Between 1985 and 1986, a media and commercial phenomenon emerged in Mexico known as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a line of toys created by the Mattel company and an animated series by the Filmation company, which quickly became popular with kindergarten and elementary school children who implored their parents for the figures whenever they saw them on the toy store shelves. from supermarkets.
With the Netflix premiere of He-Man: Revelations, these children, now men between 35 and 50 years of age, spend a good part of their salaries to relive the days when the maximum symbol of status was the number of dolls and vehicles of the Masters of the Universe that were kept in the collection.
“I have clients that if they see a complete series of dolls, they take them away in one go, it doesn’t matter that they spend 10,000, 15,000 pesos, they buy them without thinking,” says Jorge, a tenant of the Comic Rock Show, a flea market from comics and collectible toys that is put on every Saturday at the José Martí Cultural Center, next to the Alameda Central in Mexico City.
“Pure wey our age, he buys them, ”says Jorge, who is 42 and grew up with the original Mattel figures released in 1981, those that only had six points of articulation, but now sells those from the Origins collection, which are similar to the original but they have 16 points of articulation and are physically better proportioned.
“Two or three dudes come a week who take a minimum of five dolls. Even ladies come that they know the names of all the characters and they buy them two or three at a time ”, says Jorge, who sells the basic figures for between 450 and 600 pesos.
“Morros almost do not buy these, but there are some who ask and if they are curious, they take some, but they are the least. Cool customers are the chavorrucos that like you and I grew up watching the cartoon on 5 ”.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe it aired on Channel 5 of Televisa between 1985 and 1986 with repetitions for a few more years. In the United States, the series began airing in 1983 to boost the sale of figures designed since 1981.
Muscular subjects of the barbarian warrior type, armed with axes, swords, spears and magic objects were the aspiration of the children of the time, who shouted the famous phrase “I have the power” every time they had their toys in their hands.
“‘I have the power’. It was the first thing I screamed when I started playing with my toys, ”says David Álvarez, a 42-year-old collector who grew up with all the mythology of Masters of the Universe.
“Even before boom of the collection in Mexico of the Star Wars figures, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe it was already a fetish for many. As children we did not know anything about collecting but we already bragged at school how many and which dolls we had. We were collectors without knowing it. Because it was not the same to have the He-Man original, to have the one of the combat armor or the Thunder Punch wearing red armor, or the Flying Fists I had accessories that turned, ”explains David.
He says that he had his first figure when he was six years old. “The He-Man original was a birthday present my mom gave me. He gave it to me when I got home from school and I was super excited. I remember they gave me other gifts, but I only had eyes for myself He-Man. To date, I don’t remember what else they gave me that day ”.
David’s dad was a worker at a car assembly plant in the 1980s. At that time, his salary was enough to pay for a private school for two children and to indulge in some luxuries, such as a vacation to the beach once a year and a good number of gifts. for children the days of kings.
“I had 30 figures, nine vehicles and the two castles (Grayskull Y Serpent Mountain). It was the envy of my friends at school. Everybody wanted to go to my house to play with him Castillo Grayskull. Today’s kids don’t understand what that means. That is why we are so fond of these toys ”.
From his collection he only kept about four figures in good condition, about six broken and no vehicles or castles. “If I had known how much they are worth today, I would have had them in their boxes, but one was a child and I don’t regret having played with them. I enjoyed them and I think my parents knew it because for about three or four years they were the drawer gift on birthdays, Children’s Day, Christmas and Three Kings. Until that, the bosses had it easy to give away at that time ”.
Now David is dedicated to looking at the flea markets for the figures he had, in addition to buying new series or reissues. “Now I have about 200 easy. From my original collection I only have two monkeys missing, Cobra Kahn Y Whiplash. It is difficult to find both complete and in good condition, because the tail of Whiplash as it is made of rubber, it is almost always broken, but I have patience, I know that one day I will find them ”.
SECOND HAND NOSTALGIA
Among the many stalls that are in the Comics Rock Show, there are some that sell old toys and in poor condition, however, they are the ones that sell the most since there are lost treasures or some dreams are belatedly fulfilled.
Miguel exhibits some figures of Masters of the Universe without armor or with broken arms and a Castillo Grayskull incomplete, without a door, and without the platforms, that does not prevent some people from approaching to ask or to take one.
“I had a really crazy story about a guy who came for a Mekaneck… That was more or less cool because the figure was from Mattel made in Mexico, the armor was made in Taiwan and I found the weapon looking at a chatterbox in a street market. I told him to give me 600 for him and without thinking he gave it to me. When you sell used in bad condition they always haggle, but this guy nailed himself with the figure. He said he always wanted one but his parents could never buy it for him. It gave me a bit of sadness, but I was also glad to see that someone gets so happy with so little ”.
Although Miguel has clients who look for the figures to have them, most of them contact him to have spare parts to restore other figures. “These guys are artists. They know how to separate the pieces without mistreating or breaking them. These figures were expensive because it was very difficult for them to detach or break. It’s like repairing an expensive iPhone or cell phone. In my time, my dad glued my toys with Kola Loka or pop plasticine, that green and white that when you mix it, it hardens like cement. You could see refeos ”.
In one of the stalls at the Rock Show there was a piece worthy of a professional collector. A figure of He-Man from 1981 made in Taiwan, with its original weapons and the minicomic that came in the packaging. It was in an acrylic case. Its price, 2,600 pesos. The figure stood out because it was for sale at a stall specialized in Hot Wheels toy cars.
Esteban Ortiz narrates the value of this figure and how it came into his hands. “I specialized in Hot Wheels and collect figures from Dragon Ball. It is He-Man I bought it from a guy in Tijuana, there they are still well cared for in stores and markets in the United States ”.
Explain that a collector of Masters of the Universe up to 5,000 or 6,000 pesos are spent on a figure. “In conventions I have seen that they are sold for up to 10,000 pesos, depending on which version or model they are looking for. Sometimes you sell them as a couple and they pay you more, because the collector no longer has to look for them ”.
He does not always buy the figures, sometimes he negotiates changes for his own collection or on behalf of clients or friends.
MARKET OF UNCERTAINTY
Jorge explains that it is a complicated hobby because prices can vary from nothing. “Right now I’m selling them, the basic overalls from the Origins collection, for 450, 600 pesos, but in a month it may be (Man E Faces) cost twice or flat or find it. It is not known why ”.
The line of Masters of the Universe Origins It was announced in 2019 as a tribute to the toys of the 80s, but with significant improvements due to advanced production processes that allow the figures to be more mobile, as well as new paint details and facial expressions. A line created specifically for adult collectors.
An example of what can significantly alter the price of parts is their availability. In 2019, when Mattel announced the Origins line, the first two figures, He-Man Y Skeletor, were sold out in pre-sale, long before hitting stores in the fall of 2020.
For ancient figures or vintageAs pretentious collectors or sellers like to call them, the price can vary even more.
Esteban comments that most of the figures of the 80 that are impeccable come from Tijuana. “There are many collectors there who bought them in San Diego, long before they came out in Mexico. Some when they saw the boom bought many to resell them here when passing fayuca was easier. Some of those sellers had some left behind that were forgotten until many years later collectors began to ask for them ”.
“I heard from a guy who sold one with the original packaging, unopened. I didn’t believe it at first. It’s like an urban legend because there are no photos of something like that … Do you know how people would get here if they saw one of those in its original packaging? It would not reach the public. Word of what we bring is spreading between us and there will be someone who will give you the varus before you can show it off ”.
“WE BUY OUR OWN SOUVENIRS”
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe They are not the only thing or the best seller in the Comics Rock Show. Every cartoon from the 80s or 90s that had a toy line has at least one representative in the many stalls of the tianguis. The same for the animated, video games and building toys such as Lego and Megablocks.
The same there are collectors of Transformers what of G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Pokémon, Barbie, My Little Pony, Halo, And a long etcetera. All eager for figures that remind them of their childhood.
Carlos, for example, buys Transformers. “I only buy the G1, especially the ones made in Mexico. They were the ones who bought me as a child ”. These figures were marketed between 1985 and 1990 in the country.
His latest acquisition is the figure of Devastating, a giant robot that is formed by combining six figures that are green construction vehicles. It was manufactured in Mexico, under license from Hasbro, by the Iga company, whose slogan in the 1980s commercials was “toys with life.”
The purchase of this toy was a ritual, which any collector who goes to the Rock Show goes through. “The seller was giving it in three (thousand), I ended up paying it in two (thousand) 600”.
Carlos’s process was to arrive, see the figure and ask the price. Once the salesperson gave it to him, he asked if he had the accessories complete and did he have them all. He then asked to touch it and verify that it was not broken or had obvious repairs.
At this point, the seller already knows that he is dealing with a serious buyer and not a curious one who is only going to see what he knows.
Tactfully, Carlos asks if he can disarm Devastating, to which the seller, somewhat reluctantly, agrees. Once disassembled, the potential buyer reviews the six robots one by one, verifying the condition of the joints, since loose joints devalue the toy; Check the condition of the paint and that the decals are not too worn or loose.
Carlos offers two thousand five hundred since the figures have some dust and the decals are incomplete and worn. The seller reverses: 2,800. Carlos offers 2,600 and the seller reluctantly accepts. It was the first sale of the day, so I didn’t want to lose it.
“I am buying a piece of my childhood, just seeing it reminded me of many things. It’s like a chip that activates parts of your brain that have been turned off. It is not that you expect its price to go up a lot and then resell it, that does not happen most of the time. Many of us just come to buy our own souvenirs ”.