The figure that started it all! A few characteristics that you generally see in all Taiwan he-man are vibrant, orange hair with nicely defined facial features, red boots, mid-gray accessories, bright red harness paint, and orange belts. All Taiwan He-Mans are soft heads.
Taiwan He-Man had many different releases, and you even see differences within the same generation card. That makes setting clear boundaries between variants difficult with this figure. I've kept it simple by dividing the Taiwan variants into 4 general categories.
1. He-Man - 8-Back - Early Releases
The early He-Man (released on G0 cards) are marked 1981, have short-strap harnesses, and an uneven belly button. The boots have an uneven paint app that for the most part doesn't go up to the top of the fur line (half boot). The hair is an intense orange (that lightens with each subsequent release). The weapon batch numbers that typically correspond to these releases are; Sword: 4,9. Axe: 2,7. Shield has unmelted rivets and it can be either marked TAIWAN or unmarked.
2. He-Man - 8-Back - Subsequently released 8-backs
As the releases progressed (G2), the belly button sculpt became more anatomically correct, the hair a lighter orange, and the boot paint more even and reached the top of the fur line. The harness is now long straps. The weapon batch numbers that typically correspond to these releases are; Sword: 9, 13. Axe: 7, 14. Shield has melted rivets and it can be either marked TAIWAN or unmarked.
3. He-Man - 12-Back (1981)
There is some overlap between the characteristics we see in the later 8-backs and earlier 12-backs, but you generally see a disappearance of the belly button and even boot paint. The weapon batch numbers that typically correspond to these releases are; Sword: 13,19 and possibly 21. Axe: 14, 17, and possibly 23. Shield has melted rivets and it can be either marked TAIWAN or unmarked. 12 Backs are found on G6, G7 and G9 cards)
4. He-Man - 12-Back (1982)
1982 He-Mans seem to be just like standard 12-back He-mans but with the updated date. 1982 He-Mans don't have belly buttons.
MARKED (On the 1981 version): © Mattel Inc. 1981 TAIWAN
MARKED (On the 1982 version): © Mattel Inc. 1982 TAIWAN
ACCESSORIES MARKED: TAIWAN on all accessories generally. Early release shields and some later release shields came unmarked (Taiwan printed on the interior side of each shield half).
DISCLAIMER: The batch number associations are guidelines, but not hard and fast rules. It makes sense to think of the batch numbers are increasing as production increases, but it's important to note that molds were not necessarily discarded, and earlier weapons can be found on later figures. Not only that, there's some evidence to suggest that later batch number weapons molds might have even been made right from the beginning, even if not used initially.