Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Toy Review: Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe: Mega Construx by Mattel

   Back in 2014 I reviewed the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull and, man, it's still one of my favorite pieces I own. It was also one of my favorite reviews to write. While my little daughter was only 1 at the time the MOTUC Grayskull was released, she totally helped me build the new Mega Construx Castle Grayskull. We actually received ours back in May but it's taken me quite a bit to get around to taking pictures of it and writing a review. This thing is huge and loaded with parts. The package proclaims 3508 parts (though I had lots of leftover pieces; others seem to have them as well) and it will take you quite some time to build it. While Lego is still the gold standard of building bricks, Mega Construx has radically improved themselves over the past few years and Castle Grayskull might be the most impressive set they've released yet. Scratch that: It is the most impressive set they've released. Hands down. Game. Set. Match. The Mega Construx line has released Masters of the Universe figures slowly and quietly over the past few years but this year they've cranked things up to 11 with the Wind Raider, more figure releases, Castle Grayskull, and the upcoming SDCC exclusive Battle Bones. Let's delve into the ancient fortress of mystery and power after the break...



 The Facts:

Dimensions: 12 1/2 inches tall, 11 1/2 inches deep, and 13 inches wide

Parts: 3,508 and a massive instruction manual.

Figures: He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, Man-At-Arms, the Goddess, and the Sorceress

Non-Scalper Price: $250 dollars
   * Here's the front of Castle Grayskull and just by looking at it you can tell a few things: One, it definitely looks more savage and ancient, sort of like the earliest Castle Grayskull depictions from the Mark Taylor illustrations and the minicomics. The castle seems more twisted and gnarled than most depictions, which I kind of like.

Second, the build is insanely detailed. Look at all of those individual pieces! There are very, very few spots that use larger pieces. Nearly everything is built from the smallest pieces imaginable which, if you love building, is fun. If you don't this is going to be a lot of work. It does give it a very organic appearance, however.

Last, but not least, you can see that the castle is very green with a couple of different shades thrown in. I wish there were a few colors thrown in (obviously green) but the "mossy" green bricks look pretty slick.


 * Two things to point out here: First up is the door to the castle. It looks like it's made of wood, like the MOTUC version's door, and it has a removable shield and swords on the front.

Second, the "teeth" on the front of the castle are articulated, so you can position them however you determine to look best. That's a cool feature and I'm sure different folks will have different ideas about what looks best for Grayskull.

* The set includes a minicomic designed Power Sword and it can actually slip inside of a secret slit to open the castle jawbridge. The teeth around the edge of the jawbridge look excellent though! What I don't like is that the door doesn't stay up too well by itself. It definitely will fall open on its own if you're moving the set at all.


* On the top left of the castle is a ledge, like on the vintage toy prototype of Castle Grayskull, giving figures more places to stand. There's a hinged door that can slide open, allowing access into the throne room. We'll get there in a moment, however.


* Here's a look at the back of the castle. I love the look of the various wooden roofs on this as well as the appearance of the towers. Again, a closer look reveals just how complex this build is. The bricks stay together very well and I didn't have any problem with them. They feel of about the same quality as Lego bricks, so that's a good thing. On the bottom left is a mossy green door which, like on the MOTUC Grayskull, is a secret door into the castle.


 * Here's a look at the front interior. One of the things that you'll notice is that this Castle Grayskull is very much inspired by the MOTUC version. Most of the new features added to the MOTUC Grayskull (or that it borrowed from the vintage prototype) are present here. There's a lot of room for displaying figures here. Proportionally, this is probably the largest Grayskull when compared to the figures it is designed for.


* On the front left is the dungeon. It is completely walled in, like on the MOTUC version, and it features a "metal" door, a skull resting above it, and a small window on the side. The design could be a bit more exciting but it definitely seems like a solid place for storing the bad guys.


* Inside the dungeon is an attempt to mimic the dungeon grate of the vintage toy. It's not the best but I do like the monster arms that attach to a spot on the floor. There's also a chain hanging down to add some atmosphere.



* On the right interior is a tall, cylindrical room. It's mostly empty except for the weapons trainer.


* The weapons trainer is build from multiple small pieces with only the three footed base as a unique larger piece. It does spin, just like the vintage toy, so your figures can get some combat practice before taking on the Evil Warriors.


 * On the second floor is a room with the robotic armor, a small computer terminal, and the Grayskull rug that covers the trap door. I like the build of the computer console but I do wish the robotic armor were an actual figure, even if it were just a solid piece. The build of the castle is excellent but the interior accoutrements feel a bit lifeless. Lego just adds more fun flourishes to their sets and I'd like to see Mega Construx do the same. Little torches and other touches would have definitely added more life to the build.

* Here's a closer look at the armor. Again, it's just a flat piece although the artwork is quite nice. The set definitely captures the feel of the earliest MOTU toys and minicomics, which seems to be the direction Mattel is going in with their current offerings. They really seem to be avoiding anything Filmation inspired, which might be due to issues with rights and licensing.

* Here's the rug that covers the trap door. The little orange bar is what is holding the trapdoor up currently. It's attached to the throne in the next room. Once thing that this castle does better than the MOTUC castle is that those who fall through the trap door actually fall into the dungeon. Remember how the MOTUC Grayskull just dropped folks back at the entrance?


* Two swords adorn the entrance to the throne room of Castle Grayskull. They're removable and can be wielded by the figures if you'd like.


* The throne itself is very cool. This might be my favorite room inside the castle due to the nice build of the throne and the cool banners hanging at the back. I love that artwork!


 * Here's a quick picture of how the throne slides. Slide it to the right and the trapdoor falls open, sending an unlucky figure down into the Grayskull dungeon.


 * This room to the right of the throne room is empty. It does have have a secret entrance that leads outside here, however. I showed it off above, but this is how it looks from the other side. A little bookshelf would have looked really cool here. I wish the set featured a few "new" ideas to make the castle more exciting.


 * The top tower features the classic flag. You can move the flagpole if you'd like but it does attach to the studs for a sturdier build.



* In the middle of the top floor, inside the minaret, is a small room sealed behind a wooden door!


* Open it up and you can see the Power Orb inside. I loved this on the MOTUC castle and it still works well here, too. Plus, check out the blue crystals all along the floor. That's a fun design!


 * Lastly, for this side is the laser turret. I like that it spins and moves but it definitely looks very, very clunky. The cannon looks good but the platform could have been so much better.



* Let's take a look at the rear of Castle Grayskull now. It also has three floors. The castle does close up but it's very tough to get it apart without separating too many bricks. It's best to almost close it, but not fully. Otherwise you'll be making some repairs!

* The bottom floor is one large room. I love that the weapons rack that was just cardboard in the vintage toy is recreated here as an actual plastic accessory. It has an ax, shield, mace, and two pistols (one is the Zodac/ Kobra Khan pistol while the other is the standard weapons rack pistol).


* Here's the rear secret door I pointed out earlier. The MOTUC version's door opened via a hinge and the the key included with Scareglow, but this one simply pops out of place. It attached back easily, though.


* The elevator works really well. It looks very, very clunky, however. Again, this is one of those pieces that I'm disappointed in, kind of like the gun turret. It just seems overly blocky and shapeless.


* The elevator slides effortlessly up the rails and remains wherever you leave it. Like the MOTUC version, it has gold skulls at the top that can be removed. Figures can wear them on their heads while the heads from the minifigures can attach to the top of the poles. Yup, still creepy!


* The set includes the vintage weapons rack complete with all the weapons! I love this! It's a great way to outfit your figures. I really hope we get all of the figures who reused these weapons in the future someday, too. This is one of the coolest pieces in the set.


* The second floor features a massive computer terminal. It's a complex build and one of the only places to use colors other than brown and green. I like the cosmic image on the screen above the terminal, too. Definitely a nice representation of the magic and sci-fi feel of the earliest MOTU media.


* The computer terminal swings out to reveal a secret alcove. I'm not sure of the purpose of this but it seems like a cool extra play feature.

 * The third floor doesn't have any features except a walkway and stairs to lead to the top floor of the front of the castle. There is a handle, like on the vintage and MOTUC Castle Grayskull, but it doesn't work. I repeat: Do not use the handle! It will pull off or the castle will drop and break.


* If the elevator is out of order, you can always use the ladder. It's a piece that you build from smaller pieces as well, and it looks pretty cool. It's fun to see some of these classic items represented in the "brick" style.



* The set includes six minifigures. First up is He-Man, complete with his shield, ax, and the Power Sword from the Alfredo Alcala illustrated minicomics. Unlike the He-Man from the Wind Raider Attack and the standard release He-Man, this He-Man has darker boots and trunks and a gold belt and bracers, rather than orange.



* Skeletor is also wearing a much darker purple outfit than the Skeletors included with the Wind Raider Attack and the standard release. The paint work on his head is much more impressive too, making him seem much more frightening. He comes with the Havoc Staff, only in a darker purple.



* Man-At-Arms also has a darker body and armor than the standard release, showing off the inspiration from the early minicomics. He also has a headsculpt without a mustache. 


* One of the more interesting releases from this set is the minicomic Goddess. Based on the Teela figure, the Goddess features a new spear and the snake armor that easily fits over her head. Of course, she's also green and clad in a gorgeous green outfit. She might be my favorite figure in this set.



* Surprisingly, my other favorite figure is the red version of Beast Man. My gosh, does he look savage or what? He's just a repaint of the standard Beast Man but he looks amazing.


 * The only truly new figure in the set is the Sorceress. She's very well done and while she features all of the articulation you'd expect from these figures, she actually has her wings as well. I love the wings and her vintage toy inspired staff!


* The wings are made from a very rubbery material. They fit over her arms and allow her to still pose her arms. It's a good design!


 * To accompany the Sorceress (or allow her to leave Castle Grayskull) is the falcon, Zoar. Zoar is a simple unarticulatd figure that can clip onto the included perch. The paintjob is nice and captures the messenger perfectly!
 * The instruction manual is pretty slick looking and is huge. 179 pages with 481 steps for building Castle Grayskull. The packaging, and even the boxes holding the individually numbered bags, feature lots of cool MOTU art. The build is definitely tough but there are individually numbered bags to help out. There are lots of spare pieces and pieces from unnumbered bags, however, so it's definitely not easy. I didn't notice any problems, however, though I was missing one or two small pieces that I used other spare pieces as substitutes for.
   At $250 dollars, the Mega Construx Castle Grayskull is definitely the most expensive item in this line. It's a pretty impressive set, however, although it does have some flaws. Mattel really copied the MOTUC Castle Grayskull closely, which kind of makes this feel a bit less exciting. A few new features would have been nice. Also, the build often gets very, very tedious and Mega Cosntrux doesn't change up building tactics or add in fun little accoutrements and such very much. Lastly, the fact that it can be difficult to open and close when clasped. This set is definitely impressive and, when you look at it per piece, it's cheaper than a similarly sized Lego set. It's not as exciting as I had hoped but I still do like it. Overall, it's a Great set. Brick fans and MOTU fans are going to love as it it isn't all too often we get a new Castle Grayskull. Fans of the vintage minicomics will love it too, although Filmation fans will probably wish the set drew more inspiration from the cartoon. Little extras such as the Sorceress' mirror or a more realized dungeon would have helped to make this even more fun.



This isn't the first Castle Grayskull I've reviewed: I've also checked out the M.U.S.C.L.E. green Castle Grayskull and the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull.


   He-Man/ Prince Adam is one of my favorite characters and I've reviewed quite a few toys of him: The Series 3, Series 2 and Series 1 M.U.S.C.L.E. He-Man and Prince Adam minifigures, plus the Masters of the Universe Classics Galactic Protector He-Man, the future King He-Man, Laser Power He-Man, Snake Armor He-Man, and Flying Fists He-Man, the Super7 Prince Adam (Laughing) exclusive and Ultimates Filmation He-Man, the Super7 Robot He-Man, the Mega Construx He-Man from the Battle for Eternia Collection and the He-Man from the Wind Raider Attack set, the orange Micro Vinyl He-Man, the 200x He-Man minifigure from the first Heroes vs. Villains Gift Pack, the ReAction Slime Pit He-Man, the Mondo 1/6th scale He-Man, and the Funko VYNL Prince Adam + Cringer set. Heck, I've reviewed so many He-Man figures that he now has his own review archive: Check out "Fabulous Secret Powers" for a min-archive of He-Man and Prince Adam reviews.


    I've reviewed quite a few other Skeletor/ Keldor items: Besides the various Series 3, Series 2, Series 1, and the exclusive purple M.U.S.C.L.E. versions I've also reviewed the MOTUC Laser Light Skeletor and Terror Claws Skeletor, the Super7 Ultimates Filmation Skeletor, the Super7 Possessed Skeletor, the Mega Construx Battle for Eternia Skeletor and Wind Raider Attack Skeletor, the 200x Skeletor minifigure from the Heroes vs. Villains Gift Pack, the Super7 blue Skeletor Micro Vinyl, the Funko VYNL Skeletor, and the ReAction Los Amos Skeletor and Midnight Skeletor.


   If you're a fan of Man-At-Arms, I've also checked out the Mega Construx Man-At-Arms, the Dorbz Man-At-Arms, the ReAction  Man-At-Arms (Movie) variant, the Super7 Man-At-Arms, and the  M.U.S.C.L.E. figures from the #1 Masters of the Universe Set (Green) and the original He-Man, Teela, & Man-At-Arms set.


 If you dig Beast Man, I've reviewed the Super 7 M.O.T.U.S.C.L.E. series 1 version and the Series 2 green version, as well as the MOTUC Beast Man (Blood- Red Henchman) figure, Mattel's Club Grayskull Beast Man, the 200x minifigure Beast Man from the Heroes Vs. Villains Gift pack, the Mega Construx Beast Man from the Battle for Eternia set, the Super7 Beast Man, and the VYNL Beast Man.

For more of the Sorceress I've also reviewed the green Series 2 M.U.S.C.L.E. figure and the VYNL Sorceress.

This is the first figure of the Goddess I've reviewed on the site.

For more Masters of the Universe: Mega Construx reviews, check out the following:
Battle for Eternia Collection
Evil-Lyn
Man-At-Arms
Wind Raider Attack



2 comments:

  1. I'm not even a huge MOTU fan but damn that's impressive!

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    Replies
    1. It definitely is. It's very large in person. Maybe not large compared to other Castle Grayskull playsets but definitely larger and more dense so far as building sets go.

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