Any child who grew up in the 80s pretty much spent the entire decade watching cartoons that were only created to sell toys to them. While some of the shows still ended up evolving into their own legitimate thing, there was still always a very obvious vibe—at least initially—of writers struggling to come up with interesting, convincing personalities for characters that were only created to be cool-looking toys first and foremost.
While Transformers and G.I. Joe at least had the luxury of not having their legacies tainted by bad live action movies for many years after their debut, He-Man wasted no time in being adapted into an awful movie called Masters of the Universe. And that probably played a pretty big part in He-Man's peak popularity being fairly short as compared to many of its peers.
Still, He-Man lasted long enough to have a whole bunch of toys made for it, with well over 50 figures in the classic line in addition to various vehicles and playsets. The toys were always the most popular part of the He-Man brand, and continue to be its most enduring legacy—but if we're being honest, a lot of He-Man toys are pretty bad. Don't worry, it's not all bad news—we'll mix some of the brand's best figures in every few entries to remind us that we weren't totally crazy for being He-Man toy fans.
As you come to each choice, be sure to read its accompanying entry before you start typing up your angry comments, especially when you see that Evil-Lyn is (spoiler) one of the worst...we promise we have legitimate reasons!
30 Worst: Spikor
Mattel was willing to add unique physical features to many of their He-Man figures rather than just using a few basic molds and trying to get away with the bare minimum.
Accuracy to the character doesn't always make for a great toy, though—which is going to be a through-line in many of this list's entries.
Not only did Spikor's spikes make him not the most comfortable toy to hold, but they just didn't look that cool. In fact, his facial expression seems to suggest that he's just as irritated being Spikor as we were when we played with him.
29 Worst: Stinkor
What's in a name? In the case of Stinkor, everything—swap the "o" for an "e" and that perfectly sums up everything you need to know about this lame figure.
While the He-Man cartoon sometimes dipped its toe into being somewhat sophisticated, Stinkor was basically a fart joke turned into a character. And again, in an example of accuracy being taken way too far, Mattel actually mixed a scenting agent into Stinkor's mold so that the toy would have a pungent order.
28 Best: Battle Armor He-Man
Mattel actually showed an admirable amount of restraint when it came to actual versions of He-Man himself, making only about a handful of different variations on the character.
They could've easily gotten away with all kinds of themed He-Man figures, but they didn't—and the few that they did make are actually pretty basic, in fact.
But the He-Man figure that best represents the hero on this list is Battle Armor He-Man. In addition to his chest plate being able to "take damage," the armor in general just makes him the coolest version of He-Man in toy form.
27 Worst: Moss Man
What could possibly be worse than a toy that was made to stink? How about one that was made to smell gross and feel gross, too—which is what we got with Moss Man. Moss Man's body was covered with a kind of fuzz that always managed to feel damp for some reason—like rubbing the head of a sweaty kid with a buzzcut.
It's baffling why anyone thought that a toy like Moss Man, whose entire purpose seemed to be to make playing with him a miserable experience, was a good idea.
26 Worst: Snout Spout
When all else fails, just pick an animal and stick its head on a human body and voila: You have an easy kid's cartoon character.
As a toy, Snout Spout just ends up looking like one of Sid's demented hybrids from Toy Story, only not half as cool.
Elephants are awesome and all, but they aren't particularly menacing as an inspiration for a tough action figure. They could've at least gone the woolly mammoth route and given him vicious tusks or something. Instead, he has a pointless trunk that just gets in the way.
25 Best: Ninjor
Yes, Ninjor is just He-Man's token ninja character. But who cares—he's an awesome token ninja character. At a time when we had to settle for teeny tiny G.I. Joe ninjas, Ninjor was a big, bulking ninja with a crossbow, a katana, and nunchucks.
While a lot of He-Man toys felt out of place anywhere except among other He-Man toys, Ninjor was the rare example of a He-Man figure who could stand alone. He-Man actually had very few martial arts-based characters surprisingly, but we can hardly blame them when they got it so right on their first try with Ninjor.
24 Worst: Sssqueeze
No, that isn't a typo in the header—the actual name of this character is spelled with three Ss.
We get it, you're a snake. Your ridiculously long, bendy arms hammer that fact home long before we learn your stupid name.
The bendable arms aren't necessarily a terrible concept in and of themselves—it's actually a neat idea. But then Mattel ruined it when they decided that Sssqueeze's arms needed to be about four times the length of his body, making them completely unwieldy and only not in the way when they are wrapped around him like a pretzel.
23 Worst: Two Bad
Admittedly, Two Bad is a pretty cool-looking toy. But there is one fatal design flaw that completely ruins his aesthetic qualities: The only thing he can do is punch himself.
Perhaps this was intentional, as in the cartoon, Two Bad was constantly bickering with himself—so maybe the idea was that his toy was supposed to be able to easily punch his own face(s). But it's only fun to do for about five minutes, and then we just want Two Bad to actually be able to put up a fight in battle with, you know, the other characters.
22 Best: Orko
He-Man's wizard sidekick, Orko, is pretty dorky—but that's part of his charm. And he also exists in the cartoon primarily to tie the events of each episode into some sort of lesson for the viewers.
Beyond his necessity as a character, Orko's figure has a few neat features that make him an interesting toy. Most notably, as Orko is a floating character, Mattel opted to put rollers on the bottom of the toy so that you can kind of scoot him around and simulate his flying without having to just constantly hold him three inches above your table top.
21 Worst: Ram Man
If you've ever been in a dollar store or a flea market in a sketchy neighborhood, you know that there are companies out there that make knock-off toys of familiar characters that are just similar enough to be vaguely recognizable, but still plenty different as to avoid litigation.
Everything about Ram Man feels like a bad bootleg version of a Juggernaut toy from X-Men.
Even his name—Ram Man—seems like something that your mom would've called Juggernaut, as in: "Honey, come in here and pick up Ram Man and Knife Fingers off the living room floor."
20 Worst: Rio Blast
His name is Rio and he's dancing on the sand—because the way he's dressed, he certainly isn't doing any fighting. Rio Blast—which either sounds like a fabulous party or a frozen drink flavor—is a sleeveless cowboy character with chaps, a 70s mustache, and a whole lot of sass.
We get it, He-Man debuted in the early-80s, so that whole 70s Village People vibe was still lingering about. But the way someone dresses for clubbing in 1983 shouldn't be the same way someone dresses to fight an evil army in 1983.
19 Best: Sorceress
Mattel, the house of Barbie, had an interesting idea: Why not sell "dolls" to boys too by making them big and tough and populating the line with warriors, robots, ninjas, and so on?
But that isn't to say that boys wouldn't play with female dolls at all—they just had to appeal to boys. And boys would want female toys that were cool in some way. In the case of Sorceress, that coolness came in the way of awesome wings, making for one of the few He-Man characters with the power of flight—female or otherwise. Also: long legs.
18 Worst: Stonedar/Rokkon
With the success of Transformers, it wasn't surprising that that everyone was trying to get a piece of that pie.
A character that transforms into something else is inherently cool—as long as they are transforming INTO something cool.
There is a fairly short list of things that are completely uninterested for a toy to change into—and right at the top of that list is a rock. And yet, that's exactly what the duo of Stonedar and Rokkon did... curl up into rocks. Even worse, when the two characters are in their humanoid form, they look utterly ridiculous.
17 Worst: Evil-Lyn
If you're still reading, it's because you are giving us the benefit of the doubt in explaining how one of the coolest characters in all of He-Man land deserves to be considered a bad toy.
It can be summed up in two words: yellow skin. Is she a member of The Simpsons or what?
Why Mattel decided that her action figure should look as though she has a severe case of jaundice is beyond us—and it takes what should've been the slam dunk of an Evil-Lyn toy and completely borks it.
16 Best: Webstor
Even though the evil force in the world of He-Man is led by one of the most iconic villains of all time, many of the bad guys in the franchises are completely ridiculous. There is a reason this list leans so heavily on He-Man's enemies.
Webstor, on the other hand, is completely awesome. The half-man, half-spider not only looks appropriately menacing, but he came with an extremely fun-to-use grappling hook that actually latched onto things and made scaling Castle Grayskull—or just the fence in your backyard—a treat.
15 Worst: Grizzlor
For some of these toys, their bad-ness is only apparent in hindsight and many of us actually loved them as kids. That is definitely the case with Grizzlor, who He-Man toy fans seem to remember with fondness but doesn't hold up to retroactive scrutiny.
Grizzlor's fur made it feel like we were playing with a lifeless rodent.
Moreover, because he was made up of "real" hair, he didn't do very well against getting wet or dirty—which are two states that any well-loved toy is eventually going to find itself in.
14 Worst: Clawful
Besides having a name that sounds like a rejected Pokémon creature, Clawful seemed like a character that was designed by people throwing darts at a board full or random attributes and going with wherever they landed.
If you're going to give a character a name that literally contains the word "awful," you'd better make extra certain the character can hold up to scrutiny.
It's the whole "With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good" concept. And with a name like Clawful, he'd better not be awful—except that he clearly is.
13 Best: Trap-Jaw
Trap-Jaw looks like a Mega Man boss was re-imagined as a He-Man toy—and if you think that is meant to be an insult, then we can't be friends.
You might assume that Trap-Jaw's movable mandible would stop being fun to play with after a couple of days—but yeah, not so much.
Making Trap-Jaw's mouth move absolutely never got old, nor did playing with this awesome—and awesomely-armed, by the way—toy. Trap-Jaw selfishly hogs too many good ideas for a single toy, and we're perfectly okay with that.
12 Worst: Prince Adam
It's never made clear exactly why He-Man needs to have an alter ego, but whatever. At least it makes for a cool transformation scene and iconic mini-monologue that we all know by heart.
But, by the power of Grayskull, we can't figure out why Prince Adam needed to be his own separate toy. Sure, there are Clark Kent toys and Peter Parker toys, but those are mostly for collectors. As kids, we didn't want to play the mild-mannered alter ego—we just want the hero. This figure isn't bad so much as it is utterly unnecessary.
11 Worst: Clamp Champ
Oh boy. Eventually, He-Man—like its peers—really started to dig the bottom of the barrel with its toy ideas as it wound down. And while He-Man never resorted to making figures out of celebrities like G.I. Joe did, that doesn't make Clamp Champ any less lame than The Fridge.
You know a character was made with minimal creative effort when its name is basically a literal description of what it is. He's really good with a clamp, making him the champion of clamps. So, he's the...clamp champ! Get it?
10 Best: Jitsu
To be perfectly clear, we realize that Jitsu isn't the most politically correct of toys, being an exaggerated cultural stereotype as was all-too-common for the time. But putting that aside, he's still an awesome character and toy.
It's hard to decide what we like more—his super-long sword or his metallic fist.
But who says we have to choose? With both at the ready, Jitsu was able to take on all comers, both in his in-universe appearances and in our massive toy battles.
9 Worst: Mekaneck
The people who designed He-Man toys had a strange obsession with having the characters extend or stretch out in some way. But of all the body parts that can be lengthened—minds out of the gutter here, people—the least-useful and also stupidest-looking has got to be the neck.
Whether you're talking about the cartoon or the toy, Mekaneck looks completely goofy any time his neck is extended. Not that he was much better without that, either, with a face that looked like a character from bad early computer animation.
8 Worst: Leech
Remember suction cups, and how they used to be on everything? Well, Leech takes that trend well beyond its limit by having suction cups for feet, hands, and a face.
Leech also had the "feature" of being able to squirt water, which was fun for about five minutes until we got in trouble for making a mess.
If you want to squirt water, use a water gun. If you want to play with suction cups, just grab that Garfield off your car window. Both are a better option than Leech.
7 Best: Teela
We still don't understand why there had to be a She-Ra when the original He-Man cartoon already had a perfectly awesome, perfectly awesome female warrior named Teela.
Teela was that rare toy that could appeal equally to girls and boys, and it definitely seems like Mattel tried to help appeal to the latter a bit by amping up Teela's snake motif with an awesome headdress. G.I. Joe fans, you can have your Baroness—Teela is the best female toy and character of that era, hands down. She'd also totally take Baroness in a fight...
6 Worst: Extendar
Remember how we said that Mattel loved to keep returning to the extendable character well with He-Man toys?
Extendar seems like the winner of a joke contest to see just how many extendable parts they could possibly put on a single toy.
He looked kind of cool on his own, a unique knight-like character with white armor and shiny gold trim. But once he was fully extended, all you could do was laugh at the absurdity—especially how his face looks peeking out over his mask.
5 Worst: Modulok
Where to even begin with Modulok—whose name kind of sounds like someone saying "Made you look," which suits a toy that requires at least a double take to believe that it can actually be that bad.
Modulok looks like they took two different toys and literally smashed them together rather than trying to make a coherent double-headed, double-legged character. We'd say what it actually looks like they are doing to each other, but this is a G-rated site. Use your imagination—or actually, don't. That's a recipe for nightmares.
4 Best: Skeletor
While the main antagonist in a lot of fictional properties is way cooler than the hero, nowhere is that more true than in He-Man. Look, if we're being honest, He-Man is a pretty bland character—just a standard Conan-esque archetype, nothing too remarkable.
But where the brand really sets itself apart is its iconic and awesome villain.
Skeletor is just one of the coolest—and admittedly, most bizarre—characters and toys in history: a hooded skull on the body of a muscular man. Even people who don't normally root for the bad guy can't help but love Skeletor.
3 Worst: Astro Lion
You might be thinking we used the wrong picture here. Surely that's the photo of some lame McDonald's Happy Meal toy, and not an actual figure in the He-Man line. We wish that were true, but in fact, Astro Lion was actually a completely separate toy that wasn't even the animal sidekick of another character or part of a playset.
We don't have to say much here—the picture does all the talking. This thing looks like it took 10 minutes to design and 20 cents to manufacture. If this is your introduction to Astro Lion, consider yourself lucky.
2 Worst: Twistoid
Twistoid is like one of those cheap plastic toys that were in 25 cent bins at Toys R Us—R.I.P.—that you bought for your kid just to make him stop crying about the NES game you wouldn't buy him. And no, that trick never actually worked.
If you don't know what Twistoid is even supposed to be, don't worry—the people who designed him probably don't, either. It takes a lot to be the actual worst toy in a line with some truly terrible toys, but Twistoid is up for the task.
1 Best: Roboto
We were hesitant to put Roboto at #1 because he almost doesn't even seem like a He-Man toy. Ultimately, though, what makes a toy the best is that it's the coolest, most unique, and most fun-to-play-with of its line.
To that end, Roboto is the obvious choice.
In addition to being another character with a fun moving jaw, and having a totally awesome claw for a hand, where Roboto truly shines is his see-through torso that displays the moving gears that run him. It's a really neat effect that looks just as cool today as it ever did.