Chances are, if you were a young fantasy nut growing up in the early ’80s, you had a collection of Mattel’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toys piled high in your bedroom, you grooved to the animated Filmation cartoon series and even waited on line for Cannon’s ill-fated movie version, starring a well-oiled Dolph Lundgren. TOY MASTERS arrives at Fantasia as the first-ever feature-length documentary on the world-wide phenomenon that inspired an entire generation of kids and grossed over a billion dollars in the then-booming boys’ toys market. Nor can we forget to mention the immensely popular HE-MAN cartoon shows that had school kids running home every day to watch the muscle-bulging Prince Adam (designed to make Schwarzenegger look like a “wimp”) battle skull-faced nemesis Skeletor.
But He-Man’s biggest struggles took place behind the scenes, which TOY MASTERS divulges in fascinating, hilarious and revealing details. Over the last 30 years, several former Mattel employees, namely preliminary designer Roger Sweet, visual designer Mark Taylor and marketing executive Paul Cleveland, all claim to be responsible for creating these beloved characters and product line. In TOY MASTERS, childhood He-Man fans-turned-filmmakers Roger Lay Jr. and Corey Landis set out to track down every single player in the development and production of the mega-selling toy line in order to get to the bottom of this decades-old rivalry and bitter clash over credit. But that’s not all — TOY MASTERS features interviews with the key creative personnel behind every version of those action figures and all other incarnations of Masters of the Universe (television, film, stage, print and even cheesy strip-mall appearances!), thus tracing the inception and ups and downs of the fantasy juggernaut. Everyone involved in the 30-year history of this franchise turns up in TOY MASTERS, including such genre luminaries as J. Michael Straczyski (BABYLON 5), FX Oscar-winner Richard Edlund (STAR WARS), movie concept artist William Stout (CONAN THE BARBARIAN), Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer (a hoot!), MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE movie director Gary Goddard, the animated show’s key voice cast and many others. In TOY MASTERS, you will learn that the fight for the universe pales in comparison to the one waged for creative acknowledgment.
— Tony Timpone