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MOTU Classics: Castle
Grayskull Review (36 Pics!)

The impossible is finally here! When Mattel first geared up for MOTU Classics, when it was just the wee little fighting men coming out once-a-month, there were a few items, key to MOTU lore, that fans immediately started thinking about: Battle Cat & Castle Grayskull. Battle Cat proved to be relatively easy, and pretty magnificent, but the Castle seemed impossible. We were told it was a long shot. We were reminded again and again of the obstacles. It would be complicated. It would have to be huge. It would have to be expensive.

Five years after picking up that first He-Man figure, the Castle is finally a reality. The process was definitely complicated. It is huge. It was expensive. But, on the whole, to give out a summation here in the opener, it was worth it.

These last few years, my shelves have more or less become a shrine to the 80s. You’ll catch some glimpses in the pics (the Castle was simply too large to shoot traditionally, I apologize in advance for the quality of some in the gallery images). There are modern figures of Shipwreck & Snake Eyes. Optimus Prime & Soundwave. DC Classics updates to Super Powers. Marvel Legends has well-covered the Secret Wars line (it wasn’t hard).

Most of my 80s loves are represented on those shelves by a key icon that represents the property. Thinking about it that way, the Castle simply had to get done. It’s perhaps bigger than even He-Man, certainly most of the villains, when it comes to representing MOTU. Who doesn’t know or remember Castle Grayskull, even if they can’t name any of the characters? What did Mattel put on the 30th Anniversary logo last year? What do they use as their SDCC backdrop? And the packaging graphics? The Castle is MOTU. It represents it in a way no other playset from another line really represents that property. Thinking about it that way, I can’t believe it might not have gotten made. It just feels like it had to happen. I’m glad it did.

The better part of that is that it’s just a great toy to own too. The Four Horsemen’s sculpting work is typically impressive and that carries over to the Castle as well. In some ways, I know the vintage one can never be replaced, but the sculpt is what gives this one the best change. The softer lines in the vintage Castle gave it a more leathery look (though I never cared at the time!). The MO2K castle while technically impressive was too uniform, almost computer rendered. This Castle looks made out of stone. The details are crisp and sharp throughout on the exterior.

The interior is still just a relief of this fantastic outside; doing real internal walls would be excruciatingly I imagine, but the crispness on the outside keeps the softer inside from looking too out of place. Plus, there is so much greatness packed inside with terrific sculpting on the monitors, floors, etc. that I didn’t even think about the interior walls for awhile.

The paintwork is top notch, another way that sets it apart from previous Castles. The vintage went mostly without. So do the MO2K version, ironically, at least if you had the first version that didn’t even paint the crest/shield on the door. Duh. That’s not the case here. The external supports & roofing are finally brown. The door is fully painted. The Castle finally looks truly impressive even closed up. (Because I had to use flash photography, the Castle does appear a little differently in some pics. The greens might appear brighter than they are for example, that’s mostly just my inexperience with using the flash, so please bear with me.)

Inside, there’s plenty going on, almost too much to cover. I tried to hit all the notes in the images if I miss something here: the working elevator, the spots for weapons storage, the training device, the throne & working trap door, the removable skulls on the elevator, the rear entrance which can be used with Scareglow’s key, the turret laser & flag, just about everything from the original is included, minus that Weapons Rak that was sold a few years ago (though we did get a handful of new weapons). There are a couple things like the winged batpack that I’m not sure what to do with, but it’s neat. Continue to Page 2…

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43 comments to MOTU Classics: Castle
Grayskull Review (36 Pics!)

  • Dark Angel

    So torn on this one…sigh. Oh well. Happy Everything, everyone!

    • It was an automatic buy for me as I have everything else, but I can see it being a tough buy for a lot of folks.

      • Dark Angel

        Oh, I bought it. I got in on the preorder. For all my issues with the line and how it has been run, I will not have it said that I don’t support it – even though current management seems to feel I and many others don’t support it enough. No, the issue is, the castle is ultimately a toy – and as a man closing in on 40 years old, I did not need a toy, I need an epic nerd Hummel display base. Additionally, mine at least is not nearly as sturdy as a lot of other people’s seem to be. Based on the construction and materials, I foresee it causing a lot of heartache for a lot of people in the future. But I don’t want to waste space here, or bring you or anyone else down – I wrote a long review on another message board, you can read it if you choose: http://www.unrealspawnboard.com/index.php?topic=10287.0
        I know it looks like a private board, but anyone is welcome to register and respond if they like, we welcome new blood…er, fresh meat…er…yeah.

  • Ian

    Awesome review! Love the realtor story to describe the castle. Crowning achievement of Mattel. I hope they do another but intil then this is awesomeness.

  • This damn castle. I kind of wished I reinstated my preorder that Matty canceled at the last minute for no reason. But I’m just not sure it was worth the headache. Buying toys shouldn’t require so much work on my end… But every time I see it, it sure does look swell. Great (and funny) review.

  • mrArticulate

    Fantastic photos! (But then they always are!) Thanks for the fun Christmas day read!

  • Lem

    Second time I have to let this thing pass.As a kid I had lots of MOTU but the castle was way over budget for my parents . Now I collect MOTUC and have a full set of figures released so far but had to pass on this … in Argentina if you want to buy the castle even if you buy it on your own or from a reseller you need to pay 1000-1300 dollars for this …. the box looks great though.

    • Bloody hell, that’s an obscene amount of money, mate!

    • Lem

      Yes , regular figures now range between 60-100 each , and that’s for regulars susbscription-only you can expect to pay twice and if it is a core character .. more . I was kinda hoping they would wrap it up on 2014 but looks it ain’t going to happend and now knowing I missed the castle maybe it will be time to pick main characters .. a real shame after collecting for more than 5 years ..

    • That’s crazy. I’m sure I don’t have the resolve to be an overseas fan at those prices!

  • Sandman

    Merry christmas and congrats on the castle, IAT guys!

  • Polo23

    Awesome pics & review.

  • I love playsets and ‘play environments’ and such like. I love vehicles. I’m very happy they got this made, and someday I hope to own one. It’s a shame the future seems so bleak for MOTUC, I could see Matty being able to repop this every Christmas and creating add-on sets to really maximize the ROI, buttttt they won’t.

    I think I’ve figured out the concept between the flight stand hole in the floor. What if the thinking is some people may choose to use the floor parts SEPARATE from the Castle, as a display diorama stand? That would work, right?

    Another excellent review. You know they’re a good job when I come away saying “gee, I want that” :)

  • Outstanding review of an outstanding product! Loved it!

    When Star Wars effectively packed it in back in 1984/1985, my childhood then centered around MOTU, until that ran out of steam in 1987. But I was collecting MOTU since late 1982, watched the cartoon, subscribed to the magazine, saw both movies, acquired almost every toy in the original line.

    You talk about “Who doesn’t know or remember Castle Grayskull, even if they can’t name any of the characters?” Well, my mother is now 81, and she put up with my MOTU-mania for all five years of the vintage line. When it arrived, I assembled this MOTUC Castle to get a good look at it while she was taking a nap in her chair. When she woke up, she saw this big verdigris-coloured thing in profile sitting on the floor. “What’s that?” she asked. So I turned it to face her, and she immediately came out with: “Oh! BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL! I HAVE THE POWER!!!”

    Yeah. Castle Grayskull is a cultural icon par excellence, no doubt about it.

  • Excellent work on the awesome pic gallery. I was pretty sure that Digital River would screw up my preorder from October of last year, and sure enough, they did. After two to four tries at charging my card, both they and I gave up on this sucker.

    It’s still great to know that all of you who got yours are enjoying it immensely. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone here on IAT. :)

  • J. Lee

    Oh how wish had the space for this sweeeeeet giant.

    Great review and pics a laughed a little two loud on the pink greyskull and the eyeballs is too funny.

    Oh my goddess it really is freaking huve.

    Oh and Merry Christmas everybody.

    • Thanks, J! I still don’t know where I’m going to put it!

      Hope you have a great new year!

    • Brainlock

      oh damn! the eyeballs! LOL
      I saw someone on FB did an “origin” of …Oculus? (?-gold armor dude) It was his eyes that they planted in the castle sockets, here. I don’t recognize these peepers, but it’s still hilarious!

      who wants to do a pic with googly eyes next? ;)

  • He-Mullet

    did somepony say Brownies?
    My sides hurt from laughing through this review…

  • Blot

    Between the Castle, the Spider Gremlin, and Metroplex, this sure has been the year for the impossible being made possible, hasn’t it?

  • Mysterious Stranger

    I love this thing. It was, in my opinion, well worth the $300 I paid for it (preorder with shipping and tax). My only concern is the elevator. It is really tight and holds its position well but I can see that loosening up with repeated use over time. The string and gargoyle hook of the vintage Castle was a great way to secure the elevator and I kinda wish they had done that here, or something similar.

    Aside from that (and not including a plug for the Wind Raider stand) this is as close to perfect as it gets. I was originally going to unpack it, play with it for a bit, make sure everything was in there and it wasn’t broken and put it back in the box and out into the garage. But after opening it I had to keep it out. It’s currently under my customizing desk so I can pull it out and play with it whenever I want to.

    SO. MUCH. FUN.

    • I think it’s definitely worth the price! I mean, I would love it even more if Mattel realized they could sell at least a portion of the line at TRU or somewhere, amp up production, and bring the cost down, but I digress…

      I didn’t think about the elevator, but you’re right, it could definitely wear over time. I’d forgotten about the gargoyle hook! It is a ton of fun though. Even just to look at. LOL

  • BP

    Love Beast Man’s reference to the 80′s commercial “I know all about that trap door”

  • Brainlock

    wow, it’s a Who-mas Miracle!
    I apparently checked in shortly before you posted this? then assumed you were too busy with the holidaze to post, anyway. also, I was too sick to care.
    (wait, no, that would have been Who-mas eve? I dunno?)

    LMAO at #20, the back door. My sister just bought a “new” place (~70yo) and has the same problem. She already had to bust out one window to get back in! I would have had them ask about the plumbing and heat, too. LOL
    (seriously, almost a week without regular water because she just HAD to change the shower head!)
    (also, potential ghostststs. they told her previous resident died in here, then phone/net guy tells me he drank himself to death. guess who gets his old room? yay. good thing I have several real ghost peeps on speed dial. Even if E is too tall/wide to get thru the front door! Even I have to duck & sidestep!)

    This does look like a great piece, but I can’t see paying over $200 at retail for it, maybe 225-250 online, tops. Space is also an issue for me, right now. storage is over-packed and I’ve been frozen out of ebay until I pay them. Then again, I don’t have either of the previous versions, either, so I can live without it. As for being the “key piece” to this line, I’d probably agree, but your collection also contains another “very identifiable base”: The Hall of Justice! I’d probably argue the Death Star for SW, as well. (blame Dan’l Pickett for sharing his Xmas morning pic with that the other day! LOL)

  • zupahman

    man i was expecting a 4 page review. C’mon LazyDvl5 ! ;-)
    Just kidding. i had so much fun setting this up… my wrkplace is now a battle diorama.
    I’m happy with this, i’d rather mattel get to vehicles before going for Snake mountain or any other Dio’s

  • Jon

    Aaron Eckhart is such a good realtor, LOL!

  • Ian

    The manhole cover and dungeon kits are awesome.
    I finally got the weapons rack on Matty.
    Hoping for more custom kits. Expansion walls would be great to make it bigger.

    It is the centerpiece of my collection and display. Voltron and Ft. Max just stare at it in awe.

  • BP

    How did you attach Optikk’s eyeballs into the sockets? On my castle, I can lay one in the right socket and it’s fine, but the with the left, it keeps falling out

  • dean

    This castle is amazing. I really wish I felt it was worth the total cost of admission. In no way can I argue how cool it turned out. Just more moolah than I want to give for it. Fantastic work, Mattel. Truly an epic toy.

  • da man

    Love the review. With darker hair and a slighly reshaped hair, Harvey could double almost for Phil Dunphy from Modern Family. My castle is still in the box and in storage until I have someplace for it! So glad I got it…

  • [...] back! Our apologies for that little too long post-holidays hiatus there. I tell ya, reviewing a Castle really takes it out of you! I keed, I keed. 2014 has been marked by being under the weather so far [...]