The hilariously practical reason why He-Man has a giant green tiger

Originally published at: The hilariously practical reason why He-Man has a giant green tiger | Boing Boing


that video clip was absolutely :chefkiss:


I’m going to spend today trying to fit “well put a fuckin’ saddle on it!” Into conversation.


So… They already had a mold for a tiger… Did they also have the mold for the saddle / helmet for said battle cat?


I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to land a job where I get to say, “Well, put a fucking saddle on it,” and walk away. :joy:


It turns out tooling to make the toys is a HUGE cost. Like (eta up to) 500,000 for a figure today. Its why when you can make multiple figures that use some of the same parts you can dramatically reduce costs.

Evidently, there are some old toy molds used as boat anchors in Hong Kong harbor because they are so dang heavy.

ETA - also the Mini Comics included with the figures were an off the cuff addition promised in sales pitch, which they initially had zero plans for.

ETA 2 - IIRC the original mold was for for a Tarzan Jungle cat, that then got made into the Big Jim Tiger.




The way the story is told above, though, really goes to show how by-the-seat-of-their-pants this absurd operation was.

My reaction to that video was that it was actually pretty familiar*, and that a lot of things secretly work that way behind the scenes, in a fundamental way. “We need X, but we can’t afford it.” “Well, we have Y. Fuck it, make it work.”

*Especially from video game development - that’s how everything is done there.

Obviously not, but since the saddle/helmet is relatively small, basically 2D, and perhaps made out of a softer plastic, I’m guessing a much simpler/cheaper process could be used to make it - certainly not like having to make an injection mold for a full-sized, multi-part toy.


Nope. Had to fashion those separately, but those were smaller items not made of the exact same hard plastic…if memory serves.


Eh? $500,000 is a ridiculous amount. A simple 2 part injection mold in the 80’s would often be around $20k sourced out of Portugal (the low cost mold source of the day). $50k for multi cavity or family molds. A very large multi cavity precision mold with side cores might run you half a million in the US or EU now days, but those are exceeding rare. I typically spend $5-$25k per mold now days in China, which is about 1/3 to 1/5 the cost of a mold in the USA.

But when making multiple toys, those add up. I can totally believe they were trying to cut corners by using old molds to pad out the line.

(my background: a master’s thesis related to mold making, worked with ex Kenner plastics mold designers and engineers, and still have molds made today. )


@Dioptase1 --your expertise is too cool to pass up learning more. I’m pretty sure you have the dream job I wanted between 8 and 11.

  • Is it $20K for a single form where you can make one tiger?
  • If you need to put this in a factory to make a run of like 50,000 of these for christmas, how many molds would you need?
    -In a factory that makes these, how many different ones would the make. Is there one green tiger factory, and one Shera factory, or is it one machine and they just switch the dies?
  • How many would you really to make for a popular toy? Is it in the millions?
  • After the first mold, how much are additional ones that are copies?

I’m a transport consultant, which I guess is at least partway there…


This is coming from a guy who is in the industry. Though IIRC he did say up to $500,000. I am sure it depends on the size and the line as well. He was the brand manager for the Masters of the Universe Classics line.

At any rate - tooling costs were one of the highest upfront expenses and what they could or couldn’t do often hinged on that. Or if they could use part of something for later down the line, it had a better shot of getting approved.

Super interesting stuff if you like toys:


The thing that gets me is how absolute compelling I found the He-Man storylines as a child. They were obviously cheap, kludged together, and terribly animated, but I still never missed an episode (and I only owned a couple of the toys, because my family was pretty poor – my neighbor owned a lot more, and I hated him for it).


One of my friends had that toy and little me was sooo jealous. (As expected, it didn’t work as well as promised, but I didn’t care.)


IIRC, the original Battle Cat was all one piece.

The one with articulative limbs came out later…

(I know, because I remember wanting He-Man and GI Joes very badly as a kid… and not getting them just because I was a girl. :angry: )


Another great quote from American Animation history.


My favourite iteration of this is “The Horus Heresy” from Games Workshop. They could only afford to make one mold for their giant robot tabletop battle game, “Adeptus Titanicus”; so the opposing forces were made up from the same bodies and arms, with different heads.

They then had to come up with a reason for the two sides to do battle. The designers settled on a civil war between “Loyalists” and “Traitors” (just like the American Civil War), and they called it the Horus Heresy.

From that production bottleneck Games Workshop has spun a series of over 50 novels (some appearing in bestseller lists).

Regarding the History of 1980s’ Advertainment aimed at kids; there is an exhaustive youtube channel, called, Toy Galaxy.


Did they explain why it’s green?