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Masters of the Universe Classics: CASTLE GRAYSKULL!!!

 
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Lord Skeletor
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:38 pm    Post subject: Masters of the Universe Classics: CASTLE GRAYSKULL!!! Reply with quote

Greetings fellow He-Fans and She-Ravers,

As I'm sure most of you know, this time last year I was in a bad spot. I was unemployed and a scam artist had just run off with a large portion of what little money I had. I was forced to cancel my 2013 sub and could not afford to pre-order Castle Grayskull. I took to trading my extra figures in order to keep up with the line as best I could until I had a new job and could once more afford them myself. However, I assumed I would end up only getting a few this way and likely would miss out on most and also would never own the castle. Well the fan community came through in a big way and thanks to them (and the fact that I now am working again) I have managed to get every figure and didn't miss out on any. (some I had to wait longer on- but the important thing is I got them) However, that still left the castle seemingly out of my reach. I started to save up a little from each paycheck in case I might afford the higher day of sale price, but then the fan base came through again and I secured a deal to get one from a fan who had pre-ordered extra. So here it is, the big one, I present to you the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull!



Castle Grayskull comes in a BIG box. It's about two feet tall, 22 inches wide and sixteen inches deep. According to the shipping label it weighs in at 21 lbs. Mattel is using special custom shipping boxes to ship these in. There is no white mailer or packing material between the box and shipper. If you ordered more than one castle they will ship separately and it's safe to say shipping ain't cheep for this massive thing. I shudder to think of the prices international fans will have to deal with.



There's a lot going on on this box. It features artwork by Rudy Obrero; the man who did the art for the vintage boxes as well as the Classics Wind Raider and Granamyr. The art depicts a massive battle scene with ten characters as selected by the fans. While I do wish we could have seen some She-Ra and Horde representation, I must say it's a good selection that all fit in an Eternian battle for the castle. The real shame is that the artwork is partly covered by the writing blurbs as well as a small picture of an adult fan playing with the set as a nod to the picture of a kid playing on the vintage box. There is however an unobscured, albeit smaller, version on the side of the box. I really wish we could get this scene as a poster or art print because it is really display worthy, but the size of the box presents a problem of where to put it.



The back of the box features a look at other products in the line, but presents them in red drawings instead of photos. This marks another nod to the vintage package as the same characters are in the same poses. There is of course some difference near the bottom where it depicts new beasts and large scale characters in place of the vehicles that were shown on the vintage box, but have not made it into the Classics line.




The top and bottom of the box feature a series of pictures showing off all the various accessories and special features that the castle has. I'll be going over each of these here naturally -and it'll take a while as there is a lot to cover here! This review is going to be my longest, with the most pictures, ever. (hence why it's taking me so long to do!)



There is a bio, but it's on the side of the box instead of the usual back. If there's one thing about this box I would complain about it's this. That's only because the bio is mostly just restating many of the new elements from the Classics continuity that I don't like such as the whole "sword of He" nonsense and He-Ro's story getting totally retconned with him given the shaft in favor of King Grayskull. The building of the castle itself seems a bit mundane for such an iconic part of the story that's always been shrouded in mystery, but that is a risk taken -and common occurrence- whenever a long standing secret of a mythos gets revealed. It never lives up to expectations and/or what fans have come up with in their own minds.



Okay so the box is cool, but let's open it up and get to the actual contents. Seriously, while I can see keeping the box, this is one item that I can't imagine keeping mint in package. You may find you need to open both the top and bottom in order to free the castle inside. I initially just opened the top, but found I could not lift the castle out as it seemed to be stuck with tape to the cardboard packing material. Of course you're probably going to need to collapse the box for storage anyway. Once out there is some minor assembly required. The parts are inside the main castle body so to open it turn to the side and there are two small hooks that hold it secured closed. Push/turn them down and pull the castle open.



Most of this stuff goes on the inside, but there are a few things to put on the exterior. There is an instruction sheet included, but most of the assembly is pretty straight forward and obvious. I would suggest running over the checklist to make sure you've located all the parts though. I've heard stories where some people threw a fit because they appeared to be missing a piece only to find it was there and had slipped behind the throne.

The flag is pre-assembled and simply gets set on the tower, or wherever you wish. The vintage flag had a clip to attach it to the tower floor while the 200X version actually plugged in. The Classics version sits on a stand and there's no place to plug it into. The design is based on the vintage one with the two sides showing crossed swords. One side light the other dark. (the design which inspired Castle Grayskull Man's weapons) While the vintage flag was a sticker that wrapped around the pole, this flag is all sculpted and painted plastic. It is molded with a slight wave to it as though flapping in the wind.



Now we have the parts that some people may wish to leave off. You'll need to decide up front because these aren't designed to come off once attached. First there is the "pawn" top piece that forms the top of the crown on the skull visage. This was seen on the vintage prototype and some subsequent artwork as well as the tiny Grayskull atop Scare Glow's reliquary. It wasn't on the final product or cartoon though so some fans may prefer to leave it off, though this does leave a hole in the top of the castle. Actually this piece can come off with some effort, but I wouldn't recommend it as it could break.

The other piece completes the side wall and forms the carrying handle. This part will not come off once attached. This was a required safety feature as it had to be secure enough that there wasn't a risk of it falling off when you lift the castle and thus having the 21 pound toy fall on your foot. Now apparently if you unscrew and remove those tabs before putting it on it can be then removed, but this likely negates the safety feature I just mentioned so be cautious. I just went ahead and put mine on and it is very secure. I carried the castle by the handle with no problems.



From the outside it looks good either way. Without the handle there appears to be wall turrets and with it there are arched windows. While we're over here, take a look at all the detailing that stands out now thanks to the paint job. The wooden shingles on the tower and around the windows gives it a more actual built castle look. (though when you think about it, how has that wood not rotted away in 5000 years?) Take note here also that the castle only opens this far and cannot swing out fully flat like the vintage.



One last accessory for the outside is the tower gun. The gun itself snaps onto the turret which plugs onto the tower. Like the vintage gun in can swing up and down and like 200X the turret rotates so you can point the gun at enemies in all directions. Something that's a big improvement though is the spacing of the handles is wider allowing the figure to actually grip it with both hands now!



Now here's what you've been waiting to see; the castle in all it's assembled glory. The Four Horsemen did an amazing job sculpting this thing and adding in all the various looks of the foreboding skull and the cracks between stones forming the towers. The paint job is incredibly done as well. It's molded in a Grayskull green plastic of course, however there is also a great deal of shading giving it a lot of depths and details. Down on the jaw-bridge we've got a great aged wood grain sculpt and paint job. The metal parts are done in a silver tone that makes them stand out and also look ancient. There's a bit of that rusted metal look going on too and the coat of arms has a bit of green wash creating a kind of oxidized/corroded by age metal appearance. It really makes Castle Grayskull seem like an ancient intimidating fortress. This thing looks fantastic on display and we haven't even gone into the interior or any of the special features yet.

Like I said, this review is going to be long and since I don't know what the limit on number of pictures per post is here, I'm going to continue this discussion as replies....



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Lord Skeletor
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...okay let's take a look at some of the special features on the outside before we move on to the castle's interior.



You may recall that in the cartoon He-Man could hold aloft the Power Sword and verbally command the jaw-bride to open magically. This was something of a necessity as Filmation had added the great abyss surrounding the castle. Prior to this the sword was said to work as an actual physical key. The vintage playset had a keyhole in the bridge and by inserting the sword a lock could be pushed aside to free the bridge to open up. The Classics version made it cooler. There is a very small slit hidden in the stones to the right of the bridge. By inserting the sword here it pushes a release switch opening the jaw-bridge. It is worth noting this seems to be the only way to open the bridge this time. The vintage one could be unlocked and pushed open from the inside but the Classics one seems to require the sword release switch.

The open bridge contains even more cool sculpting with the ferocious teeth and even a tongue sculpted into the base. Thankfully the design was improved over the first prototype and the area around the bridge was lowered so this allows for more head clearance for figures entering the castle or just standing in the jaw archway. It's wide enough across that Battle Cat can fit through, though Swift Wind's wingspan may block him. He-Man riding on Battle Cat hits his head on the teeth. Initially we were told it would fit, but the final product was a little smaller. To be fair, it has been pointed out that an actual 100% to scale with the figures castle would be at least as big as a Volkswagen. Practicality has to kick in at some point.



Going around to the side there is another entrance. In the vintage castle this door was part of the mold and did not open, but for the Classics it has been designed to work as a second way in. You may recall the Scare Glow figure came with a tiny key that was said to be the key to Castle Grayskull. While back then no one expected to ever actually get a Classics castle, once we did this detail was not overlooked. There is a small keyhole in the door and the key does actually fit in! What's more it's a tight enough fit that once inserted you can use it to pull the door open. So, yes, Scare Glow's key actually does open Castle Grayskull! That is great attention to detail! The inside of the door has a metallic plating look sculpted and painted on so it's like this is a door that's obvious from the inside but hidden on the outside. Also, unlike the bridge, you can push this one open from the inside. You don't actually need the key for this door. Now the door is rather narrow so anyone using it will have to turn sideways, but it's a secret passage those usually are supposed to be narrow.

As if that weren't enough there is a second secret door entrance!



^^score yourself twenty "child of the 80's" points if you got that joke

Over on the front there is a narrow ledge on the gun tower. The ledge is another thing from the vintage prototype that didn't make final product. It is barely wide enough to stand on, but a figure can fit with a little precision balancing. Around the corner of this ledge there is a hidden door that swings outward from the interior throne room. Again it's a narrow passage, but again its a secret door so it makes sense. This door too can be opened from the inside and in fact you kind of have to as there's not really anything to grab and pull to open it from the exterior. Of course when open it makes even less room for anyone on the ledge, but you could say that instead of an extra way in it's meant for people in the castle to attack invaders scaling the walls.



Okay now it's time to check out the interior of the castle where we have some more parts to assemble and some accessories to put in place. First there are the floorboards which expand the lower level of the castle out. These click into place similar to the pawn and handle pieces, however they actually are designed to easily come out. They have to because you can't close up the castle with them there. They also can be next to impossible to fit inside the castle once closed up so you may need to store them off to the side somewhere.

That hole in the front is designed to fit the flight stand for the Wind Raider. Sadly there is nothing included to plug the hole when the stand is not there. Many fans have taken to making their own "manhole covers" for this -often offering them to other fans whose sculpting skills are not as up to par (I got one) but this really is something that should have been covered.



Particularly since the Wind Raider takes up almost the entire space when parked inside making it rather impracticable. A lot of people ask why the Wind Raider would be parked inside the castle, from a story standpoint, anyway. Well story wise the Castle is much bigger, but it does still seem like they'd keep it on the roof.



The flight stand also works with the Sky Sled and that takes up a lot less room. I also seem to recall they occasionally did have Sky Sleds inside the castle in the cartoon. See those were small enough to fly out a large window or through the jaw-bridge. All in all it's a nice extra feature, but I do wish that a cover was included for when it's not being used.



There are a couple other accessories that are throwbacks to the vintage castle and can be put where you choose. The ladder is made to look much more like wood this time and also it features two metal painted hooks on the top so it can actually be attached and hung from the upper floors. Also we have the combat training device, though the design is closer to the prototype and actually looks cooler. The paint job is made to look more like wood and metal this time.

When I first took mine out it seemed the shield and claw parts were on upside down, but I found they can be rotated so no worries there. On that note the device does spin kind of. Like Hurricane Hordak it is a bit tight and not free spinning as the vintage version was. The idea of this device is the hero strikes the one side which causes it to spin and they they dodge or block the incoming end. It hones swordplay skills and battle moves. The device can be placed anywhere in the castle, though logic dictates it go somewhere on the lower floor.



Another accessory that you'll need to find a place for is this odd little jet pack device. This is an item that was shown for the vintage prototype but was cut from the final release, so this is the first time it's been made for any line. The pack features a strap that goes around the figure's waist, but you'll notice it does seem to be a bit loose and hang low on He-Man here. (which would indicate it is too big for a female figure to use)



Since the Weapons Rak was previously released on its own there is not one included with the Castle itself. (if you missed out before a limited stock is being resold on the site the same day of sale as the castle itself) The castle does however include some weapons all done in a solid shiny silver color. Included is yet another version of the small gun first seen with Man-At-Arms -which itself was based on the gun that came with the vintage castle. There is also a new gun, which is similar to Battleground Teela's, but is actually a new sculpt. You also get Vikor's axe in the solid sliver and a spiked mace similar to Sir Laser Lot's but again is actually a new mold.



Also included is a silver version of He-Man's shield, but this is meant more for decoration. Over on the wall between the secret door and the elevator is a sword. This is attached to the wall and doesn't come off, but there is a nub in the middle where you can clip the shield -or any shield really- to create this hung weapons decoration.



Two more nubs can be found on the wall to the right of the jaw-bridge. There are no swords here, but you can still hang shields. Alternatively the nubs stick out with a hole between them and the wall which is the right size to stick the gun handles through so they could be hung up over here. The hole isn't really big enough for any sword though.



Up on the second floor we find a computer panel and view-screen showing a detail of space. In the vintage castle this was all just a cardboard insert and thus was one of the first and most common items to end up missing and/or destroyed. It's all sculpted plastic this time plus these are attached to the wall and don't come off so it should hold up this time around. I would also like to point out the small sculpture above the window here. It resembles the gargoyle from the vintage castle. In the vintage version it was attached to a string that was used to raise and anchor the elevator. The Classics elevator doesn't require this, but it's cool that they worked the thing into the castle design anyway.

Lot's of fun stuff, we're still not through yet...



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Lord Skeletor
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Speaking of the elevator, let's check that out now. It is designed in the same manner as the vintage one, but now has pegs on the base so the figure can be held in place as the elevator moves. On the vintage one there was a single pole it slid up and down, but the Classics version features twin poles. Furthermore it locks in place itself with notches on each floor so you don't need the anchor like on the vintage version. To be honest though it's tight enough that it pretty much won't fall anyway no matter where you stop it. Also new to the Classics version is that it goes up further to the third floor which is basically the roof/upper rafters of the towers which increases the display area over the vintage castle.



As an extra display detail the top of each pole features a shiny gold skull. What's interesting is these skulls are actually just like figure heads and the tops of the poles are like the figures' neck pegs. So you can actually take those gold skulls off and put them on a figure, and furthermore you could potentially place figure heads on the top of poles creating a sort of head on a pike display -though that is a little dark and frightening for MOTU. It kind of makes me wonder though if they had been planning on using this skull mold for a figure. Like say a Skeleton Warriors army builder. (we've got more important characters to do first, but it's a thought)



Heading over into the throne room you'll find another computer terminal thing and two more foot pegs on the floor. This is where you plug in the space armor display. Like the computer on the other room, in the vintage castle this armor and the device next to it was a cardboard insert but now comes fully sculpted. Well almost fully sculpted. The armor is one hollow piece with no back to it. Many fans were hoping it would be a fully articulated figure or armor that could be worn by a figure. Instead it's more of a statue for display only. There are holes in the feet to set it on the pegs, though I found this took a bit of work so once on I don't want to remove it. And that leads to one reason it's hard to fit the floorboards into the closed castle. You kind of need that space to make it fit.

Next up on the wall there is a display plaque. This is meant to hold the Sword of Power and the Sword of Protection in a crossed display. It really only works with these swords as one side is thinner to hold the Sword of Protection. The castle comes with a solid silver Power sword but no Sword of Protection so you'll need to provide one from your collection. Say if you now display your She-Ra with the two-tone sword from your weapons pack you can put the original gold one here. Or maybe the solid silver one that came with Adora, like I have here, as it matches up with the solid silver Power Sword the castle comes with.



Moving further into the room we have the two banner/tapestries hanging on the wall. This is another thing that was an easily lost insert item in the vintage castle, and once again it is now sculpted plastic and permanently attached to the wall. Then of course there is the throne. Now for some reason they stuck it to the floor facing out, which I do question as it seems it would be facing towards the room where anyone approaching the throne would be standing. Like say on that foreboding floor rug there...



You'd expect the Sorceress to be the person who sits on this throne the most. A good move they made was to put a small slit in the throne so the Sorceress' tail feathers can fit into it allowing her to sit. There is still a bit of an issue with her wings though as they basically have to be draped on the arms. It's actually not too bad though, and really this is more an issue with how Sorceress' wings should have been done rather than the sculpt of the castle. I will have to point out that characters with thick capes won't be able to sit on the throne, which ironically includes King Randor and the King He-Man figures. This is why I like cloth capes for figures.



Just like the vintage castle, that odd rug is actually over a trap door. And just like the vintage castle the trap door is activated by turning the throne to the side. In this case though you just turn the top. The throne moves at the seat but the lower base stays in place. At any rate doing so triggers the trap door to open dropping anyone standing on the rug through it.



I love this feature and it works even better than the vintage castle's did. To be nitpicky though, on the front of the box it says the trap door drops people into the dungeon. Actually it drops them to the lower floor beside the dungeon. So you'd better have someone down there ready to slap them in irons and lock them up. Which you can do as the castle comes with a set of shackles. The ends clip onto a figure's wrists and there is a real metal linked chain connecting them. Then it's time to lock them in the dungeon as this time we have a walled off little room with a barred door for holding prisoners.



I had to use a flashlight to illuminate into the room for this picture. Inside there is one more assembly piece as you get a second chain and shackle though this one has only one clip the other end plugs into the wall so you chain the prisoner up in there. Though that may be hard and pointless as this room is very small and cramped. You'll only fit one prisoner in there and the door is so small they have to go in sideways plus they have to duck down. Once in with the door closed you can't even see their head. Remember though this is a dungeon cell in a castle that's over 5000 years old. It's not supposed to be comfortable!

On the floor inside the cell, you will find a recreation of the dungeon grate sticker like the vintage one with all the same details. Early on we had hoped to get this as a full 3d sculpt, but cost issues prevented this so at least they did acknowledge the vintage design with the sticker there. Besides if it was 3d that would leave even less room for a prisoner in there.



And finally heading all the way up to the top we have a small door inside the crown of the skull. Opening this door we have a small chamber where you place the small orb stand with the crystal base. This is like the stand that came with Temple of Darkness Sorceress but is shorter and made to fit in this tiny room so we have an official spot for the Crystal Orb. Now there is not an orb included with the castle, you'll need to use the one that came with the second King Grayskull (who will also be resold in limited stock on the castle's day of sale)



So here it is in comparison to the vintage castle. This really helps you appreciate the size of this thing, but also allows you to see the similarities and differences between the two versions. Once again the Four Horsemen have done what they did with the figures; took the vintage design and updated it bringing out all the details and making it even cooler than it was in the first place.



Now the 200X version was quite different in design. While still clearly Grayskull, it was a lot thinner and had a different design to the skull, so you can really see the difference in design between these two.



So there it is. The ultimate piece of MOTU Classics. This is the pinnacle and something that for years seemed an impossibility. The final product turned out awesome. It looks great, makes an excellent display, and had great features for play that can help bring in the new youth generations to this wonderful property. This is something you really want to own if you can afford it.

Sadly that's the catch isn't it? Much as I love this thing there's that little voice in my head that keeps asking, "why is it so expensive?" There are other toys including playsets that are as big if not bigger (the new TMNT sewer lair, Star Wars AT-AT) and some of them even have electronics yet don't cost as much. Why? Well the fact that this Castle was produced in very limited numbers for online sale only and not sold at retail does drive up the cost, but is it reasonable or is it overpriced? Again I love it and recommend it for anyone who can afford it... but I acknowledge that unless you've already been saving up for it all year odds are you can't afford it. (if you haven't been saving up yet can afford it I envy you) If you pre-ordered Castle Grayskull it has begun to ship out and you should expect it soon. If you need to buy day of sale it goes up on Mattycollector.com on December 16th in very limited stock. Good Luck and until next time, Good Journey.



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LepricahnsGold
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, when they come out with Snake Mountain (with echoing mike), your life will be complete.



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Mikey
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Shocked Very Cool!


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MacGyver
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is way cool! I don't know how I missed seeing this post originally. I'm glad you were able to get another job and back on your feet. Praise God for that. Smile
And that's totally awesome that you got Castle Grayskull and were able to keep up with the figures. Radical! Very Happy Cool
Hope you are still enjoying a good journey now too.



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LepricahnsGold
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


He-Man, get back in the locker!

"How did you come up with that?"
"I don't know."
<SPLOP>
You've been slimed!



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