Episode 124 – The Toy Maker

In which Skeletor begins plans to open a sinister version of Toys R Us.

We open in Snake Mountain, where the eponymous Toy Maker is offering his services to Skeletor. Skeletor, proving that he isn’t completely mad yet, asks why the bloody hell he would be interested in a Toy Maker. The Toy Maker explains that his toys are somewhat out of the ordinary, to the extent of being able to take over a kingdom. Skeletor admits his interest, and instructs the Toy Maker to use his toys to capture Man-at-Arms.

As luck would have it, Man-at-Arms is messing about in the wilderness with one of his new inventions, which I will christen the Amazing Melting Machine. Environmentally responsible as always, he is trying to use the Amazing Melting Machine to melt hills. There follows an extended and irrelevant sequence in which the Amazing Melting Machine goes haywire and has to be stopped by He-Man. I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that during this sequence, He-Man uses the Amazing Melting Machine to melt a cloud, which I do not think is possible.

Toy Maker 2
He-Man: “Right … what physical impossibility shall I try today?”

After this delightful happening, Orko flies off, whinging about how no one likes him. He is correct. I like him still less when, a moment or two later, he bumps into the Toy Maker, who flatters him and then gives him some evil toys – specifically a teddy bear, a toy soldier, and a diplodocus. The Toy Maker even uses the telltale evil phrase, “Now remember, this’ll be our little secret.” Orko doesn’t pick up on this enormous spot-the-baddy hint, and happily takes the magic toys back to the Palace.

Toy Maker 3
Orko: “I’m all for not judging people by appearance, but really, there’s no way you’re not going to turn out to be evil, is there?”

At the Palace, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko all watch the toys as they magically strut about on a table. The four of them are ridiculously entranced, as if they’ve never heard of clockwork. Man-at-Arms suggests that the King and Queen would like to see the toys as well, because he evidently considers the King and Queen to be equally mentally deficient. Unfortunately, things never get to that stage, since once everyone else has gone to bed, the toys increase dramatically in size, and advance on Man-at-Arms and take him prisoner, in a surprisingly creepy sequence.

In the morning, Adam, Randor, Teela and Orko discover what has happened. When it emerges that the Toy Maker is actually a dangerous criminal and not a friendly if secretive wizard, Orko utters his favourite phrase: “Oh no! It’s all my fault.” Instead of agreeing with him, Adam just tells him not to blame himself, and pops off to turn into He-Man.

Teela and Orko are examining the tracks left by the toys, when Ram-Man unexpectedly shows up, offering his services. There is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm displayed at his arrival. Everyone is much more pleased when seconds later, He-Man and Battle-Cat appear. It is quickly determined that the tracks lead through the Valley of Echoes, which is allegedly very dangerous, but frankly in the extended sequence that follows, I think “boring” would be a more accurate description.

Toy Maker 4
He-Man: “The Beeb didn’t mention fog in today’s forecast. They never bloody get it right.”

It’s now time for a fight with the toys, which luckily doesn’t last too long, and ends with Orko acquiring magical mastery of the toys, for some reason. He-Man then considers it the height of hilarity to defeat Skeletor using the toy diplodocus. Once he’s finished messing around thus, Teela rescues Man-at-Arms, and He-Man takes the Toy Maker into custody. He also randomly decides to arrest Beast-Man and Trapjaw, which seems a little unfair, since they haven’t done anything wrong (at least, not this week).

Toy Maker 5
Teela: “I am for some reason suddenly sexually interested in Orko.”

 

In today’s adventure…

King Randor stands in the Palace courtyard, looking incredibly solemn. And with good reason: today’s moral is the very important lesson that you mustn’t take presents from strangers. Then Orko shows up, and adds that he ought to have known something was afoot when the Toy Maker asked him to keep secrets from He-Man. King Randor agrees with this piece of advice, and says, “Friends don’t have to keep secrets from each other.” He then closes with the by now traditional sign-off, “Till next time.” Unfortunately, he slurs these sentences together, making it sound as if he’s saying, “Friends don’t have to keep secrets from each other till next time,” implying that after the next episode of He-Man, you’ll have an absolutely massive secret to keep from your friends.

 

Character checklist

A pretty classic line-up greets us today, with Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Ram-Man, King Randor, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Whiplash. The only newbie on the table is the Toy Maker.

Toy Maker 1
Man-at-Arms: “Hey Orko, check out these awesome earmuffs I got from Primark!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When the Amazing Melting Machine goes mental, Adam comments, “Let’s go, Cringer, we’re needed.” This is at a juncture when no one is paying any attention to him anyway, so it’s unnecessary, but appreciated. Later on, he offers, “I’ll go for help”, when it becomes clear that He-Man is going to be called upon to do battle with a giant toy teddy bear.

 

Insults

Skeletor is less interested in insults than normal, rather surprisingly referring to everybody as his “friend”. It may be sarcastic, but it doesn’t sound it. Even when he does get insulting, his heart isn’t really in it, offering only “little man” to the Toy Maker. The only other insult in the episode isn’t much better, consisting as it does of Orko referring to the Toy Maker as a “bad Toy Maker”.

Toy Maker 6
Toy Maker: “I can’t begin to tell you how upset I am over what Orko said to me.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s good fun, an original idea for an episode, and a relevant moral – all things that have been sorely lacking in He-Man recently. The Amazing Melting Machine sequence is completely irrelevant, and the bit in the Valley of Echoes is fairly dull, but otherwise, it gets a lot right. The Toy Maker is a credible baddy, and his toys achieve a few moments of genuine creepiness. Skeletor’s plans are all over the place as usual – God knows why he wants to capture Man-at-Arms – but who cares about that? All in all, this is an unexpectedly good episode, though once again, you won’t find it on my Top 10 list.

13 thoughts on “Episode 124 – The Toy Maker

  1. I actually agree with you and feel the same way, I feel this episode often gets overlooked but it’s good fun and as you say an original idea! The ending felt a bit rushed as with many second season stories, but I agree on the whole it doesn’t really put a foot wrong, I like the toy maker and I thought the scene in the valley of echoes was the highlight scene for me personally it was very interesting seeing the characters reactions I must admit I don’t buy the idea that ram man is just slow I feel he is alittle dumb too and for all the right reasons I loved it when orko put ear muffs on everyone to stop them hearing the voices then when it came to ram man he said ‘hey where did these come from” !! On the whole one of the better season two episodes for me again just like yourself not making any top ten lists but certainly up the top end of season two episodes overall a pretty good effort with a very original idea worth seeing.

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    1. I may have a soft spot for this one, to be fair, because it was one of the first I saw when I was an adult. My friend at university had a copy on VHS (along with Search for a Son) and this was the early 2000s, when it was hard to watch episodes of He-Man. So it was a real pleasure for me to see an unfamiliar episode, and I think that’s stayed with me. But objectively, I do think it’s a pretty decent one!

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  2. ” God knows why he wants to capture Man-at-Arms – but who cares about that? ”

    Well, since he was pretty sceptical about Toymaker abilities, it may be like “well, if your toys would be able to capture at leadt Man-at-Arms, maybe then I’ll take you seriously”.

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    1. After all, even Skeletor must realize, that he could not send any new henchmen-to-be immediately against He-Man (or he would run out of candidates pretty fast). Man-at-Arms probably harmless enough for even the inexperienced bad guys to capture (and since He-Man would undoubtedly came and rescue him, those test could be repeated any time)…

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  3. Yeah I agree too interesting points dilandu makes! I think this idea skeletor being very sceptical of the toy maker was backed up in the episode as well at the beginning of the episode skeletor joked ” now what am I going to do with a toy maker take over eternia with an army of toy bears” followed by his insane laughter so I think this is very true, like yourself Owen I’ve always really liked this episode there’s just something really fresh about this story it’s very unique and hilarious as well and it’s funny to watch the toy maker you can see he’s so eager to impress skeletor with his toys!! Can I just say Owen an a hood time to say it now I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed these reviews I’m sure we all have shame it’s coming near the end with the final episode the cold zone (which I believe would be appreciated a lot more if it came out somewhere in the middle of the middle of the series) it is I accept a strange episode to be a last one but while not being a classic still a pretty good one none the less.. thanks for these review interesting hearing everyone’s opinions too looking forward to your review of the last he man episode!!!!

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    1. Thank you, John, it’s great that you’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s been fantastic fun doing it. But the fun’s not over … I’ll be moving onto She-Ra after He-Man, and even after that there’s still the New Adventures and MYP…

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  4. I must admit il probably be stopping at she ra as I’ve never seen a single episode of the new adventures of he man and myp! But I have seen about half of the she ra episodes do I may comment on a few of them (the ones I’ve seen) but he man is where my heart is I’m mainly a huge fan of this original he man series but yes will definetly give my opinions on a few of the she ra ones! Yep great fun these reviews and your funny bits of dialogue below the pictures in your reviews!! Just one last thought on the toy maker the other episode I can recall where skeletor captured man at arms was teelas trial (a definite crowd splitting episode which I personally thought was great and believable writing teela this way for the story it told) but while in teelas trial there seemed more a reason for skeletor capturing man at arms in the toy maker it just seems to me like he’s captured him just for the hell of it!! There’s no doubt this is the best skeletor the filmation version arguably one of the most iconic of all cartoon baddies takecare..

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    1. Well, I’ll be sorry to lose my most loyal fan once we get through She-Ra. I did find the New Adventures a bit of a slog at times – though it’s surprisingly good at other times! – but I think you’d like MYP. I agree though, for me the original Filmation is the best incarnation…

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  5. I think that it is an average He-man episode.

    This episode was entairtaining, and as OwenMorton said it was an original idea.

    Also, like John Thompson, I didn’t like that Man-at-arms was a damsel in distress another time in this episode (Like in “Teela’s trial”, “Like Father, Like Daughter”, ” Colosor awakens”, “Dragon’s Gift”,… episodes.) and I think that Skeletor had no real reasons to kidnap Man-at-arms. I indeed personally think that Man-at-arms is saved too often in this cartoon. I mean: He is supposed to be a competent fighter, thus him being too often captured is incoherent with him being often caught by Skeletor.

    Also, to me, the moral was incoherent with the main story. King Randor and Orko indeed said that you should never keep secrets from your friends. Yet, that’s what Adam is doing all the time (for debatable reasons.), hiding his dual identity from everyone but Man-at-Arms, Orko & the Sorceress.

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  6. Correction:
    Concerning my third paragraph, I wrote a mistake. I meant:
    “I mean: Man-at-arms is supposed to be a competent fighter, thus him being too often saved from Skeletor and his goons is incoherent with him being a competent fighter.”

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