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

It is green because it reflects light at a frequency of 540-580 THz.


Cue the obligatory “a tiger? In Africa?”


That’s also why they made metal miniatures with plastic components, it was faster and cheaper.

The metal miniatures are cast in a vulcanised rubber 2-part mould and it takes just a few minutes to make a new mould if need be and new casts are in batches of ten and cost literally pennies to produce. Then they charge you £5…


Another wonderful discussion - engineering, design, nostalgia, some Monty Python … and of course that layer of sarcasm gluing it all together. Thank you fellow humans - I appreciate you.


Saddle or not, no cat will ever take you where you want to go.


I recently watched a David Attenborough documentary about animal colours and colour perception.

Fun facts:

  1. Deer perceive the orange fur of tigers as green.
  2. Tigers themselves are also r/g colour blind.
  3. Mammals can’t have green colour, because they can’t synthesise the necessary pigments.

“Hey, whatcha doing?”

“Oh nothing, just thinking about how algae makes me green and stuff”



The higher set up costs but lower marginal costs for plastic are also why the big boxed games were full of plastic vanilla troopen, but to be competitive against others, you needed to buy slithering hissers and hissing slitherers in more expensive metal. Hook them in with plastic, but the real profits are in the lower production but higher cost cast metal.


Seriously, this tickles me because I loved Battlecat so much lol. I was like GIANT KITTY FRIEND when I was a kid. So yeah, no wonder it sold well.


They can, they just don’t feel like it right now, ok?
More seriously, I’m sure it’s possible for a mammal to evolve green hair, but it would take a while and would need certain selection parameters.

1 Like


That was a much better answer than I had hoped for.


It’s always the simplest answer that works out the best.


Green pigments are surprisingly rare in vertebrates in general- green birds, amphibians and reptiles almost always combine a yellow pigment with a blue structural colour.


Yeah, it must have been. I was thinking more of the hypothetical (and necessarily multi-part) vehicle that they didn’t have the money to make, which the saddle was effectively replacing, since they got the tiger for “free.” But the casting requirements for the saddle must also have been substantially lower than for even the single-part tiger, too, given that the saddle is smaller, simpler and basically flat. I wonder if they even had to use injection molding for it - seems like the sort of shape you could vacuum form…

So. . . this is an example of “the tail wagging the cat”?


A good resource for costing is one of many cost estimators on the internet. Not exact, but give a reasonable estimate.

Here’s one that for what would be reasonable in the US: Injection Molding Cost Estimator
Here is one for Asia:

For your particular questions:

Yes, $20k can buy you a mold for making tigers. It’s a thick part, so you would probably do 1 tiger at a time. Maybe 2.

Cycle time for thick plastic parts can be a minute or two. Less with good cooling or if you don’t mind sinks (plastic contracts as it cools, creating dimples). There are other tricks to get speed and accuracy. But at 1/min, that’s 1440 tigers per day per cavity. You could easily get away with 1 mold. Possibly even an aluminum one for just 50,000.

Factories tend to have many injection mold machines. They mount the molds in them as needed. But the production schedule is often done weeks or months in advanced to make sure all of the machines are used and to buy new ones if needed. Sometimes different molding companies are used for the same toy line, but it often helps logistics to use as few as possible. So you’d most likely see Shera, her buddies, and her accessories, all dropping out of machine lined up.

How many to make for a popular toy is the million dollar question. Literally in many cases. This is why toy fairs and conventions are so important. The toy maker needs an idea of how many to make well in advance so they can figure out how much to spend on tooling. And it take 2-4 months to make the tool. They can make more tools, put more cavities per tool, try to reduce cycle times with advanced tool features, and/or just run the machine longer in order to hit targets. The cheapest option is to know well in advance so you can make parts at a leisurely pace.

Good question on the mold copy question. There is significant design engineering that goes into the mold. But most of the time the expense is in all the machining, ram EDM (a really cool process itself), and tool finish. It’s that last step, the hand finishing (mostly polishing) that can drive expense, which is why China is cheap for molds. If I had to guess, I’d say a second mold is 90% of the first.

If you want a quick video of injection molding: Plastic Injection Molding - YouTube
And ram EDM: Introduction to Ram/Sinker EDM - YouTube (how to “drill” any shape in metal)


As a biologist, I’ve got two things to say to that:

  1. that’s impossible,
  2. well, nothing is impossible.

On a more serious note: given the evolutionary baggage, it isn’t likely, at all. The metabolic pathways for that would have to be novel to us mammals. The thing is, evolution might look exuberant and wild and inventive, but if you dive down, it’s very parsimonious. Tiny changes in some boxes ticked, and a lineage changes in quite interesting ways, but if you look at all the tiny bits and pieces, the changes aren’t that big.



It’s almost as if we (as in we vertebrates) are all variations of the same mould…

SCNR the urge to bring this back to the main topic. :wink:

ETA 2: a different mould:


Didn’t Randall Garrett have giant tiger-like critters his main characters rode around on?