Watch Out He-Man — It’s Trap Jaw! (String Not Included)

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 7, 2009 in Animation, Hobbies and Collections |

The year is 1983 and as an art school student me and my buds are convinced that the era we were in was a low point for animation — except for Anime! Even though a generation has grown up loving He-Man we tested the dude, because his D&D routine wasn’t half as cool as Star Blazers or Mobile Suit Gundam. Looking back I still stand by my thesis of the lack of quality in Filmation productions, but now I can see how a generation of kids could look fondly back on this stuff.

The point of He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe wasn’t to appeal to a broader audience on multiple levels — it was designed to it very specific demographic of boys. There are some shows that manage to transcend their audience, be it Bugs Bunny cartoons or episodes of Pee Wee Herman — but He-Man never wanted to go there. But I think half the pleasure of the show for the audience was the toys themselves:

He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe - Trap Jaw

So in a sense the animated series was only a back story for the interactive medium for the goodies that Mattel was producing. In fact the commercial sort of proves my point looking back at it — the ability for Trap Jaw to fly in on a string and then change arms is much cooler than the G.I. Joe action figures of an earlier era. While Joe did have all sorts of accessories, he was very grounded in reality.

On the other hand He-Man is pushing the limits in terms of toy design: In fact the other thing that I noticed watching this spot was that the Trap Jaw is much more interesting than He-Man himself — which is what a great villain should be! The commercial emphasizes this by only showing poor He-Man at the end of the spot.

By the way you can tell how much the toys did inspire some kids — the model on the right side of the photo is a modern version of Trap Jaw aimed at elder fanboys. What’s amazing is how true the design is to the original toy well over twenty five years later.

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