Was He-Man Originally Intended as a Toy Tie-In for Film, Conan the Barbarian?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about toys and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of all toy urban legends featured so far! It is also really a Movie Legends Revealed, too, so it’ll be listed under both categories.

TOY/MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: He-Man began life as a toy tie-in for the Conan the Barbarian film.

One of the great movie toy tie-in legends involves He-Man and Conan the Barbarian. Namely, did He-Man originate as a tie-in to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Conan the Barbarian, and then Mattel decided, “Eh, let’s just keep this one for ourselves” and then took their Conan prototypes and turn them into the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line.

The supporting evidence for this being the case is the fact that Mattel did, in fact, have a licensing agreement with Conan Properties International (CPI) to make Conan toys and then Mattel backed out. When He-Man came out, CPI sued Mattel for general copyright infringement claims (that He-Man was too similar to Conan as a toy) and, more specifically, that Mattel breached their contract with CPI to make the He-Man toys.

So is it true?
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