Dec 8, 2014

It Came from the Toy Chest: Nuestro castillo nos da fortaleza

Y a Eternia protegerá!

This MOTUC review hits the Nostalgia so hard that it even has me thinking in Spanish, hence the Modern take of the Latin American MOTU intro.

Back in February 2013, I was disappointed by Mattel and how they were handling the Castle Grayskull preorder thing.The whole Mattel promised us the world and began taking stuff away rubbed me off the wrong way. Then the Castle was released in November 2013.

So, I saw a review By Pixel Dan (who can make a turd like Nepthu almost desirable.) and I made a sort of Arm chair review of Castle Grayskull, where I explained my issues with it.
Kickass art by Rudy Obrero

2014's Black Friday to Cyber Monday sales showed up. They had Castle Grayskull for the full price. (the DoS price of $300) but slow as molasses shipping to my address is $130. Spending $430 for a slow shipping Grayskull seems ridiculous, except that Matty had Free Shipping on orders that went over $99. You see where I'm going with this... Paying Full price for the Castle and Free Shipping was almost like paying $170 for the castle and then paying the shipping and handling costs. Yes, I'm Over complicating things just to justify the fact that I went in and bought a Castle Grayskull against common sense... If I go by past rants.

In all fairness, I got my 200X Castle Grayskull and as a child I had the vintage Grayskull. Not getting the Classics one was kind of a blemish in my MOTU collecting. I fixed the issue...

Now it's time to do a Review of Castle Grayskull with the actual castle IN-HAND!! Before I start, I must mention the Grayskull Saga.

As I said, I bought it on the Turducken week. Well, Digital River screwed up my order and it was missent. Had an ordeal with DR, who claimed that they DO NOT SHIP ANY PARCELS TO PO BOX Addresses. How do you think I got all of my MOTU Classics (aside Zodak, Webstor and He-Ro.) and a few DCUC? I called Bull on that and requested a Supervisor. I was angry, I'll admit. The supervisor tried to spin the issue as if it was my fault. Funny thing about tracking numbers is that they include the Destination Shipping in them. Mine had the wrong address. Luckily, the USPS corrected that mistake and sent the "Parcel that COULD NOT BE SENT TO A PO BOX" to my PO Box... So, that's it... I got home and quickly took Granamyr from his perch and took a pic of him with the shipping box.
 Yeah, who cares about the Shipping box? Let's talk Castle Grayskull! My box was a bit beat up, sadly... Then again, I'm an opener. Luckily the dings were on the corners and didn't ruin the box art much...
On one side it has the bio... BLEGH!
Another has some teasers of the features within the castle.

The important side to check out is the back side of the castle where the figures are posed in a way similar to their vintage card art. Now, if you look carefully, you can see some teasers. The most important one is the He-Man and Faker heads. If you look carefully, you can see that Faker is sporting the normal MOTU Classics He-Man head, while He-Man is sporting the 2015 Sub Exclusive, Oo-Larr head. Specifically the Alcalá art Head.

 This teaser may give some credibility to the whole: "Mattel Plans these things with more than a year in advance." thing that Neitlich preached in the last months of his tenure as Brand Manager of MOTUC.

That's pretty much the Box... Let's Tackle the Actual Castle.

I did say in the past that it is a bit small. Those comments were based on the numbers that Neitlich gave us. Now that I have it in person, I have to say the following: While the Numbers make it seem small, seeing it in person is an impressing thing. (My shelves are 1/2" too short for it...

 While the Castle looks big, there's a few no-no's when displaying it with figures.
I'm on a horse!
 -You should never put up characters riding steeds in front of the castle or near the castle. It makes the Castle look ridiculously small.

-BE CAREFUL when displaying figures on the ledge. Unstable figures may fall and ruin displays. Blu Tac may help.

That's pretty much it.

Now let's talk Jawbridge.
It kinda works like Vintage where it opened by the use of a Power Sword. It has a nod to the Golden Books where you insert the sword into a notch on the wall that acts as key.
The following blades work on the Jawbridge: (I tried them)
MOTUC Powersword (both full blade and 2 halves joined)
MOTUC Filmation Power Sword
MOTUC Sword of Protection
Evil Mike's Custom Filmation Power Sword. (Be a bit careful with this one)
MOTUC NA Power Sword.
200X Staction CLASSIC Power Sword (not the Techno sword)

WARNING! It can chip off paint. My Flogg Filmation Sword suffered some damage here. Use the silver one from the castle or the Green Sword from the Kowl Weapons pack.
 Now for some added fun, I got My Castle Grayskullman in front of the Castle... He may need a repaint to match the Castle a bit better.
I did not add the Pawn piece to the Castle nor the Handle for storage reasons.

 Once I get a bigger set of shelves and I have a Permanent display for the MOTUC Castle, I may add them. Right now their new home will be the extra pieces drawer.

So now we'll take a look at inside the Castle. The Weapons Rack is not available with the Castle. I reviewed one many moons ago, when it came out.
So, that's one thing less that I have to review. Now I tackle the Battle Trainer. It's a lot heavier than I remember. It hit me and it was painful. Love the updated look that matches the rack.

There is not much than I can say about the Ladder, because it's simply a Ladder. Looks cool, can hold a figure and I guess that's all I can say.

Now that we're on the first floor, I can tackle the Stupidity that is the HOLE INSIDE THE CASTLE.

OK, I get that Neitlich was trying to hide the idea that the hole is for the Sky Sled, but WHY would you want to park a Sky Sled Flying in the middle of Castle Grayskull... Or even worse, who in their right mind would have THE FREAKING WIND RAIDER INSIDE CASTLE GRAYSKULL!? If this playset was Duncan's Garage/Workshop/Laboratory, I'd get it. Sadly, this is CASTLE FREAKING GRAYSKULL!

Now, I'm stuck with a dumbass hole in the middle of the Castle. Seeing it in person makes it even worse. (Not to mention that I had a scare trying to remove the stand from the hole.) I swear, if I find the perfect Hole Cover for the Castle, I'm using that and never using the hole as a flight stand... I've plenty to choose from... right now I'm eyeing DJForce's Cosmic Key stand. 

I'll get another negative out of the way... The Dungeon.
I had to ask my brother for help to put the shackles on the peg inside of it.

I'm not happy with the Dungeon grate being a sticker. Sadly it's no longer available (and the people who made it didn't ship to PR)

But at the same time, there really was no space for the 3D Grate inside the tiny dungeon.

Click on the Dungeon pics. On the left I have a MOTUC Standor and on the Right a 200X SyKlone.
This is what I meant that the Castle
was better suited for smaller figures and not MOTUC figures.

OK, maybe Gorpo, Kowl, Imp, Loo-Kee and Orko could fit on the dungeon, but Skeletor? nah!

It's a nice addition to the playset, but being small and the Trap Door not landing the enemies inside of it kinda ruins it. I mean, the 200X Castle DROPPED the bad guys IN THE DUNGEON.

Jetpack looks cool!
Especially on Spector. Yes, I put the Jetpack on Spector as a nod to a piece made by Axel Gimenez after Neitlich left us. (Can't find a link to the original pic)

Now, returning to the Freaking Dungeon, here's a pic of the shackles...
Oh the Comedic potential for immature humor that could be done with these! They are real Metal... Back when Mattel could afford it.

Now let's move on to level 2:
 The Castle Grayskull Space Suit/Armor/Robot/Whatever.
Looks OK-ish... Even if it's simply a shell.

I would have preferred a new figure, but Logistics, blah blah blah!
My only nitpick is that it's a pain in the ass to make it stand there. I like the computer though.
Long Live the Guru! Ruler of MOTU
 Now we play the game of thrones...
No, not that one! I'm talking about the Grayskull throne. Only this time, it's NOT like we remembered. The past Grayskull Throne looked like Zodac's Cosmic Chair. This one looks like an Actual Throne that NONE of the Kings can sit on, due to capes or skirts.

 Here's the thing with the Sorceress... Mattel screwed up. DEM WINGS just ruin it.
At least she can KINDA Sit, but it's stupid. It's these kinds of design oversights that drove some fans away. Seeing them in person is more facepalm worthy.
It's almost as if no one looked at the toys and tested this. I'm not trying to be a "hater" but this oversight is RIDICULOUS.
 The Elevator no longer works like we remember. (The Cable thing was a pain in the neck if I recall correctly.) The skulls on top of it are compatible with figures.

The flag looks better now since it has a waved design already.

The Cannon looks cool as well.
My only gripe is that is a pain in the ass to remove. Mine has some stress marks on it when trying to remove it for temporary storage.

So, let's do the Secret Passages since, I did mention the Ledge near the beginning of the review:

I wonder if this is how Neitlich left Mattel...
The Secret Exit is located next to the throne. Seriously, this castle is starting to look more like the Temple from Legends of the Hidden Temple... 
Didn't have the Reliquary
 with me to do the key trick.
Then we have the Side Door to the Castle.
Funny thing that the Horsemen did:
Remember Scareglow and the Key to the Castle that he had inside the reliquary? It's no secret now. The key works. (I found the reliquary after I took all the pics)

THAT is cool! Seeing it in person made it even better. Things like that are what make this castle REALLY Cool!
Now I have to deal with Accessories. The last 2 Castles brought a few weapons along for us to play with. This castle is no exception.

Bang! Bang!
Only Two new Pieces: the Mace and the Kronis Left Hand Gun.
The mace could be reused on Lodar and the gun is a nifty weapon for folks with the left Trap Jaw hand. (Spector, SMAA, Trap Jaw)

The other items are MAA's Grayskull gun... again! The Power Sword in Battle Armor He-Man Silver, a One Tone Silver He-Shield and Vikor's AXE in One Tone Silver. These He Weapons look good with He-Man or King Grayskull.

  The Castle offers a few options for displaying items, like nubs on walls where shields can be clipped on.
It only works with shields for Male figures, but you can get some Third Party Shields based on the Earliest Mini comics.

The only nod to 200X Is the Mini Bird Bath... I mean the Orb Mini-Holder that can be hidden on top of the Castle.

The Only nod to She-Ra is that next to the throne you can put BOTH the Sword of Protection and Power Sword on Display.

 Then pretty much everything is a nod to the Vintage Toy, or Prototype Castle.
The Dungeon is not a nod to 200X but to a Vintage mini playset that could have worked as some sort of expansion to the Original Castle.

While Mattel did some awesome things with the castle, they dropped the ball a few times.
The dungeon I can Understand (It kinda gives some added support to the second floor.) The Throne baffles me the most.

What I'm a bit sad is that Mattel didn't bother to "expand" on the Castle by selling extra bits, like the Small Weapons Rack, which would have helped us "complete" the Castle. Luckily the Fandom has bothered to complete the castle with additional third party stuff.

Now that I've ranted and raved through the Castle... How do I feel about it?
I can't used the House of Rants Traditional Scoring System since this is a playset and not a figure.

While the numbers say that the castle is barely bigger than 200X, it kinda seems to have some Time Lord Technology because it feels bigger on the inside... Cue Takei.

It tries to come with a lot to do, in the playability department. In some areas it succeeds while in others it falls short. Now the question I have to answer is: DID THEY HAVE TO DO ALL OF THESE ACTION FEATURES AND PLAYABLE ELEMENTS FOR AN OVERPRICED DIORAMA PIECE?
The rational side of me just got beat up by 5-year old me. So, HELL AND YES! This is what makes Grayskull so special. Even my brother who isn't that into MOTU (or toy collecting in general) has tinkered with the Castle. He LOVES the Jaw Bridge and he tries to open it every chance he gets. To me, that is a win!

I have to say that the Horsemen delivered a Kickass Looking Castle Grayskull. Mattel simply couldn't keep up with the Horsemen. Is the Castle Perfect? HELL NO! Do I recommend it?
Hell yeah! It looks great as a backdrop for MOTUC... Much better than the 200X Castle that I've used for years. I thought that I could have simply lived with the 200X one, but after getting the MOTUC one... Well, the 200X one seems puny in comparison... EVEN when the Size Difference isn't that big. The Nostalgia Trap has hit me and hard... I mean, I look at the castle and its purty maw and all I can see is 4 year old me at my Grandma's house playing with my vintage Grayskull on her front yard and it's hitting me right in the feels. THAT sense of Magic and Wonder has been a bit lost in MOTUC.
Seriously, I was super jittery when I saw the notice that said available for pick up. If I had a Tail I would have burned out a lot of calories by wagging it. I also nearly dropped the Castle while taking a Grayskull selfie. (Yes, even I stooped so low to enter the Selfie fever.)

So, Basically, I've spent all my afternoon with it. *Writing the rant was made harder by my playing with the castle every few minutes.

 Now that I have Grayskull I need Snake Mountain... But for that one, I'm on my own... As well as a Crystal Castle or a Fright Zone... But first, new shelves.

 For those of you who need a numbered system to see if it's worth it here it goes:

Paint and Sculpt: 5.0
Action Features: 3.5
Accessories: 5.0
 Overall: 4.5
Nostalgia Bonus points (+.4 to the Overall)
For what Mattel is asking, Grayskull is overpriced if we add shipping to Customers outside Continental US. If you somehow manage to end up with a single Matty Gift Certificate, then you should spend it on getting a Castle Grayskull... Or pray for 2015's Black Friday/cybermonday Turducken sale having HUGE ASS Discounts on MOTUC Grayskull. Screw the Battleram, Granamyr, Gygor, Procrustus, etc. If there is only ONE MOTUC Large item to get, it's Grayskull!

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