Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: “Fake Out”

It’s time for another Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story. The name “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” was coined by Kevin Beckett at the Whetstone Discord server. You can check out all the Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Stories here.

I have had some new arrivals, including at long last King Randor, so expect more photo stories in the near future. However, for now I’m posting an expanded version of a story that I originally posted as a Twitter thread some time ago.

Most of the characters we see in the various versions of Masters of the Universe come from a privileged background, good guys and bad guys both. Not just the obvious ones like Adam and Adora, who are both royalty, but also Skeletor (more on that later) and supporting characters like Stratos, Buzz-Off, Mer-Man and pretty much everybody in either version of the She-Ra cartoon.  Eternia seems to function much like the Holy Roman Empire with lots of small kingdoms, both human and non-human, governing their own people and Randor serving as King for the entire light hemisphere (Eternia is also tidally locked like Mercury in the old pulp stories, only that both hemispheres are habitable, which makes no scientific sense, but then this is a kid’s cartoon and the worldbuilding was never intended to stand up to close scrutiny) with the various other rulers as members of his council,.

At any rate, Eternia is littered with kings, queens and other aristocrats. There are a few exceptions such as Ram-Man, Clamp Champ or Mekaneck, about whose background we learn very little, though they don’t seem to be aristocrats. And Evil-Lyn has at least four completely different origins in different versions of the story and is a displaced Earth scientist named Evilyn Powers in some of the early comics, a street kid from an abusive family background in Masters of the Universe Revelation, the estranged daughter of a powerful magician who lives alone in a ruined city in the desert (Eternia is littered with ancient ruins as well) in the 2002 cartoon and the estranged daughter of Hordak in the recent Netflix CGI show. Honestly, Lyn, pick one.

One notable exception among the many characters with an aristocratic background in Masters of the Universe is Duncan a.k.a. Man-at-Arms. We never learn much about his background before he joined the Eternian Royal Guard – which is unusual for such a prominent character – but there are plenty of hints that even though as Man-at-Arms, Duncan is the number two person in Eternia, he was not born to privilege, but rose through the ranks due to his courage and intelligence.

For starters, whenever we see Duncan in a flashback – and there are quite a few flashbacks of him in the original Filmation cartoon, the 2002 cartoon and Revelation, usually involving Teela’s birth and childhood – he is always wearing the standard Royal Guard uniform, suggesting that he was a common soldier at this time.

Furthermore, Duncan and King Randor have known each other for a long time and fought side by side as young soldiers. They live in the same large building, they share meals together and are clearly friends – which is what makes Randor banishing Duncan from the palace and threatening him with execution at the end of episode 1 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation so shocking – and Randor frequently calls Duncan by his first name in non-formal settings. Yet Duncan never once calls Randor by his first name even in private, it’s always “Your Majesty”, “My Lord”, “My Liege” or something like that. And while I may be harsh on Randor on occasion, he doesn’t strike me as the type to insist on protocol in private and with friends.

In an episode of the 2002 cartoon, we meet Dekker, a retired old soldier who served as mentor to a young Duncan and Randor. At one point, Dekker remarks that he used to call King Randor “Randy”. I can’t for the life of me imagine Duncan ever calling King Randor “Randy”, not even as young men getting drunk together in some tavern, oggling the barmaids and maybe getting into a fight (and now I want a flashback episode of that). Instead, Duncan is always extremely deferential towards Randor, suggesting that even though he has a privileged position now, he does not come from a privileged background and is well aware that he could lose his position at a whim, which is exactly what happens in Revelation. As an extra blow, Randor also forbids Duncan from ever again welding as much as two pieces of metal together on pain of death, taking away Duncan’s only way of making a living and basically condemning him to a life of poverty. This is a staggeringly cruel thing to do to someone who was once a friend and no amount of grief and guilt and anger Randor feels can excuse what he does to Duncan.

By contrast, Teela grew up in the royal palace alongside Adam and never knew any other life. As a result, Teela views the royal family as part of her extended family and even says as much to Marlena at the beginning of Revelation. While Teela does call Randor and Marlena “Your Majesty”, she is not very deferential towards either of them. And of course, Teela is not deferential towards Adam at all, but bosses him around all the time. Of course, Teela’s insistence on constantly training Adam is born out of love and concern for his safety, but as an adult I can see how very exhausting growing up with an over-archiever like Teela must have been for Adam. Good thing that he loves her.

There is one episode of the original cartoon, where Adam – after he has just fought Beast-Man and some of his creatures as He-Man and is clearly tired – actually does try pulling rank on Teela, flat ot refuses to do any combat training and dismisses her. Adam promptly gets chewed out by Cringer of all people for the way he treats Teela, while a clearly shocked Teela complains to Duncan, who gently tells her that yes, Adam can do that, because he is the crown prince. Though it’s notable that Adam never pulls rank on anybody and immediately feels sorry for the way he treated Teela. By the end of the episode, Adam and Teela have made up and Adam – as He-Man – has also saved Teela’s life.

Teela also bristles notably, whenever someone treats her like a servant, as happens a few times, particularly when Adam’s terrible cousins come to visit the palace, whereas Duncan meekly accepts being treated like dirt. The fact that Adam does have cousins implies that Randor has siblings other than his villainous half-brother Keldor by the way, though we never see any of them.

So in short, while Duncan and Teela (and their extended family) may enjoy a privileged life in the royal palace right now, they do not come from privilege and could lose everything at a whim of King Randor, something that Duncan is only too well aware of and Teela less so.

In Man-at-Arms’ workshop:

Duncan, Roboto and Teela are gathered around a work table, while Fisto is standing in the background.
“So, brother of mine, cause I know you’re just waiting for one of us to ask, what mechanical marvel are you working on today?”

“Why, how kind of you to ask, Malcolm. I’m making some new arm attachments for Roboto such as a blaster…”

“So I, too, can be a warrior like my father and my sister.”

“…and a grip which will allow him to grab objects.”

“Because making sure your robot son can actually grab things is obviously an afterthought. How about just making a mechanical hand for him? After all, mine works pretty well.”

“I wonder where Adam is. He promised he’d help us and yet he’s late… again.”

“Don’t worry, Teela. He’ll be along. Most likely, something came up.”

“Like napping in the stables or fishing in the Evergreen Forest, you mean?”

“Ah, the impatience of young love…”

“Shut up, Malcolm.”

He-Man enters Duncan's workshop.“He-Man? Is something wrong? Cause we were actually expecting…”

“Yes, something is the matter. I am cleaning up the palace and kicking out gutter trash like you and your family.”

He-Man attacks Duncan, while Roboto, Teela and Malcolm look on in shock.“He-Man, what…?”

“No, Father! What are you doing, He-Man?”

Duncan is down and Roboto attempts to stop He-Man.

“I am very sorry, friend He-Man, but I cannot allow you to hurt my father.”

“Get lost, rustbucket! Back to the trash heap where you belong!”

Duncan and Roboto are down and Fisto punches He-Man.

“All right, that does it! Most powerful man in the universe or not, no one talks like that about my family. Eat steel knuckles, shithead!”

Duncan and Roboto are down and He-Man punches Fisto
“Oh right, Fisto. A piece of shit even by the standards of your gutter scum family.”

“You’ll pay for that, muscle boy.”

“Here, let me rearrange your face for you. Cause it looks ugly.”

“Oh crap, he does pack a punch!”

“Stop it, He-Man! What’s wrong with you? I thought we were friends. I thought we were partners. I thought you cared about me. I thought you loved me.”

He-Man fights Teela, while Duncan, Roboto and Fisto are down.
“Love you? Silly girl! No one will ever love you. You’re just a bit of fun, a nice pair of tits and a cute arse. You’re not worthy of leading the palace guard and you’re not certainly not worthy of love.”

“Why? Why do you say such terrible things?”

He-Man fights Teela.
“You were fun… for a while. But now I will kick you out of the palace back into the gutter where you belong.”

“Leave my daughter alone, He-Man, and take on someone your own size.”

Roboto and Teela are down, Fisto is getting up again and Duncan fights He-Man
“Someone your own size? Don’t make me laugh, Duncan. You’re an insect, a maggot, scum from the gutter who wormed his way into the royal palace and King Randor’s friendship. But no more. The King knows exactly what you are and he wants you gone.”

“If King Randor wants me and my family gone, he should at least have the courage to tell me himself.”

“The King has better things to do than waste his time on a gutter rat like you. That’s why he sent me to take out the trash…”

He-Man attacks Duncan's family heirloom tea set, while Fisto tries to stop him.
“…starting with this butt-ugly tea set!”

“No, not the tea set.”

“Dude, you’ve insulted my family and now you’ve insulted my Mom’s tea set. Those are fighting words, arsehole.”

Prince Adam comes in to find He-Man attacking Duncan, Teela, Fisto and Roboto.
“I’m sorry I’m late, Duncan, but… He-Man? What on Eternia?”

“Oh, the cowardly Prince shows his face. Maybe I should kick you out along with this gutter scum, so someone more worthy can take the throne. I’m sure the King wouldn’t even notice that you’re gone.”

Adam fights He-Man, while Duncan, Teela, Fisto and Roboto look on.
“You’re right, my father probably wouldn’t even notice that I’m gone. And I never claimed to be worthy or brave. But you are not He-Man.”

“Oh, so the cowardly Prince fights back? Time to show you what true power and might looks like.”

“You can insult me all you like, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re not He-Man.”

He-Man has Adam backed against the wall with his sword at Adam's throat. Duncan shoots him from behind with Roboto's blaster.
“I am He-Man. I have the power. And now you die, worthless Prince.”

“Adam, no!”

“Leave him alone, you Faker!”


Duncan shoots the fake He-Man in the back. The fake He-Man explodes.

He-Man is revealed to be Faker.
“What on Eternia…?”


“He’s blue?!”

“Are you shocked now? Shocked that your beloved hero He-Man is in truth a blueskin?”

Adam fights Faker
“I have no problem with the Gar. But whatever you are, you’re not He-Man.”

“Of course I am He-Man. I am He-Man and I am a Gar, a blueskin. And now I will kill you, cowardly Prince.”

“Adam needs help, everybody.”

Faker is down and Adam, Roboto, Fisto, Duncan and Teela stand over his body.
“Bzzt, I am He…”

“What on Eternia is that thing?”

“Some kind of robot.”

“Like me, you mean?”

“Not like you Roboto. This is an evil robot. Probably one of Skeletor’s. At any rate, this plot has Skeletor’s fingerprints all over it. I will examine this robot later.”

“Is that wise, Father? After all, he did try to kill us.”

“The robot’s positronic brain was damaged in the fight as was the holographic projector that made him look like He-Man. Trust me, Teela, he is quite harmless now.”

“Harmless or not, this thing creeps me out. But at least the tea set survived, does anyone want tea?”

Adam, Teela, Roboto, Fisto and Duncan are having tea.“Okay, so Skeletor built a He-Man double. That I understand. But why make him blue?”

“Maybe he ran out of tan-coloured paint.”

“No, I think it’s because Skeletor wanted to tap into anti-Gar prejudice to antagonise the people against He-Man.”

“But anti-Gar prejudice hasn’t been a thing since the Great Unrest at the very least. Even my Uncle Keldor – the one we never talk about…

“And with very good reason.”

“Shut up, Malcolm.”

“…was half Gar. And all that stuff about the Gar conspiring to murder King Grayskull was always nonsense anyway. In Preternia, Grayskull himself told me that it was Hordak who killed him, not the Gar, and he should know.”

“Your tolerance honours you, Adam, but not everybody is as open-minded as you. Anti-Gar prejudice still lingers…”

“And with good reason, too. After all, we all know who it was that started a coup, attacked the Hall of Wisdom and tried to murder the Council of Elders. Even if we’re not supposed to talk about it.”

“Shut up, Malcolm. At any rate, anti-Gar prejudice it is a sore spot with Skeletor.  After all, he used to be one himself before he became whatever he is now.”

“Yes, come to think of it, his skin is blue. Odd, I never really thought about that…”

“Adam, when he said those terrible things, I thought, I feared that you…”

“Oh, come on, Teela, you know I would never say such awful things and neither would He-Man. After all, you’re family to me, all of you, and nothing will ever change that.”

“Aww, young love…”

“Shut up, Malcolm.”


Yup, it’s the introduction of Faker, a long-standing and rather strange Masters of the Universe character. For though Faker was conceived as an evil robot doppelganger of He-Man, he is the least convincing doppelganger ever, at least in toy form. Because in toy form, Faker is blue with orange hair, wears Skeletor’s armour and doesn’t even remotely look like He-Man.

The reason for this is economic. Faker is a cheap to make figure, because he requires no new parts, but is basically He-Man in a different colour scheme. Besides, the blue and orange really pops and attracts kids, at whom the toys were originally aimed.

The various cartoons show Faker actually looking like He-Man, at least until his robotic nature is revealed. Skeletor usually employs him to try to get into Castle Grayskull. There have been some toys versions of this more robotic looking Faker as well.

But what is the in universe reason for Faker being blue? There have been a couple of in universe explanations such as “The spell Skeletor used to create him went wrong and so he looks off.”

The explanation I like best involves the Gar, one of Eternia’s many humanoid species. For from the beginning on, Eternia has been portrayed as being inhabited by several intelligent species, most of them more or less humanoid. In addition to species like the Adreenoids a.k.a. the Bee People or the Aquaticans, i.e. the undersea dwellers led by Mer-Man or the Avions, the flying bird people led by Stratos, there have also always been characters that are basically human, but with skin colours not found on Earth.

In particular, there have been quite a few characters with blue skin such as the heroic warrior Sy-Klone, the evil warrior Kronis a.k.a. Trap Jaw, King Randor’s treacherous half-brother Keldor, the villainess Shokoti from the Filmation cartoons and of course Skeletor himself. I suspect that originally the designers and animators just gave some characters blue skin for aesthetic reasons, but eventually it was established that there was an entire species of blue-skinned humanoids named the Gar living on Eternia. There is a video about them here. As far as I know, the Gar are first mentioned in the episode of the 2002 cartoon that introduces Sy-Klone, though a comic might have mentioned them earlier.

There is some prejudice against the Gar on Eternia, probably due to the fact that they do have a rather high villain to hero quotient – of the most prominent Gar shown in the various cartoons, all but one are villains. In one of the comics, Adam and Adora’s heroic ancestor King Grayskull is also murdered by a Gar serving girl during an uprising of the Gar, which doesn’t exactly make them popular either, though in the 2002 cartoon King Grayskull dies in battle with Hordak. I guess King Grayskull lived so long ago that there are more legends than actual history surrounding him. Coincidentally, this would also explain why he is white in the 2002 cartoon and black in Revelation.

As for why Faker, who is a robot after all, has blue skin, Skeletor initially created him as an evil doppelganger of He-Man intended to worm his way into Castle Grayskull and/or the royal palace and cause havoc and destruction, including assinating King Randor and framing He-Man for the murder, which was supposed to happen in season 3 of the 2002 cartoon. And then, once he has caused maximum chaos and destruction, Faker was supposed to switch off the He-Man disguise and reveal himself as a being with blue skin to tap into anti-Gar prejudice – something that Skeletor as a Gar himself should be well aware of – and antagonise the people of Eternia against He-Man and his friends, so Skeletor can become king. Okay, so it is a convoluted plan, but then this is Skeletor we are talking about here and convoluted plans are something of a specialty of his. And this is far from the silliest plan to conquer Eternia Skeletor has ever come up with. Taking over a circus to sneak into the royal palace was definitely sillier.


I hope you enjoyed this Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Story. There will be more stories coming in the future, because I’m having a lot of fun doing these. Besides, having a King Randor figure makes a lot of stories possible that I couldn’t do before.

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, I just bought some toys, took photos of them and wrote little scenes to go with those photos. All characters are copyright and trademark their respective owners.

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3 Responses to Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: “Fake Out”

  1. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 10/18/22 Pixelitl Axolotl Pixelitl Axolotl Cheep Cheep Cheep! Axelot, Pixelitl More… | File 770

  2. Lurkertype says:

    Thank you for “Not the tea set!” and all the “Shut up, Malcolm”.

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