Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fortress of Mystery and Power - PART THREE: Release the Bowels

RELEASE THE BOWELS OF THE CASTLE!  Just, not your bowels.  Unless your levels of excitement are so high that you just simply cannot contain them.  In which case: take a few minutes to clean yourself up before reading on.

...was it everywhere?  I mean just everywhere?  There's always more in your bowels than you really think, isn't there?  Sorry, I'll try to tone down my magnificence from here on out, to save your innards from sudden expulsion.

So where were we?  AH YES, the inner details of the great Castle Grayskull.  What will we find among the jade stones of the ancient fortress?

That's right: Floor!  It's stuff like this that shows what kinda money was put into this thing.  Back when I thought this whole thing wasn't a possibility, I never thought that an inner floor would have been added.

It comes in sections that you pop together.  They can be removed...but it always worries me to do so.  You'll have to, if you want to close the castle up as a complete package, but that's all up to you.  When I first obtained the castle, it was sitting on top of it's box beside the couch, and I had the sectioned floor pieces shoved inside, so you CAN fit everything in there!  I just wouldn't pull those floor pieces apart too many times.

On the other hand, it seems to pop up from the edges of the inside of the castle easily enough, so if you just want to set the floor aside, you can close up your castle whenever you like without a problem.

Now, you've no doubt noticed the large hole in the floor....

Yep, you can stick a stand in there and display your flying vehicles, like the little Sky Sled, or the gigantic Wind Raider!  The Sky Sled looks cool and I can get it into positions that make it looks like it's flying into the castle to mess up the place, but the Wind Raider, as you can see, is just WAY too big!  It pretty much takes up all the floorspace.  Still, it's a nice thought, and if you don't care about the floor, you can still make a nice display out of it.


If you chose not to use the stand: You're left with a big 'ol hole in the floor.  I feel like this was a bit of an oversight.  How much more expensive would the castle have been if they had just added a thin piece of plastic to cover the hole?  I mean, I know this was tightly budgeted to get it as cheap as possible, but it feels like they could have added something.

Thanfully, there's no end to the amount of awesome and creative MotU fans out there!

Like He-Man said: This is a custom, hand-painted item by a guy who goes by BadVermin.  I contacted him through on this thread to get my cover.  I can't say whether or not he's still taking orders, but I highly recommend it!

I understand that the fans shouldn't have to fill in for something like this - and I'm not saying everything is okay because someone else fixed it - but someone DID fix it (multiple people, actually, with different ideas) so it didn't take long for me to sort of forget the problem.  Seriously, it's like the cover belongs there!  It just...should have been provided by Mattel.

Oooh, ho-ho, accessories!  Always my favorite part of a vehicle or playset.  Sometimes they come with recolors, other times they come with unique items.  The vintage castle had a full rack of mostly unique items (that became less unique with later figures) and the 200X castle had a full set of ALL unique weapons (and a spot on the wall to display them!).

MotUC Grayskull comes with a mix of unique items and recolors.  Sadly, it DOES NOT come with the weapon rack, shown above.  That was a separate item that came with a selection of remade vintage Grayskull weapons.  I doubt the rack would have come out THAT nice, if it had come with the castle, so I'm glad it got its own release.

The axe originally came with Vikor, and looks nice and generic in silver.  I'm glad it wasn't another He-Man axe!

This pistol originally came with Man-At-Arms, and a recolor was release in one of the weapon paks.  This time it's in pure silver, and was one of the original weapons that came with the vintage Grayskull!  I love to get more little items like this, so another one of these pistols is very welcome.

This was a curious addition.  So far as I can tell, it's a new sculpt (possibly based on old artwork?), but the handle was way too big!  Turns out that it fits perfectly in the open left hands of figures like Spector.  The index finger even slips into the space where the trigger would be!  On one hand: I still kinda wish they had just skipped out on making ANY hands open, unless it really served the character (like Castaspella's open spell casting hand).  On the other hand, since they DID make hands like this, I'm glad they compensated and gave them an item to put in there!  Now I just want MORE.  It looks and works great!

You can shove it into the normal weapon-holding hands, of course, but you'd be stretching out the hand, and that bothers me terribly.  You, on the other hand, may find that it bothers you less, and may like to use it as you see fit!  I'll just cry in the corner, if you do.

Our final items are another repaint of He-Man's classic shield, and a brand new mace.  I kinda wish the shield had been some other generic mold we haven't seen repainted yet, like Sy-Klone's shield.  That, or the lion shield from Chief Carnivus (I feel like that would look good in all-silver, placed on the wall).

The mace, though: That's awesome!  It looks great with anyone, and makes for a nice extra weapon for anyone that came with few or no weapons.

As you can see, they've added little pegs on the walls for shield mounting!  I love this idea, though I would have liked the holes behind the pegs to be a BIT bigger, so you could shove random swords or weapons behind them.  Not that I'm complaining!

Finally, about the weapons: Yeah, I would have liked more.  Of course!  Who wouldn't?  But like He-Man is saying in the picture above: This isn't a retail toyline.  They didn't have the same budget, and as some of you may know, Mattel had to do a begging phase and ask that people preorder BEFORE this castle was even done to be able to fund the beast.  I'm not saying we should be happy just to get it (though I do believe that is a part of it) but we should put this into perspective.  It was a limited item and a BIG risk (that is still in stock at Mattycollector as I type).  They carefully cost it out to make it reasonably affordable, and it still came out at 300 bucks.  Just imagine how much more expensive it would have been with even more items, or the amount of items that came with the 200X castle.

So yeah, I would have liked a few more accessories, but not at a higher cost than what the castle already was.

Now this is an old favorite!  It's a training dummy, just like in the vintage castle, and it even spins!  This one is based on the vintage prototype, however.  If you click the link and look at the proto, you can see this thing matches the dummy in the old pic pretty well.

When you see it compared to the vintage one, you can see that the vintage one is just a simpler version of the original proposed idea (possibly to save cost on plastic).  This new item is just fantastic, and I love every detail.  Especially the face on the top!

Now THIS is an interesting item!  It's another thing straight from the vintage prototype picture; never made beyond that picture.  We see it for the first time in our hands, here (though the arrow on the top looks much longer).

Now...I like it.  But it is freaking weird.  Especially since it only attaches to the figures via the strap around the waist.  I still like the thing, though.  We get weapons 'n such in the castle, but we don't have a whole lot of crazy tech we can take out, ya know (beyond guns).  The computers and the armor stay in the castle, but this is the first crazy future thing that isn't a weapon and can be removed from the castle.  It's only right that some piece of tech from Castle Grayskull itself be crazy and interesting.  I think this fits the bill, and goes perfectly with my favorite idea of Castle Grayskull being this old Fortress filled with ancient tech that people have long since forgotten how to use.

Also I just love the idea that there were probably a ton of these, back in ancient times, and crazy high-tech people were flying around wearing these insane arrow packs.  I bet these were just the normal ways of traveling, back then, but these were the economy jetpacks.  You've got the fancy people in the city wearing the nice ones, and the country folks in the wastelands using these Leonardo da Vinci contraptions with arrows in place of car horns.  So, ya know...try not to cut anyone off, if you don't want your time as an adventurer to end prematurely.

YAY, the ladder!  Primitive, but a handy tool nonetheless.  I loved this thing and used it to have people try to climb in through the back of the castle (as stated in the vintage review).  It has been faithfully recreated here in realistic wood color.

Ah, so they've added a real jail cell, for the first time!

...but just like how an Enertron still leaves you hungry: this cell still doesn't line up directly with the trap door above.  Well, okay, they managed it with the 200X castle, but the MotUC castle is stuck with the same idea as the vintage castle.  It wouldn't have worked out, with the way the castle is built, but it's still disappointing.  I mean, I can still use it like I used to, back in the day: With the idea that the trap door drops you off back at the beginning of the castle, leaving you to have to find your way through its labyrinthine halls once more.  But how cool would it have been to have it drop them off right in the jail?

It also would have been an easier way to get them IN to the jail, because that sucker is cramped!  You've really gotta shove the figures around to get them in there.  It goes without saying that only one figure can fit at a time.

You can see that the old monster grate sticker is back (which was going to be fully sculpted, but was cost out) and they added a metal chain and cuff to keep people against the wall.  There's a hole for TWO chains, but something tells me the second one didn't make the cut either.  It's a neat idea, but the cramped space makes it nearly impossible to both get a figure clipped in and THEN shove them inside.  In the end, I couldn't get a pic of it attached because of my big 'ol hands.

I wish they had made the walls of the jail removable, because then I would have been able to situate a prisoner inside and close the jail around them.  As it is, you have to shove your hands through the cell door, and that's nearly impossible with my Manly Hands of Beef.

Overall, it makes for a nice display, but hard to use.

Now, I suppose, we should move over to the elevator and mosey on up to the second floor.  If we scan to the left, though, before the elevator:

You'll see the secret back door from the inside is a cool pitted metal!  I'm glad they went for that little detail.  From the pictures of the prototype castle, it didn't look like there was anything back there.  On one hand, I could see how it would be cooler to have it look like a secret from both ends,, I like it this way.  Adds to the mystery, a bit.  Like the walls might not be entirely stone.

Space issue, once again.  I imagine they couldn't have made the elevator much bigger without losing floor space, but it's still a little disappointing to have the elevator pretty much the same size as the vintage one.  On the bright side, they took out the old "pull a cord to lift the elevator" and now it just clicks into place at various heights.  That does, of course, cut out the old gargoyle that was at the end of the pull chord to raise the elevator, but the Four Horsemen thought of that and sculpted in a homage to the gargoyle on the top of a window:

So that's a cool little touch!  It's even on the second floor - the original top floor on the vintage castle.

Speaking of the second floor:

Here's where the details from the prototype kinda clash with the details of the vintage castle.  This computer console is from the prototype.  On one hand: I love it!  It still has a screen showing the vastness of space and providing that freaky discovery that an ancient castle with a skull on the front might just be the most important building in the universe.  On the other hand: I would have liked to see the old console re-sculpted all new and fancy!  It's cool to get something brand new - and I am ALL FOR new things in MotUC - but it clashes with my want for nostalgia in the details.

Which means I'm pretty much middle of the road.  I can't really take a side, because this computer console is just SO cool, AND I would have liked to have seen the classic console.  So there we are.

With that out of the way, though: MMMM, details!  The space scene pretty much looks the same, and whats more, it's possible that planet on the right is Eternia.  It certainly looks like they were possibly going for that.  One way or another I love whatever it could possibly be!  That's the fun part about this machine - it could be anything.  If it shows Eternia, man.  Just imagine being in this world of barbarian wastelands and then finding this computer that shows your own planet!  Then, if it's NOT Eternia...can this thing look around the whole universe?

I think I talked about this enough in the vintage review, but this is my absolute favorite thing about Castle Grayskull, because it embodies the "mystery" part of the fortress.  I will always, always, ALWAYS love the idea of advanced technology buried in something that looks primitive, at first glance.

This is THE item that will never get it's dues, if they ever make another MotU movie.  Castle Grayskull will just be the place of Power, as it always is.  There will never be that moment where they fight through the Castle's defenses and wander around to find....this.  Proof.  Proof that everything they knew was wrong, and that there is so much more beyond their planet.  These little details have pretty much fallen to the wayside, and I only wish this playset was more accessible to the casual buyer, because these details have been brought back to the light in nice, durable plastic, as opposed to the cardboard computer in the vintage Grayskull that resulted in this:

It saddens me that Grayskull will never be seen like this in popular culture, but that's how it goes.  The old, original ideas may not always be the most accessible ones.  It's easier to have a big powerful fortress for the good guys than it is to have a mysterious empty castle that may not necessarily be on your side.  It may not be on anyone's side.

Ah, but lets keep moving!  There are more little changes in the same vein as this computer.

Once again we have an item designed after the prototype instead of the vintage version: The throne!  This one is more acceptable, to me, because this throne showed up in the old mini comics (which were drawn from of all the concept art).  This makes it have a different nostalgia, but similar.  This is more like one of those things I'd never thought i'd see in plastic form.  The vintage chair is more technological, which technically fit better, but I'd argue that both work pretty dang well.  This throne doesn't look out of place one bit.

There's a slot near the back of the seat that is supposed to be for the Sorceress to slide her back feathers into, but she still looks goofy sitting in the chair, so I didn't end up taking any shots of it.  I appreciate Mattel's effort to get her to fit in the chair, but I don't mind so much.  I was more of a minicomics kid, so I don't feel any need to have the Sorceress sitting in the throne (besides, she sat in something FAR different, in the cartoon, which struck me as something that would be beneath the castle, rather than at the top).

Next to the throne is all classic!  This is the same rug sticker that was on the vintage castle (though here it's square, rather than rectangle) and it is still the trap door, triggered in the same way the old one was - by turning the chair.  THAT....however, will be demonstrated in the next and final part.

This is another fun an impressive part: It's the old robot/space suit and his little computer thing!  What once was cardboard is now a full, 3D item in plastic, and I love it.

Now, don't get your hopes up, because this is still a standing item.  No movement in the arms or legs or anything, because this is a hollow suit.

It was too much to hope for a full figure, of course.  That would have really pushed this thing over budget!  This is still really cool, though, and it can hold stuff.

Having this in 3D is really just a freakin' blast, because I always liked that thing.  I think, back in the day, I had assumed it was a robot, but I could see it go either way.  In the sense of it being a suit: I kinda wish they could have sectioned this off (helmet, torso, arms, and legs) and somehow allowed the parts to attach to a figure, but I don't think that would have been in the budget either.  I don't want to come off like I'm not super happy with this thing, 'cause I am!  There are just so many things to do with this design that I can't help but speculate.

Perhaps, one day, this will become a full figure!  Until then, we have this thing standing in, and I am totally cool with that.

Oh yes, and in case you're wondering: it pegs into the floor, so you don't have to worry about it falling over.

Do wonders never CEASE?!  They've added more floor to the top!  In the vintage castle there were only the two turrets - one to hold the flag and one to hold the laser cannon.  Now they've stretched more floor across the back and front to connect it all!  It's such a simple addition, but SO COOL, because it's more display/play area!  I always had dangerous final battles on top, but there was so little space to do it in.  Now you can have 'em fight their way to the top until someone tosses their adversary off so they can smite their ruin upon the mountainside.  Like you do.

Let me take a second to point these out, though.  The top of the elevator never actually had anything, but the little thing at the end of the pull chord on the prototype was a they put some skulls at the top!  That's not all, though.....huhuhuhuhuhuh....

They come off.  And they're on ball joints.  Yes, the very same ball joints as the figures.  HEHE!

Yes, yes, two golden skulls for the taking!  Only problem is that nothing else looks good up there, if you decide to gank those skulls for a custom.

But other things fit up there, if you like.  Of course they do.

"WAIT A SECOND, Alexx, you're not leaving it at that, are you?  All the head-swapping hilarity must be driving you crazy!"

Yeah, yeah!  You think I don't want to go off on a tangent with this?  You know how many tangents I've gone off on in this review?  I can't afford any more!  The final part is almost ALL tangent, so let me be!  I'll probably do a "Grayskull Extras" post at some point to really play with all the crazy crap.  More than I already have.

Just rest easy in the knowledge that yes: I very much do realize the potential hilarity of this minor functionality.

This flag was missing from my vintage review (no idea what happened to it) but this is pretty much the same thing, without the ability to clip into the castle.  The idea is that you flip the flag around to show who has control of it.  I imagine you can tell which side is evil and which is good! can tell because the evil side is way more METAL.  The good side is all sunlight 'n brightness, and you'd think the evil side would be the moon, for contrast.  NOPE.  Just freakin' wild red energy 'cause EVIL IS POWER!

Those swords, by the way, were given plastic form with Castle Grayskull Man, but we'll get to him eventually (should have a long time ago, but whaddayagonado?  Nothin'?  That's what I thought, punk.)

OOOH, I love this part!  I always thought of the head of the castle as being special, so now they actually put a little door in there!  I love it!, I thought I'd have more to say, there.  I'm just squealing, honestly.  It's a cool addition!

You can stick what you like in there, but the castle comes with that crystal cluster.  It has a cup on top to hold the sparkle-ball that is the Power of Grayskull.  The Power ball (not the powerball that Homsar won) came with the second figure of King Grayskull, so if you've got that, then you can pop it in the holder and shove it in there!  Otherwise: The sky is the limit!  Er...actually the size of that hole is the limit, but you get me.  It may not DO anything, but I love it all the same.  What a great little idea!

On a side note: This is exactly the kind of compartment that would end up holding some crazy thing that I thought was important, back in the day.  You know, you dig out an old playset and find a figure you thought you lost a long time ago because it was stuck in some little compartment like this.

Fitting for the top of the castle: We're gona cap this off with the laser cannon!  You can see it's pretty much the same thing, but a little thinner and with handles that are easier for the new figures to hold.  It can aim up and down, but this time, it can turn side to side!  Nothin' like some anti-air cannons to keep your Fortress of Mystery and Power safe from do-gooding heroes and their crazy flying machines.

I hope you can understand a little of why this monster cost so much.  It felt a bit much at the time, but considering the kinda fan I am (and how useful this thing is as a background) I don't regret it one bit.  This thing holds pretty much all my old favorite items and adds more than enough new ones to sate my desire for interesting new details.

*PANT* *WHEEZE* Okay....there we go.  103 pictures down (in just this part)!  A few more to go!  Today we got to see most of the insides, and next time we'll see a little more, but mostly wrap up this insanity that passes for a story.



  1. "I won't be able to attack you, but I want you to know I'm thinking threatening thoughts".

    Review over. :)

    1. Nooo! I wanted so many other jokes to be my last! Let me do a few more!

  2. Replies
    1. Not as much as this monster, but yes! About 50 more pics. This thing was MASSIVE. I'm glad I broke it up.

  3. Just gimme a chance! Gimme a chance to do a Sky!

    Also I love the idea that Spector has audience cheering and clapping following him wherever he goes. Pretty much in line with my idea of his character.

    1. Thank you for getting the Coach Z reference, I survive off people getting references. YOU'VE MADE ME A FINE MEAL.

      Yeah, I think that might be an all-the-time-thing from now on. It just worked out so perfectly!

    2. When a Homestar Runner quote is uttered, I appear from across the galaxy to deliver the counter-quote. This is my solemn oath.

  4. I really need a round thing to cover up the flight stand hole. It's a cute idea, but I don't have any interest in either of the vehicles, so for now it's just a foot trap. Likewise, I don't care to join the org, so I'm a bit left out of contacting BadVermin to see if he still has one.

    And OOOOH that's where that chain with the peg goes. I didn't see anything in the 0.2 seconds I looked at the instructions on where it went.


    1. Workin' on it workin' on it! Lotta stuff gettin' in the way, recently. Rest assured, I've been doing a few pics every time I have a chance!

  6. Oh man, I'm falling WAY behind. At this point in time, you have FOUR posts I have to catch up on. Well, THREE posts now, but it's still the most I've ever fallen behind. Yeah, I have a squashily little spud that makes it hard for me to catch up on anything now, but still. Suddenly this molehill has become a MOUNTAIN, and I'ma have to pace myself so I don't inadvertently release my bowels while trying to catch up.


    Lots of neat stuff in there. If I were making a modern MOTU movie, I would TOTALLY go with the magic plus ancient tech route. I mean, the last live action movie was pretty much all tech, so it doesn't really count. You need that balance, like you see here.

    As I'm not really a playset guy, I'm liking getting to see every inch of the castle here. There's some really cool stuff, but so far not enough that would have left me happy with spending $300 (US!) on this thing and having it eat up a chunk of my toy room space. It's the small details I like the most. For instance, I would love a set of those golden skulls! You must show them on more figures at some point! Skeletor! Skareglow! Cy-Chop! Optikk! Extendar! EVERYONE will look cool with one of those golden skulls for a head, and I mean everyone.

    I will jump on the "I wish this robot/spacesuit was an articulated figure" bandwagon, because I think it could have been done. I mean, how much does a figure cost? $20-$25? I would have been fine with the castle being that much more if it meant it came with a full figure of that thing. Not that I have any idea how determining the costs of this kinda thing work, but it my mind it would have been fair. As it is, I would have totally used this thing as a figure as a kid. I'm sure I'd still do it now. I know I used flat, hollow C-3PO and R2-D2 cake toppers as my default versions of those characters back in the day, because I didn't have the originals at the time. This would be cooler than that!

    And after the skulls and the robot/spacesuit, I love that training dummy! I would make him live though magic. I mean that face has CHARACTER, you know? He reminds me of Broom. I don't think I'd have him scream every time he gets hit (no matter how funny he is). I can see him as this grizzled old warrior type, who's trained many heroes over the years and doesn't have time for pleasantries. And he can walk around freely on those three legs of his, because of course he can.

    Lastly, lot of comedic gold here. The three stooges trying to use the elevator all at the same time; random Homestar Runner joke; Manly Hands of Beef. KUDOS! I'd like to use my own Manly Hands of Beef joke somewhere, but I don't have Manly Hands of Beef. I have slender fingers like a girl. They're hairy though! I have Manly Hands of a Gibbon or Maybe a Macaque (but Probably Not a Chimp)! Bask in the glory that is my MHoaGoMaM(bPNaC)'s!

    Alright, I'm done.

    1. Yeah, I think the old live action movie would have been less tech if they had stuck to Eternia. It really looked like they had that shit DOWN, but they left Eternia and PLLLHHHT. Ah well.

      Honestly, the cost seems to go back and forth between people all the time. Some are good with the cost, others not. I think it worked for me, for what I felt like I got (and for what little I know about the business). Taking up space is certainly a part of it, though! I at least use it as a background all the time....but it does limit what other large items I can get. I mean, I'm never gona stop wanting the current TMNT Turtle Lair, but it's just WAAAY to huge, and I'll be swapping it back and forth constantly for the Castle, depending on what would make a better background. As it is, I haven't gotten to many Turtles 'cause I like using the Ghostbuster house as a background, but I don't feel like swapping it. Anyway, YES, I did do some swapping with the Gold Skulls! I think I forgot about it...I'll have to do a mix-and-match post to collect some junk I've done.

      I think the problem with an articulated robot suit was that it would have required a few new parts, and that shit is expensive. No idea how much it would have added to the castle, but it was probably breaking and already big number that they might have been afraid of as it was. Plus: They're not putting it off the table! There's still a change to release the robot in it's own package. I don't mind him as is, and yeah, I probably would have ended up using it for things, back in the day, if it had been like it is now, in the vintage castle.

      Ha! Never thought of giving it a voice beyond the joke. I'm sure that could have made it into the old cartoon if they had used more things from the toyline than they did.

      Thank you! I pride myself on laying golden comedy eggs on a regular basis, and constantly compliment myself for my actions. And personally: I may have MHoaGoMaM(bPNaC)'s as well, but I don't often compare them to others. I just know I've got big hands compared to Elena, of whom has Hands of a Lemur, perhaps.