Josh and his sister meet He-Man, Skeletor, and Hordak!

On a warm afternoon in September, 1983, a healthy and happy kindergarten boy sat down in front of a little color television set to watch the day’s episode of Super Friends. The TV was tuned to KCOP, an independent station that broadcast to the greater Los Angeles area on channel 13. Much to his surprise, the scheduling had changed. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman did not flash across the screen embarking on another adventure to save the world. Instead, a prince attired in renaissance style and a green and yellow striped tiger transformed with a flash of lightning and a cloud of smoke into a breathtaking hero and his feline companion before an enormous stone castle with a skull as its front. The boy was instantly captivated. Before the final credits had finished rolling, he was out in his backyard wielding a fallen tree branch like a sword and crying, "By the power of Grayskull!"

That boy was me, and this was just the first of two things that would happen over the course of the next year, completely changing my whole life.

Josh receives Castle Grayskull for Christmas 1983

By Christmas of that year, I was utterly obsessed with He-Man’s adventures across Eternia. Nothing on TV compared at all with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and my interest in all other cartoons had waned considerably.

For Christmas, I really hit the jackpot. Knowing of my love for the FIlmation animated series, my uncle Glen boggled my five-year-old mind with a series of action figures that I had never seen and hat not even suspected existed. He-Man, Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Stratos, TrapJaw, and Tri-Klops were all mine that year, and for the grand finale, Castle Grayskull itself.

Birthday Cake Topps with Castle Grayskull

In February, 1984, I turned six-years-old. The party was dominated by all things Masters of the UNiverse. Thinking creatively, my parents made a Castle Grayskull from paper towel roll tubes and construction paper to top the cake. They cut out pictures of the various Eternian vehicles from the back covers of the mini comics which came with the toys, attached them to toothpicks, and parked them outside the castle.

Josh blowing out candles on the Grayskull cake

In April that year, I became very ill, and was hospitalized. I can distinctly remember insisting that the nurse put the TV in my room on the right channel. I couldn’t miss He-Man.

While there, I received a Battle Cat and Roton vehicle from my uncles Jay and Glen respectively. These, coupled with my daily dose of Eternian adventures, were the only bright spots in what was an interminable confinement to a hospital bed.

Josh receives He-Man's armor for Christmas 1984

At last I went home. Over the next few months, triggered by an allergic reaction to medication I’d received while being treated, my vision began to deteriorate. By mid-summer I was suffering monstrous headaches which left me prone for days at a time. My only escape came every weekday afternoon at 4:30. He-Man and the masters of the Universe gave me something each day to look forward to through the haze of pain.

My condition worsened as my immune system turned upon itself, my nervous system, and my brain. I was not expected to live long.

Josh meets She-Ra and Glimmer at Universal Studios

By the end of the summer of 1984, I was totally blind. I was undergoing all sorts of treatment and testing to try to determine what, exactly, was happening to me. The doctors couldn’t precisely say.

It was around this time that a small package arrived for me in the mail. My parents had contacted Filmation, the animation studio producing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and they had decided to send me a cassette tape.

I will never forget pressing play on my little cassette recorder and hearing the voice of He-Man, (John Erwin), and Cringer (Alan Oppenheimer), speaking to me directly. They offered me their friendship, their best wishes, and greetings from other residents of the Royal Palace on Eternia.

Click here to hear the message.

The cassette included the audio to an episode that, at that time, had not yet aired on television, "The Cat and the Spider", which remains one of my favorite episodes to this day.

The story has a happy ending. I obviously survived the ordeal, though no one was ever able to explain how. My passion for Masters of the Universe burned ever brighter as the years passed.

Josh sees Skeletor's Armor

Some twenty-two years later, I was contacted by BCI-Eclypse. They were preparing a release of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power Filmation series on DVD, and asked if I’d like to be interviewed for the set. I agreed.

The interview was fun. I talked about my lifelong love of the property, how I’d collected the vintage and 200X action figure lines, and how the Filmation series had had such a tremendous impact on me as a child. I told the story of my illness, and the cassette which had been sent to me by the wonderful folks at Filmation.

And then, a surprise was sprung on me.

Just as the interview was wrapping up, Lou Scheimer, the producer of the animated series, head and founder of Filmation Studios, and voice actor for Orko, King Randor, and countless other beloved characters, walked up to me on camera. He remembered the story of the little boy who loved his show, and to whom he and his crew had given a boost through his trials.

Josh and his childhood friend meet He-Man and Man-At-Arms at Universal Studios

I’m sometimes asked why I’m still a Masters of the Universe fan. Is it because of the colorful and imaginative characters? Was it the storytelling talent of the Filmation series? How about the blend of science-fiction and fantasy? The magic? The Adventures?

Yes. It was all those things. But, more than those, I think it was the heart that was put into it by all who worked on it over the passed thirty years, from Lou Scheimer to the Four Horsemen, it has been the incredible hearts and souls of those who have put more than just their creative talents into insuring Masters of the Universe has the power.

Comments (6)
  1. avatar

    Josh is this amazing! thank you very much for sharing this with us. Just to let you know that listening to the tape that you kindly uploaded, a tear is running down my cheek and im not ashamed to say that! You are a true inspiration and a true joy to listen to on the podcast. Thank you and take care sir!

  2. avatar

    Been on the Org-forums so long that I knew the basis of your story Josh. But it was great hearing the small details. Somehow I feel uncomfortable of the thought of your parents slicing and dicing mini-comics. (yikes!)

    The audio-message is a familiar one to me, and a great piece to listen every time. 🙂

    Take care!

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  4. avatar

    What a touching story! You know, this is why I love He Man to this very day. As a boy I grew up with out my father fROM the age of 3-6, and unfortunately he returned when after that. I say unfortunately because he was quite abusive and a man I feared so much I wet the bed till I was 17. (Something common with those who suffer abuse.) During those years before my father returned I was introduced to He-man. I fell in love with the world of Eteria just as you did. I watched each show with excitement and elation, especially when Prince Adam would hold a loft his magic sword and…well, you know the rest. The lightning, the music, and moreover…the week and powerless Adam becoming the good and powerful Hero that everyone loved. I think this resonated even more with me after my father came back in our lives. He was a man who made you feel stupid and powerless and certainly unimportant and unloved. Counter that the message from a show like He-man, as well as others like Transformers and Thundercats, the message that I was unique and important and that I mattered.

    it wasn’t until years later that I realized the overall impact Masters of the Universe had on my life. I was 20 years old and looking through the clearance bin at a local Blockbuster Video when I found a treasure. It was an old cassette tape with 2 Masters of the Universe episodes! I had not seen He-man in probably 12 years or so, but once I pushed play, all those feelings came back, the rush of watching his transformation, the laughing at those purely silly moments, and then there was something else. Something I only noticed and appreciated as an adult. It was the message. I noticed that the lessons contained within each episode we’re not simply things I noticed and thought of as cheesy lessons for children, but they were core beliefs. This became even more apparent with the release of the He-man box sets. The care that Lou and his team at Filmation put into each episode was self evident. while watching with my wife we were amazed that each of the episodes lesson was something that I truly believed. I realize that in a way, He-man was my father figure and that my moral compass was nurtured and developed as a result of my love of show. I am the person I am today because of He-man. I think that’s why your story touches so many, because we really feel the sincerity behind the taped message you received. I’m not even in my forties yet, but I find myself sounding like an old man when I say shows today do not have the same heart and attention to children’s development as the shows I grew up watching did. It seems like shows are going for laughs by being stupid and not caring about storyline or character development. I really don’t see the making movie adaptation of Clarence or Uncle Grandpa in 20 years. Likewise I don’t think such shows will hold a place as near and dear to the heart as He Man is for us. Thank you He-man, our Eternian friend.

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