The Grayskull Poster from Adam to Zodac

Back in the heyday of Masters of the Universe during the 1980s, a few promotional posters for the line were made. These were lush, fully-painted depictions of the characters rather than checklists featuring photos of the action figures. By far my favorite was the so-called Grayskull Poster, because it featured most of the early, iconic MOTU characters, vehicles and playsets that I owned.

He-Man.org poster He-Lurker has been kind enough to provide his fellow He-Fans with a beautiful hi-res scan of the poster:

grayskull_big

Pretty nice, huh? Of course, while He-Man and Skeletor look ready to mash it up as usual, there’s a lot of other strange stuff going on in the background of this poster.

Let’s star with Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain: they are way too close. Perhaps this is the temporary result of some wizard’s spell, an attempt to get the two enemy groups to wipe each other out. If that’s the case, ordinarily I would blame Zodac–nothing would be better for cosmic peace than for all the warriors to be destroyed. However, Zodac, it seems, has chosen a side.

But I’ll get to that later. Here’s PGPoA’s A to Z analysis of every character and vehicle on this poster.

  • (Prince) Adam – Right off the bat we’ve got a HUGE problem here. Battle Armor He-Man is up front on Battle Cat, He-Man is driving the Dragon Walker, and Prince Adam is waving a sword around. Either Man-At-Arms got a lot better at making robots that aren’t blue and stupid, or the wizard who put Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain about a quarter of a mile from one another also triplicated the Most Powerful Man in the Universe. Seems like overkill, especially since Skeletor only gets the one version.
  • Battle Armor He-Man – Maybe it’s just because there’s so much art of BA He-Man on Battle Cat, but I think he looks better on the mighty steed than the regular He-Man.
  • Battle Armor Skeletor – That’s right–he’s rockin’ the staff and the sword.
  • Battle Cat‘s heroic pose looks great, but it probably opens him up to an attack to his left flank by Panthor. Fortunately, Panthor is busy yelling at Skeletor for some reason.
  • Beast Man looks like a pimp on the Roton. Everyone else has to run down the steep, narrow cliff with a fifty-foot drop on both sides, but BM gets to sit back and let the red gear-teeth do all the work. Is he whipping Evil-Lyn like a slave driver?
  • Buzz-Off – Check out the goofy grin he’s giving Stratos. He’s clearly unaware that Webstor’s jagged hooks are about to tear through his whisper-thin insect wings.
  • Clawful – Why is he holding his mace like that? Looks awkward.
  • Dragon Walker – This thing dominates the cliffside, but I can’t help but wonder how it’s making the turns.
  • Evil-Lyn – As mentioned previously, it looks like Evil-Lyn is being whipped by Beast Man, judging from the way she’s looking back at him. “OW! Quit it, asshole!”
  • Fisto – Is he shaking his giant fist in rage at the bad guys–or Orko?
  • He-Man – Seriously, why did the marketers think it was OK to have three He-Men on this poster? No doubt it gave some kids a lingering ontological complex.
  • Jitsu – Boring pose, nothing to see here.
  • Kobra Khan – Ditto.
  • Man-At-Arms – Who is Duncan looking at? Me? Shouldn’t he be paying more attention to, y’know, the battle? Nice pose, though.
  • Man-E-Faces – I appreciate the artist’s desire to offer a certain level of realism via shadows, but did he have to hide Man-E-Faces’ meal ticket–his face?
  • Mekaneck – My favorite part of this poster. For years I thought Mekaneck was running away from the danger; it’s only recently I realized he’s using his mechanical-neck powers to look over a rock. Well, more like at a rock. Easily distracted much?
  • Mer-Man – I worry that Mer-Man may be a bit too precariously balanced here, especially if Beast Man whips Evil-Lyn again and she bumps into him. The dangers of running full-tilt down a steep cliff, I guess.
  • Orko – Two problems here: he’s walking, not floating, and he’s way too big. He also seems to be making “V for victory” signs with his fingers, which seems kind of presumptuous if you ask me.
  • Panthor – Great pose, but why is he looking at Skeletor?
  • Point Dread – Naturally one of the few cool good-guy vehicles is sitting, ignored, on the clifftop.
  • Ram-Man is going to f*** someone up with that axe. You can just tell.
  • Road Ripper – There’s a reason this Eternian equivalent of a motorcycle sits riderless next to Castle Grayskull–it sucks.
  • Roton – Beast Man looks real comfy in there. Say what you will about Skeletor, he doesn’t skimp on the patent leather seats in his war machines.
  • Screech is fixing Stratos with a death glare that probably should have killed him instantly.
  • Stratos looks less like he’s flying than falling to his untimely death. “Catch me, Buzz-Off! Help!” Maybe that’s why Buzz-Off is grinning…
  • Stridor – That rear-mounted ass-gun looks to be dead centered on the “O” on Orko’s chest. Can’t say I’d blame him.
  • Teela – Sure, the girl is stuck at the back of the line, but at least she’s not being whipped.
  • Trap Jaw – I have to say, I’m disappointed in my boy Trap Jaw. I’d have hoped he’d at least be blasting with his laser arm or something.
  • Tri-Klops – Great pose, but not much else to discuss here.
  • Webstor – The one bad guy who’s actually doing something useful–he’s going to f*** up Buzz-Off but good.
  • Wind Raider – The dull green workhorse of the Eternian fleet, being flown by–wait, who the hell is that?!
  • Whiplash – “Wait for me guys!”
  • Zoar‘s proximity to Teela only adds to the Teela/Goddess/Sorceress confusion.
  • Zodac – Ah yes, the “neutral” Cosmic Enforcer. Looks like he picked a side to me. And he’s looking straight at the viewer, too, as if to say, “What?”

Comments now closed (26)

  • I traded someone an Avengers #35 comic book for this poster some 20 years ago; I still have it today. I agree, it's one of my favorites out of the bunch they released, however, the poster with the Evil Horde in the center is pretty bad ass.

  • That guy in the Wind Raider isn't the only time that someone nameless was driving a vehicle in one of those groups shots.

    Mattel should make those guys as classics.

  • These posters are great. I too have the one with the Horde in the middle. I also have another poster, its not drawn, its sort of a check list with images of figures on one side, and on the other side it hilights the vehicles and playsets. Unfortunately after years and years in storage, when I took them out sometime ago, I found that it had been nibbled away by some field mice. Attic of old house = not a good place to store stuff!

  • There are 2 He mans and Prince Adam,lol,Faker seems to be absent in this pic.

  • I had this one as a kid. It got destroyed. A few years back I was thankfully able to replace it with a swift $30 on ebay. Pricey for a poster? Not this poster, not to me. :)

    Love it Poe! Thanks for the memories!

  • @Baena: $30 for this poster seems like a steal. I've been considering going to a copying/printing business and seeing if they'd print off a high res copy for me. For a good size/quality, it'd still prolly cost around $20-ish.

    Much more than the action figures and cartoon, stuff like this is really what really shines out in memory.

  • haha nice funny stuff.

    i gotta go get my print vendor to print this off for me.

  • Yep this is pretty old and one of the original. I remember this from back in the day. The He-Man origin story from the foreign comic was pretty cool though!

  • ok… first… all that was hilarious Poe.. I laughed WAY too loud…

    second.. I now have new wallpaper on my laptop.. and it is awesome.. so thank you!

    and third… yes Ram Man is going to f*** someone up but good… he was a battering ram with an axe.. the only reason he didn't have a kill record in the triple digits can only be because they were all cut out due to the "kiddie cartoon" aspect of the original show.. but I'm sure, somewhere, there are many drawings of Rammy destroying one person while crushing another…

  • Never got this poster originally so thanks for the image, but I do have a promotional poster of Heman riding that Dragon-thingie (sorry but it's been over twenty years since I've thought about it). I wish the industry would commission this level of illustration again. It would go a long way to making packaging stand out on the pegs like they did back in the MOTU days.

  • i have that exact poster and it was up in my apartment for much of my college life. i still have it somewhere, in fairly good condition, though far from perfect. i always laughed at the three different he-men depicted all at once.

  • Jitsu's pose may be boring, but that's because he's looking at Skeletor's ass. Perhpas he wants to get into Skeletor's furry shorts!

    Likewise Khan seems to be looking at the same place and with his first shoved up like that and the way the pistol is held, I think Skeletor would be rather pained if Khan got his hands on Skeletor.

    LOL.

  • I have been thinking of doing a big painting something like this….but I'll have to finish some other stuff first.

  • This has brought back memories. I'm not sold on the new figures, but I did enjoy playing with the originals when I was a little lad. I forgot how many of them I owned!

  • It's an interesting mix of fantasy and reality they've got going. Orko just looks like they sat the toy on the cliff and took a picture. I'm surprised he doesn't have a rip-stick hanging out of his side.

    Also interesting to note that almost all the guys have their elbows bent, ala the figures. (And, notably, Trap Jaw's robot arm is ramrod-straight and a little cumbersome-looking.)

    I can only assume that regular Skeletor is kicked back in the net hammock at Snake Mountain reading Villain Quarterly and enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

  • I love how the old toy lines of the 80s had these giant paintings with tons of toys in action. Does anyone do this today? It feels like almost everyone just uses toy photos instead of original artwork.

  • Sadly it's because they have this idea that photos are cheaper than art.

    But in the end, photos don't hold the charm that some painted art like this does for a line.

    The Four Horsemen get it. At least for their own properties. :) (Thankfully!)

    I would LOVE a chance to do official packaging art again for MotU Classics. But who wouldn't love that job?!

  • I think its a sign of the times. Why commission something nice like this when you can pay someone to snap a few photos?

  • that poster rocks… i wonder if the subscription map of eternia will be half that cool.

  • ok, be patient, my 7 year old wants to make a comment on the poster:

    "i like castle grayskull. and i really like the roton. we don't have that vehicle, but i'd like to see a new one for the new line. i really like the talon fighter and i wish they'd make a new talon fighter w/ some new features and maybe some cannons."

    thst's right, i'm working on the second of poesers over here!

  • I had Roton, I really liked that vechicle. I don't know whether I liked the ripping sound it made, or if it was the saw-like blade with all the rounded nubby points.