Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BIG JIM: MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE

LITTLE KNOWN FACT #1: Well, more of a "rumor/legend has it".... HE-MAN was originally created to be toy adaptations of Arnold's CONAN THE BARBARIAN. In fact, me and a few others swear our first He-Man figures said "He-Man: The Barbarian" (not "He-Man: Master of the Universe"). Due to CONAN's mature/graphic nature, the movie toyline was changed to the 1982+ He-Man toyline and cartoon we all know.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT #2: Much of He-Man's initial concept designs were taken from the 1971 toyline "BIG JIM". Check out the many similarities below, thanks to NLogan at RetroJunk (who did all the grunt work for this swiped post):

BIG JIM & HE-MAN
No similarities, but here you have the 2 main heroes
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CAPTAIN DRAKE & SKELETOR
Hooded skull heads of villainy
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IRON JAW & TRAP JAW
Metal jaws and hook hands
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VEKTOR & ZORAK and MAN-E-FACES
Multiple faces, enclosed helmet and tubular chest
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BORIS & FISTO
Metal fists of fury
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DR. STEEL & JITSU
Metal hands with "Karate Chop!" arm action
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BIG JIM TIGER & BATTLE-CAT and PANTHOR
(& Tarzan's "Jungle Cat")
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THE WHIP'S whip & BEAST MAN'S whip
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BIG JIM EAGLE and ZOAR & SCREECH
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BIG JIM VEHICLE & ATTAK TRAK

(via Retrojunk)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Great post!

allen etter said...

I had a Big Jim when I was a kid. I told some friends a while ago when we were discussing G.I. Joes...none of my friends believed me. NOW I HAVE PROOF! BIG JIM WAS REAL!

Bubbashelby said...

He-Man the Barbarian? That's the first I've heard of that one.

Are you familiar with the Wonder Bread/Savage He-Man conspiracy?

http://tinyurl.com/5q87ab

I really think this figure was initially created for general release and later dumped on the mail-away/promo market because it too closely resembled Conan.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

The only Big Jim I've heard of is BIG JIM SLADE

Anonymous said...

holy shit!

ACcountryFan said...

In agreement with previous comment...i'd never heard of this Big Jim toyline until today. I was looking up some things on-line about He-Man, the version I grew up watching in the mid 1980's from Filmation and came across this site. Those are uncanny similarities!

Super Shogun said...

Great post! Mattel didn't have imagination.

Anonymous said...

Also check out a Mattel monster toy called "Krusher" side-by-side with Masters of the Universe's "Whiplash" figure... very similar creature design and coloration.

Bonhomme said...

Great to have those side by side. I'm more of a 1980's kid (born in 1976) and a Masters of the Universe collector. One of my valued item is my Big Jim Tiger and Gorilla, both of which go perfectly alongside my fur-speedoed barbarians.

As of note, a later Master of the Universe figure named Mosquitor (an evil mosquito guy as is name shows) had a transparent chest were you could pump blood in visible "vein" reminiscent of Pulsar, another Mattel creation.

Peasily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I always suspected Zartan from G.I. Joe ARAH was a rip of Zorak.

Anonymous said...

Great post! It awesome to see the evolution of toys.
Their design changes and small adaptations from one toy line to the next is just cool to follow.

Emiliano said...

Not a rip-off.
Big Jim was made by the same company, they simply reused molds and patented mechanisms.

He-Man was never Conan. Mattel had the license to the movie and was working to develop a toy line based on it, but after realizing the adult tone of the movie, all plans was scrapped and they decided to go for their fully owned intellectual property. The similarities are due to marketing research that proved "Heroic Fantasy" was a preferred by children at that time.

Anonymous said...

He Man was Conan the Barbarian where do you think the brown-headed version came from?
If anything Mattel dumped the old Conan the Barbarian merchandise off on Wonder Bread, to get rid of evidence.
That's kind of obvious, whatever you consider that they won't even acknowledge the existence of a Wonder Bread He Man.
If any of this stuff above proves anything whatsoever.
It is that Mattel obviously does not have much of an imagination!
They borrow heavily from the things that they see around them.
Conan the Barbarian was only one in a long line of victims of Mattel.