of the Universe is significant for two reasons. It was the
first major line which incorporated action features, making
the figures more than just posable toys. As a result, many
future lines would strive to include some sort of action feature...even
if it was nothing more than an accessory which snapped onto
the figure itself. Action features, however, were not the
key factor in the success of the line.
prior to Christmas 1983, the Federal Communication Commission
lifted a number of restrictions on children's television programming.
Among the regulations which were overturned was a 1969 decision
which prohibited television shows based on toy products. This
precedent had been established when the Tonka corporation
filed suit with the FCC to prevent Mattel from producing a
Hot Wheels television program.
Associates, a subsidiary of Westinghouse, was quick to take
advantage of the deregulation. Witht he cooperation of Mattel,
they produced sixty-five half-hour episodes of He-Man and
the Masters of the Universe. Filmation was unable to sell
the series to any of the major networks, so they tried a different
approach. Instead of selling the show, they traded the animated
sequences for a portion of the air time, allowing local stations
to keep the advertising revenues.
line ultimately ran for ten years, and inspired a spin-off
for girls, called Princess of Power. The marketing approach
was quickly copied. Product-based TV shows were created for
Transformers, Care Bears, G.I. Joe, and many other toy lines
which followed. Critics mourned the loss of educational programs,
but there was no arguing with ratings.
characters were often re-done with different features over
the years. Figures were sold on bubble-packed cards which
changed as new merchandise was released. In 1990, a new series
of figures was marketed under the name He-Man.