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The PoPular Guide – I Don’t Play with Dolls!

Welcome to another year of subscription mania!! As an MOTU Collector, I am enthralled by our community right now. It’s a beautiful collector-community of friends and acquaintances, people I’ve come to know over the last 10 years while collecting MOTU toys. Its passion never ceases to impress me!

Many of you know me as a vocal proponent of She-Ra (aka Princess Adora, aka Force Captain Adora, aka Despara “if you’re nasty”). Many of you also know that my love of all things MOTU is a deep, genuine one. It is a Multi-faceted love. It is a love of men in furry shorts and the skull-faced demons who hate them. It is a love of strong women who conquer their pasts, rise to greatness, and the snorting demigods and mutant cat-ladies who would see them suffer.

There is a special place in my heart for She-Ra, her compatriots, her enemies, and her story.

When I was little, I discovered MOTU via the toys and mini-comics. I was obsessed. Then came the Filmation cartoon. I was young enough to fall for it ALL. Every day I would look forward to a new episode of adventures. I had all the toys, all the books and records, the coloring books, the stickers, the sleeping bag, the underwear… I think my mother was secretly a collector living vicariously through me!

Then, in 1984, the first images of She-Ra began to appear. I believe they showed up in the MOTU magazine, as well as Muppet Magazine. Mattel also put a free promotional mini-comic, “The Story of She-Ra,” into an issue of Barbie Magazine. I did not read Barbie Magazine, but my neighbor Laurie did. She showed me the comic. She knew I was THE MOTU fan in the neighborhood. I was more than a little intrigued!

To make a long story short (too late), The Secret of the Sword premiered in theaters, and my father took me to see it. I was blown away. I could not have been more excited. Not long after that, the She-Ra cartoon series premiered. It aired immediately after the He-Man cartoon every day, transforming that time of day into “The Power Hour.”

All was well… but it wasn’t… I was forbidden from owning She-Ra, or any of the other figures in the Princess of Power toy line. I begged. I pleaded. These were, to me, He-Man figures I was, for some reason, not allowed to have. I didn’t see rooted hair. I didn’t see removable outfits. I saw He-Man’s sister and a cast of characters I loved. My parents did not see it that way.

You see, some people believe that playing with toys meant for the opposite sex can influence the development of a child’s sexual identity.

I’m not kidding. It’s a ludicrous notion to be sure, yet it was a belief held by my mother.

I wore her down a bit: “..But CATRA is a member of the Horde!!!”

I received the Catra / Storm 2-pack for Christmas.

One summer, my grandmother overruled my mom, and bought me the Starburst She-Ra / Crystal Swift Wind 2-pack for my birthday. It was probably the Liberace of toy pack-outs back then.

And finally, my mother, much to my surprise, bought me Double Trouble one day while I was staring at the figure, imprisoned in her plastic tomb, in a Walgreens toy aisle.

“Do you want that one?”

“Yes.”

“Fine. Don’t tell your father.”

So here we are 30 years later. I own every single POP toy that was produced: loose, complete, and mint. I own almost everything MOC / MIB too. My mother has PROFUSELY apologized and loves seeing my collection.

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Three decades after She-Ra arrived, I find myself amidst a remarkable population of people who comprise the MOTU-collector community. I have met people who had a similar experience with She-Ra. I’ve met people who have evolved and find extreme joy in getting to know characters like Castaspella, Perfuma, Mermista, and Huntara. I’ve met people who have no great love for She-Ra, but who also make no secret of their respect for fans who do love the character. I have met people who cannot seem to get past the pink boxes of the girls’ aisles of the 1980s Toys R Us or KB Toys (and I have felt as though they are now missing out by allowing the past to color the present).

There’s a fine line between disliking a character or two, because you just don’t care for the character, and writing off an entire mythos, without exploring its content, because in the ’80s you didn’t like the She-Ra “dolls.”

I’d argue that if Huntara (a character created by Larry Ditillio, the man who created Shokoti) had appeared on the He-Man cartoon, those collectors who criticized her winning the fan vote at SDCC would have been sounding the call to campaign for her release. Maybe I’m wrong…

Fortunately for us all, she’s coming soon to a toy shelf near you.

Now, the next two years of the MOTUC line are supposed to focus on completing the vintage MOTU and vintage POP lines, as well as offer A-list cartoon and NA characters. That means we are in for a roster of pretty amazing characters:

A deadly Horde general, with incredible fighting skills, a knack for tactical planning, and a creepy sense of humor.

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Scorpia.

A stalwart and magical freedom fighter forced into a leadership position at too early an age by the Horde invasion and the imprisonment of both parents, this character can levitate, phase through solid objects, and manipulate light in order to blast an enemy.

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Glimmer.

A driad, who is a veritable component of the planet…  a humanoid embodiment of the flora… mess with the forest, and you’ll wind up strangled with a daisy chain… or tied up and hung by thorny vines… or covered in pollen and set before a hive of killer bees.

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Perfuma.

Oh… bees, yes…

An alien scout, piloting a ship on a course to find a planet fit for an entire race of beings without a home. This stunner has the brains and creativity to rally a team, confront both Hordak and Skeletor (and win, with the help of He-Man and She-Ra), and enthrall the most powerful man in the universe?

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That would be Sweet Bee.

A character only seen in the vintage line, a mini-comic, and a coloring book, but originally planned for the cartoon as Glimmer’s cousin and a shape-shifting spy. A hero? A devious villain? A schizophrenic? Playing both sides? More than a pretty face.. 0r two… 0r three…

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Double Trouble.

You see, these are REAL characters. These are characters worthy of the MOTUC mantle. They are worthy of your time, and you deserve to enjoy them.

If MOTUC ends without these ladies, I will be rather broken-hearted. A full collection includes these women. If you don’t find any joy in them, there is nothing wrong with that; however, these characters are a valid component of the line, and I love them. I’m a grown man, and I love the Princess of Power!! Do yourself a favor and revisit them and their stories. Go play with your toys!

*Thanks, bcrduke!

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23 thoughts on “The PoPular Guide – I Don’t Play with Dolls!

  1. I really enjoyed the positivity of this article, unfortunately the negativity of some of the comments were a bit stanky. Sure PoP is my favourite faction of the Motuc line, that being said i do love a lot of the other figures (NA included). This is my opportunity to own all the PoP figures i was never allowed to own as a child too. My folks were also terrified of buying me toys from the pink aisle even though i wanted them very badly.
    Just like everyone else who subscribes from this line i deserve to get characters i like, and i am willing to pay for the ones that don’t interest me because that means my next favourite might be around the corner. Bring on a PoP mini-sub so we don’t have to deal with all this bs.

    Sure it sucks when we are not thrilled by a new release considering how much cash we spend on this line but MOTUC is for all of us, so if we are going to complain lets complain about Digital River, or maybe how much longer do we have to wait for the next reveal?… i’m sure that’s something we can all agree on 🙂

    The writer of this article clearly has a passion for PoP, thus inviting others to at least consider maybe liking it at the very least. If you’re not interested that is cool, no problem. Who cares if he is gay or straight or Eternian or Etherian or from bloody Trolla… He has love for MOTUC and PoP so as far as i am concerned he is awesome. But that’s my opinion 😉

  2. Other than the author’s mention of out-dated parental fears limiting his access to the vintage line, there’s nothing here that should make POP fandom (or disinterest) into a battle of Gay V. Straight. He is making a positive argument for the inclusion of cool characters in a line that has already made its name by pulling age-old archetypes and bad puns into one cohesive universe. I’m pretty sure there’s room for a mermaid or a flower chick in a line that already includes an anthropomorphic skunk and a dude with a magical cyber-neck.

    I’ve been a MOTUC subscriber from the start. Just like everyone else, I’ve spent my fair share of dollars to acquire quite a lot of characters/figures I really love, and a few for which I care very little. I have my own quirky likes and dislikes within the line. Contrary to much of the line’s more vocal collectors, I found Ram-Man rather “meh” but still consider Sir Laser-Lot one of my favourite figures from 2012. To the folks who love Rammy, I’m glad you finally got him; to those that hate SSL, sorry you had to buy him, but not all of us think he was a waste of plastic. I love the all-encompassing nature of both the fictional universe and the toyline, and while I’m not passionate about every individual SKU Mattel spits at us, I’m ecstatic about the overall depth and breadth of my collection. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the article’s writer ASKING folks–gently–to *possibly,* *maybe* see the POP arm of MOTUC the same way. What if he was a straight dude making a similar plea on behalf of “New Adventures”?

    I’m gay, too, but my first love was neither muscle-men nor pretty princesses (nor did my parents limit my access to either): my heart was stolen by (and still largely belongs to) giant robots. I like POP (and NA) in my MOTUC, and I like Bay-formers next to my G1. I’m glad the big companies like Mattel and Hasbro are willing to satisfy fans of both sides instead of catering exclusively to the people who love one while shutting out the those who love the other. I don’t see why the bulk of these discussions have to devolve into a bitter argument of “either/or.”

    And before anyone throws another punch in the “gays like girl toys” scuffle, do some research on Bronies. Holy WOW…

  3. Ugh. This whole thing. I wasn’t allowed to have a Wonder Woman figure as a kid. My parents thought it would make me gay. I’m not, by the way. I’m also not homophobic.

    The kid down the street had a Wonder Woman Mego figure. Catwoman too. He didn’t turn out gay.

    The guy 2 streets over who played football, spouted homophobic slurs constantly and didn’t own action figures? He’s a woman now. Transgendered so not technically “gay”. But you get the point.

    Incidentally, I’m a Christian and I would totally own a Shatterstar and/or a Northstar figure.

    Homophobia, gay-hate, whatever you want to call it… you’re getting all worked up over the idea of two men having sex. There’s a word for that. And that word is “gayl”.

    Just sayin’.

  4. “And there it begins. The scare tactic used by homosexuals. News for you buddy, no heterosexual has a phobia of homosexuals. It is a ploy used to make anyone who does not see your views as though they are in the wrong. I don’t like chocolate ice cream so do I run away in fear every time I see a Dairy Queen or Baskin Robins, I think not. The notion that in this modern PC world we live in today people are not allowed to not like something is bull. I don’t like POP and never have and never will. I don’t like it because I like warriors, battles, barbarians, knights, etc. and pink barbie dolls don’t belong in that genre. Teela works because she fits the role but to say someone like Perfuma does YOU ARE A FOOL!”

    plenty of heterosexuals have a phobia of homosexuals. but you’re right, “homophobia” is a limited and often inaccurate term. the term “sexual prejudice” covers all the bases. and a tell-tale sign of such sexual prejudice would be the need to prove ones “manliness” by proclaiming the so-called manly things that one likes along with the staunch rejection of things that might associate them with femininity like “pink” or “barbie dolls” (your word choice is very telling).

    a woman wearing pink is just as capable of fighting monsters in a barbarian power fantasy (power fantasies are like catnip to the insecure male). but pink is a girl’s color! you can’t have that on your shelf! what would people think? a woman in pink on the shelf might make people think you are a lady instead of a man’s man who likes the ladies, and wendigo is all man! “GRRRRrrrrrrrrrr!!!!”

  5. Hockeymask,

    Regarding this part of your post:

    “So while I found parts of this article great and it really worked as a rally cry of “see POP has some awesome characters that will make awesome toys.” However, I find parts of it to be nothing more than a chance to insert some good old “boo hoo hoo, everyone doesn’t like what I like and I can’t stand it when I can’t get my way.” Maybe you should spend more time pumping up and selling the characters to the opposing viewpoint and less time trying to guilt, insult or threaten the other side into doing what you want.”

    Where in MY article did I insult or threaten anyone?

    Where did I not simply celebrate the characters I talked about?

    I haven’t made any follow up comments.

    So maybe you should read the article again. Read it as it is written and try to keep yourself from projecting those negative intentions on my writing.

    Not once did I “boo hoo hoo” – and I definitely did not insult ANYONE.

  6. Oh my goodness. Ok I don’t think anyone is trying to say that people can’t have their own views. I love how this topic always comes down to people arguing about the right to share their opinions. I can’t speak for all PoP fans, but I understand that some people are not going to like every single figure that comes out. However, there are a few fans who decide to take their opinion of PoP and turn it into something vicious and nasty to those who do like PoP. There are numerous instances where people come into threads and discussions on PoP characters and make very rude and tacky comments that serve no other purpose than to be condescending and mean spirited. I don’t mind someone saying that they don’t care to collect PoP. I do however get annoyed when someone wants to say, “I don’t want Bow, he is gay.” Or, “Wow, those Star Sisters look like men. I don’t want drag queens in my collection.” I mean why bring it to that level?

    And another thing, I am so tired of this idea that MOTU fans are a male-dominated group who spend so much money on this line for their hobby, and therefore should not have to deal with PoP. I have been throwing money at this line and subscribing to this line, and I don’t sit around and complain that I have to buy numerous characters I don’t want so that I can complete the PoP side of things. There are plenty of female fans that collect from this line too. Just because it may seem like it is all men collecting does not mean that the other people who are also collecting should somehow be marginalized.

    I would love nothing more than to have a PoP subscription. Believe me, Mattel could have already released all the PoP characters I want and I would not have to deal with all this drama, but that is not the case. Mattel has had it set up from pretty much the beginning that MOTUC is going to factor in all these other eras and factions of characters. I know it is so terrible that a few vintage MOTU only fans have had to purchase PoP and NA characters, but I have had to shell out tons of money for a great deal of stuff that I don’t care for. And this is coming from someone who does like the MOTU stuff too.

    PoP may have been a girl’s line, but the PoP stuff that has been released in MOTUC looks nothing like the vintage line. They have turned out to be very solid figures in their own right and I completely see these characters fitting into a world where magic, fantasy, and technology mixes and all kinds of people are fighting each other for the fate of the universe.

  7. While the PoP cartoon series attempted some deeper subtext, the problem is that MotU as a whole is too superficial. So in the context of an action figure line, any character traits or depth that may make a show more watchable, it doesn’t really have any bearing on whether or not a toy collector will like the look of a figure based on that character 30 years later.

    MotU’s greatest strength (tapping into gut-level, primal archetypes) is also one of its greatest shortcomings, especially for any characters who can’t pass that initial kneejerk test that the original MotU characters had to pass: kids in a toy aisle with carte blanche and a universe of SW to pick from made MotU a hit with no prior knowledge of the characters or world. It’s just the way the franchise was built. Either the character looks kickass, or it doesn’t.

    So while it’s understandable that the toons had a great impact on impressionable young minds from back in the day, that doesn’t automatically translate to a cool action figure design today.

    Character designed to be an action figure : makes complete sense that it would end up a solid figure design considered worthy of purchase by the collector market

    Character designed to be easily and cheaply animated on a 30 year-old cartoon series geared towards girls : understandable that a male-dominated adult collector action figure market would find many of them questionable and unessential for their collection

    I don’t know why there needs to be any kind of “controversy” beyond that. For me it’s as bizarre as wondering why a cake doesn’t make for a good sandwich. 😛

  8. Did it ever, maybe just for a second, occur to any of you that those who didn’t get POP toys, didn’t get them because they simply didn’t like them? I find it ironic that those who are crying discrimination over people not accepting their views, can’t or won’t accept the views of others, and worse yet, result to fear mongering and bullying to silence the views of others.

    It simply comes down to this, when people are spending upwards of 600 dollars and more to get a hobby, it is only common for them to toot the horn of their favorite line and talk down the others. I can honestly tell you if Mattel offered a vintage sub and a pop sub, you would not hear a single complaint from those who only wanted vintage. This is ridiculous and embarrassing that every time it seems that POP fans might miss a few figures, they result to the easiest tactic of all – slinging the old homophobe insult and attempting to bully the opposing view to silence. If this were a petition to prevent a POP line from being made, I would speak out against it, but it’s not. This is a very expensive hobby and people have EVERY right to voice their opinion on how every last cent of their money will be spent.

    For the record, I LOVE the concept of POP, LOVE the look of the characters, and LOVE every Pastel and Bright colored POP figure in classics (even the Star Sisters) and will be upset if I don’t get every rainbow colored female that appeared for POP because it makes them stand out as a faction against the more primitive he-man cast and the horrific horde faction. With that said, I hated all the Filmation cartoons and didn’t like the POP dolls as a kid. Why, because, ready for this, I didn’t like the aesthetics of either. It’s the same reason I don’t collect Transformer Movieverse or Classics Figures yet collect the Masterpiece line. See that? Matter of choice, no need to drum old the fear mongering and slander slinging band.

    On the same note, I collect the occasional DC and Marvel action figure, but does that make me a baby, teen and woman hater because I don’t by the plush versions, young justice, teen titans or the occasional barbie nod to a female superhero?

    I think a lot of this comes down to a large dose of insecurity. Why the constant need to justify what you like (often at the expense of stereotyping another group – in this instance – male supporters of the vintage line)? I’m going to come off as a dork for this but, I loved Dawson’s Creek and my friends would bust on me for being in a rush to get home from football practice to watch it, my parents find it weird that my wife and I still buy toys for each other for our birthdays, my friends find it weird that I have Harley Quinn and Adora sitting on top of my TV while we are watching UFC PPVs in the game room. In all these cases I don’t find a need to justify myself to these people by anything stronger than simply – because that’s what I like. I don’t feel crushing oppression by others who are puzzled or even joke around about my unique likes, I don’t feel a crusade-like need to force my views to become the norm, nor do I feel hate from those whose views differ from my own.

    So while I found parts of this article great and it really worked as a rally cry of “see POP has some awesome characters that will make awesome toys.” However, I find parts of it to be nothing more than a chance to insert some good old “boo hoo hoo, everyone doesn’t like what I like and I can’t stand it when I can’t get my way.” Maybe you should spend more time pumping up and selling the characters to the opposing viewpoint and less time trying to guilt, insult or threaten the other side into doing what you want.

  9. You miss the point. The entire point. It’s not playing with a toy that *influences* your sexuality. And that’s the BS that is going on with the MOTUC fan base right now – those guys who are so scared that these characters in the 1980′s were sold in the “pink” aisle at the toy store that they can’t see the kick-butt sexy female figures that are coming out based on them. They would rather stare at their nearly nude loin-cloth wearing overly-muscled men and object to shapely, attractive women in short skirts sprinkled in. Apparently, Teela, Evil-Lyn, and Sorceress are the only ladies on Eternia, which means they were very very busy or the population would die out rather quickly.

    And there it begins. The scare tactic used by homosexuals. News for you buddy, no heterosexual has a phobia of homosexuals. It is a ploy used to make anyone who does not see your views as though they are in the wrong. I don’t like chocolate ice cream so do I run away in fear every time I see a Dairy Queen or Baskin Robins, I think not. The notion that in this modern PC world we live in today people are not allowed to not like something is bull. I don’t like POP and never have and never will. I don’t like it because I like warriors, battles, barbarians, knights, etc. and pink barbie dolls don’t belong in that genre. Teela works because she fits the role but to say someone like Perfuma does YOU ARE A FOOL!

  10. As a female collector of this line, I find it so annoying when some men throw such a fit at PoP. Growing up I had a great love for MOTU even though it was aimed at boys, and when PoP came out it was like everything I had ever wanted in a cartoon and toy line come true. Folks need to really move past the pink. I think some of the best and most interesting characters came from PoP and I hope we are all able to see them released in MOTUC. The line will just not be complete without all of them.

    On a side note, I don’t see why the writer’s sexuality should even be an issue in this. I know plenty of straight and gay men that embrace PoP. It was a very successful spin off to He-Man and helped the franchise live on for a few more years. The story line also provided a more complex narrative as the heroes were always fighting for their freedom in a world where evil had already won. The idea that a toy line could make anyone gay, or straight, is just dumb.

  11. “and Yet the writer of this Story is GAY…”

    You miss the point. The entire point. It’s not playing with a toy that *influences* your sexuality. And that’s the BS that is going on with the MOTUC fan base right now – those guys who are so scared that these characters in the 1980’s were sold in the “pink” aisle at the toy store that they can’t see the kick-butt sexy female figures that are coming out based on them. They would rather stare at their nearly nude loin-cloth wearing overly-muscled men and object to shapely, attractive women in short skirts sprinkled in. Apparently, Teela, Evil-Lyn, and Sorceress are the only ladies on Eternia, which means they were very very busy or the population would die out rather quickly.

    It’s hilarious, really. I don’t think they all are closet cases (some possibly, LOL) but it’s more that they are so stuck in that mentality of what is for girls/boys and that rigid line they tow. It’s kind of sad. It’s like the last 30 years never happened, that women haven’t been to Space, and straight men haven’t become fashion design moguls. My guess is these are the guys who don’t cook or clean around the house because that’s “women’s work”.

  12. I was in the same boat I think. I wanted some of the PoP characters as a kid cause liked the show. Today I am hapoy they are in MOTUCs. Most of my cillection is PoP and no prob with that. I hope to see who you mentioned plus Mermista, Peekablue and others.

  13. Excellent article.

    I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that no adult male MOTUC collector will “turn gay” as a result of purchasing, displaying and perhaps even playing with a PoP character that is released as part of MOTUC.

  14. Playing with muscular men toys is quite GAY… Please, toys dont have nothing to do with sexual orientation. Just enjoy the MOTUC toys…

  15. “You see, some people believe that playing with toys meant for the opposite sex can influence the development of a child’s sexual identity.

    I’m not kidding. It’s a ludicrous notion to be sure, yet it was a belief held by my mother.”

    and Yet the writer of this Story is GAY…

  16. Awesome write up! I too, look past the walls that some people and collectors put on MOTU as to what is and what isn’t included. It’s not about limiting, it’s about expanding. Everyone has their place in the mythos. I’ve had to come up with my own take on some of these characters like you have above, and find myself even more enthralled when I get the figures in the mail. I’d love to see a similar write up for New Adventures, even though it doesn’t have the same “girl’s line” dynamic that you spoke of. Long live MOTU in all forms!

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