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DVD Review

DVD cover

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
The Complete Series


Starring (voice): John Erwin, Alan Oppenheimer, Linda Gary, Lou Scheimer, Erik Gunden and Erika Scheimer
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £59.99
Certificate: U
Release Date: 25 April 2022

When Prince Adam holds the Sword of Power aloft and proclaims “By the Power of Grayskull” he is gifted with "fabulous secret powers," and the humble prince transforms into the super-strong barbarian He-Man, defending his home planet of Eternia from the evil forces of the skull-faced villain Skeletor...

The animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ran for two seasons from 1983 until 1985 and consisted of 130 23-minute episodes (65 each season). I was slightly (but only slightly) a little too old for The Masters of the Universe action figures, but if it was on I'd watch the animated show. I was about 13 and more interested in Star Wars figures and vehicles, but I do remember thinking the He-Man toys were really cool... for kids.

Given the nature of the show, each episode is self-contained, meaning it doesn't really matter in what order you watch the series. More often than not a new villain (or occasionally hero) is introduced (in order to sell new toys) Skeletor comes up with a diabolical plan, He-Man thwarts the plan and the show wraps up with a final scene where today's lesson, from the episode, is spelled out for the audience members who didn't quite get the moral of the story.

The episodes have aged better than I thought they would. The animation gets better as the show progresses, but it does suffer from the reuse of a lot of stock material. In fact one artist in the extras in this collection reveals that all the artists liked to try and shoehorn in various bits of stock animation, with one crew member making it his mission to try to get one piece of animation, where a character sits on a crate, which promptly explodes, into every episode.

Extras include:

Power of Greyskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1 hr, 35 min, 35 sec which starts by looking at the origins of the toy line and then explores almost every aspect you can imagine including the minicomics which were included with the figures, the DC mini series, the animated show, the original use of rotoscoping the black and white film they shot of the movement of body actors in some of the earlier episodes. We also look at the introduction of She-Ra, how the series was accused of dumbing down and the addition of lots of new action figures - including the "battle damage" and dinosaur ranges. There's a look at the live action movie, He-Man in Space figures, the New Adventures of He-Man cartoon and figures, the 2001 new figures, the new animated show, the new comic books series and the launch of He-Man classic figures).

Saturday Morning Legacy of Filmation (22 min, 21 sec which explores thee Filmation history and role in the He-Man franchise); Hope, Honor, Heart: The Origins of She-Ra (20 min, 27 sec which explores the origins of She-Ra); Early  Concepts and Illustrations (28 min, 11 sec which sees artist Charles Zembillas going through his personal archive, which he saved as the studio was throwing everything away); He-Man & She-Ra: The Power of the Sword (1 hr, 27 min, 24 sec a He-Man/She-Ra crossover movie.); and He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (44 min, 27 sec).

If you grew up on the series then you'll need no urging to pick this up. It's still an enjoyable series, even if it's a little formulaic.


Darren Rea

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