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Castle Grayskull - Masters of the  Universe Classics
Mattel

Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel


In the history of action figures and their associated playsets, some are truly epic, made legendary by nostalgia and their sheer coolness. If you're a G.I. Joe collector, it's the U.S.S. Flagg. If you're a Star Wars collector, it's the Millennium Falcon. And if you're a Masters of the Universe collector, it's Castle Grayskull.

The fine folks at Mattel know that, and working with the Four Horsemen, they've brought it back, better than before. More features, more extras, more cool - for more money, of course.

This is a very expensive playset, coming in at $300, not including shipping. The deal was simple - hit enough pre-orders and they'd make the playset. They also gave those of us that pre-ordered a break on the price, charging us just $250. I can't believe I said "just".

They hit their number, and those of us that pre-ordered have now got our sets. They are also making it available online through Matty Collector starting Monday the 16th at 9am Pacific Time.

Packaging - ***
There's nothing special about the box, but there are some useful details about the various features on the bottom, and a very classic look to the graphics and artwork.

I was a bit bummed that with the handle in place (which isn't supposed to be removed once snapped in place) that it doesn't quite fit back in the box. It's about an inch too tall - so close...
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel

Sculpting - ****
This set looks simply fantastic. It's huge, standing nearly two feet tall. It opens up to give you three full levels inside, with lots of cool extras on the walls, and plenty of realistic detailing on the rock face.

They also did a variety of textures, from the slat shingles to the granite exterior, that gives the entire castle depth and detail.

Some of the features are permanently attached, and so I'm including them in this category. There's a bank of electronic equipment and a screen on the left side, with more of the same type of equipment up on the second level near the throne.

Also near the throne are a couple banners, and there are other cool decorations, like a sword attached to the wall on the bottom level, that are permanent. And of course, one of those decorations is also the throne that I've mentioned several times. While the characters can't quite take a full sitting position, they can get into one that's close enough to work with this ornate chair.

The exterior has a variety of windows, roofs, and outcroppings, as well as the trademark skull face over the big wooden door.

The entire set is properly scaled for the line. No trouble fitting the figures through the doors or into the jail. They look good in the throne, on the stairs, or hanging out around the water cooler. If they had one.

Paint - ***1/2
There's not a ton of small detail work here, but the level of detailing is consistent with the overall look and feel of the entire line.

I was happy to see that where they used stickers - like the jail floor or the display screen - they were already applied. I always mess those things up and get them on crooked.

There's also a nice variety of color inside, with the gold skulls on the elevator, the silver equipment on the walls, and the bright throne and suit of armor.

The rock walls have a realistic wash, particularly on the exterior. On the interior, they are a bit dull, and it's clear they cut a few costs when it came to paint operations overall.

Still, the work that is here is clean and consistent, and at a high enough quality to allow for the price point.

Features - ****
There are a ton of cool features included with the set.

There are a total of three doors. First, there's the obvious wooden door in front that drops down into a drawbridge. It looks like a mouth with a tongue and fangs when opened.

You don't just open it either - you place one of the swords into a small slit in the rock face, and it pops open!  How cool is that...

There's a back door too, with a key hole. A key doesn't really do anything, and the door opens outward, just like all good castle doors should. This door is steel plated on the inside.

In case the King (or whomever happens to be on the throne at the time) needs to make a quick exit, there's a third secret door in the wall to his left. It leads out to a small ledge on the outside of the castle.

On the other side of the throne is a square 'rug'. It's actually a trap door, activated by turning the seat of the throne. It drops the intended victim to the bottom floor, right outside the door to the dungeon.

This jail cell has a door and a window, plus there's a cool sticker on the floor with some really gross out graphics.

On the opposite side, there's an elevator that moves through all three floors. There are two foot pegs to hold the figure in place while you slide the riser up and down.

On the top floor, along with the cannon I'll be discussing in the next section, is a hiding place behind a wooden door. It's intended for the Orb that came with King Grayskull, but you can use it for just about anything.

You can clip shields to the walls on the lowest level, and there's a hanger for a sword near the throne.

Finally, if you own the Wind Raider, they've included a round hole to attach the base in the center of the floor. I've included a photo with the Raider parked in it's spot. As it so happens, they are putting the Raider back up for sale on Monday too, although the instructions that come with the Castle say it's no longer available.

That's a lot of cool features, plenty to keep most kids - and adults - busy for hours.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are a number of extra items included with the set, including more weapons and some items that had been cut from the original release back in the day.

There are several additional weapons - a mace, a doubled edged ax, a sword, and a shield, plus two sci-fi style blasters, all done in bright silver. The sword and shield attach to the wall, but if you want to put the other weapons up you'll need the Weapons Rack that they sold awhile back. Lucky for you, they are selling it again on Monday for those that didn't pick one up first time around.

There are a couple metal chains and shackles to contain a prisoner, as well as the cool jet pack. This pack was another planned addition with the original version that was cut at the last minute, so getting it here is a huge plus.

Also cut from the original is the training machine, which is pretty much a log that turns 360 degrees on a stand.

The flag is a separate piece you can place anywhere, so I'm including it here as well. One side is the good guys, the other side the bad guys. You can fly the proper colors for whomever happens to be in control at the time.

Also a separate piece is the funky looking armor, standing against one wall. While it's not designed to be worn by any character, it really does add a lot to the overall look of the playset.

If you have the Orb from King Grayskull (who also happens to be back up for sale on Monday), you can place it in a cup surrounded by blue ice. This can be hidden in the top chamber of the castle, keeping it safe from marauders.

Another extra is a tall ladder, which you can use to reach the higher levels if the elevator is just too slow, or if He-Man is working on his cardio.

Finally, there's a cool gun on the top turret, also done up in silver. It turns side to side and can be pointed up and down, to defend against a ground or air attack.

Fun Factor - ****
This playset is a ton of fun for the kid and adult alike. As I was opening it up, I was clearly reminded of the thrill I had as a young boy, opening up some much anticipated toy on Christmas morning. Can you imaging this thing under your tree? This is the perfect gift for a major occasion, and if you have a MOTU fan on your holiday list, I can't think of a better present.

Value - **
There's no doubt that you're getting an amazing playset here. In fact, I have no doubt that this set will be getting my vote in the Poppies for the Best Playset or Vehicle of 2013.

Still, $250 - $300 is a LOT of money. Hasbro's re-releases of the Falcon and the AT-AT were half this cost, and included lights and sounds. On the flip side, those were toys released into mass market retailers in much greater numbers than the Castle. This set is much more of a direct to collectors item, and when you produce in such small numbers, you're going to have a high price tag.

I only dropped it a half star off average here because while I think it's a stiff price, I do think that you're getting a tremendously cool playset with a ton of nifty features, and for fans of MOTUC, it's pretty much a must have.

Things to Watch Out For -
It is possible to fit all the pieces back into the castle and close it. Take some care though, since getting it to work requires some messing around.

I suggest putting the ladder over behind the elevator, across the bottom level. The elevator itself has to be between the first and second floor, with it's top right at the second floor level.  You can fit two of the base pieces by the door on the first floor - I used the curved piece and the thinnest piece - while the other two can go on the second floor across from the computers, next to the throne. I also put the flag and armor behind the throne, and all the other extras in the jail cell.

Overall - ****
Do you know how the major studios tend to hold all their Oscar caliber movies until late in the year?  It seems to me that toy companies often do the same thing, with some really amazing stuff coming out in November and December. In the last three weeks I've reviewed a whole bunch of items that will be nominated for a Poppie this year.

But even amongst all the outstanding releases, this bad boy has a special place. It hits on every chord - it's nostalgic, but it's an improvement; it has a ton of features, but still feels like a true toy; and for many collectors, it's a dream come true.

I included a lot of photos again this time, but it's hard to do a set like this justice. You really have to see it in person, decked out with a bunch of figures, to fully understand what an outstanding playset it is.

I don't think it's being unfair to announce that I'll be picking this bad boy as my choice for the Best Playset or Vehicle in the Poppies this year. I have a hunch that I won't be alone.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Features -****
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **
Overall - ****

Where to Buy -
You can pick this guy up at Matty Collector on Monday the 16th for $300, or you can search ebay for a deal. They also have the Wind Raider and the Weapons Rack available.

Related Links -
I've reviewed a ton of MOTUC goodies -

Discussion:
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Castle Grayskull MOTUC action figure playset by Mattel


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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