What are some interesting facts about the 1980s cartoon She-Ra?
She-Ra’s Origins. The spin-off of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, this show was designed a bit differently than its predecessor. While the first show was based off of the Masters of the Universe toy line by Mattel, She-Ra: Princess of Power was designed in collaboration between the toymaker and Filmation Associates, who animated both shows. She-Ra’s target audience was a young female crowd to compliment the young male viewers of He-Man. However, She-Ra was still designed with toy lovers in mind, as a way to boost the sales of Mattel’s Barbie dolls. The plan actually seems to have worked, as Barbie sales topped $350 million by 1986, about a year after Princess of Power began its syndicated run.
Beloved by Both Girls and Boys. Despite the intent to be an aid to Barbie sales, She-Ra was preferred by more kids. In a survey of children, She-Ra was voted “most likely to hold back tears.” Girls liked her assertiveness while Barbie was seen as more passive. And boys liked that She-Ra was smart and strong, while they disliked Barbie for focusing on material things, like her Dream House.
Almost on the Big Screen. The titular character was almost featured in the 1987 Dolph Lundgren adaptation Masters of the Universe, but director Gary Goddard decided he would feature She-Ra in the sequels. But of course, the live action series never got its sequel.
Hey, that looks familiar! Many shots in She-Ra: Princess of Power were actually recycled from He-Man in order to save money, as Filmation’s animation style operated very much under the mantra of “quantity over quality.” Kids didn’t really notice the reused assets though, so this helped the studio make a lot more money off of the cartoons. And if you recognize certain sound effects, that’s because they reused effects from 1978’s Battlestar: Galactica.
Mattel actually purchased a rival, Sheera. This really wasn’t a rival so much as Mattel wanting to make sure they had their bases covered. Barbara Hambly’s fantasy novel, Ladies of Mandrigyn, featured a character named Sheera. There were no real similarities other than the name, but Mattel paid her $25,000 just in case.
She Almost Had A Second Career. In 2006, there was some talk of reintroducing the character, but rebranded as a rock star. Fans were outraged at the idea of replacing She-Ra’s sword with a guitar. The idea never went anywhere, but She-Ra has returned into popular culture through the production of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Respecting the Character. The series’ writers found that creating action scenes for She-Ra was even more frustrating than with He-Man because not only did they have to minimize the violence, but they also had to contend with what they considered sexist pressure against the idea of a female hero. The titular character design includes a skirt, but it never flies up, despite her acrobatic prowess. An executive producer specifically asked the animation coordinator to make sure that the character’s modesty was kept intact.
The Influences Continue. Just like its predecessor’s original concept, She-Ra was heavily influenced by George Lucas’ Star Wars. The cartoon’s major conflict is about the Great Rebellion fighting to free the land of Etheria from Hordak, very similar to the main theme taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Consider this as well: She-Ra and He-Man are twins, just like the characters of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia from Star Wars.
She-Ra featured many recycled shots from He-Man.
Filmation realized they could save money by just reusing shots from He-Man for She-Ra. If you watch the episodes closely, you'll see many of the same shots in both shows. Kids didn't really notice though, so this helped the studio makes a lot more money on the cartoons.
She was supposed to be in the "Masters of the Universe" movie.
"Masters of he Universe" is the He-Man movie that came out in 1987 (and has subsequently become a cult classic). She-Ra was supposed to make an appearance, but the director decided to focus on just He-Man for the first movie and introduce She-Ra in the sequels. Unfortunately, there would be no sequels.
She actually boosted Barbie sales.
Before She-Ra came out, sales of Barbie dolls had actually flattened. Mattel wanted a doll that could get girls back into the doll market and help boost sales, so they helped create She-Ra. The plan worked. By 1986, sales of Barbie topped $350 million.
She-Ra was widely admired by girls and boys.
In a survey of children, She-Ra was voted "most likely to hold back tears." Girls like her assertiveness while Barbie was seen as passive. Boys liked that She-Ra was smart and strong while they disliked Barbie for focusing on material things, like her Dream House.
She-Ra may have contributed to He-Man's decline.
While She-Ra was popular, she was never as popular as He-Man. And some of He-Man's developers actually blamed She-Ra when his sales began to decline. They thought that She-Ra led to market saturation which was a problem for He-Man.
Mattel actually purchase a rival, Sheera.
This really wasn't a rival so much as Mattel wanting to make sure they had their bases covered. Barbara Hambly's fantasy novel, "Ladies of Mandrigyn," featured a character called Sheera. There were no real similarities other than the name, but Mattel paid her $25,000 just in case.
She was almost in a rock band.
In 2006, there was some talk of reintroducing the character and rebranding her as a rock star. Fans were outraged at the idea of replacing She-Ra's sword with a guitar. The idea never went anywhere and She-Ra has yet to be reintroduced.
Toy stores didn't exactly know what to do with her.
In the early '80s, the only toys marketed specifically to girls were dolls like Barbie. These dolls were not action figures and focused more nurturing the dolls. Toy stores weren't sure if they should put She-Ra next to these girly dolls or next to action figures (which were exclusively marketed to little boys).
She became a gay icon.
She-Ra has recently become a bit of a gay icon due to subversive references to homosexuality in the show. For example, one episode featured male sidekick Bow in a dress. The song "I Have the Power" is now played at many gay weddings.
There's a lot of lust in her character.
For shots where She-Ra needed to show emotion, the animators turned to a female animator for help. And she used lust to show this emotion. If you watch the episodes now with this mind, it adds a whole new element to the show!
She-Ra made in-store appearances.
To drum up sales, Mattel hired actresses to make in-store appearances as She-Ra. Because these actresses were often beautiful young women, the appearances would draw as many male fans as female fans. That's one way to increase interest in the character! Today, She-Ra is popular among those into cosplay.
A woman named She-Ra once robbed a store.
A woman named She-Ra Batey robbed a store in England in 2014. She stole more than $5,000 from her employers so she could take a vacation. She pled guilty and was forced to pay restitution.
Her headdress doubles as a mask.
There was an accessory for the toy that was a headdress that, when flipped over, could double as a mask. Consumers never really bought into the idea, so Mattel stopped making it. The cartoon made the headdress more conventional, as well.