Figures & Speech: Kings of the Castle
by Luke Y. Thompson on October 4, 2012
I have owned two different Castle Grayskulls in my life. The first version of the iconic Masters of the Universe playset cost about $40 in the late ’80s, and perhaps surprisingly, was one of my last acquisitions in my near-complete collection. Truthfully, it wasn’t that interesting a toy in comparison to what had come after it – Snake Mountain had an electronic microphone, the Fright Zone had a dungeon AND dragon, and Eternia was just the ultimate bad mofo of all playsets. Grayskull had the familiar facade, but relied heavily on cardboard cut-outs and cheesy stickers inside. Add to this the fact that it wasn’t even really the good guys’ base – that would be Eternos Palace, which was never made as a toy, so I used my old Ewok Village as a stand-in. Also, because continuity changed between the time the toy was made and the storyline became solidified, the throne in the castle did not fit the one figure who – by late ’80s standards – should have been placed there: the Sorceress (note: the line’s very late introduction of the Sorceress as a figure was one of the primary impetuses for me to want the Castle).
My MOTU collection didn’t survive much after college – I still miss the Eternia playset but it took up way too much room. After college, however, Mattel reintroduced the line in a more stylized form. I found myself sucked into the figures again, but did not plan on buying Grayskull, until one day I was in an FAO Schwarz that was closing down, and the store clerk told me the $80 Grayskull could be mine for $50 if I paid him in cash. This was probably totally illegal, thinking back now, but it was such a good deal I bought it. And that was a cool toy, filled with electronics that could recognize each figure via a chip in the foot, and talk to them by name. Bad-guy chips would activate traps, and good-guy chips opened the secret chamber to a chrome power sword. I don’t play with my toys in that way any more, but it was certainly some of the most innovative toy technology I’ve ever seen.
2002 Grayskull still stands on my shelf, surrounded by the “anime hyper-detail” figures it was meant for, but with the Classics line now lasting longer than any other, there has inevitably been Grayskull talk again. As with both previous versions, I was not particularly interested at first. But now it may actually be happening – at Power-Con, Mattel’s Scott Neitlich announced that they will be taking preorders for a Castle Grayskull, scaled to Classics figures (making it the biggest one yet), and if they get enough takers, it will be made. Two hitches: there isn’t even a budget for a prototype right now, so preorders will have to be made based off of design sketches that will be unveiled at New York Comic Con. And it’ll cost possibly upwards of $200.
But then again, is $200 really a lot in today’s toy market? Assuming postage is not included, that would buy you four Classics figures. A 12″ Hot Toys figure can go higher than that. Comparing apples to oranges, though – women regularly spend around $400 for nice handbags. The Castle, treated right, will last longer. And then I saw this video from Power-Con – towards the end, Neitlich discusses all the features they want to include. Plus the success of a Grayskull sale might prolong the life of the line, considered by many to practically be on life-support…
I think I’m sold. But that leaves one final issue.
This is my room. Where the hell am I going to put it?
Will you be buying? If so, why or why not? Lemme hear some arguments.
(Note: Next week’s Figures & Speech will feature a very cool interview with a giant of the toy business. Who is it? Let’s just say he’s a guy who spawned many changes in how we collected in the ’90s…)