How much He-Man is too much He-Man? For toy giant Mattel, there’s no such thing. On the heels of Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) confirming he’ll star as the iconic warrior in the Sony Pictures/Mattel Films 2021 Masters of the Universe reboot, Mattel Television announced it was developing not one, but two new animated kids series for Netflix based on the beloved 30-year-old franchise.
The newest version joining the slate is CG-animated He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which revolves around a young prince who transforms into the titular hero to battle the evil Skeletor and save the cosmos.
Mattel TV’s head of development and production, Adam Bonnett (formerly EVP of original programming at Disney Channels Worldwide), SVP and EP Christopher Keenan and development VP Rob David are executive producing, while Taiwanese animation studio CGCG (Trollhunters) and Toronto’s House of Cool (Despicable Me) are the show’s animation partners.
And in fall 2019, Mattel also unveiled the Kevin Smith-helmed Masters of the Universe: Revelation. This series will present an original story set in the same world as the classic ’80s toon, picking up where many of the characters’ adventures left off when that show ended in 1985. The 2D series will be animated by Texas-based Powerhouse Animation (Castlevania) and target a broader family audience, whereas He-Man will feature more kid-focused stories.
The two series are the first Mattel has announced since it unveiled plans for a 22-project slate. Based on the toyco’s well-known characters, franchises and original IPs, this wave of content will encompass genres including action-adventure, comedy, game shows and music aimed at preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens and families. New in-production seasons of long-running series Barbie’s Dreamhouse Adventures, Polly Pocket, Thomas and Friends and Fireman Sam are also part of the lineup.
Along with expanding Masters of the Universe, Bonnett says Mattel TV is developing unscripted series, particularly for the toyco’s game IPs. “We see big opportunities to create content for a primetime audience,” he says.
Mattel’s well-known game brands include UNO and Pictionary, and the toyco previously dabbled in unscripted content in 2013 with its Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver YouTube content. It also partnered with Raycom-Legacy on the 2019 series Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live: Crushing It!
For Bonnett and his team, which also includes director of preschool development Monica Dennis, collaboration will be key as new projects roll out. Bonnett says he works hand-in-hand with global content distribution SVP Fred Soulie from the company’s new franchise management unit, as well as Mattel Films chief Robbie Brenner.
“Robbie was the first person I talked to before I joined the company last year,” says Bonnett. “Since then, we have worked very closely to make sure the TV and film strategies are aligned, whether it’s deciding if a pitch should be a movie or series, or looking at ways to share talent.”