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October 23, 2006: Masters of the Universe isn't exactly rife with Halloween-esque material, but I think I've found something. The original toyline was cooling off at midway point of the 80's, not necessarily for any sharp decline in quality or inspiration -- it just ran its course. Mattel kept trying, because even a less popular collection of He-Man toys was gpomg to be more popular than a startup franchise. In the toyline's final years, the characters hit their apex of goofiness, and while far fewer hands were on the figures by this point, these lately-born toys remain some of the most desirable amongst today's collector's. Examples:
All of the figures above debuted in very late 1986 or 1987. By then, the amount of "real estate" given to new MOTU stuff in toy stores had dwindled, and there was no guarantee that kids still into the collection (or in rarer cases, kids only then hopping aboard the bandwagon) would be able to find these new figures. The real shame was that "toy technology" had vastly improved since MOTU's early years. The last figures in the line were also some of the best, taking advantage of better methods of molding and coloring, and making use of all sorts of zany gimmicks that somehow managed to seem unique in a collection where every figure had a gimmick.
And now...Halloween. A few of these late-to-arrive figures ultimately became quite hot on the collector's circuit, and one in particular seemed just right to include in X-Entertainment's wild and woolly 2006 Halloween Countdown. Check it -- bottom row, center. His name was "Scare Glow," and his game was being one of the coolest action figures I've ever seen in my entire life.
Scare Glow has been an object of much controversy and intrigue through the years, due to his vague character origin and the unanswered questions that followed. Scare Glow's action figure packaging identified him as "the evil ghost of Skeletor," which many kids, including myself, took to mean that he was literally the ghost of Skeletor. The theory -- mine, at least -- was that Skeletor's ghastly spirit could manifest itself in this alternate, spooky body, which was just such a crazy awesome concept that it almost brings me to tears to report how utterly untrue it is. Scare Glow has no blood association with Skeletor. If you consider that some of the other villains' packaging listed them as "the evil henchman of Skeletor," or "the evil spy of Skeletor," Scare Glow's bullet wording seems less obtuse.
Then again, look at him! Without any research, it's easy to see where the "this guy is Skeletor departed" arguments came from. They shared the same skeleton head aesthetic, and Skeletor and Scare Glow had identical feet and groin areas. At the heart of it, I think it was just a case of Scare Glow looking way too amazing for kids to be satisfied with his role of "just another one of Skeletor's minions." There had to be more to him.
I've seen every MOTU figure and owned most of them. There were some total duds in the line, of course, but most of the figures were so colorful and unique, it was hard to actually pick one from the rest on the merits of its own personal Wow Factor. It was apples and oranges, but Scare Glow? Scare Glow, he was a fucking cantaloupe. He was so vastly different from every other figure in the collection that we the people have no choice but to lay our arms to the ground and surrender ourselves to Scare Glow's supremimosity.
The figure arrived with a regal purple cape and a scythe that looked just like the one Weequay used to pinch Luke's ass on Jabba's skiff, and by the time we start championing his unique-to-the-line white "flesh" and the detail-oriented scar on his forehead, Scare Glow is the forefront piece of proof that the MOTU collection lost its wind a year too early. This was one of those rare figures that kids didn't just buy and play with -- Scare Glow was a figure kids bought and immediately put in charge of all their other figures.
Especially towards the end of the original line, every new He-Man figure tried to top the previous with some crazy action feature or gimmick. And though Scare Glow could've survived just fine with the gimmick of being a bad motherfucker, Mattel gave him a little extra -- he's the only He-Man figure to ever glow in the dark. The "bony" parts of his body soaked in light and spat it back out in the dark, giving Scare Glow a green sheen that both doubled his greatness and made him look all radioactive.
The amazing illustrations above were scanned from the figure's cardback, and you've gotta appreciate how they drew Scare Glow to appear completely indignant at being manhandled in the first panel. Totally and completely indignant. Totally and completely needs a word balloon with text reading, "The fuck you think yer doin' pal?"
It really irks me that I never landed a Scare Glow until my "collector years" (and later sold him off; the figure pics in this article were swiped from eBay), because he just would've made soooo much of an impact on my little toy world. I've written before about how certain action figures were designated as "leaders" in my toyniverse. It wasn't always the action figures made for that role. For every Mumm-Ra and Darth Vader running the show, there were lesser characters who wouldn't come into my home without a promotion. Scare Glow definitely would've been one of those figures. I don't think I could've puppeted him to take orders from anyone with a straight face.
Scare Glow's cloth cape was removable, which was only really necessary if you were the type who wanted their figures to disrobe before wrestling other figures, or if you were the type who'd criminally swipe an action figure's rightful removable cape and give it to another figure that you liked better. The scythe, a departure from the swords that came with almost every early He-Man figure, proved its worth by being tall enough to help balance Scare Glow when he tried to stand handsfree. The heroes and villains of Eternia were universally born with leggy arthritis; only with canes disguised as scythes could they continue standing after being played with for a few weeks.
Going back to an earlier point, most people assumed Scare Glow to be some kind of fourth dimension version of Skeletor, because they'd only ever seen that "evil ghost of Skeletor" stuff on the cardbacks for other figures. Those who actually owned Scare Glow were offered the cold hard truth: He was just another bad guy.
See, every He-Man figure came with a "mini-comic," which ostensibly served to introduce the character you just purchased and explain his (or in three cases, "her") role in the adventure. Some of the mini-comics introduced more than a single character, and in Scare Glow's case, his comic was shared with six other then-new figures -- Blast-Attak, Clamp Champ, Ninjor, The Sorceress, King Randor and a revamped Faker.
The comic, titled "The Search For Keldor," has gained much notoriety in recent years. The plot dealt with Skeletor trying to keep the heroes from learning the fate of King Randor's long-lost brother, Keldor, and when MOTU returned in 2002 with an all-new cartoon and toy collection, Keldor was revealed as Skeletor's pre-skull identity. The original line ended before the storyline reached that inevitable conclusion, but it was still rare to see any semblance of an important plot point on the pages of a He-Man mini-comic. Whereas MOTU lore in the early years existed without much continuity, here we saw the beginning of a more fluid effort that unfortunately never got its chance to, uh, fluidify. Still, if there were any lingering questions as to what Scare Glow was, "The Search For Keldor" put all conspiracy theories to rest...
In the comic, Skeletor catches wind that the heroes are yet again trying to figure out what happened to Keldor, and assembles a team of powerful new baddies to stop them. Stealing Scare Glow and Ninjor from another dimension, Skeletor quickly asserts himself as "boss," using his goat-headed stick-thing's magic powers to force curtsies out of his new charges. Man, it took all of two panels for Scare Glow to get totally punked out, but it's worth noting that only Ninjor really sucks the juice from Skeletor's ass with a wimpy "yessss masssa."
Though Scare Glow is realized here as just another pawn in Skeletor's master plan, at least he throws out the very best introductory line in the history of bad guys: "Speak, skull face, before I scare you to death!" Yeah, think I'll bust that one out next time the phone rings.
Skeletor won't send Scare Glow and Ninjor home until they beat the shit out of He-Man, so they give beating the shit out of He-Man a whirl. Ninjor is mostly ineffectual to that end, but Scare Glow's power -- a glow that frightens his adversaries into submission -- keeps Prince Adam too petrified to turn into He-Man! Strangely, Scare Glow again identifies himself as the "ghost of Skeletor," which almost seems like a purposeful misleading. Since Scare Glow looked a bit like Skeletor, and since Skeletor obviously had some stroke in this dimension, maybe he just thought it'd be a more interesting visit if he fucked with everyone he met and told them he was Skeletor's ghost. Ninjor tried telling Man-At-Arms the same thing on the next page. Didn't work out.
Conflict was quickly resolved in MOTU mini-comics, and it didn't take long for Scare Glow to lose focus, allowing Prince Adam to transform into He-Man and beat the marrow out of him. Skeletor's response to his new warrior's failure was something akin to, "Lousy shit! Now I'll send out Faker!" Just like that, Scare Glow's part in the story ended. Not a very impressive showing, all told, and the comparative rarity of "The Search For Keldor" mini-comics today can be attributed to Scare Glow's Yahoo fan club buying and burning every copy they can find.
He's one of the best figures you never had. Today, packaged Scare Glow figures easily fetch over a hundred dollars, and even loose/complete figures can go as high. This is all due to a combination of Scare Glow being rare and Scare Glow being incomprehensibly awesome. As one of the few Masters of the Universe figures that'd look absolutely copasetic seated next to a carved pumpkin, we'll salute him today and never ever during Easter.
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