The Goddard Group has a rich history and some of that history was made prior to the company’s start, by our CEO, Gary Goddard’s experience in film. With the recent and unfortunate passing of legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie, we sat down with Gary to discuss his experiences with Mr. McQuarrie while Gary was directing Masters of the Universe. The following is a never-before-seen look into some of the artwork that came from the artistic mind of an artist, illustrator, and designer that will be missed; and a piece of the puzzle that has made The Goddard Group what it is today:

When I was directing MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and we were just starting on the conceptual ideas, John DeCuir (CLEOPATRA, KING & I, HELLO DOLLY, GHOSTBUSTERS) was the first person that signed on to initiate conceptual work. I had hoped to involve Ralph but he was signed on to Ron Howard’s production of COCOON at the time and was not available. Then about three weeks into MASTERS, Ralph called and said “Cocoon has been put on hold. Might be a week, might be a month, might not resume at all. Do you still want me to work on Masters as I am available, but if I get called back on Cocoon, I’ll have to honor that contract.” So I said yes, come on board. So Ralph joined us but as it turned out only for about three weeks as Cocoon went back into active pre-production and he had to return. But in these three weeks, Ralph did some interesting design work. With his passing last week, I went and dug into my old MASTERS file and found these. I thought fans might like to see them as they have never appeared anywhere before, at least not to my knowledge.

SKETCHES - Masters of the Universe

SKETCHES - Masters of the Universe

Ralph generally did thumbnails first, to get a feeling for the world and the characters. These are some initial sketches for the “world” of Eternia and some of the denizens there in. We talked early on about “robotic sentries” because Mattel had stated early on that He-Man “could never harm people” so that drove the idea of creating an army of “robot sentries” that would spark and explode when hit, rather than “die”. The female shown was a first sketch idea of Evil-Lyn. There was an idea early on for a “cute robot” which I killed as there were tons of cute robots in TV and films then and I didn’t want to have yet another one.

VEHICLES - Masters of the Universe

VEHICLES - Masters of the Universe

In the first version of the script, and per Mattel, they had hoped to see a number of designs with “toyetic” possibilities. Ralph started sketching some ideas based upon some existing Mattel designs for toys, and then started to veer more into an approach that based the flying jets more on bird-like shapes as evidenced in the center of this set of sketches.

PLACES - Masters of the Universe

PLACES - Masters of the Universe

These are more thumbnails showing the early ideas for the opening sequence. We were to be on Eternia and I had wanted originally to give the sense of a true “world”. Various shots were going to show different aspects and “lands” within Eternia, all leading ultimately to GRAYSKULL CASTLE. In my mind, the idea of bringing the Eternians to Earth was a given due to budget and this was the script that I had signed on to make. But I had hoped in a sequel that we would go to Eternia, and my thought was that the world of Eternia should be every bit as interesting as anything in LORD OF THE RINGS (meaning the books of course), or in the world of the Star Wars movies. But to be different, I was pushing more towards a Tolkien-esque world for Eternia.

BAD GUYS - Masters of the Universe

BAD GUYS - Masters of the Universe

Once the Thumbnails were roughed out, Ralph and I would talk and he would take things to the next level. Here we have a look at Evil-Lyn (and several variations) and one of Skeletor. In this one, I was playing with the idea that SKELETOR might actually have a SKULL MASK that was fashioned to instill fear in people. Underneath, as with The Phantom of the Opera, and with Doctor Doom and later, Darth Vader, is a scarred human being whose face had been severely disfigured and scarred in some long-ago accident or battle. So this was a SKULL MASK with a helmet. Ultimately we decided this was too “Darth Vader” and also Mattel was of the opinion, probably rightly so, that Skeletor had to be SKELETOR –which is to say a SKULL with speaking abilities on an otherwise perfectly healthy male human body.

GOOD GUYS - Masters of the Universe

GOOD GUYS - Masters of the Universe

Early character designs for He-Man, Man At Arms, Teela, and what would become GWILDOR, the character I created to take the place of ORKO. In the days before digital animation, the idea of bringing either ORKO or BATTLE CAT to life in a live action world would have meant stop motion animation, and a great deal of painstaking effects work. As this was being done on a limited budget ($17,000,000) the idea of having BATTLE CAT or ORKO was out of the question. But of course, by bringing them to Earth, we avoided any accusations that we had taken them out of the mythology – they just didn’t make the jump to Earth. In retrospect it would have been very cool to have Battle Cat in that opening confrontation in the Throne Room, and to have brought him back into it for the scene where our Earthling teenagers say goodbye and return home. Ralph was still working on that little cute robot which I kept telling him was a no-go. And these initial studies were based largely on the Toy designs, and I was pushing Ralph to move away from that and to begin inventing our own designs for the movie.


There is more Ralph McQuarrie and Masters of the Universe art to come!  To be continued…  (CLICK HERE TO SEE POST 2 OF Ralph McQuarrie AND Masters of the Universe!)


Masters of the Universe, He-Man and associated characters are trademarks owned by and under licence from Mattel Inc.©. Masters of the Universe The Motion Picture © Cannon Films Inc. and Cannon International.

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25 comments on “RALPH McQUARRIE and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – Part One

  1. Thank you, I hope an homage to Jean Giraud “Moebius” is next!

  2. What was it like working with Dolph?

    • Travis,

      Working with Dolph was interesting as he had just come off of the ROCKY movie and he was quite a major star at the time. But we had a good working relationship and he defintely was committed to the work at hand. He trained daily to stay in shape, he participated in the staging sessions (no double for those), and he generally gave his all. He definitely had a very strong work ethic and was always ready for whatever was required. Imagine being clamped only at your ankles, onto a “flying disc”, that was in reality mounted on a camera truck, that was moving down an urban main street at 45 to 50 miles an hour with nothing to hold on to! Dolph as like “Okay – I trust you guys — lets do it.” We had a few minor disagreements here and there, which is normal on a movie of that size and complexity — but overall, I think Dolph gave the effort 100% and we got along well throughout the shoot.

      -Gary Goddard, CEO

  3. Wow! I’m a big fan of both Mr. McQuarrie and Masters of
    the Universe and until today I had no idea they had been connected!

    Thank you very, very much for this article! Incredibly looking forward to the rest! :)


    Cliff Laureys,

  4. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  5. moose on said:

    you should’ve let them look like the toys.established characters MUST look like the designs fans have come to know.invent new look when they are YOUR characters.just my opinion

  6. Wow i really am a big fan of masters of the universe as well as star wars,It is good to see the connection in both movies with Mr.Mcquarries hand work and I hope and pray that their is a new live action masters of the universe movie that will be out soon.

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  9. Thanks for sharing these pictures. The world has lost an inspiration to many artists with the passing of Mr. RMQ. I’m glad to know he had a part in my other favorite franchise.

  10. Matthew on said:

    Hi Gary,

    It was great seeing these never-before-seen pictures of Ralph McQuarrie’s work twenty-five after the Masters Of The Universes: Motion Picture.

    I love both Masters Of The Universe and Star Wars Franchises so it was nice to see that another extremely talented artist was attached to the MOTU Movie in some way. I love all the early design movie artwork by Mobius and Bill Stout that was shown in the Masters Of The Universe Poster Magazine back in 1987 and Drew Struzen’s poster artwork for the movie is one of my alltime favorite posters which I have the cardboard video standee display of as well.

    Is there any chance you would be putting all this artwork into a collectible volume for mass purchase in the near future?

    When will we see a Future DVD or Blu-Ray Release of your Masters Of The Universe Movie?
    It would be nice to see the deleted scenes from the film or even the scenes cut back into the movie as well as the Good Morning America Segment on the making of the movie that aired just before the film hit theaters.

    Also, now that Captain Power is officially out on DVD has there been any interest by a film or television company to Re-boot or Re-introduce the Captain Power series for a new age of Sci-Fi Fans (much like the recent Re-imaging of BattleStar Galactica)?

    Anyways, thanks for making one of my all-time favorite dreams come true by seeing He-Man and company come to the big screen and for Cannon Films in taking a chance on making the film…I have literally seen the movie hundreds of times on VHS over the years and many more on DVD.


    Matthew H

    • Matthew —

      Okay FIRST, I have been searching and seaching for the that cardboard video standee as I was promised one by the video release company and never got it. So – take a few great photos of it and send to me will you? Second, we are trying to convince Warner Brothers to release a 25th Anniversary DVD and/or Blue Ray! We have an entirely new documentary that Roger Lay has made on MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (he also did the documentary on the Making of Captain Power which was part of our DVD Anniversary release as well) which we would release, along with other never before seen art and design elements. So lobby hard with Warner Brothers and let them know you want this! As far as a book of all the art – thats a great idea and we have been approached by a publisher. I am supportive of this and hope to see it come to be. Thanks for your enthusiastic support and kind words — its great to hear from you and from so many other fans of the movie. Now don’t forget to send me some photos of the video cut out display!

      -Gary Goddard, CEO

      • Matthew on said:

        Hi Gary,

        I will get a copy of the photo sent to you soon.

        I also have many other items from the movie if you are looking for pictures of them as well..such as the Panini Movie Sticker Book, Movie Flyer, Lobby Cards, Cannon Press Kit, Posters/British Quad Movie Poster, ect.

        I just wish I had some of the props from the film such as the Sword Of Power or Skeletors Skull Staff.

        Thanks and Good Journey,


  11. It’s in point of fact a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  12. darren douglas on said:

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know Ralph had worked on He-man, these are priceless, thanks a million for the upload

  13. jim drewry on said:

    I remember slogging in the trenches out in Whitier on this movie. It was the biggest feature I’d ever worked on. We had 4 city blocks (if I recall correctly) under cable. All the streets were lit. All the storefronts were lit. We had a Muscoe Light :) high overhead. Don’t know how many generators plugging away. Lots of electric crew members.
    Grip and electric were sharing a space in an old bank that was slated for demo.., so we couldn’t hurt it. We enjoyed the thought of mischievious actions in what was supposedly Richard Nixon’s first law office. After days/nights of heroic crew work, I went to dailies to see what they were coming up with. To my shock, they were all close ups of talent. Face shots taken while talent was moving thru the streets! Seemed like they could have been shot in a small studio w/ a fan! I remember comments about a cartoonist being the director and used to the little panels in comic books!
    It was a great shoot and I’ll always enjoy the memories. A diferent POV from an old Best Boy.

  14. Hi Gary,

    I was wondering if you received the e-mail photo of the “Masters Of The Universe: Motion Picture” Cardboard Video Display Standee that I sent you and that you asked that I send to you?

    Also, regarding a 25th Anniversary DVD and/or Blu-Ray Edition of the “Masters Of The Universe: Motion Picture”…as well as sending an e-mail to Warner Home Video I sent an e-mail to Warner Bros.com asking them to consider getting this release made and I hope enough other fans of the film will either e-mail or write in to Warner Brothers to let them know there is enough fan demand to warrant getting this release made.

    Also, it would be great if a publisher would pick up the rights to release a collected volume of all the art work featuring the various artists who worked on the MOTU: Motion Picture in the near future.

    Thanks and Good Journey,

    Matthew H

    • I have not as yet recieved it Matthew .

      Try again? I’ll check the junk mail at GGE to see if perhaps it went into the wrong place.

      • Hi Gary,

        I re-sent the photo and a couple new photos as well to your info @ E-mail so please check them out and let me know if you receive it and if not I can try and re-send it if you would like.

        Thanks for your time,

        Matthew H

      • Gary,

        I just finished watching the short sample of the Roger Lay Documentary that was produced and intended for the “Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture” 25th Anniversary Edition DVD and/or Blu-Ray and loved every minute of it.

        It is also great to Hear that Director Bryan Singer (X-men/X-Men II) as well as Skeletor himself-Frank Langella would be involved in an all new commentary track for the possible new release of the film. Have you considered contacting Dolph Lundgren to have him participate in the all new commentary track for the film?…he gave a very informative & energetic commentary track for the DVD release of “Universal Soldier: Regeneration.”

        I thought the article that went along with the clip was a brilliant move and I think this is a bold new step in getting fans even more excited about the possible 25th anniversary release of this motion picture and will hopefully drive fans to reach out and contact Warner Brothers and/or Warner Brothers Home Video by e-mail or a written letter, ect

        PS: I hope that you received or found the copy of the photo of the “Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture” Warner Brothers Home Video Cardboard Standee that you asked that I send to you.


        Matthew H

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