Masters of the Universe (commonly abbreviated MOTU and sometimes referred to as He-Man, after the lead hero) is a media franchise created by Mattel. The main premise revolves around the conflict between the heroic He-Man, real name Prince Adam, and the evil Skeletor on the planet Eternia, with a vast line-up of supporting characters in a hybrid setting of medieval sword and sorcery and sci-fi technology. Later spin-offs, especially She-Ra, Princess Of Power, also featured He-Man's sister She-Ra and her struggle against the Evil Horde, along with other planets/settings; however the main premise usually remained the same. Since its initial launch, the franchise has spawned a variety of products, including six lines of action figures, four animated television series, several comic series, a daily newspaper comic strip, and a feature film.
In 1976, Mattel's CEO Ray Wagner declined a request to produce a toyline of action figures based on the characters from the George Lucas film Star Wars. Upon the commercial success of the film trilogy during the next few years and all related merchandise, Mattel attempted to launch several unsuccessful toylines, none of which captured the public's imagination or made a significant dent in the toy market.
In the race to design the next hit action figure, Roger Sweet, a lead designer working for Mattel's Preliminary Design Department throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, realized simplicity was the key to success. Sweet presented the He-Man concept to Ray Wagner at the Mattel Product Conference, in the form of the aforementioned three large three-dimensional plaster prototype models, which Sweet dubbed the "He-Man Trio". These prototypes were molded from an extensively modified Big Jim action figure, and had some painted formed sheet wax outfit parts. The He-Man Trio models were a barbarian, a soldier, and a spaceman. Out of the three concepts, the barbarian version He-Man was chosen to be the basis of the toyline (this original trio-prototype idea was released around thirty years later as the figure Vykron, and the barbarian concept on its own as Vikor, in the 'Masters of the Universe Classics' line).
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983)
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002)
- She-Ra, Princess of Power
- Battle Cat
- Beast Man
- Lizard Man
- Teela Na
- Trap Jaw