The defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull isn’t He-Man, at least not today. That honor currently goes to PJ Lewis, who’s been leading the Masters of the Universe franchise into multiple toylines and animated series over the past few years. He-Man is presumably taking a well-deserved break for his 40th birthday, which will be celebrated at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Still, io9 managed to score the announcement of the Masters of the Universe con exclusives—a two-pack of the most highly articulated MotU figures Mattel has ever made, and a fun Grayskull Mega Construx set—and learn some of what the company has planned for He-Man, both at Comic-Con and the future.
Rob Bricken, io9: Because you’ve been kind enough to let io9 debut it, let’s talk about the San Diego Comic-Con Masters of the Universe action figure two-pack.
PJ Lewis: Comic-Con for us is always about delivering great fan moments. It’s why we’ve been delivering the 12 Days of Fandom [announcing our Comic-Con exclusive toys] across many of our brands and in partnership with Mattel Creations, our direct-to-consumer site. The two-pack is all about bringing the history of Masters of the Universe together in a celebratory way.
It showcases how we’re bringing He-Man and Skeletor to our Masterverse toyline, which is our modern interpretation of the characters. It’s in what I think is one of the best presentations that we’ve had the opportunity to bring to the fans, including 30 points of articulation and authentic styling, and the detail and authenticity for collectors that we deliver. I think to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Masters of the Universe, it’s going to really deliver and capture hearts and minds during Comic-Con. [Ed’s note: The two-pack and construction set will both be available at Comic-Con, but also on Mattel Creations on July 20 at 5 p.m. Direct links, which will go live at that time: He-Man here, and He-Man vs. Skeletor here.]
io9: So far, the Masterverse line has drawn exclusively from Kevin Smith’s MotU: Revelation series, but these figures are definitely new—especially with all that articulation. Does this mean Masterverse is going to expand beyond the animated series?
Lewis: This is a great question. The Masterverse’s modern reinterpretation of MotU, certainly of character and sculpt, was anchored by Kevin Smith’s telling of Revelation—it was [the toyline’s] first sort of sub-flavor, if you will. At Comic-Con, we’re going to showcase many more ways that our fans can look at Masterverse as the future—how we’re going to bring different retellings and different iconic looks of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for the future of our collector action figure offerings. We are just getting started with Masterverse.
io9: It sounds like the line could theoretically include new versions of, say, the fan-favorite character designs from the 2002 reboot of Masters of the Universe, or maybe The New Adventures of He-Man cartoon.
Lewis: Rob, stay tuned for more. Let’s just say we certainly have detailed plans to expand Masterverse into 2023 and 2024 and beyond. As for something more specific, as some of our large format action figures soar, we’re also going to be introducing a specific playset that anchors the line which is going to be pretty fun. You’ll see more on that at Comic-Con, I hope.
io9: Well, speaking of Comic-Con, you have the first-ever Masters of the Universe panel in Hall H—the very, very large room that hosts the biggest panels, like Marvel Studios. That’s a big deal on multiple levels.
Lewis: Yeah, it’s a great level-up for the brand. We’ve been licensees on brands that have had Hall H panels in the past, and I’ve been to a few of those, but to actually have a Hall H panel on He-Man… it’s going to be a big deal. Dolph Lundgren is going to be on our panel and Kevin Smith is moderating it. It’s in Hall H. And I can’t tell you who the special guest is, but they’re going to blow your socks off when they’re revealed.
io9: Wait. You’re going to have Dolph Lundgren, star of the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie, at the panel and he’s not going to be the secret special guest?
Lewis: You’re going to lose your mind when you see who it is.
io9: Okay then. What else can fans expect at the panel?
Lewis: This 40th anniversary is a great moment for us to remind fans and celebrate the [franchise’s] history. I think you’ll get a sense of how we [at Mattel] are thinking about He-Man, the storytelling, the history, and where we’re going with Masters of the Universe, so that’s going to be fun. It is absolutely our aspiration to continue to deliver more and more from Masters of the Universe—everything from the work that we did on Netflix to our Roblox partnership, which is telling Masters of the Universe stories and introducing the characters to this new age in a new way, as well as the Cryptoid partnership we just announced.
So you know the franchise is offering a ton for fans of all ages. And this is step one to us delivering more and hopefully more entertainment that we can all enjoy together. As we think about “MOTUesdays” and we think about our opportunity to do more through this fall, you will hear more about what we’re doing.
io9: MOTUesdays? Will those be weekly announcements of new products or TV show info?
Lewis: Correct. It’s a way for fans to engage, a weekly thing that starts at Comic-Con essentially and is really going all the way through October 12 which, in case you didn’t know, is He-Man’s birthday, and we’re going to do some events. But I think [MOTUesdays] will answer some of the questions you have about the longevity of the figure lines, and how we’re going to bring more into the figure lines here. We will be announcing more on what we’re doing around the new show and more ways that we can extend Masterverse. There’s a lot to come.
io9: Between the two new animated series and three toylines, including the retro MotU Origins and kid-friendly toys based on the Netflix kids show, it already seems like He-Man has entered a bit of a Golden Age.
Lewis: Well, yes… but if it’s a Golden Age, that’s just a reliving of He-Man’s history, right? We have more planned than that.
io9: The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series is introducing the 40-year-old franchise to modern kids. What do you think the appeal of He-Man is, all these years later?
Lewis: I think there are always stories and elements to the brand that can always connect, and there is a purpose [where kids learn] who we can aspire to be and pursue the best versions of ourselves. He-Man has always served as someone who inspires that, and that’s a piece and a cornerstone to the series’ modern storytelling. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to tell those stories to override a variety of audiences and it’s interesting to watch that connect with them. Plus, they always say heroes are only as good as their villains and you have a great villain in Skeletor as well. I think that [story of] good-versus-evil connects today.
The show also has a lot more versatility than perhaps other brands that are kind of telling the same stories. Each time you tuned into the [classic cartoon], there was a different cast of characters and I think that was part of the appeal to the boys and girls that were watching it back in its heyday, in the ‘80s, right?
io9: It’s interesting how even though Masters of the Universe has had comparatively fewer shows and movies and toys as something like Transformers, He-Man feels like he looms larger in pop culture.
Lewis: You know, it’s so funny when we talk about He-Man as part of pop culture because he has an identity in pop culture. Skeletor has an identity in pop culture. We were part of a Super Bowl commercial with Rocket Mortgage and it was voted the number one commercial by USA Today. That’s just such a testament to how these characters connect to people, especially He-Man and Skeletor.
Masters of the Universe is a really interesting brand because the characters themselves have become such a big part of pop culture. They have transcended the brand, to some degree. It’s different than other brands that I remember were on my bedroom floor as a kid, whether it’s G.I. Joe or even Transformers.
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