The fortress of mystery and power is back, and it is brining all of those nostalgic feels with it.
I am a life-long Masters of the Universe fan, but I have only been collecting MOTU Origins for about a month now. I was originally only going to get Mer-Man because he is my favorite, but then I was only going to get the original 8-back characters, and then, and then, and then… well, here I am, hip deep into the line. Sure, it is not the scale I mainly collect these days, and Classics will likely always be my collector grade MOTU line, but so much of this line is do danged charming. It’s not perfect (nothing is), but the colors, the notes to the vintage figures, and the release pace has got me all Masters-y again, and it feels great.
There can’t be a MOTU line without Castle Grayskull, so I am glad Mattel is giving us an update on my favorite play set from my childhood. I was a bit tentative about this release at the start because due to the size and everything else, it was just too easy to make direct comparisons to the vintage version. Plus, the impressive Classics CG is in the mix, too, so this was staring down a couple of hard acts to follow. However, this CG is not meant to supplant either of those things, but stand on its own like the Origins line itself as a bit of a modern love letter to the 80s, and overall, I think this castle does a great job in doing that.
Play sets are a rarity these days, and due to the scale, this is no small item seeking real estate on store shelves, so I tip my hat to Mattel just for getting this done. It is all package in a very nice box with GORGEOUS art work that is making it hard for me to discard. I mean, this is a nostalgia trip unto itself unlike one I have had in a bit, and the art and photography take m back to the JC Penny’s catalogs of old in the most wonderful way. If this had the red line art on the back as well, it would have gotten the whole hog, but I am not decrying it at all for the omission. Like I said, I am die-hard Classics fan and supporter, but Origins has them hands down in the packaging and art department, and it isn’t even close.
The Castle itself scales pretty closely to the vintage, and its design and form are both tributes. This Origins version feels a bit more planned and designed, rather than asymmetrical and organic like the original, but it all comes together very nicely for the outer facade. There is more detailed paint applications going on here with the Jawbridge and roofs, so that is a nice upgrade to be sure. The plastic feels more durable as well, if not slightly softer. The vintage Castle is prone to cracking due to the material, but this is of another make so I think it should age well.
The interior and the accessories are take a more direct turn from the original for me, and the shapes of things like the throne, ladder, weapons rack, and turret gun are pretty different in comparison to their older counterparts, but man, it is really cool to get the consoles actually sculpted and the second weapons rack that was never released. The weaponry is much the same in that you get the spear, mace, broad sword, and blaster, and they all can find multiple spots in the racks for storage. The trap door and elevator work “just like you remember” and with such solid action features already in place, I am glad they did not stray far for them here.
The extra embellishments, like the aforementioned control panels are fun, but you also get the banners that hang from the platforms in the turrets, and the ladder has more secure access to get to those upper levels. The platforms themselves are larger this time and they have foot pegs to keep your figures securely in place. Much of the details are sculpted this time around, but there is still a good bit of stickers to attache in spots like the flag, throne, and famous dungeon grate, so be sure to take a steady hand. For some reason, I have always been terrible at applying stickers, even when I take my time and plan everything out, so if you see some askew here, that is on me, and not Mattel.
Finally, the “Temple of Darkness” version of the Sorceress in all white is included as an exclusive to this set. Now, I am POSITIVE the regular Sorceress will get a standard release later in the line, but this is a fun inclusion that checks the right boxes for the collectors, but isn’t an essential vintage translation to the line. The translucent wings are definitely a highlight, even if I am not in love with the female base body from this line (the range of movement is pretty limited in most of the joints). I love getting a figure included with this set, and if you take out the cost for what a standard figure retails for, that puts the Castle right at about $60.00 which is a really good value in this age, so all of the mathematics work out for me.
The 200x version aside, Castle Grayskull has had a heck of a run as a successful play set many times over, and Origins joins that proud tradition. If you are collecting this line, it is 100% essential, but having it now, even if I would have just stuck with the 8-back, I would still want this baby. It recalls all of the best parts of the original, but has new pieces and modern updates to make it wholly Origins and can stand on its own. Now, I would LOVE to get a Snake Mountain to compliment this, but I will take it one release at a time at this point and direct you to BBTS if you want to pick one up for yourself. And you should!
*Thank you to Mattel for sending along this sample for feature.