Power-Con 2021 Recap!

For the Honor of Grayskull!

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Power-Con returned to the Anaheim, CA Hilton for the first time since their last convention was help in 2019. I (Chris) didn’t make it to the last pre-Covid show, but Ronnie did, and he had a great time. I had all intentions of attending last year, but of course those plans were blown out of the water by the crazy times we live in.

2021 was a banner year in more ways than one for the Masters of the Universe brand. Masters of the Universe: Revelations made a triumphant return to the small screen via Netflix for He-Man and company in what is billed as a direct continuation of the 1980s series. And just last week the brand-new CG He-Man and the Masters of the Universe launched on Netflix.

It’s been…interesting watching the reactions to the Revelations series. Many fans have been harshly critical of the new series, decrying its lack of He-Man and throwing around “woke” as an accusation because Teela is the lead character for several episodes. One only has to search YouTube to find a plethora of shouting outrage videos about the series. It feels like such a premature judgement, based on half of the series’ ten episodes. But the He-Man fandom has always been notoriously difficult to please, and I’m not surprised this latest piece of media is no exception. I overall enjoyed Revelations, but the series does need some breathing room from its breakneck pace. I’m looking forward to whatever twists and turns Kevin Smith and company cook up for the final five episodes. (And, it should be mentioned, the voice cast brought in is spectacular overall!)

I recently caught the new CG show on Netflix. I’m fascinated by the slightly cyberpunk direction that the show’s creators decided to take the look of this incarnation as opposed to the sword and lasers aesthetic that usually exists. One might remember the 1991 The New Adventures of He-man, set in space aboard the Starship Eternia, but this incarnation did not fare well, either at the time or in the memory of fans. We can hope that the second attempt at sci-fi will be better received. Already it appears that the fans who hated Revelations are warming up to this new show, demonstrating the peril to creators who try to “give fans what they want” because this is usually a failing proposition. Fans of an old property like the ‘80s cartoon all have highly varied reasons for loving it, and no show made as a supposed sequel will ever live up to that (see the echoing chorus of “Not MY He-Man!!1”). Far better to make a reboot that fans can like or dislike more on its own merits than grade it based on whether it slavishly tries to recreate something that has come before. And the new show definitely takes things in a new direction. Mythology, character relationships, skin colors, gender, all are up for change in the new show. It’s refreshing in the same way the 200x series was. The character writing has been surprisingly good too. I’m always amazed at the quality of the storytelling from streaming originals like this, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and of course She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. They breathe life into the dusty versions, and with hope they introduce these properties to new generations. One thing that was a difficult adjustment for me in the new show already are the incredibly stylized designs. Hulking upper body and toothpick legs do look a bit strange on our main hero and villain, and the outfits are over-designed within an inch of their lives, but those are mostly stylistic quibbles.

MOTU fans are fortunate right now to have not one, not two, but THREE different Masters of the Universe toy lines from Mattel right now. This is in addition to the LEGO-like Mega Construx line and the high-end figures from MONDO.

MOTU: Origins launched at SDCC 2019 with a He-Man/Prince Adam 2-pack, with the main figures starting to drop in 2020. They line has been going strong, with several new releases this year. The eighth wave was revealed at Power-Con, including the exciting news that Olmec Toys’ “Sun Man and the Masters of the Sun,” a racially diverse line of heroes made in the 1980s, will be reproduced alongside Origins starting in 2022.

Masterverse was launched in 2021 alongside the release of Revelations, producing figures of the designs shown in the reboot series. Exciting news was released though that Masterverse will now incorporate a sub-line called “New Eternia” based on concept designs for the characters. “New Eternia” will launch with He-Man and Skeletor concepts. Super exciting for us, however, was the tease of a Princess of Power figure in the Masterverse line! Sadly, no more information was provided.

And finally, we saw prototypes of toys for the upcoming He-Man and the Masters of the Universe CG cartoon figures. They look really fun for kids, and the chunky proportions that looks somewhat awkward in the show will no doubt make for fun figures for kids.

Sadly, there was not much in the way of She-Ra news or merchandise updates. Since the Netflix show ended in May 2020, there’s been little in the way of She-Ra content. However, mere days after the convention, there was an announcement that a potential live-action She-Ra series was in development at Amazon! Also, after the con, Darren Sander, original designer for the Princesses of Power dolls, shared a beautiful unproduced Angella and Coronation Glimmer prototype. Then he could have blown me over with a leaf when he shared a prototype for Mermista! He even teased my fave Entrapta! Oh, how I wish we’d gotten more of these dolls!

 

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The con itself was a very enjoyable experience overall. Val Staples and the folks behind Power-Con always put on a good show. It was nice to see people upholding the masking policy as well! We attended several panels, including ones by the designers at Mattel for the toys line and some of the high-end collectibles from Mattel Creations. Sadly, the designers were not there in person, but they had a well-produced pre-recorded panel to play. My favorite panel however was one about the minicomics produced in the 1980s for release alongside the original figures. It features writer and artist Larry Houston, and colorist Skip Simpson. They talked about the breakneck pace these comics were produced (for instance, they were never asked to go back and take notes on changes!), and how they drew and painted everything at size. Skip talked about his coloring process, where he would take the finished line art from the inker, make a copy of the blacks onto celluloid, and then paint behind them, similar to an animation cel! We had the chance to interview Skip, check it out below!

One of the highlights for me of the convention was having the chance to meet and get a signature from the voice of She-Ra herself: Melendy Britt! Melendy couldn’t have been sweeter or more gracious, a real-life representation of her famous character.

It always fills me with excitement to see vintage She-Ra merchandise, even if it is usually far out of my price range. It was outrageous though seeing a Royal Swift Wind MIB for $1200! Someday I’d like to own a Crystal Castle, Butterflyer, or Enchanta, but time will tell if I can ever afford them haha. I’m trying to be a bit more conscientious in my collecting these days though. (I did, however, pick up a 90s Sky Dancer with base for $35!)

All in all, it was a good convention experience and felt especially good to be back to something that felt some form of “normal” after the last two years. I’m looking forward to future cons, and hope that Power-Con will return next year (this time with lots and lots of good She-Ra news!)

Unlike Jewel Riders, lost to the sea of its copyright changing hands so many times, it’s refreshing to see a property where the original copyright holder still has a vested interest in producing toys and entertainment. I must confess a smidge of envy at the literal smorgasbord of offerings that the MOTU community enjoys. And when they cry in negativity, I feel a duty to remind them of the plight of smaller fandoms! Your favorite 39-year-old property is still rolling along, think of those of us who love shows and toys from much smaller fandoms. I’d love to have anything new and officially produced for Jewel Riders, Tenko, Sky Dancers, or Dragon Flyz. A new cartoon, book, toy, my lord a convention! It’s like looking into the world of what could-have-been. I enjoy He-Man and She-Ra, though, so I don’t begrudge them their long life and success. I’m happy they can reach new generations and continue bringing their magic and fantasy to children of today.

Even so, I wish Gwen and friends enjoyed a sliver of the popularity of the Twins of Power. 😉 Be thankful for the gift of a very active fandom.

Friends Together Friends Forever and

Good Journey,

Chris

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