The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

An incredibly muscular blond guy in a breechcloth and a page boy. On this planet he'd be stripping for tips in North Beach, but on Eternia he fights deformed animal guys and delivers homilies on the value of cooperation. Location, location, location. My real difficulty with He-Man is that his secret identity -- "Prince Adam," which is a porn name if I ever heard one -- was nothing more than a change of outfit and a whiny voice. He didn't even bother with the Clark Kent eyeglass move, for God's sake. C-

I can only imagine the incredible amounts of money Mattel must have saved by not allowing the action figure designers to spend more than thirty-five seconds coming up with character names. Skeletor was a by-the-book evil overlord, from his raspy voice to his megalomania to his incompetent flunkies. While the ram's head staff was a nice Satanic touch, he really didn't add anything to the genre. C-

One of the neighborhood kids -- when I was young and actually playing with action figures, as opposed to just having them -- was convinced that the name "Man-At-Arms" was composed of the first name "Man-At" and the last name "Arms." As if he was the child of Hank and Brenda Arms, an art-loving couple who tried to name their son after Manet but missed by a vowel. Still, considering that the character's real first name was "Duncan," my friend's delusion was a marked improvement. B

The moral schema of Eternia was pretty straightforward: "Incredibly Ugly = Evil, Merely Grotesque = Good." Mer-Man, in spite of the handsome-sea-lord invoking name, was squarely on the malformed misanthrope side of things. He was a fish guy and a lackey of Skeletor's. He may have had some sort of fish powers, I don't know, but his main tasks were to do Skeletor's dirty work, and to run like a startled chinchilla when confronted by He-Man, thereby preserving the cartoon's oddly non-violent facade. D

Don't talk to me about Orko. I don't want to hear it. The very existence of Orko in cartoon-land has serious impact on my will to live. When did they pass the Constitutional Amendment requiring squeaky-voiced buffoon sidekicks in kids' cartoons? The only things between Orko and Scrappy-Doo level badness are his lack of a moronic battle cry, and the fact that the He-Man show would have sucked even without him. D-

You have to admire the design chutzpah that went into creating this molded plastic marriage of action-packed fun and unpleasant odor. When you make something like this, you're hoping that kids will be so enamored of the very awfulness of it that they will overcome a parent's natural reluctance to spend seven bucks on something where the main selling point is "smells bad." Apparently the gamble paid off, though, because it seemed like half the kids on my block had one of these guys. B

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