Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Dorkette Book Club Review: The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!


Find out what happens next!

Miss M presents the return of
The Dorkette Book Club Review!!!


The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
by "Pixel" Dan Eardley, Val Staples, and Mattel!

Toy lines come and go, and sometimes come back again. Other times, a toy line can have some spark of magic in it that speaks to fans over many decades with numerous toy lines. He-Man and She-Ra have dazzled fans with sequels, reinventions, reboots, and classic reimagining of action figures for nearly 40 years. So it was inevitable that someone would need to capture all of this toy history in one amazing book. "Pixel" Dan Eardley and Val Staples have done just that. The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is the ultimate guide and love letter to anyone who has been captured by the might and magic of Masters of the Universe and the Princess of Power.

This huge book was an instant preorder, I love a toy guide. I realize a great deal of the information inside of a toy guide can easily be looked up on countless number of toy collecting sites, but I am always going to be a fan of physical media. This book also captures the quality and feel of the other MOTU and POP related books published by Dark Horse Books. I appreciate the cover theme with blocks of characters at the bottom. All really well done.

Inside this tome is where things really shine. Put simply, there is just a lot of information in The Toys of He-Man. Each chapter breaks down a toy line and there are interviews and other various tidbits sprinkled in throughout the pages. Photos look clean and crisp, and the colors are just bright. The yellow of Evil-Lyn's skin glows off the page while all of those bight pinks and purples just make my heart sing in the POP sections.

Eardley has amassed a ton of photos for reference in this guide. From figures, vehicles, and play sets to box art, not much is missing. I love that She-Ra's Fantastic Fashions are also included! Even rarer and harder to find figures are featured in all their glory. The Toys of He-Man does not contain every MOTU or POP related toy, it strictly focuses on the action figure lines. There is mention of other collectible items, but the focus is on the figures. Also Origins and any newer He-Man lines that have not been released yet are not contained in the book, though I think there would certainly be interest in an eventual second printing that could add those newer lines.

More attention is given to the larger play sets. Whereas a figure will have one full page of photos and toy development information, the larger sets have multiple pages dedicated to them and it is quite lovely! There are also in-depth interviews throughout the book that really go behind the scenes. There was one interview in particular about the POP toy line and how Andy Warhol was interested in the excitement surrounding a live promotion for the release of the line with models dressed in She-Ra clothes based on the figures walking down the middle of a street in NYC with one model dressed as She-Ra riding a horse. It all sounded so fabulous, and a great reminder of the pop culture touchstones that He-Man and She-Ra have been throughout the decades.

Many of the items throughout this book are not new to me. I am quite familiar with a great deal of He-Man and She-Ra toys, but there were things that still popped out to me that I had not always realized before. Take for example the New Adventures of He-Man. I have grown to love those toys more and more, but there were so many items that just looked cooler than ever before. I've got notes on some that I will be hunting for.

I also had not realized how far back Super 7's vintage inspired MOTU line had gone back. Most of those figures came out around 2019, but those first few limited figures came out in 2016, and while I remember them, it just dawned on me the actual year of release. There may have been a gap of He-Man toys in the '90s, but there has been a steady release of all kinds of He-Man and She-Ra figures for the past 20 years and that is just amazing to me. The sheer amount of what was released during the Classics line is simply staggering.

Some of the critiques that I have read about this book are that the toys are alphabetized by each line as opposed to the year of release. I am not sure that matters much to me, I like that each chapter breaks down each line and that I can easily thumb through by name. I also know Eardley has asked for readers to point out any grammatical errors for future printings, but even that, I have not completely noticed. Of course, I have not even begun to fully read through each page. This book checks in at 752 pages of pure joy, so it will take numerous sittings to fully read through everything. What I have looked and read through so far has been pretty darn amazing.

I also love the shout out and thanks to the other collectors and fans that helped. I see some familiar faces in those pictures and it's nice to see so many people in the toy community come together to help Eardley and Staples make this happen.

I highly recommend this book. As a toy collector I think it is important to have these kinds of books that chronicle so much of a beloved property. I want to see more books like this published covering all manner of toy lines. It's more than just looking at the toys we grew up with or collect. It's looking at the stories, ideas, and people behind these amazing items that have brought so much joy to so many people. 

Finally, I leave this review with some reflections on "Pixel" Dan. We've been a part of the same toy circles and I have followed his career for many years. I've seen his rise as a YouTube influencer and master of toy reviews, I've cheered for Christina and him as their family grew, (I also adore any video reviews he'd make with Christina, they are too cute for words!) I've enjoyed getting to see his love for wrestling shine, and while we have never met in person, he has been a very supportive force of energy. And now he is an author! I am so proud of him and what he has done with this book. The love and work he puts into all that he does shows, and he is just a really kind and wonderful person. Very happy to have seen this journey unfold for him and of course what will happen next. And one day we are going to meet and I am going to flip out! No doubt about it. There are so many of you all that I hope to meet one day. It'll happen!

So, enjoy this Dorkette Book Club Review with my flair for additional corny toy comics, and pick up a copy of The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe wherever books are sold. See you all soon!


  1. I never really got into collecting MOTU beyond a Skeletor and his role-play staff but I did watch the OG cartoons. I'm always a sucker for anything like this that goes into detail on toy lines though.

    1. I love the OG cartoons so much. They are really fun. And like you, I am a sucker for books like this that go into such detail on a toy line. I hope to see more books like this. I have a whole list of things I'd love to see get a book made.