It's been claimed that Conan the Barbarian was the inspiration behind He-Man, however, the former failed to take off in toy form due to its links with the violent, certainly not child-friendly, film, starring Arnold Scwarzenegger. He-Man was altogether more popular - although not with Conan Properties (the makers of Conan the Barbarian merchandise) who sued Mattel (the guys behind the He-Man toy) for copyright infringement. At the end of the day, team He-Man beat team Conan in court, and the rest, as they say, is history...
He-Man went through a series of makeovers by Mattel before being released, including toying with the idea of a He-Man soldier or spaceman (!). And he originally sported black hair, a deep tan, being of Middle Eastern origin - before changing to a more American, clean-cut look of blond hair and a California tan. Swoon!
Often referred to as "The most powerful man in the universe", He-Man is the fictional hero who appeared on screen in He-Man Masters Of The Universe, The New Adventures Of He-Man and later on She-Ra: Princess Of Power and He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret Of The Sword. He is the super-hero-esque alter-ego of Prince Adam (twin brother of Princess Adora / She-Ra and son of King Randor and Queen Marlena). Having been given his ability to change into He-Man by the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull - all he has to do is hold his sword high in the air and say with great authority: "By the power of Grayskull..." on which note he would transform and then say: "I have the power!". Are there any little boys from the 80s who haven't done this while standing on their bed?
Voiced by John Erwin in this series, He-Man's purpose in life is to defend Eternia and the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the dark side, AKA evil enemy Skeletor (who it was later insinuated that he was Prince Adam's uncle). He-Man fights with one half of the Power Sword, while Skeletor owns the other half. It is only when these two halves meet that He-Man will gain the key to Castle Grayskull. In the He-Man figures, you could do this whenever you liked as the two characters had actual interconnecting swords!
With the power of his sword and the magical strengths within Castle Grayskull, Prince Adam could also transform his pet tiger, Cringer, into a brave, armoured tiger named Battle Cat - giving him a valuable fighting companion.
Although neither Prince Adam nor He-Man had a girlfriend, Adam was close to Teela, who had been adopted by Prince Adam's mentor, Man-at-Arms (Adam's closest friend and creator of new and amazing weapons). However, neither of them knew that she was actually the daughter of the Sorceress, and Teela was oblivious to the fact Adam had an alter-ego, He-Man. She just thought Adam was a lazy, useless boy. Little did she know!
In fact, little did most people know, as only Man-at-Arms, Cringer, Orko and the Sorceress know about Adam's little secret.
In 1987, Cannon Films produced the film Masters Of The Universe, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, but it was a flop. Perhaps because the audience never got to see Prince Adam - and we all know the transformation is the cool bit. In the film version of the 80s TV series, there was a lot more violence, too. In the end, He-Man defeated Skeletor, or so he thought. Because as the credits started to roll, up popped Skeletor saying Arnold Scwarzenegger style: "I'll Be Back" (in a nod to Conan The Barbarian, perhaps?).
With the natural waning of the Masters Of The Universe's popularity, Mattel attempted to revive He-Man in the 90s by producing both a new toy line and cartoon entitled The New Adventures Of He-Man. In this, the story had moved on and He-Man and Skeletor had left Eternia and were deep in the realms of space (the toy now sported a space helmet), battling over the planet of Primus, which harboured all kinds of new, useful technological advancement. He-Man has also done away with poor old Prince Adam, after being exposed to Skeletor, and now bases himself in the battleland full time.
This new phase of He-Man never found such popularity as the original, so in 2002 the original He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe was revived, with He-Man voiced by Cam Clarke. The old ones are always the best ones! So, for all the new little kiddies who had missed out, the full story was retold from the beginning. And yep, you guessed it, along with this came another re-released toy line, with all the key characters complete with mini biographies to help make sense of it all. Phew!