MOTUC Bio Discussion #3: Stratos

Inspired by He-Man.org’s Roast Gooble Dinner podcast, welcome to PGPoA’s latest MOTUC Bio Discussion: Stratos!

STRATOS

Real Name: Stratos® of the House of Avion

Lord of Avion, a civilization of winged simians who live high on the peaks of the Mystic Mountains, Stratos® is a brave honorable warrior allied with King Randor™. Although all Avions have the ability to fly using the magical Emerald Staff, many, including Stratos®, have augmented their armor with rocket packs and jets to increase their speed and distance. As a member of the Masters of the Universe®, Stratos® fights bravely against the evil forces of Skeletor®.

Portrait art source: “The King of Castle Grayskull” minicomic

Ah, Stratos. The flying man-ape. Stratos was one of my favorite figures as a wee tyke. I’m not sure why, exactly; just something about the character was really appealing to the four-year-old Poe. Part of it was the color scheme, part of it the general goofiness of the character design. In his book “Mastering the Universe,” MOTU designer Roger Sweet said he was disappointed by Stratos, that the toy fell short of what a flying figure should be. With the bizarre mix of wings and a jetpack, I can see where he’s coming from, but Stratos still appeals to me in a very 1960s-B-movie sci-fi sort of way.

On a side note: how do people pronounce his name? I’ve always said it “STRAHT-oce.”

Moving on to the bio…first off: Stratos “of the House of Avion”? Avion is a realm. Isn’t that sort of like saying “Arthur of the House of Camelot”? I suppose the land could have been named after Stratos’s family at some point, but that feels like working too hard to explain something that doesn’t really make any sense. The only other explanation I can come up with is that the bio writers are using “House” to refer to the general faction of Avions, but if that were the case, Randor and Adam would both be of “the House of Eternos,” whereas Randor is of the House of Miro and Adam is from the House of Randor. Good lord, I’ve wasted way too much of my delicious brains on this.

I’m glad the bio identifies the Avions as “winged simians.” That’s been the–ahem–monkey in the room ever since the character was created. Heck, he even shares a color scheme with the flying monkeys of Wizard of Oz fame. Dude looks like a monkey.

The Emerald Staff is a reference to the 1980s minicomic “The Siege of Avion,” where it’s a powerful magical staff that, as the bio says, apparently gives the Avions their ability to fly. It’s stolen by Skeletor, and we discover the Staff is also–for some reason–capable of summoning the demon “Haramesh,” who is quickly defeated after Stratos simply snatches the Staff out of Skeletor’s hand (sigh…). I’ll give credit to Mattel to the comic’s writer, Michael Halperin, for recognizing that the likelihood of Stratos being able to fly well without some sort of magical aid is pretty much nil (even if you take the jetpacks into consideration).

But I have to ask…how did this come about? Who made the staff? Why does it only give Avions the ability to fly? Did they have the feathers before they had the Staff? Did some wizard come along, find all these poor mutant feathered man-apes unable to do anything more than jump a few feet off the ground, and create the Staff for them so they could fly? And the most important question of all: why am I thinking about this so much?

Then we get another reference to the good guys being “the Masters of the Universe,” which I really don’t like and am increasingly starting to think is a marketing move in anticipation of a movie. Aside from that, though, I think this is a pretty good and straightforward bio that allows me to imagine a Stratos who doesn’t sound exactly like Sean Connery.

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19 Comments

  1. PrfktTear

    I'm at about halfway through the series right now. The show starts off really strong, and then it just sorta flops around for a while. There'll be a good episode and a couple mediocre ones. I know this is pretty much par for most shows, so I can't be too critical.

    I liked the little arc early on with the occupation of Primus and having He-Man on the run. It seemed too early on in the series though, before they even got to finish introducing the rest of the main characters. The arc only lasted a handful of episodes, which I suppose for a children's show is long time.

    I think another problem with the show is that many of the Galactic Guardians and Mutants are very generic. There are a few that stand out, like Slushhead, Hydron, Optikk, Flipshot, Tuskador, etc. but there are others that are just kind of there to blend in.

    Another thing that I don't like is the constant repetition of "Power of the Good and the way of the Magic" its sort of their cop-out, so whentever He-Man is in trouble, he just says "I have the power" and his sword can save the day. There is a LOT of Deus ex machina going on, either with the sword or the scientists. I know most sci-fi/fantasy shows rely on this, and again — kids show, can't expect a LOT, but it gets tiresome. Its nice when things actually make sense when they work out!

  2. d. verburg

    @PrfktTear: you know, i am of two minds about it. on one hand, the animation is awesome, the colors are vibrant, the settings are interesting and the characters look cool. on the other hand, i thought it had bad pacing and i had a hard time staying interested at some points. there are awesome moments, some of the designs bring me some nostalgic glee and it's nice to look at.

    disks of doom skeletor was one of the NA toys i actually had! though his silly helmet would never latch shut, he was awesome. he looked pretty scary.

  3. PrfktTear

    @d. verburg: I'm curious what your thoughts are on New Adventures having seen it for the first time as an adult. I watched the show when it was originally on TV, but it didn't quite capture my imagination like the Filmation series did. For a long time after I really didn't think much of it. When the DVDs came out I watched most of it again and actually enjoyed it. I don't think its all that bad, its basically He-Man in space. Knowing that the plan for the following season was to bring them back to Eternia makes me wish the show had gone on for another season.

    I never owned any NA figures, though I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted Disks of Doom Skeletor, which is how he appears for most of the series. Maybe I have another Grail to seek. Though, I think I may just hold out and hope for a Classics release.

  4. dayraven

    @Damien: kind of makes you think some motuc bio writer watched dune, but never read the books and certainly didn't do any further reading on the extensive history herbert referenced in them. but you're right on the money, a "house" was an earned title and it didn't roll name every generation.

    also, if we're treating "masters of the universe" as the team name of the good guys, when does skeletor's crew get a name? the Skull-kers, the Nasty Men, the Cornhole Crew, Devil Force Five, the Loathsome Bastards, whatever… but the "masters" need more competent competition than "the henchmen."

  5. d. verburg

    @PrfktTear: yeah, i just really missed the filmation cartoon and actually owning any of the original toys (played with them a good bit though). he-man was a somewhat important part of my childhood, though not as big as transformers, lego, marvel comics or gi joe.

    i definitely played with my New Adventures toys a lot, though i never saw the show until a year ago. same with the MYP show. classics definitely rekindled my interest, and the bios helped.

    still i feel no real love for stratos.

    also, i never liked MYP's foot fetish… the more characters with shoes, the better.

  6. Snakeeyes22

    It needs some explanation for his wierd toeless feet. Perhaps his people are just regular Eternians and their flight suits are furry footy pajamas?

  7. toyman2581

    Stratos wasn't a favorite but I liked him alright for what he was. I made up some cool scenarios when I played that involved him but I thought he should've had something else going for him. I'm not sure what I mean here but he feels like he's missing something.

    As far as the bio, it's pretty standard, nothing special. I'm also annoyed by calling just the good guys the "Masters".

  8. Stratos is who he is. I guess it's for the best that they didn't cram convoluted storytelling in all of the bios.

    Sometimes a guy just needs to be a flying monkey y'know?

  9. misterbigbo

    The writers of the bios at times seem as if they're writing from a common playbook, and sometimes as if they're on their own, but I don't imagine they've got some massive Tolkien-ian story arc and map to draw from. Which is a shame.

    As for Stratos, I loved the toy as a kid and am surprised at his lack of fan-love in this line.

  10. Damien

    Strat's bio is definitely the absolutely most boring thing ever written in MOTU history.

    That's not necessarily a horrible thing. It does the job of introducing the character, his allegiance, etc. It's just got no meat to it. Nothing to leave you thinking overmuch.

    I will say, I HATE the 'House of' crap they're doing. Mostly because they're doing it -wrong-. Obviously Eternia could be totally different from our real world, but that explanation is really just reaching for a justification of wrongness.

    'House of . . .' refers to a family name. Thus, Miro's last name (or his father's last name -etc) would be the House's name. Pretty much forever.

    Obviously that's a massive oversimplification of how it works, but it illustrates the problem well. Each successive generation has a new 'house' name, which would mean no real history attached to the name.

    Don't you think Stratos' bio would have been endlessly more interesting even just if it said 'Stratos of the House of Vemder'

    'Cause then you'd all be like 'who or what is Vemder? I must know more!'

    Bleh. The writers need to do a touch more research if they want these bios to hold any logical weight to them and, in doing so, actually be more interesting and captivating.

  11. PrfktTear

    @d. verburg: I was born in 1982, its amazing how much a couple of years meant. I think I was born where I as I grew up MOTU was in the height of its popularity. The original MOTU Filmation run was from September 5, 1983 to December 8, 1985, making me just a little over 1 years old when it debuted, and 3 years old in its last days of new episodes. Of course it no doubt ran in syndication much longer than that. Then She-Ra POP ran from September 9, 1985 to December 5, 1987, making me 3 when it came out and 5 when it left the air. Its sad to think that had I been born a year or two later, I may have almost completely missed MOTU!

  12. d. verburg

    i didn't even know who stratos was until 2002. i was born in 1984, so i missed all of the initial toys and cartoons. i loved he-man, though. my friend's older brother gave him plenty of the original toys, and i had a few of the new adventures toys. stratos was not among them, and he was not in the christmas special, the only motu VHS i owned as a kid. and i never saw him in the handful of reruns i caught on TV.

    i didn't care for him too much in the MYP series and his figure didn't appeal to me either.

    i had to really think about getting the classics version of stratos, since i have 0 attachment to the character and he doesn't even have a weapon. i did it anyway. he looks pretty okay, but compared to eyeball space mutants, cosmic wizards, evil ghosts of skeletor and ruthless leaders of the evil horde he is pretty dull.

  13. Poe

    @Snarf! Snarf!: True, that's a good point (about the bio being bland).

    Next time, though, we get the big one: Skeletor! And do I have something in store for you on that one…

  14. Snarf! Snarf!

    @Poe: It's not that he is not uninteresting (in bio form) it's just that his bio is kinda bland/straightforward and has nothing REALLY shocking like the convoluted sword of He crap, the Demo-Man fusion of Skeletor, or the whole Gar Racism victim thing that Keldor has.

    And My Stratos talks Like Juan Sanchez Villalobos Ramirez.

  15. Why would you want to imagine Stratos not talking like Sean Connery?

    I have the 200x Stratos, and a soft spot for him: I bought and rescued him when I did a store closing, and had to destroy a ton of stuff. Such a waste, but Stratos survived…

  16. PrfktTear

    I always liked Stratos as a kid, I don't know why. My figure (second hand) didn't have his wings, so he only had the jet pack. I only knew about the wings from the card art.

    Maybe I'm showing my ignorance of medieval history here, but all of the "House of" monikers are a little too Klingon for me. Its not necessarily a bad thing, I can understand Randor of the House of Miro, Adam of the House of Randor, etc, but Stratos of the House of Avion? Why not Evil Lyn of the House of Powers, etc.?

    The Emerald Staff is a reminder of a cool accessory that they could have given Stratos, but didn't. Oh well, not that he could have held it anyways. My mind may be slipping, but didn't the original Stratos come with a blaster (the generic one that Zodac and Man-E came with)?

    I don’t care what the bios say, in my MOTUverse, “Masters of the Universe” refers to both the heroic AND the evil warriors.

  17. Poe

    Looks like Stratos is as uninteresting to people in bio form as in figure form…

  18. Snarf! Snarf!

    The only thing that bothers me from the bio (aside calling the good guys the MOTU) is the " of the House" part of Stratos' real name.

  19. I always pronounce the name the same way I pronounce Stratrosphere, so STRAHT-ose.

    I agree with you that I don't like the term Masters of the Universe being used only for the good guys. They should just be Heroic warriors as they were in the old days.

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