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.
“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 5 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)
How He-Man Mastered the Universe: Toy to Television to the Big Screen is an unofficial history of the popular 1980s Masters of the Universe toy line and its impact on cross-media franchises. Special attention is paid to the film Masters of the Universe (1987), starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella, which was the first live-action movie based on an action figure.
It was released by McFarland Books on April 1st, 2017. Check out the “Buy my Books!” tab for the Amazon.com link, or contact me directly regarding reviews or interviews.