Sunday, December 22, 2013

You Say Zodac…I Say Zodak

The first 2 Masters of the Universe figures I ever got were Stratos and Zodac. One was a strange grey furry looking monkey man with feathered arms and a jet pack. And the other was this cool looking futuristic dude with a gun who oddly enough had demonic 3 toed feet. If it wasn’t for the odd feet, I would at first glance assumed that Zodac, the futuristic human looking figure was the good guy and that the furry grey dude, Stratos was bad. Turns out I was wrong….kinda.

Despite his odd look, Stratos was immediately established as a good guy and one of He-Man’s closest allies. Zodac, although labelled as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer” was hardly ever depicted as one of Skeletor’s men…in fact he was hardly ever featured at all in any of the initial mini comics that came with the toys, which made me wonder what exactly was up with this dude.

It didn’t help later on when he finally made a few appearances in the Filmation cartoon, he was portrayed more as a neutral character, neither good or bad. I later found out that Mattel’s original intention really was to make him a neutral character, but they lumped him in with the bad guys in order to even out the ranks of that first toy wave.

Anyway, allegiances aside, next to all the other out of this world characters, Zodac’s design looked rather…plain. I mean like I mentioned earlier, he looked like a normal pale skinned human with a helmet and simple armor that looked rather generic. He had no special action features and just sported a lone gun (pistol) as his only accessory. So as more and more creative and unique characters were introduced into the series, Zodac kinda slowly faded into obscurity.

What could
have been...
Luckily, when the 2002 He-Man cartoon reboot came along, The Four Horsemen, a group of toy designers, were tasked with redesigning and updating the Masters of the Universe characters for the new show. They initially planned to give Zodac a radical makeover, making him more alien in appearance to match up better with his “cosmic enforcer” title. Mattel however had other plans. They wanted this new series to have a more racially diverse cast and asked for an additional darker skinned character. The Horsemen initially planned to change Stratos’ race…but in the end decided that making Zodac black would be the better idea. But they didn’t stop at change of skin color, to make him even more visually interesting, they added more futuristic elements to his armor, gauntlets and boots as well as tribal tattoos all over his body, which glowed when he would “power up”. As an added cool feature, they had the tattoos in the new Zodac toy glow in the dark as well!

In the new cartoon, the new ZodaK (now spelled with a “K”) is an ancient immortal warrior whose powers rival that of even He-Man. He and his allies were the original guardians who fought against the ancient evil race of Snakemen led by King Hssss. In fact, King Hssss ATE Zodak’s brother Zeelahr, which basically drove the vengeance-fuelled Zodak to seek more cosmic power at the price of his own mortality and dedicate his life to the destruction of Hssss and his army at his hands.

And just in case you’re wondering why they even bothered to change the spelling from “C” to “K”, well basically it was a smart way to cover up past mistakes, because even in the original toyline, his name was spelled differently from case to case. So in order to officially set things right, they decided to make Zodac and Zodak two different characters, with the white demon footed Zodac being the original Cosmic enforcer and the cooler dark skinned Zodak as his official successor. It really was a straight forward simple solution that more importantly validated the need for TWO cosmic enforcers in our collections.