ROCKS 19C - He-Man/She-Ra Secret Of The Sword

Discussion in 'Other Cartoons & Collectables' started by LiamABC, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE THIRD DISCUSSION IN THE NINETEENTH STRAND OF "R.O.C.K.S." - REWATCHING OLD CLASSIC KIDS SHOWS! A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    The next few weeks we're (finally!?) covering one of the biggest shows from the 80s, He-Man and his female counterpart She-Ra. A

    This week we're covering the feature length adventure "Secret Of The Sword," which formed establishing story for the She-Ra series. It can be watched as a single extended feature or in its component episodes:

    - Into Etheria
    - Beast Island
    - She-Ra Unchained
    - Reunions
    - Battle For Bright Moon

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full episode online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the show in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I had The Secret of the Sword movie on VHS growing up.
    I am not 100% sure on this but I am pretty sure I seen this movie first before the cartoon show...although I might have known She-Ra was part of the He-Man universe as I had the Hordak action figure.
    The first time I seen this movie was when I spotted the video in the village video rental shop. I used to rent this now and then along with the live action movie.
    A couple years later in the early 90's I spotted the video one evening and my Mum and Dad bought it for me. :)

    As for the movie it's quite good and introduces She-Ra's origin and characters very well.
    Personally I think the story elements of parts 4 and 5 should have been reversed and would have worked a lot better for the ending.
    The battle should have been in part 4 and going back to Eternia in part 5. It would have given more meaning to what Hordak said and given She-Ra more reason to return to Etheria.
    Also there is absolutely no reason for Prince Adam. He should have just stayed as He-Man all the time.

    Overall though I do like the movie and it is a good introduction for She-Ra.
  3. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I saw this movie once about a year ago. I quite enjoyed it. The story and characters are much better developed than the standard MOTU episodes. There were quite a few elements that reminded me of "Star Wars" like the rebellion, the separated twin brother and sister with a shared power etc.

    I really like how the writers introduced She-Ra as a "negative" character. That makes it a lot more interesting than if she had been just a part of the Rebellion like Bow and the rest of the gang.

    And I gotta say that I have always found Hordak to be a much better villain than Skeletor. Hordak looks really creepy, has a menacing voice and attitude and genuinely feels evil. Skeletor on the other hand seems just too comical in comparison. More of a nuisance than a real threat.
    Mark M likes this.
  4. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I remember watching She-Ra on ITV on sunday mornings. I knew she was the female counterpart of He-Man, and never had a problem with a female lead in an action cartoon. I watched He-Man, I watched She-Ra, I treated them both equally.

    I never saw this movie though until the early part of this decade, and it was quite an eye-opener. For one thing, unlike He-Man, She-Ra has a proper establishing story! This by itself is already a major point for saying that She-Ra might be the better of the two shows, as it enables continuity to be kept better and characters to be developed more.

    I never thought of the Star Wars parallel Wilycub but you're right. So too with the fact that Adora is initially presented as being on the side of the villains. I suppose the initial idea is to make us think Glimmer might be the one He-Man is looking for. Actually, framing it initially as He-Man's quest to find the owner of this second sword is a good way of establishing character relations. By starting with He-Man going into Etheria, we get to meet all these characters whose introductions we are immediately given. Useful.

    The question Mark raises of whether Adam needed to keep transforming can be answered simply enough in that Adam is a lot less conspicuous, and also like with the Sword Of Omens, the writers wanted/were ordered to crowbar in the sword catchphrase every chance they could get.

    One interesting word on the transformation sequence here is the She-Ra's is way better because we see a visual effect changing her from head to toe. Mind you, once again they made the mistake of using Castle Grayskull as the backdrop for it which makes even less sense here because it's not even in the same world! But that's Filmation for you. The other point that bugged me here is that it's more apparent than ever here with their lazy animation - the female characters in particular don't look very different in age. The Sorceress is ageless yet doesn't look very much older than Teela, her daughter, and here we have Glimmer and her mother looking like they could pass for sisters.

    Hordak v Skeletor as villains, tough to say as I haven't seen any regular She-Ra episodes in probably three decades. But certainly Hordak looks to be the more organised, after all, he's already largely in charge on Etheria with the good guys as the rebels, while Skeletor is always plotting to take control.

    On the whole, I liked it. A lot more than I liked He-Man.
    Wilycub and Mark M like this.
  5. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Liam, yes one big problem with the Filmation female design is that they all look pretty much the same.
    In the MOTU Classics toyline the sculptors had a bit of difficulty with the female faces and they all ended up looking pretty much the same.

    I should have said one of the most interesting parts in the movie is Adora finally seeing how the Horde is actually evil. In the movie I watched I noticed that one of the scenes with Adora seeing the Horde's evil were actually cut from my VHS, the scene with the Horde taking the boys horse.
    Which technically in a way is kind of like Star Wars. Luke had every intention of joining the Imperial Military academy to become a pilot. But Luke would get to see how evil the empire was when the killed his Aunt and Uncle. Of course his opinion on the Empire was also changed in the deleted scene when he was talking to Biggs and Biggs told him about leaving the Empire and joining the Rebellion.

    Another small similarity to Star Wars is He-Man dressing in a Horde trooper's armour much like Han and Luke do to rescue Leia.

    Wilycub and Liam as far as Hordak vs Skeletor I would have to pick Hordak. I like Skeletor, he has a cool design, but as far as in the Filmation cartoon he isn't as much of a threat as Hordak. Hordak overall did have a better design and more menacing look.

    I never really had any She-Ra toys exactly. I did have Hordak and some of his Horde henchmen (Leech, Mantenna, Dragstor, Mosquitor) fact I think Leech might actually have been the first MOTU figure I ever got but I am not sure. But the evil Horde male characters were sold on Masters of the Universe cards and were first introduced in the mini comics and sold as He-Man toys so they don't technically count as She-Ra toys. Even once the She-Ra cartoon started on TV those characters and even newer male Hoprde characters were still only sold on MOTU cards rather than Princess Of Power cards.
    The She-Ra POP figures of the heroes and female villains were all sold on POP cards. As far as I know these toys were all only sold on the girls toy section.
    I only ever seen She-Ra figures in one small shop in the early 90's after the cartoon had finished...although was still shown now and then on TV. This shop had mixed toys in no designated areas. As far as I recall I wasn't too impressed with them. Nothing to do with gender or sexism etc... I had a few female character action figures from He-Man, Thundecats, Batman etc. They just didn't look that much like the cartoon characters and more importantly as I recall that day I had already picked a toy I thought was cooler than any She-Ra figure.
    Ironically the She-Ra figures were better constructed than the MOTU figures. The She-Ra figures all had a standard T-crotch/peg hips like the vast majority of action figures unlike MOTU with the awful elastic ban connecting the legs together. I recall the day my He-Man's leg band snapped. :mad They had to be glued in place so they couldn't move anymore which was quite annoying. The rubber band construction wasn't very stable for standing the figures.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
    Wilycub likes this.
  6. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    So we're all agreed on Hordak being the better villain.

    I think Mark and I were having a discussion a while back on who the best villains were in the various categories:

    For scary appearance, Venger from Dungeons & Dragons comes top
    For overall menacing quality, Mumm-Ra
    For actual effectiveness, Overlord from Spiral Zone because there are episodes where he technically won the day
  7. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I remember that conversation lol. Yes Overlord was definitely effective. The Zentrati from Robotech were also quite effective villains.
  8. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Totally agree! She-Ra's transformation was done in a much better way than He-Man's. The way she changes from head to toe (a little bit like Cinderella, I guess) was cooler than He-Man just being Adam in one frame and He-Man in the next. It would have been nice if they had changed/updated He-Man's transformation in the second season. Just for variety, if nothing else. Like was done for Mumm-Ra's transformation in the later seasons of "ThunderCats".

    A very good observation! The female characters looked a bit too similar and stiffer than their male counterparts. Actually this is a problem faced by almost every animator. Female characters, especially realistic ones, are notoriously difficult to draw and animate. There is very little wiggle room and a slight error in drawing the nose or lips or eyes will immediately make them look weird. And it is also difficult to bring variety into their faces while still maintaining their prettiness. That's why many animators, especially the lazy recyclers like Filmation, once they get a good female design, will keep on using it with very little modifications over and over again.

    :thumbsup Skeletor's design was certainly great, but his characterization wasn't. I'm guessing the Filmation people didn't want to scare the kids too much (we have to remember back then the cartoons were under a lot of scrutiny by parents and teachers and psychologists etc.). A lot of cartoon villains of the 80s and 90s started out really evil and scary and menacing, but quickly became toned down and almost comical. Mumm-Ra, the Mutants, Shredder, Krang, etc. all suffered from this. But Skeletor I felt started out weak right off the bat.
    LiamABC likes this.
  9. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Good point. And it probably added to why He-Man never stayed in my affections like other shows.
    And there we have the problem - the animators insisting on keeping all the female characters beautiful. Sure, I get it, we all prefer looking at pretty girls to ugly ones, but they frequently draw male characters who aren't that good-looking, the only ugly female characters that get drawn are evil witches. Someone actually made a study of the designs of Disney heroes and heroines and it turned out that while there was plenty of variety in the male characters' appearances, the female characters all had the same sort of face, same sort of figure etc.

    The honourable exception to all this is Velma from Scooby-Doo - the brains of the outfit.

    Yeah, for which reason some of the shows that only ran for one season are better because they never got the chance to go downhill. Ming in Defenders Of The Earth was a great menacing villain, Overlord in Spiral Zone, like I said he got to win a few times - go and check out the episodes we covered in ROCKS a while back.
  10. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    In terms of the female face and body designs the toyline pretty much dictated that they all be beautiful and similar figures. Remember unlike MOTU the She-Ra toyline also had elements similar to Mattels very successful Barbie toyline. All the female figures had rooted hair to comb and style and all the figues had coth clothing which could be removed and swapped between figures and Mattel also produced multipl outfit accessory packs with different outfits.
    Had Mattel produced any ugly figures they might not sell as well and had they mde them with different builds and phyiques they would not be able to swap outfits etc.
    Even though it made the characters on screen more generic having some standard size rules in toy design can be a good thing. Like in the original Transformers tys were all kinds of diffent sizes compared to each other, unlike the cartoon. Even the fiwt holes where all different sizes so most could only hold their specific weapon. Thankfully they started pay attention to the size and making all weapon handles the same size in the early 90's.
  11. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @LiamABC and @Wilycub thankfully Skeletor's personality in the live action movie is nothing like the Filmation cartoon. I would put movie Skeletor among the best fantasy sci-fi movie villains like Ming, The Emperor, Darth Vader. He is menacing, scary and effective. Pretty much everything he wasn't in the cartoons.
    Coincidently last week end at Toy Fair it was finally revealed they are making toys of He-Man and Skeletor from the movie.
    Speaking of toys another reason the She-Ra cartoon wasn't as successful as He-Man was because the toys looked little like the cartoon designs, most figures didn't come with a weapon...but a comb. And the various non female characters that appeared in the show like Stonedar, Snout Spout, Modulock etc were released in the MOTU toyline.
    Wilycub likes this.
  12. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    That's a shame. I think She-Ra's characters (heroes and villains) had a more interesting design than the MOTU ones.
    Mark M likes this.
  13. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    The She-Ra animation designs were great, but for the most part there is too much of a drastic difference between animation and toy. But then that's Mattel for you, they did the same with Bravestarr. If you did not see the She-Ra name on the packaging there is no way anyone could look at the She-Ra toy and know it was supposed to be the cartoon character.
    Wilycub likes this.
  14. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I had never seen any She-Ra action figures so I just did a quick Google search and boy you aren't kidding! They really made these?
    They look more like part of the Barbie line. They even screwed up Kowl's colors. In comparison, the MOTU toys are a gazillion times better!
    Mark M likes this.
  15. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @Wilyclub yes and some of them look even less like the cartoon designs with all of their accessories. Granted the MOTU designs also had a little more detail and I can understand simplifying designs for animation purposes but with She-Ra the difference was too vast. You can still easily look at over 90% of the MOTU figures and know who they are in the Filmation cartoon.
    Mattels' original vintage She-Ra.
    Super 7 Vintage Filmation style figures look a lot more like what the originals should have been. If only Super 7 could sort out their quality control issues as all of these vintage style figures notorious for breaking with the slightest movement.
    The was another toyline in the 80's at the same time 84-85 quite similar to She-Ra called Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones.
    These figures were made by Galoob and looked really nice and looked more like MOTU toys and were really well constructed with more articulation and accessories.
    Wilycub likes this.
  16. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    And that's the problem - everything they were aiming at girls was about the beauty ideal that only a privileged few have naturally got. I'm not saying make the characters gratuitously ugly, but just have some more ordinary looking ones. Stop telling girls that beauty is the only thing that matters. Sure it's nice if you have it but it shouldn't be the only thing you're judged on.

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