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