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
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
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
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
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
Still, the work that is here is
clean and consistent, and at a high enough quality to allow for the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
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.
I've reviewed a ton of MOTUC goodies -
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