Saturday, July 14, 2007

Orko, Phone Home

[Orko: cooler than David Blaine and better looking than David Copperfield]
Written by GL

All those cartoons from the 80s need sidekicks. Sidekicks provided minutes upon minutes of filler material, be it side-line plots and story lines or just plain comic idiocy. The Centurions had their affectionate little orang-utan, She-ra had Kowl, I have my inflatable love-dolls and He-Man had Orko.

Funnily enough, Orko was never part of the original toy collection on which the He-man show was based on. Orko was created by the show's writers to serve as purely comic relief. Following that, a toy figure of him then began to be manufactured.

Fun fact: The character was originally named Gorpo in the early original series drafts, but was renamed Orko for animation purposes - Filmation artists, when drawing boards, usually flipped the character cells; this is a technique that works only when the characters are symmetrical in design - and putting a 'G' on Orko's shirt would have complicated the process because the letter G is not a symmetrical shape. So, they went with 'O'. That's the end of the fun fact segment.

[First Appearance: Adam, use the force you must]

Orko is a Trollan, a race of beings from Trolla, a world in another dimension. Trollans wear red robes, red hats, and hide their faces behind scarves. Trollans appear to be blue-skinned humanoids with pointy ears. However, their feet remain hidden behind their robes. Trollans have natural magical abilities, including levitation, which they exclusively use instead of walking. Still, some Trollans have greater magical power than others; Orko's uncle, for example, is a famous magician.

Orko himself has always had trouble with his magical powers. Usually, when he tries to use magic, it backfires in some retarded way. The reason for this isn't clear; however, it is suggested that Trolla operates with natural laws that are the opposite of Eternia's, and that in Trolla, Orko was a good magician. However, in later cartoon episodes, Orko is shown to be quite equally incompetent even on Trolla. Poor bugger.

[Adventure: captured, caught and humiliated]

In addition to his magic spells, Orko also stores a huge range of items (some useful, some not-so-useful) inside his hat. The sheer number of things he stores inside that pointy hat is impossibly great.

Orko came to the world of Eternia when a cosmic storm accidentally transported him there. He appeared in the Tar Swamps, where he found a young Prince Adam (and his tiger cub pet, Cringer) and saved them both from dying in the tar. However, he lost his magical pendant in the process.

Stuck in Eternia, Orko was congratulated by the King of Eternia in gratitude for saving his son. Orko became one of Adam's closest friends; and in fact, Orko is one of the few characters who actually know of Prince Adam's He-Man secret. Orko, being the comic relief that he is, frequently annoys, none other than, Man-At-Arms - usually by coming into his lab uninvited and messing with equipment. Orko has proven to be a good friend and a valuable ally, despite his unpredictable powers.

Orko returns to Trolla (with the help of others) on a number of occasions. The first time, he helps He-Man save the life of several Trollans captured by a humanoid dragon called The Dragoon, and begins a romance with a Trollan girl named Dree Elle. However, he decides that his place is now on Eternia, and so he returns there. However, he still occasionally visits his friends and relatives on Trolla.

[Dree Elle: kinda scary if you ask me]

Dree Elle is the first Trollan to whom Orko has ever shown his face to (apparently, in Trollan society, showing your face to each other is considered an intimate act, similar to us sharing a kiss. There is a production drawing of what Orko looked like without the hat, in which he basically looks like a little blue elf, but it was never used.)

Mattel initially ignored the Orko action figure in their 1982 to 1983 releases of He-Man's toy line. He was finally released in 1984 as a very unassuming little character. Of course, articulation wise left much to be desired, but the likeness of the figure to the cartoon was pretty close.

[Original Packaging: awesomely done]

As most of you may know by now, Orko had no legs, and his action figure came as so. His action figure was typically larger in comparison to the size he was drawn in the cartoons - his ratio to He-Man was bigger as a toy. This character remains one of the more (should I say) useless figure out there - the sheer novelty of having Orko was to have a complete set of He-Man characters. In any case, Orko was packaged with a range of accessories including a removable hat, a wind pulley and a 'magic trick', although I can't really recall the use of it (think I lost those little chips before I ever knew their use).

[Orko With Accessories: who know what this things were used for?]

Orko will forever remain one of the more awesome side-kicks of the 80s cartoon era - he was unique, long-lasting, well-written and blue. So if anyone asks, who really has the power? I'd say...probably Battle-Cat.