Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fortress of Mystery and Power - PART ONE: To Begin With

In 2008, Mattel grabbed He-Man fans by the neck and asked if we were ready.  We weren't sure what we were supposed to be ready for, at the time.  We got an awesome exclusive King Grayskull figure with what was supposed to be the body for the new Masters of the Universe Classics toyline...but were we REALLY getting that?  And if we did, how far would it go?  Surely the interest wasn't strong enough to get to the more unique characters.  Realistically, this could only last up until the big-time vintage figures were made.  I only expected to get He-Man and Skeletor and leave it at that.

Beyond that....far, far beyond that: We would never get a Castle Grayskull.  That would just be ridiculous.  No point in even hoping for that monster to come around.

I held on to that belief right up until MotUC Castle Grayskull was announced, or at least, the campaign to fund the creation of the castle.  Masters of the Universe Classics continued against all odds, bringing the fans figure after figure from across the board.  It was already doing what I had figured was impossible...so I guess it wasn't that much of a stretch when the time came to announce the castle.

The size, though!  It would have to be big!  And expensive!  What could they possibly do?

It turned out that they could very well make it BIG AND EXPENSIVE!  Who knew?  I mean, we knew.  We knew it had to be this way, but barely anyone thought there would be enough people to buy the thing.  On top of that, some folks were STILL unhappy and felt it should have been BIGGER and even more expensive!

...I think.  I was never quite clear on the demands around that time.  They wanted it bigger, but felt like it could still be the same price?  Or some people thought the price was too high for "how little" they were getting.  You never really understand what you're paying for until you get it in your hands, and WOW man, this sucker felt worth it by just lifting it out of the box!  Which is good....because it was right on the edge of what I was willing to pay.  Sure, me and everyone else would have liked it to be bigger, but I wouldn't have been able to buy something bigger!

I think, in terms of size, it all comes down to what you collect: Some folks were strictly MotUC collectors, and wanted their toy space to be consumed by this massive castle - which would be AWESOME.  But me....I collect a lot of things.  I don't have the space.  Heck, I barely have the space for this!  I would love some other playsets, to tell you the truth (the current TMNT playset, for instance) but I just don't have the space.  SO...I've got one major set I KNOW I want: It's Castle Grayskull.  I'm gona make room for it, but I'm also gona be happy that it's not absolutely massive.

In short: This is exactly what I wanted.

I mean, look at this beast!  It's even taller than the 200X castle!  It may not be exactly to scale with the figures, but it more than covers a similar size difference when compared to the vintage castle VS vintage figures.  Plus: This thing is exactly like the vintage castle, in that I can use it for SO MANY THINGS!  You've already seen that with previous reviews using the castle as a background.

Now, as you'd expect: The 200X Castle Grayskull doesn't have much to DO, here.  The MotUC castle is based primarily off the vintage castle (as well as the original prototype for the castle, but we'll get to that).  So out with the...um...old?  Out with the second oldest!  In with the eldest!

Mmmm, look at that.  Yeah, baby.  Every rock, every crevice; meticulously recreated along with new details, bursting forth to massage your eyeballs (shut up, you know you like your eyes massaged).  One of my favorite parts is how all the wood is now WOOD!  Wood colored, I mean.

You can't deny the love that went into this monolith.  It's no longer a soft mold of a toy castle - this sucker is rising from the earth!  It's sharp, jagged!  Built brick by brick.  You can almost imagine people putting together a castle, rather than sculpting it.

Ah, but there's time enough to get close and really sniff out those details (with your massaged eyes...they can smell things better after they're massaged).  Here's a little thing I was looking forward to when the castle was in the process of being made:

Yeah, so it can't fit inside itself.  I was hoping the floors were removable, like with the old one.  They don't NEED to be, of course, but it would have been cool.  And...I still think I could fit the old castle in there.  Possibly.

Hey, before we follow those poor bastards - lets take a look at the box!

This is something I would have loved to do with the vintage review.  I still had the box to the vintage castle right up until 2000, when we had a massive flood (for us.  I know there are larger ones, but it was big for our area).  If I remember correctly, someone didn't hit the right valves at the sewage plant, and everything backed up during a huge rainstorm.  People abandoned cars in the street-rivers, and basement items were ruined across the board.  Somehow, my old Nintendo games came out okay (once dried) but anything cardboard or paper was destroyed.  Along with a stack of old Nintendo Power magazines and the box to my old Atari: I lost the box to Grayskull.

PFFFT, like that was a huge loss, or something.  Plenty of other actually important things were lost too, but I figured I'd mention that it had at least stuck around for awhile, until the flood.  This new box tries to recreate the...magic?  Yeah, the magic of the old one!  The magic of a BOX!

For starters: New artwork!  And they even tried to match the kid on the vintage box (showing him playing with the castle) to an adult.

They got him wearing similar clothing and everything!  Even smiling like a doof, because EVERY kid in commercials or on toy boxes was smiling like a doof, in the 80's.

But the cool thing about the artwork on the box, if that they got the same guy who did the original art to do this new one!  He just....I dunno, maybe he was told to hurry?

'Cause Man-At-Arms kinda bit the bullet on this one.  Took one for the team.  Everyone else came out great!  Poor MAA had to get the chunk leg, though.

It's really cool to get some brand new fancy artwork on the box!  They went all out for even the packaging...which also means I don't want to get rid of it.  ...yay?  Now I need space for both the castle AND the box that's too fancy to get rid of!

All the details return, even the red drawings of the figures on the back of the box.  Beyond everything else, for some reason, these red drawing on the white background are by far the most nostalgic thing about this box.  Not sure why.  Nothing else did anything like that!

Moving along: We've got the standard MotUC bio for you to use or not use upon your leisure.  I've got my own ideas for the castle, but this is always cool and welcome!

Then we've got these little shots showing off all the features of the mysterious castle!  I've always loved that.  Those little obvious eye-catchers that make you sit on the floor in the toy isle and stare at all the things you could be doing with this if ONLY YOU HAD MONEY AHHH.  Then Mom or Dad comes along to pull you away, and you're left with Giant Playset eyes, as you try to forget its magnificence and hope for it on Christmas or whatever your holiday flavor may be.

Of course, nowadays, the magic is replaced with "Yes, I've got moneys.  Please give me a huge playset."  Then you walk out with it and use it as your briefcase from then on out.  Come on, you'll be the coolest guy in the office, I swear.  Everyone will be asking to come play at your house!

I kid around about having to keep the box 'cause it's so fancy, but you know I wouldn't have it any other way.  If the box were just plain, it wouldn't have the same effect.  Yeah, I'm still getting an awesome castle, but who doesn't want the whole experience?  The box brings it, baby, and I'm glad it did.

Now, where were those figures...?

End of side A!  Please stay tuned while I prepare Side B, and then turn the tape over, because this is gona be a LOOONG ride!  In Part 2, we'll be looking at the beautiful details of the outside of the castle.  In detail!  Detailed details!



  1. EXCELLENT!!!! Maximum silliness, maximum self-indulgence, maximum Grayskull!

    1. I DO like to maximize my self-indulgence. Wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't! Indulge. Myself.


    I'm not sure why but I had hoped to read your.... er... 'review'.... (I seem to have an unhealthy thing for ellipses) before I got the MOTUC Castle. But dat Black Friday free shipping. Then got charged taxed. MATTEY'D!

    I'd like to share a few pics before we go deeper (and deeper... and deeper... and... look I told you about the thing for ellipses).

    And then I promptly filled it up with Kamen Rider (and some Ultraman) baddies. GOLGOM! Draego-Man is in there, because Draego is awesome and usually shows up in whatever toy band I'm using. He goes where he pleases!

    Shadow Moon owns the castle, now. He looks pretty great chilling in the throne. Just... ignore his feet dangling a bit, OKAY? I couldn't get the him to slouch with his head resting on his fist, but he still slouches so the design on the throne looks like a halo on him, and that's alriiiight. Shadow Moon also took a fall about 6 months ago, and now his crest is slightly broken. On the one hand, it gives him some character, like he's fought hard to take the castle and he's seen plenty of action. On the other hand, it's hard to look at his slight imperfection against an otherwise perfect toy. Seriously, he's My fave Bugman Figuarts. Fuwa Juzo/Deker is the only Figuarts I like (slightly) more than Shadow Moon. And it's not like there isn't going to be a marginally changed renewal figuarts of Shadow Moon coming out next month that I totally have to get regardless...

    And lastly, Christmas at Castle Golgom.

    Looking forward to party 2!. At least you got the review in 2014...

    1. Ha, sorry! Didn't think anyone would be relying on me for actual information. Good thing you decided to get it anyway! 'Cause I would have totally convinced you with my chicanery.

      Man, this castle is currently full of Kamen Rider stuff - I mean, right as I type this. Mostly because it was in the way on the coffee table, though. I preordered the rerelease of Rider 1 and 2 (Rider one came packed with his motorcycle) and then I got two Change Arms guys (Bravo and Bujin Gaim) and then I just pulled more figures out because....because. There will SO be a huge Kamen Rider post at some point, but it will be a joint effort between me and my buddy Zach, on the dual blog we never update. We sort of got into it at the same time.

      And Shadow Moon look AAAMAZING on the throne! I'm surprised I haven't put him there, yet. Friggin' love that figure.

      Anyway: I can't honestly say if this will all be finished before 2015, but I'm gona try! There are actually THREE more parts. Unless I decide to mix two of 'em. We'll see.

    2. I went on a sort of mad rush with the Arms Change guys- got all four of the Energy Riders and Kachidoki Arms Gaim. I'd like a Bravo eventually.

      No worries if you don't finish before 2015. It'd just be something more to harangue you over. I pretty much figured I would be getting the castle regardless around Black Friday. But as you alluded to, I was waiting for all the picture shenanigans to "stare at all the things you could be doing with this if ONLY YOU HAD MONEY AHHH"

  3. Awesome so far bro. I had written a bigger response. Then it got deleted and I didn't rewrite it. I wrote this instead. Gimme some of those mini eggs. Seriously this had me rolling so far. Especially the second video.

    1. I will be severely impressed if any of the mini eggs are still here by the time I see you again.

  4. So glad this is finally happening. Incidentally I always assumed the grown man on the package photos was just former brand manager Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich. I'm not sure why I thought that, since upon googling him I see he is very much not that guy. I sorta stay a few arm lengths away from the majority of the MOTU fandom, though.

    The upper floors of my Grayskull are at the moment occupied by a bunch o' Acroyears (bad guys from Microman)

    While on the first floor Swindle is selling Robotman parts to some assorted felons.

    1. Yeah, I'm sure everyone would have screamed bloody murder if Scott put himself on the box, but whatever. They yell about a lot of things (not always unwarranted, though). They deliberately found a dude who matched the kid, and dressed him in the same manner. Love them details!

      Anyway: CURSE YOU for making me remember Micro Man figures! Ugh, I coveted pretty much everything in your pictures, at some point. I have the one on the throne, actually (and the yellow one to his right)! Back then, though, I wasn't able to easily find or get them without scouring comic shops and hoping for the best. I should probably hunt some of them down and see what they go for, now. They made a lot of dynamite stuff.

      Awesome pics, as usual! Castle Grayskull just has so, SO many uses!

    2. Ah, Microman is a wonderful rabbit hole to dive down. The 200X series figures (like the ones in my pics) are amazing and the vintage ones have aged like fine wine. Microforever.com is a good resource if you want to drool for a while. I also highly recommend joining the Microman fan group on facebook - even if you're a fringe fan like me you would appreciate all of the amazing customs and artwork and collection pics that people post. It's probably one of the most laid back toy fandom groups I've ever been a part of, too. It's a "closed" group but I can invite you by email if ya want!

    3. Oh yes, I remember scouring Microforever.com many times in the past. Either to see what was coming, or to see all the awesome stuff I missed from the magnet line. A friend of mine got me a transforming cassette that turned into a helicopter and I freakin' love it. So much Microman I've missed...*sigh*.

      Anyway: That's cool, I barely use Facebook, so I wouldn't have much use for a group. Sounds cool, though!

  5. FINALLY, that which was foretold hath commenced!

  6. And so it begins! What have we learned so far? Well, Gandalf is a dick, apparently. Who even knew there was such a thing as fart teleporting? Telefarting? He is a true wizard of telefartation.

    Anyway, love the box, and I agree that adding an adult in place of the kid is a nice touch. And I find the red drawings on the back really nostalgic too! Why are red line drawings always so retro cool? Even Virtua Boy did it (although it was trying to be futuristic and cool).

    MAN, how could no one see Man-At-Arms' giant leg? I mean, people would have been ogling that artwork before it went on the box. No one had the balls to say, "Hey, waitaminnit..."

    And yes. YES! Let's get on that Kamen Rider spotlight! We've only been talking about forever now. Though, I guess you were waiting to get this done, and look how long that's taken...

    1. TELEFARTING. I will remember this.

      Yeah, I dunno what it is about the red drawings! And man, Virtual Boy is something else! Just...entirely. I played that thing for HOURS, man. Probably why my eyes are so bad (among other reasons).

      Man-At-Arms' leg...well...yeah. I guess it's just a thing we have to deal with. On one hand, like you say: HOW DID NO ONE SEE THAT. On the other hand: I ain't no artist, and I doubt anyone else looking it over was either, so they probably just let it slide, since everything else was fine.

      YEAH....I'd actually like to get to Kamen Rider next, though I had originally planned to go over all the items we had. But...we've amassed quite a few things since our original idea, so we may have to pick favorites. We'll see.

    2. Hey man, favorites work. Favorites and note worthies.

  7. This was so great. Thanks for a fun read. :)

    Also helpful for a new buyer to determine size differences with respect to vintage vs. MOTUC. I think I'll be combining the MOTUC Grayskull with the vintage figures, because size-wise the proportions (well, the facade at least) works well with them.

    1. Thanks, and you're welcome! Glad the size comparison helped. And yeah, I gotta agree: If you're lookin' for a place to display Vintage stuff, this works really well (size wise). Even the throne works, 'cause though it's made for larger figures, the size of it still doesn't feel out of place compared to the Vintage guys.