Okay - There are still some questions left unanswered, but these discoveries will satisfy me for today. Turns out He-Man.Org has some interesting articles. Here's one
that tells us the story of how the toyline gets made, and some of the impact that line has had since. (originally printed in ToyFare in '98) Sort of light, but it covers some interesting factoids about the FCC and some market research Mattel did in preparation for a Conan toy line. It also lights on the fact that before the FCC re-legalized toy-related cartoons in 1984 (He-Man's big wave), the MOTU toyline had struggled in a different continuity more closely related to a conan/fantasy world. Luckily I found this wonderful post by "Prokrustus" on some Conan forum:
I don't think a lot of Conan fans realize that there was a time before the cartoon, He-Man's Pre-Classic (or Mineternian) period, when the barbarian roots were the heart of the Masters story. It was a brief time, roughly 1981-83, when He-Man was depicted in Mattel's minicomics as a wandering barbarian, the strongest of his jungle-bred tribe and fiercely devoted to his mysterious warrior goddess.
No Prince Adam secret identity. No She-Ra. No Orko.
It's been sheer hell trying to bring Mineternia out of the shadow of the TV kiddie toons. Unfortunately, the superheroic and comedic potential of the toyline are what the cartoon played up, and that's what Mattel has allowed to define the franchise. In my opinion, this has kept MOTU from taking its place in the larger dark fantasy community (LOTR, Conan, Xena, Star Wars, etc.), where it can grow and stay artistically fresh.
There's a reason more people think of RAINBOW BRITE, than Conan, in the same breath with He-Man.
Mineternian fans, like Eldor, are slowly changing that. These websites have been struggling for a few years to keep He-Man's Conan connection alive, and I hope you'll check them out.
http://www.vaultsofgrayskull.co.uk - Three, complete novellas of Mineternian He-Man
http://mineternia.tripod.com - A collection of short story adaptations of the Masters' minicomics
http://www.geocities.com/hordakalpha/fan_fics_2.html - More skull-cracking barbarian He-Man stories
http://www.dukenostalgia.com/He-Man/Motu_boxart.html - The hauntingly beautiful box art that hooked us all from go!
To get to know Masters' all over again in its purest form, drop by http://www.he-mantales.com for a reintro.
Yeah, baby. Check it out. Especially the one with the box art.