Netflix and Mattel to Produce CG-Animated ‘He-Man’ Series

Netflix and Mattel Television are producing a new original animated adventure series of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”

The CG-animated series will reimagine the Masters of the Universe classic tale with new storylines and a fresh take on the iconic characters. This marks the second collaboration between Netflix and Mattel Television, joining the previously announced 2D anime series “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” with Kevin Smith

On the planet of Eternia, a young lost prince discovers the powers of Grayskull and transforms into He-Man, Master of the Universe. The classic battle between He-Man and evil Skeletor rages to new heights as both hero and villain forge new and mighty teams, a new generation of heroes fighting for the fate of us all.

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“Masters of the Universe is one of the most iconic global franchises of all time, with a 30-year history and a passionate fan base,” said Fred Soulie, SVP of content distribution and business development, Mattel.The entire team at Mattel is excited to introduce the world of He-Man to a new generation and, together with the talented team at Netflix, to reimagine the classic characters in a way that appeals to kids and families today, while also resonating with the fans who grew up with them.”

Mattel’s reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise also includes a comic book series by DC Comics (available now), reimagined versions of the 80s toys (hitting retail shelves in the fall of 2020) and a feature film.

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Netflix Teaming With Kevin Smith on Animated ‘He-Man’ Relaunch

A new animated version of the “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” franchise is on the way from Netflix.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith Aug. 18 told fans at Power-Con, a “He-Man” convention being held over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif., that he was working with the streaming service on a new anime series based on the Mattel toy line that first launched in 1982.

The show, called “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” was described as “a wholly original story set in the epic world of Mattel’s … He-Man toy franchise.”

Smith, will serve as showrunner and executive producer of the show, teased that the series would pick up unresolved storylines from the 1980s era of “He-Man,” when the characters were featured in the popular animated series by Filmation.

“I’m Eternia-ly grateful to Mattel TV and Netflix for entrusting me with not only the secrets of Grayskull, but also their entire Universe,” Smith said in a statement. “In ‘Revelation,’ we pick up right where the classic era left off to tell an epic tale of what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor! This is the Masters of the Universe story you always wanted to see as a kid!”

According to Netflix’s description, the series takes place “after a ferocious final battle forever fractures Eternia,” He-Man’s home planet. “It’s up to Teela to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to prevent the end of the Universe.”

The animation will be provided by Powerhouse Animation Studios, the team behind Netflix’s “Castlevania” anime series.

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Netflix’s lineup already includes “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” based on the She-Ra character that was introduced in the classic animated series as He-Man’s sister. A third batch of “She-Ra” episodes bowed on Netflix Aug. 2, bringing the episode total to 26.

Development of a live-action “He-Man” reboot by Sony Pictures has reportedly stalled.

Smith’s next film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, a return to his “View-Askewniverse” franchise, is due in theaters Oct. 15.

The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Screen Media;
Documentary;
$29.98 DVD;
Not rated.

This eight-part documentary series that originally premiered on Netflix delves into the history of some of the most influential toy brands from the past 50 years.

With a particular focus on toys that were big in the 1980s, when the loosening of the rules governing television programming blurred the line between content and advertising, it’s no surprise that many of the toy lines profiled here also rank among the most significant pop culture franchises as well.

Fittingly, then, the first episode deals with “Star Wars,” and how the George Lucas space opera forever changed the landscape of movie merchandising, while elevating a small toymaker such as Kenner into a national powerhouse. Not that other major players such as Hasbro and Mattel aren’t represented.

The hour-long episodes are divided into two seasons — one season per disc — and smartly focus on a different toy brand each episode. That allows each episode to find its own voice in telling the story of that particular toy, while letting viewers pick and choose which episodes they want to watch based on which of the toys are of interest to them.

Other season one episodes focus on “Barbie,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “G.I. Joe.” Season two deals with “Star Trek,” “The Transformers,” “Lego” and “Hello Kitty.”

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Aside from some invaluable under-the-radar lessons about business and marketing, the episodes offer a pure blast of childhood nostalgia, particularly for Gen Xers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Which isn’t to say that younger viewers can’t find something to enjoy in the show, as most of these toy lines are pretty timeless. Plus, the upcoming third season will look at newer toys such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Power Rangers” (in addition to “My Little Pony” and professional wrestling toys).

The shows offer a lot of fascinating details about how the toys were created and evolved. The “He-Man” show is entertaining simply for how so many of the line’s creators want to take credit for coming up with it. The story of the creation of Battle Cat is particularly hilarious.

The first disc offers an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with series creator Brian Volk-Weiss, who delves into what his goals for the show were and why certain toys were chosen to be profiled.

It seems like a bit of an odd choice to include “Star Trek,” which has never really been associated with a robust toy line. But as the narrator continually brings up how less successful “Trek” toys have been compared with “Star Wars,” the episode comes across more as an avenue to profile the various toy companies like Mego, Galoob and Playmates that tried their hands at “Star Trek” toy lines over the years, with varying degrees of success.

In fact, the lone deleted scene included with the DVDs is from the “Star Trek” episode, consisting of a two-minute clip of various talking heads wondering why the toys based on the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot didn’t sell well.

That discussion hints at the challenges that not just toymakers, but any steward of a popular brand face in the rapidly changing information age. Some brands have always had better success than others in crossing from one generation to the next, but the means of instant gratification brought on by the Internet have altered the tactile relationship viewers have with their favorite content, both in the collectability and playability of the merchandise associated with it.

As one of the talking heads notes in the deleted scene, we don’t really have pop culture anymore. We have a customizable culture, in which consumers can focus on their fandoms like never before.

Whatever the case, at least we have shows like “The Toys That Made Us” to help remind us why we love these things to begin with.

Documentary Series ‘The Toys That Made Us’ on DVD May 7

Screen Media will release The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD May 7.

The eight-episode Netflix documentary series chronicles the creation, marketing evolution and rise in popularity of several key toy lines, with each episode focused on a different brand.

The first four episodes focus on “Star Wars,” “Barbie,” “He-Man” and “G.I. Joe,” with the second season dealing with “Star Trek,” “Transformers,” “Lego” and “Hello Kitty.”

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