book has been created by fans (though I hate using that term as it somehow diminishes their knowledge and abilities. In fact many have worked professionally on He-Man), but this isn't your typical 'fan' production. This is a very professionally made hardback book and oozes quality throughout. It's a thousand times better than the 'official' art book Mattel produced for a convention a couple of years ago.
The book is available for a donation of $55 to the Foundation, which includes shipping worldwide (and it's packaged brilliantly to ensure it arrives in top condition). The money is put towards buying more artwork, to ensure it's preserved and to create future volumes of the catalogue.
If you have even a passing interest in 80s toys then I'd say the book is an essential read.