How He-Man Mastered the Universe

Toy to Television to the Big Screen


In stock

About the Book

Elaborate cinematic universes and sophisticated marketing tie-ins are commonplace in entertainment today. It’s easy to forget that the transmedia trend began in 1982 with a barbarian action figure. He-Man and the other characters in Mattel’s popular Masters of the Universe toy line quickly found their way into comic books, video games, multiple television series and a Hollywood film. The original animated series (1983–1985) was the first based on an action figure, and the cult classic Masters of the Universe (1987) was the first toy-inspired live-action feature film. But it wasn’t easy. He-Man faced adversaries more dangerous than Skeletor: entertainment lawyers, Hollywood executives, even the Reagan administration. The heroes and villains of Eternia did more than shape the childhoods of the toy-buying public—they formed the modern entertainment landscape.

About the Author(s)

Brian C. Baer is a lifelong He-Man fan and pop culture writer from Spokane, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Brian C. Baer
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6590-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2706-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: ­Man-E-Prefaces 1
Introduction: The Power of … Introduction! 8
1. The Secret History of ­He-Man 23
2. Enter Filmation! 41
3. ­Golan-Globus: Going Global 65
4. ­Pre-Production’s Quest 78
5. A Battle Fought in the Stars, Now … Comes to Earth 100
6. The Terror of ­Post-Production 130
7. “I’ll Be Back!” 145
8. ­He-Man Meets Cult Status 166
9. “Good Journey” 176
Filmography 195
Chapter Notes 201
Bibliography 210
Index 213

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This book is a wonderfully meticulous exploration into the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe phenomenon! Brian C. Baer has done a fantastic job!”—James Eatock, He-Man and She-Ra: A Complete Guide to the Classic Animated Adventures
  • How He-Man Mastered the Universe is an entertaining and insightful look into the He-Man franchise and its effect on later media franchises. Essential reading for anyone interested in reading about the evolution of the modern media franchise.”—Jess Nevins, The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4000-Year History of the Superhero
  • “Finally a comprehensive history of one of the greatest (if not the greatest) action figure line in the history of human civilization! Baer digs deep, and shows the influence of a hero who became much more than five inches of plastic.”—Tim Seeley, The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Revival
  • “With his entertaining and informative look at the cultural significance of these ’80s action icons, Brian C. Baer has written a book for gamers and scholars alike that’s as colorful and fun as a classic cartoon.”—Telly Davidson, Culture War: How the ’90s Made Us Who We Are Today (Whether We Like It or Not)

Ebook Availability

Amazon (Kindle)
Apple (iBooks)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Google Play

Author Interview

Review Fix chats with author Brian C. Baer, who discusses the creative process behind his book, How He-Man Mastered the Universe: Toy to Television to the Big Screen.  Visit Baer’s site, here.

Review Fix: Why does He-Man still matter?

Brian C. Baer: Well, we can say that He-Man still matters, or matters again, because of this Great Nostalgia Resurgence we’ve been experiencing. Lots of ’80s properties are cool again. But with He-Man, I honestly think it’s bigger than that. Moreso than what we see in characters from GI Joe or Transformers, He-Man and Skeletor are such clean-cut representations of good and evil. They fit these sorts of classical archetypes perfectly, which makes them more universal than most.

Review Fix: What was the research process like?

Baer: The research process took at least a decade. While I grew up with the Masters of the Universe toys, cartoons and the movie (my favorite!), at a certain point I started researching the franchise more thoroughly. At first it was just for fun, and then for some dream project book. Once I found my publisher, McFarland Books, it opened up more possibilities for getting some interviews, but this is largely a result of the research I’ve been doing for a long time.

Review Fix: What did you learn from writing this that you didn’t expect?

Baer: I learned a lot of nitty-gritty details about the animation business in the ’80s and what sort of rules they had for children’s programming, plus more about Hollywood and the very unique business practices of Cannon Films, who made the 1987 live-action He-Man film. The chapters on Filmation and Cannon were the most fascinating to research and write, and I hope that comes through for the readers.

Review Fix: Why should a hardcore He-Man fan read this book?

Baer: I’ve been a He-Man fan for my entire life, but I’ve never been big on fan communities and didn’t venture into this one until the book was starting to come together. While I can honestly say He-Man fans are the kindest and most welcoming fandom, they also really know their stuff. I’d like to think there are some tidbits that might be new to them, though. For the most part, though, I’d say this book is good for He-Man fans because of the way it breaks down the evolution of cross-media franchises, and how important these characters are when it comes to the grand scheme of modern pop culture.

Review Fix: If you’re not a fan of He-Man, why should you read this?

Baer: This book is written more for non-fans, or the sort of casual fans who grew up on the cartoons but haven’t been keeping up with it. I go through the history of the franchise, from the toy’s creation to the announcement of the new movie, giving a few story breakdowns and including historical context so we can see what was expected of a toy brand back in the ’80s, and just how much Masters of the Universe revolutionized everything.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Baer: For me? I’ve returned to writing fiction for now, but hope to write some more geeky pop culture histories in the near future. For He-Man? David S. Goyer (of “The Dark Knight” and “Man of Steel” fame) is working on the script for a new live-action Masters of the Universe film. It’s set for a Christmas, 2019 release from Sony Pictures.