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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Chronicles Of Eternia

Came across these Skeletor spoofs, which brought back fond memories about the one serial that had enraptured the entire kiddie population I knew when I was a kid. Back in the good old DD days, He-Man ruled the roost for half an hour every week. I was introduced to this when I was in the first standard. What attracted me then were the ‘laser sound’ (which went something like ‘tchkonnngg’) effects, so unlike the ‘toffee-shawwww, toffee-shawwww-hoo’ gunshot sounds which were part of my rich Bollywood diet. I would wake up religiously in time for this show on Sundays. Couldn’t quite understand what they were saying at that age, but was real fun to watch all the same. (I remember getting up late once, and asked my parents to write a letter immediately to DD so that they show it again. Just for me… and howling hard when they laughed…)

The second wave came when I was in the third standard. DD re-ran the series, and I was actually beginning to make out what they were saying. It was hypnotic to say the least. A very classy cartoon series, the first one I ever watched in fact. The highlight was a smarmy moral at the end of each episode, where Prince Adam would show us how a certain character fouled up and what we ought to learn from it…

My favourite characters were Orko – with his very Bollywood ,Rajendranath type interludes, Stratos – reminded me of Garuda, Cringor/Battle Cat – the timid tiger/wise-cracking badass who also ‘transformed’ like Prince Adam/He-Man when he did the “By the power of Grayskull…I have the Poooowwerrr!!” routine (which we would try and imitate complete with the tiger roars and lightning and thunder claps at every chance we got), Skeletor – by far the coolest, and of course – the lovely Teela.

With the TV series, came the great doll collecting monomania, with Leo-Mattel introducing action figures of the main characters. Gujju kids would be the first to buy every single one available, and flaunt them shamelessly in our not-so-freely-spending—‘service’-waale-parents-ka-kids’ faces. We would have to wait till we either ‘came first’ in the school exams, or bawl loudly in front of relatives/parents' friends so that your parents would buy one for you just so that you shut the **** up, or strategically inform people that your birthday is fast approaching and you’re SUCH a BIG He-Man fan…
My parents were downright aghast when they learnt that each doll cost 50 bucks, and did nothing more than a cheesy ‘power punch’ when rotated around the waist (there would be a huge blurb on the package announcing this as if it involved advanced nano-circuitry). No batteries, no bling. Which is a valid reaction, considering what 50 bucks could get you back then (circa 1988). The action figures were OK in terms of the finish and the weapons/armour that came with them, but the most disappointing one was the Castle Grayskull set. It was just a thin sheet of tacky plastic, just a front façade. Definitely not what one should be paying 500-600(!) bucks for… check this out too see what I mean.

This series was probably the earliest instance I can recall of truly crazy branded merchandizing…for a government-rationed television time nation with mainstream media that actually printed real news and (gasp) no Internet, we surprisingly had everything from He-Man erasers (both the ordinary pieces with his photo on it, and the really tacky small plastic figures, which you had to separate at the waist to get to the eraser) to note-books, to playing cards, flash cards, stickers, 'notebook labels', tee shirts, caps, plastic Power Swords and Shields and baba suits. The last such wave here in India was probably Pokemon, but it is too trivial and vague to ever match up to this, which was like a proper Chicken Pox rash.

Then there were these little comic-booklets which cost 1.50 bucks apiece, with classily done artwork, newer characters and slightly darker story lines than the TV series. Some 11 sets of four booklets each in all, all collected by us with single-minded devotion. Anyone who had the complete collection automatically became sort of like an alpha-kid at school.

Then came the (classic B-) movie – The Masters Of The Universe. This had Courteney Cox in it, much much before she hit the big time, and Dolph Lundgren as He-Man. Was really frustrated at seeing Orko look like something like a geriatric Gremlin. And Skeletor had eyes that blinked, instead of pure black evil sockets, and spoke in a hoarse whisper instead of that irritatingly whiny, nagging high-pitched voice. No good. Would prefer the TV series/comics any day…I remember loving Skeletor’s hench-men in the movie though – they had these really cool black metal armours, and they used flying shields to get about.

Just wonder how popular He-Man would have been in today's times, given the ephemeral brand shelf lives and attention spans
, and digital games. Would be nice to imagine if the creators of this series even know how big this was once upon a time, in far-off, then not-so-well-connected India.
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12:38 PM, May 22, 2006
Blogger Ashish said...

:) I remember having one of these He-Man action figures and having to explain to my parents that it does nothing more than the 'twist' thingy but still I wanted it. And yes, I had to come first in class for that. ;)    



6:30 PM, May 22, 2006
Blogger SEV said...

I only ever got He-man. I got too fascinated with the gadgets that came with GI-Joe :D
My friend though, had the full set. Ih meant He-Man would have an evil twin; and storylines noteworthy of Speilberg, sets as grandiose as Cameron and fights better than Woo would happen :)

Of course this was in addition to sticking a small cricket bat down your shirt - and "becoming" He-Man yourself :)    



11:49 PM, May 22, 2006
Blogger GREATBONG said...

I had a good 20 He man figures and was quite mad for it. I had this special He-man figure which had a small backpack thingie where you could put in caps and so when it punched there was a explosion. Super no?

Its only now that I realize that He-man is a barely concealed gay love story between He Man and Man-at-Arms ably supported by Ram Man.    



12:04 PM, May 23, 2006
Blogger abeer said...

I think I was the only one who never had a He-Man figure... poor me. Personally I loved the break they used to give between the different scenes... the forest in fast-forward, which would take us from Eternia to Snake Mountain or vice-versa. And of course the all too famous dialogue - "You'll pay for this He-Man" followed by a manic laughter and then fade out MWhahahahahahhahahahhaa....    



9:35 AM, May 28, 2006
Blogger Tapan said...

Ashish,
That power punch thing was really cheesy man. And that 'come first' thing borders on the universal I guess.. :)

Satish,
That sticking the bat down thing... I did it too. Missed it out here...

Greatbong,
That 'gay' thing is amazing. Have read a couple of posts elsewhere too, making fun of Adam's metrosexualness, his lavender leotards and his sparkling white teeth, and immaculate haircut. :) And of course, we also had Ram-Man's good friend, Fisto :)

Abeer,
"You'll pay for this He-Man", followed by Skeletor's typical first-second-third gear laughter... priceless.    



11:37 AM, June 01, 2006
Anonymous guile said...

BY THE POWER OF GRAY SKUUUUUUULLLL!!!.. i miss that show..    



4:05 PM, June 10, 2006
Blogger GuNs said...

Hey there...
Awesome post. Flashed back all the great memories of childhood.

Spent the early part of my life in a small town in Gujrat and I never knew what cable TV was. WE bought our first videocon B&W 14 inch TV when I was in my second standard or so and I fondly remember absolutely loving a few programmes. I loved the news coz I loved to watch the ball rotate and turn into the earth and then into the DD logo.

Another thing was cartoons. He man, Superman, Spiderman...all the works. Oh those were the times. I even remember getting up at 6:30 to watch GI Joe for half an hour and then going back to sleep but that was much later when we were in Pune and I was 6th or 7th.

Maybe we can form some kind of a DD cartoons fan club and talk about those things, share photos etc.

Whatsay?

-PeAcE
--WiTH
---GuNs    



1:12 AM, June 15, 2006
Blogger pumpys said...

I remeber Repeating his Actions infact we used to Fight to decide who is his Biggest FAn but Tapan i always Thought its By power of Great Stars R u Sure its Grey Skull    



11:53 AM, June 17, 2006
Blogger Tapan said...

guile,
Me 2 :)

Guns,
That DD cartoons club is a nice idea. Are you on Orkut?

Pumpy,
I'm VERY sure it is Grayskull. :)    



11:15 AM, June 19, 2006
Blogger GuNs said...

How about a yahoo group?
I can start one called DoorDarshan Cartoons or DD Cartoons - something like that.

Whatsay? [:-P]You know other people who will join?

-PeAcE
--wiTh
---GuNs

P.S.:Eagerly awaiting your next post.    



11:34 PM, August 04, 2006
Anonymous Gaurav J said...

how the hell did you find the link to the leo mattel toys? 'Respect' for that.    



6:41 PM, July 21, 2007
Blogger Kunal said...

man....did u check out the clothes teela is wearing in that action figure.

uber hot.....very sameera reddy-ish    



12:47 PM, September 11, 2007
Blogger Pagan Winter said...

Nice read... I had the exact same He-man doll as on that link. And ya, a cousin bought it for me after I saw it with his kid :P

If you still watch cartoons, a newer more polished version used to come on Cartoon Network. I was real good, and ya with the moral at the end :)    



1:42 AM, October 28, 2007
Blogger Rahul said...

I cud lay my hands on a somewhat cheaper but still fundoo version of a he-man toy ( one which chud be split from the waist and you'd find a non-smelling eraser inside......tadaaaa )    



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