From the time of its introduction into toy isles in 1982, Mattel's Masters of the Universe action figure toyline kicked butt and never bothered with the formality of taking names. Bolstered further in 1983 by an innovative print ad campaign carried in the comic book publications of DC Comics, a full-sized three-issue comic book mini-series produced by DC, and the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon made by Filmation, this muscle-bound toyline quickly became the must have plaything for young boys in the early '80s.
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Now 35 years since their initial debut, the toys have since become highly desired collectibles for nostalgia-charged adults. Toys that were gently played with can command prices ranging from $10 to $25 dollars a-piece. Larger items, like the playsets that were made by Mattel to recreate the otherworldly environs in which He-Man and his fellow Masters lived, logically command a bit more. But the justifiably expensive MOTU toys are those that -- some three decades after their actual production -- are untouched by human hands. Toys still factory sealed in their original packaging sell for upwards of hundreds, even thousands of dollars. So we’ve done some heavy lifting for you and compiled a list of the 15 most expensive "He-Man" toys.
There are many ways to approach collecting vintage He-Man toys. You don't have to be the obsessive must-buy-every-He-Man-action-figure-ever-made type if you don’t want to be one. Collectors with commitment issues can get away with buying one or two Masters of the Universe items as a keepsake to symbolize a time when such toys were among their most favorite things. In fact, a MOTU figure still in its original package and purchased to hang on your office or den wall is one really cool way to go.
One of the least expensive of the expensive toys is the villainous character Twistoid. This toy was released in 1987, just before the production of Masters of the Universe toys was cancelled in 1988. As such, Twistoid is fairly rare, and thus, highly desired by collectors. A mint condition figure still in its original blister pack will cost you around $400 bucks.
When Masters of the Universe was introduced in the early '80s, the first wave of figures Mattel produced included the mysterious character Zodac. This figure was released in the second half of 1982 and was billed on his blister pack as the "cosmic enforcer." Sadly though, because no details were offered on the packaging, or in the mini-comics that came standard with these action figures, kids never knew what a “cosmic enforcer” did.
Did Zodac sit around waiting to issue speeding tickets to motorists traveling through the cosmos faster than the speed of light? Did he arrest lazy guys who weren’t spending enough time at the gym to maintain their he-manly physique? Zodac’s purpose was a puzzle, but he had an interesting look and he’s now something of a cult favorite among collectors today. A mint condition Zodac in its original packaging will cost you around $400 bucks.
Because little kids can be easily entertained with almost any gimmick you toss at 'em, the character Man-E-Faces seemed like a cool entry into the Masters of the Universe toyline. Why? Because he was supposedly three warriors in one! Just turn the purple knob on his big helmeted head and change him from human to robot to monster! Who knows, maybe some little kid even grew up to become a psychologist because of this early introduction to multiple personality disorder.
Anywho, this heroic warrior with “many faces” (get it?) was created for the second wave of Mattel’s MOTU toyline. The figure came packed with a laser gun and the standard mini-comic, which revealed the character’s tragic origin in a tale called "The Ordeal of Man-E-Faces." A mint condition figure in its original packaging presently runs between $450 and $500. So just be prepared to spend Man-E-Dollars.
12 MOTU COLLECTORS CASE
The collector who owns several nice-but-not-still-in-the-package MOTU figures and has the desire to keep them in a pristine MOTU Collectors Case from 1984 could be faced with a dilemma. A figure case still covered in its original wrapper recently sold at auction for $500 dollars. But why spend that much on a case that’s never been taken out of its wrapper just to take it out of the plastic and have its value plunge?
Paying a premium to hang a vintage Masters of the Universe action figure up on the wall is one thing, but paying top dollar for a carrying case that you’re never gonna open is something else entirely. Maybe this is what the guy who has every Masters of the Universe figure in MOC (“mint on card”) condition buys to complete their He-Man museum collection. If that’s you, Daddy Warbucks, $500 smackers is your price.
11 SKELETOR PANTHOR 2-PACK
For the He-Man collector whose looking for one single Masters of the Universe collectible with something extra cool in the way of presentation, an item like the Skeletor and Panthor 2-Pack may be what you seek. Skeletor and his purple panther are featured together in a window box gift set with He-Man’s archenemy on left side of the package and his ferocious feline filling up the rest.
Rising from the back of the box was a cardboard panel (designed for hanging on store shelves) that featured a pulse-pounding, Frank Frazetta-inspired painting of He-Man locking swords with Skeletor -- and Panthro ready to pounce! There were different versions of the Skeleor and Panthor 2-Pack, the second of which offered the evil wizard Skeletor dressed in Battle Armor. A mint condition set of the first version will cost you about $500, but it’s so worth it. This 2-Pack is the cat’s meow.
Rotar, the heroic master of the hyper-spin, who drops foes with "super gyro-spin action," was introduced by Mattel in wave six of the Masters of the Universe action figure line. The character is a part-human, part-cybernetic warrior with no legs; his lower body has the pointed shape of a spinning top, which (allegedly) allows Rotar to whirl through the bad guys at super-speed.
Like Twistor, his villainous archrival, a Rotar toy was released in 1987, just before the production of Masters of the Universe toys was cancelled in 1988. The toyline’s demise meant that Rotar never saw much commercial exposure and the subsequent cancellation of the cartoon meant no cool TV tie-ins. Rotar was just there in the toy isle, but his rarity today makes him very desirable to hardcore collectors. A mint condition figure sealed in its original blister pack will cost you upwards of $500.00.
9 SCARE GLOW
Back in the day, glow-in-the-dark toys were one of the coolest and “bestest” gimmicks that toy makers ever came up with. You simply held the off-white plastic toy next to a light source for several minutes, then turned off the light (or ran to the nearest closet) and voila: The green-hued glow of modern technology!
Knowing a good thing when they saw it, the designers at Mattel made good use of the gimmick with the release of the Scare Glow (sounds like "scarecrow") action figure. According to the story, Scare Glow was the ghost of the dead Skeletor. The figure was released in wave six of the Masters of the Universe action figure line in 1987 and to this day it’s one of the coolest figures in the entire MOTU series. A Scare Glow action figure, still minty fresh in the package, will cost you around $525 bones.
In 1985, wave four of the Masters of the Universe toyline saw the introduction of Grizzlor, the "hairy henchman of The Evil Horde!" That same year, Mattel and Filmation recognized that there were Man-E-Benjamins to be had if they could broaden the scope of the boy-centric series to appeal to young girls as well. The creation of the Princess of Power toyline and cartoon -- which introduced He-Man's twin sister She-Ra -- was their girl-winning recipe.
The Evil Horde, led by the evil tyrant Hordak, was actually a group of villains from the She-Ra cartoon series. In addition to Grizzlor, the other Horde henchmen were Mantenna, Leech and Modulok. For some reason, two slightly different versions of the Grizzlor figure were made, the first with light brown face and another with charcoal colored mug. The latter is the rarest of the two and will cost his collector about $560.
7 CASTLE GRAYSKULL
Of all the items discussed here, only one isn't actually a vintage toy from the '80s. In 2013, the Masters of the Universe Classics toy series saw the release of a brand new Castle Grayskull playset based on the original 1981 prototype. Like its old school predecessor, it features a functioning "jaw bridge," an armory, a castle throne, a trap door, a scaling ladder and rooftop laser cannon, a working elevator and "three floor levels of adventure and possibilities!"
The Grayskull playset measures over 24 inches tall with a width of 29 inches. In addition, this new version also boasts an extra battle ledge, an elongated facial design, a removable minaret atop the castle dome and more. For the MOTU collector who wants to try recreating some of their fondest childhood memories or to make new ones, this awesome playset goes for $579.
6 BATTLE ARMOR SKELETOR
Released in 1984, wave three of the Masters of the Universe toyline saw the release of Battle Armor He-Man and Battle Armor Skeletor. This time around the arch-rivals came dressed for success in their never-ending fight for control of planet Eternia. In the chest area of each figure was an adjustable "damage indicator," which showed the armor in its unblemished state and then with your choice of one or two sword slashes. As far as cool toy gimmicks went, this was one was quite smashing.
The Battle Armor Skeletor action figure was also the very first of a variety of different Skeletor molds released by Mattel over the course of the series. It was popular with kids when it first came out and it's still one of the most desirable figures for MOTU collectors today. A mint condition figure in its original packaging will cost you upwards of $600.
The fact that multiple versions of the wicked wizard Skeletor can be found in this list of the 15 most expensive He-Man figures speaks volumes about the coolness of Skeletor's aesthetic. There's almost nothing more senses-shattering than a supervillain with a body covered from the neck down with blue skin and bulging muscles but, from the neck up, not single shred of flesh.
From the time of his initial release in the first half of figures released as part of wave one of the Masters of the Universe toy series, Skeletor proved to be one of the lines most popular characters. This remains true all these years later. The original Skeletor toy is still one of the most desirable action figures second only to He-Man. A mint condition figure in its original packaging presently sells in the price range of $650.
4 LASER-LIGHT SKELETOR
In 1988, wave seven, the final entry in Mattel's original Masters of the Universe line, saw the exciting release of the Laser Power He-Man and Laser-Light Skeletor action figures. Sure, glow-in-the-dark is super cool, but battery-powered is always cooler. Unfortunately, however, because it was the end of the line for MOTU toys, these figures were only released for purchase in Europe.
As you’d expect, the fact that these figures were never released domestically makes them extremely desirable to collectors. But, thanks to international purchase options offered by the World Wide Web, many of these figures have lit the way into domestic toy collections. Even out of the package, a working Laser-Light Skeletor is one of the top five most desirable (and, therefore, expensive) MOTU toys. These sell for upwards of $800 out of the package and for more if still sealed in its original blister pack.
3 LASER POWER HE-MAN
At long last we see the golden boy He-Man himself making an appearance in this spine-tingling list of the most expensive Masters of the Universe toys. As mentioned, the battery operated “Laser” figures were released as part of wave seven, the last of Mattel's original toyline, and sold only in Europe after the series was slated for cancellation. As He-Man was actually the lead hero of this action figure line, a placement in the top three is where at least one of his figures belongs.
If you’re a Masters of the Universe toy collector, this is the one you hang on the wall of your office or den for bragging rights, and take selfies in the bathroom mirror to post to all of the He-Man-related groups on Facebook. A Laser Power He-Man in its original packaging will make you a toy god. They sell for upwards of $900.
In the number two spot is the original He-Man figure released by Mattel in 1982 (which featured an embossed trademark stamp of 1981). He-Man was a brilliant product reflecting a time in America when the Saturday morning cartoon Thundarr the Barbarian (1980) was super popular with kids and big budget films like Flash Gordon (1980), Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) and Conan The Barbarian (1982) brought audiences representing multiple demographics to movie theaters.
Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toys merged medieval mysticism with sci-fi futurism and created a product line that took both the toy world and pop culture at large by storm. Mix in mini-comics packaged with each toy, full-size comics by DC, a weekly afternoon cartoon and you’ve got the holy trinity of what would appeal to boys on multiple levels. The ultimate symbol of this era, a He-Man action figure in mint condition, sells for $1200.
1 ETERNIA PLAYSET
Last but not least we have in the number one spot Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Eternia playset. In the world of He-Man and company, Eternia was the otherworldly planet inhabited by a colorful cast of bodybuilding warriors, wizards, goddesses, robots and monsters. And this particular item was the largest of the three playsets produced by Mattel for the MOTU line of toys.
Featuring an impressive central tower, a Grayskull tower, a Viper tower, a monorail system that circles around the playset and several other kid-pleasing features, Eternia is almost like an amusement park for He-Man action figures. Even out of the box, this playset can go for several hundred dollars, but a mint condition Eternia playset in the original box and still factory sealed sells today for upwards of $3000. If you "haveeee the powerrrrrr,” this is the ultimate Masters of the Universe collectible.
Do you own any of these He-Man collectibles? Let us know in the comments!