Masters of the Universe probably received more varied reports than any line to date, with each news site seeing and hearing different things. We inquired with Mattel's booth in the Javits Center, and while there were no such toys in their booth, we did dig up some notable information. We were told that no plans for any Masters of the Universe merchandise to ship through their normal channels past Fall, at which point product that was produced may be cleared out through an as of yet undetermined channel. What this means is it's possible the Snakemen waves could show up on closeout somewhere.
The Mattel folk also didn't know about the petition going on at He-Man.org, but did mention that it's really on the bottom of the totem pole as far as sales go. The only new product was shown in a binder hidden out of view, and the new figures won't be new to many. The supposed final assortment of Masters is a wave of heroes that will include a revised Orko, He-Man, and Stratos. The He-Man shown was the snake armor version, and as such was most likely a holdout from a previous wave. The Stratos, I believe, was shown at San Diego last year and is different from the revised Stratos that shipped late last year. Orko seems to be the same figure with a new stand and accessories. Please note: we do not have images of these at this time, and the only image shown at Toy Fair was hidden in a binder.
The representatives were careful to not use phrases like the line is dead or has been cancelled, but they did say that with no new product planned it will probably wither away within the year. Mattel also stated that this doesn't mean He-Man is going the way of the dodo, but will probably see another resurgance at some point down the road.
Other reports say that there are big plans for the line in 2004, others say they were told the line will fade away almost immediately. As such, stay tuned to your favorite local news sources for more information. Many fans are currently talking about an expected press release from the company, which seems highly unlikely. Toy companies rarely, if ever, issue a press release to announce that a brand that's fading away has failed. If the line is to continue, new product announcements could happen at quite literally any time.
As of the writing of this article, much 2002-2003 product is showing up at stores like Tuesday Morning, Kay-Bee Toys, and elsewhere.
Zoids was an absence that was most surprising. Hasbro had no product at their booth, and the line was absent from Tomy's press materials. When I asked my guide at Hasbro where the Zoids were, the response was "I am not familiar with that brand."
Last we heard, the line is still doing good business and has new product on the way, but Zoids have never been treated with much respect by Hasbro as far as the press is concerned, with few if any product announcements being made outside an official press release. Unfortunately, this means we have no information on the future of Zoids in North America through 2004 but will report what we can as we get it. Note: Zoids will continue in Japan by way of Tomy.
Pages last updated February 20 2004. Text by Adam Pawlus. Images by Adam Pawlus and Mike Sullenger unless noted.