The hilariously practical reason why He-Man has a giant green tiger

I'm endlessly fascinated by the behind-the-scenes chaos of the 80s action-figure-cartoon pipeline. Advertising direct to kids was frowned upon — but no one would necessarily stop you from creating a kids show that inadvertently advertised its own action figure line. Who cared about the storyline or quality? As long as the next knockoff GI Joe looked cooler than the last one, with a cheap "hologram" on its chest or whatever, then nothing mattered, as long as it sold well!

This is absurd, but also made for some interesting creative tensions and experiments. Consider: Battle-cat, the giant green tiger that hung around with He-Man. Masters of the Universe was already kind of an odd franchise — an obvious Conan ripoff that also tried to cash-in on Star Wars' success with sword-and-sorcery stories but in space, with guns and robots! In a franchise that already arguably has too much going on, a giant green tiger stands out as almost too normal.

As one of the creators explains in this clip from Netflix's The Toys That Made Us, it turns out this was an entirely pragmatic decision.

Basically, they had promised to deliver a cool new toy line, but time and money were getting tight. Someone on the creative team realized that Mattel already had a mold for a tiger action figure, from a different, older toy line — but it was in a different scale, twice as large as the other He-Man figures. Still, re-using an existing mold could save a lot of money. So they slapped a saddle on it and called it a day. A steed-sized tiger would hardly be the weirdest thing about the franchise, right?

The way the story is told above, though, really goes to show how by-the-seat-of-their-pants this absurd operation was.