Masters of the Universe Origins: Castle Grayskull by Mattel

Yup, I sure did tell myself I wasn’t going to collect this line! Nope. Got a nearly complete MOTU Classics collection taking up a lot of room over here, and I’m not starting all over again. And then it was, “Well maybe just a couple more figures. Maybe just a couple of vehicles. Maybe just one more Wave.” And then, “Aw Shit. I got Grayskull coming!” This would have been the rational excuse to stop. I already have Classics Grayskull, which takes up an entire corner of my spare room. Surely, I don’t need another. And yet here we are. I really think I may be overcompensating for the fact that I didn’t have any of these toys as a kid, because I don’t seem to have any plans on stopping.

I was seriously worrying about whether I was going to have Buyer’s Remorse when this showed up. I knew it wasn’t going to be as big or well made as the Classics behemoth, but how could I deprive all my new Origins figures of a legendary mystical fortress to fight over? The box is suitably large and features some kick ass vintage-style artwork on the front, while also advertising the included Sorceress figure. There are some shots of the toy on the flipside, and the rather long and thin box suggests that the Castle is inserted in the open position, so you can get a good idea of the size just by holding the package. Give me a minute to slide the castle out and get it all set up.

Looking as iconic as ever, Origins Grayskull does a great job of recreating the original magnificent example of skull-faced green stone architecture. It’s nearly tiny when compared to the Classics version, but still scaled perfectly fine with the Origins figures. The sculpting is a little soft in places, but you still get plenty of jagged, craggy stone in pale green plastic. There’s some bright green wash in a few areas and black paint inside the eyes and nose of the skull. The closed jawbridge is sculpted in brown with a wood pattern, has silver painted fixtures, and a green heraldic motif. The back of the Castle has shingled roof areas, which are painted brown and there are several open windows to peek out of. The only thing I’m not too keen on here is the weird white speckling Mattel put in the plastic. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but fairly visible when the Castle is in hand. At first, I thought it was some kind of unintentional spray of an unspecified substance, but turns out it’s part of the plan. What was the purpose? I have no idea, but I could have done without it. The back of the castle has a handle, so you can pick it up and take it to your friend’s house, and this thing is a lot easier to lug around than the Classics Castle.

If you’ve owned the Classics or Vintage Grayskull, you’ll be pretty familiar with the play elements here. There’s a hinge on one side and too hook-latches on the other. Open it up and you reveal the playset inside! When you first set up the Castle, the floors need to be slotted into their appropriate places and some stickers need to be applied. You also have to attach the floor plate to the elevator, position the computer components, and plug the flag and laser turret into the top towers. Finally, there are two banners that can be plugged into the ceiling of the Throne Room area. It’s all quick and easy to do, and while the Castle will close up with all this stuff in place, you can remove it all if you want to return the Castle to the box for storage. As far as build quality is concerned, nothing seems fragile, but the plastic used here is pretty soft, which is good for kids, as it means things will bend and not break under the rigors of play. Let’s start in the basement and work our way up!

Most of the extra bits and bobs go in the basement area, although in fairness you can put them anywhere you want! Here we get two weapons racks and a handful of weapons to put in them. The one on the left is just like the Classics one I have only smaller, and I was surprised to find the extra one on the right, which is pretty cool. You also get the sparring device so the Heroes can brush up on their combat skills. The weapons include a mace, a sword, a rifle, and a halberd, all of which are cast in an off-white plastic. The basement also has a sticker showing the dungeon and all sorts of bizarre creatures trying to escape from it.

Access to the upper level is gained via the working elevator. There’s a foot peg on the base plate and a string is used to raise and lower it.

The upper elevator room also has a large computer with a viewscreen showing some planets and stars. The computer bank has all sorts of sculpted panels and cables, as well as some red, green, and blue paint applications to the controls. There’s a smaller computer bank in the Throne Room.

The Throne Room features the ubiquitous trap door gimmick, which is activated when the Throne is turned to the left. The Throne itself is surprisingly well suited to fit the figures and even has foot pegs at the bottom to secure the figures into it. Oh yeah, there are two notches in the floor in front of the Throne designed for the scaling ladder, which I completely neglected to photograph for this review and didn’t realize it until everything was put away. And that’s why I shouldn’t coif so many Jamesons when I’m working on these damn reviews!

The tower features a laser turret, which can only be comfortably manned when the Castle is opened. It’s weird, because the Tower with the flag actually has room for figures when the Castle is closed! Anyway, the turret pivots left and right and will raise and lower, so the Castle can be defended against enemies on the ground or in the air. Will there be a Point Dread that fits atop this Castle like we saw in the Classics line? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Our last stop on Castle Tours is the Jawbridge, which can only be opened by inserting The Power Sword into the slot. Or another sword, or a toothpick, or whatever else you have lying around… BUT DON’T TELL SKELETOR!!! I word of caution…. at first I could not get my Castle’s Jawbridge to open at all. The mechanism was unlocking, but it seemed stuck. I eventually had to use a scary amount of force to pry it open and now it works just fine. Anyway, the Jawbridge and doorway are scaled well, so the figures can pass through them without bumping their heads. Except maybe Mechaneck if he forgets to go down scope before going in. Before wrapping up, let’s have a look at The Sorceress!

As the packaging points out, this is The Temple of Darkness Exclusive version of The Sorceress, meaning that she’s based on the all-white costume depicted in the titular Mini-Comic. I suppose that means that we’ll eventually be getting a regular Sorceress in this line. Yeah, I probably would have preferred to have the regular Sorceress bundled with the Castle, but I guess this was a better move for collectors who are only buying the figures and not ponying up for the Castle. With that having been said, I do like this figure a lot, as simple as it is. I expected the boots to be recycled, but they lack the detail seen on Teela’s. Sorceress’ one-piece has some bird feathers sculpted in, but not much else noteworthy detail. The head sculpt and bird hood are excellent, and she does come with her staff.

I really like the way they did her wings! They’re cast in semi-transparent plastic and and feature overlapping hinges so that they can spread and contract, both independently of her arms. Alas, no all white Zoar is included. Still, I look forward to seeing this figure all decked out in the Sorceress’ regular colors.

It does my heart good to see a playset as iconic and majestic as Castle Grayskull in the toy aisles again! Well, truth be told I haven’t actually seen it in a brick-and-mortar store, as mine came by way of Walmart.com. Still, it’s good to see pictures of other collectors spotting it in the wild! In the end, this version of Grayskull holds few surprises, as it hits all the key points we’ve seen before, while not really introducing much new. And that’s not a criticism, because this is an excellent recreation of the Vintage playset for the Origins figures. It’s fun to play with and it makes for a great display for my figures. And while it was impossible to find the space to display my Classics Grayskull the way I wanted because of it’s insane size, it’ll be a lot easier to build an epic display around this one.

2 comments on “Masters of the Universe Origins: Castle Grayskull by Mattel

  1. Grayskull looks really good. I like that some of the included items are a bit different as it makes it feel like it has its own unique identity. My only issue seeing it (I don’t have mine yet) is that the green seems to bright, but that’s kind of the design aesthetic of this line. Proportionally everything looks pretty good and the castle features seem to work with the intended Origins figures better than the features of most castles worked with their respective lines.

    • It’s probably not *quite* that bright in hand, but you’ll have to let me know what you think when you get it. It really is a lot of fun and a cool display piece!

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