July 30, 1986. The South Florida Sun of Fort Lauderdale, Florida offers up this Walgreens coupon to get Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures for only $4/each. This ad is one of many early warning signs that the brand was in trouble; as we know, 1987 sales of Masters of the Universe were so weak that the line came to a close.
June 18, 1982. The Central New Jersey Home News of New Brunswick, New Jersey, brings us this advertisement that looks so much like a different ad I posted years ago (in 2015) that I almost passed this one by without a closer look. I’m glad I stopped and checked things out, though, because this ad is definitely different and from over a year before that earlier ad.
Yesterday we saw one of the last Masters of the Universe action figure ads of the eighties (posted here) which made me think it could be fun to look at one of the earliest ads for the line. That’s where this Daily News ad from New York, New York on May 13, 1982, comes into play. Actually, not all that much of a difference in price now that I look at both ads. Odd.
December 22, 1988. This ad block comes from The Record newspaper of Hackensack, New Jersey, and shows us Mattel’s Masters of the Universe as the line was dead at retail. Less than $2/each for classic Masters of the Universe action figures is a deal that any of us would take today, but back when this ad was new, retailers just wanted to clear their shelves of the toys and not deal with the inventory.
Unfortunately, the books don’t include info on the exact release dates and prices of the line . . . that’s where old newspaper ads can help us! Ads like this one from June 11, 1967, and the Brazosport Facts of Freeport, Texas. Can we trust that this ad is accurate and the toys released June 5 of that year? Probably not, but it’s still fun to see how retailers promoted the line when it was new.
October 3, 1974. This Hobby Center newspaper ad from the Akron Beacon Journal is one of the best collections of action figures on sale in the seventies that we’ve ever uncovered. It’s not enough that the ad offers us a great look at Hasbro’s G.I. Joe and Mattel’s Big Jim, two of the greatest action figure lines of the mid-seventies, but we also get such classics as Gabriel’s Lone Ranger, Ideal’s Evel Knievel, and even Kenner’s short-lived Steve Scout Boy Scouts action figure! What kid in 1974 wouldn’t want all of these?
Here we the Mattel Captain Power advertisement that I, back when I was a kid, was most familiar with. Why is that? Simple: Mattel ran this ad in multiple issues of the Captain America comic book at exactly the time I was first reading the book. I watched a few episodes of Captain Power as a kid, but it was this exact ad and the commercials that I encountered more than I ever did the storyline or the actual toys.
Mattel’s Gre-Gory bat toy (see Plaid Stallions) is one of those toys of the late seventies/early eighties that I was certain I was unaware of up until a few years ago. Well, it turns out that I definitely knew of the toy long before that, as this ad from Marvel’s Star Wars #38 proves! I had this comic when I was a kid — it was one of the last comics my parents bought for me before we moved from Turkey back to the U.S. — and I spent hours and hours as a kid flipping through the book. And when I was going through the comic this morning, the ad instantly sparked memories. I love discoveries like this!