Back in 2011, Mattel held a Create-A-Character contest for their Masters of the Universe Classics line. The idea was that you could submit as many character designs as you wanted, and the winner would be made into an action figure in 2012 for their 30th Anniversary sub line. Nobody but the people at Mattel knew who the winner was until the big reveal at San Diego Comic-Con this past Summer. Lo and behold the winning figure was none other than the subject of this review, Castle Grayskullman! He was created by Daniel Benedict and ever since the reveal has met with mostly positive reactions. To many fans, it was clear why Mattel picked this as the winner, as it seemed to perfectly represent the spirit of the contest and Masters of the Universe as a brand. It seemed like something that could have sincerely been a figure back in the vintage line, which I think gave it that edge.
But that’s, of course, speaking purely of the design. How does the figure hold up though? Join me as I take a closer look and find out.
Heroic Embodiment of Castle Grayskull™
REALNAME: Not Applicable
During the Second Ultimate Battleground, Hordak® and King Hssss’ grand army pressed in against the allied heroes of Eternia®. In the darkest moment of battle, all hope seemed lost as many heroes fell, including Snake Man-At-Arms® and Stratos®. Reaching out through the Orb of Power, hidden deep inside Castle Grayskull®, He-Man® and the new Sorceress® used an unrepeatable spell to call upon the Powers of Grayskull™ and infuse life into the very spirit of the castle itself. Rising from the castle’s hidden Chamber of Defense; Castle Grayskullman™ marched into battle, swinging his dual swords of power, helping to turn the tide.
|PACKAGING – Castle Grayskullman comes in the standard Masters of the Universe Classics style packaging, with the Castle Grayskull brick layout on the front that continues onto the card back, and the orange clouds with lightning bolts. The figure is plainly displayed inside the blister, with his accessories easily shown. We get the standard MOTUC logo at the top, and Castle Grayskullman’s name at the bottom. What’s cool with this figure is we also get a special burst near the name letting us know the figure was created by Daniel Benedict.
The back of the packaging shows off other figures in the line, as well as gives us a new bio for Castle Grayskullman, writing this brand new character into the Masters of the Universe Classics mythos.
SCULPT – Castle Grayskullman utilizes a good mixture of old and new parts. He uses the standard MOTUC male buck, with a clever mixture of different pieces. His shoulders are the same scaly ones that have been used on Buzz Off and Clawful, and work nicely here to simulate the rocky texture of Castle Grayskull. It is kind of weird how the texture just abruptly stops at the shoulder instead of blending into the arms naturally, but it doesn’t break the figure by any means.
The new pieces we got on this figure are his forearms, boots and feet, the armor, and the head. The forearms and lower legs/feet continue the stone texture representative of Castle Grayskull and come off looking like gloves and boots, respectively. They also have cuffs going around them, making them look like castle ledges. I’d wager that’s no accident either. His armor also has the stone texture and looks great, but what’s really awesome is that he has the crest of Castle Grayskull on the front of his chest. It’s really awesome how he not only has a stony body, but he has specific Castle Grayskull symbols on him as well.
His head sculpt is fantastic, and has this very eerie, almost otherworldly look to it. It’s of course meant to be a representation of the entrance to the castle, so it looks like a skull with giant tusks. He has these deep eye sockets, and a gaping mouth, that really make him look kinda creepy. His head is adorned with a crown that’s taken straight from the vintage Castle Grayskull’s design, which is implemented wonderfully here. And of course since he’s inspired by the 80’s, he has his own head of Hulk Hogan style hair. I know a lot of fans were turned off by the long hair, but I actually kind of like it.
PAINT – Not surprisingly, Castle Grayskullman’s paint scheme is meant to resemble the actual Castle Grayskull. He’s mostly colored in a very dark green, with some nice lighter green dry brushing applied. His bare arms and legs have the green air brushed on, but on the spots with the stone texture, it’s dry brushed. It helps give the figure some depth, and makes the character look ancient. I feel the overall green could be a bit lighter to better resemble Castle Grayskull though.
The crest on the front of his chest has some great weathering to it. The head sculpt has the same green paint job and blends in with the rest of the figure. The eyes, nose, and mouth are painted black and really help get across that they’re completely empty. Only the tusks are painted white to look like normal teeth, whereas the rest of the teeth are left green. I’m not sure why that decision was made. I think it would look better if they were all white, personally.
His hair is painted a bright yellow-blonde color, which only helps with the Hulk Hogan correlation. Now while I like the addition of the hair, I do wish the paint was more gray and white, to help sell the idea of him being this ancient being. Also, I will note a couple of random yellow paint specks on the underside of chin, and another one on the horn of his crown. They’re annoying, but aren’t too big a pain unless looking at them up very close.
ARTICULATION – Castle Grayskullman has the standard MOTUC articulation. He has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, single elbows, wrist rotators, ab crunch, waist swivel, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, single knees, boot rotators, and hinged ankles with rockers.
All of his articulation is solid and for the most part unhindered. I was surprised that his torso armor doesn’t interfere much with the ab crunch. It does a little bit, but you can still bend his torso forward, and especially backwards, since there’s a section of the armor cut out to specifically allow that. Now, the armor does seem to get in the way of his shoulders. Because the armor adds so much bulk to the body, it doesn’t allow CGMan to rest his arms perfectly at his sides. It does annoy me when my figures can’t do that.
What’s great though, are his ankles. I know that a large number of MOTUC figures have pretty loose ankles, but I’m happy to report that Castle Grayskullman has some of the tightest ankle joints so far. Perhaps too tight, ha ha. They’ll definitely help hold whatever pose you want to put him in.
ACCESSORIES – Castle Grayskullman has a slew of great accessories. He includes two swords, and a shield. But these accessories aren’t just any random set of weapons; they’re chocked full of great Castle Grayskull symbolism.
The shield he comes with, from the design and shape, is taken straight from the Castle Grayskull drawbridge. It features a great weathered metal look to it, with the skull and wings emblem on the front dry brushed white, and the three big rivets painted in gold. It clips onto CGMan’s wrists nicely and looks awesome.
The dual swords he comes with are taken right off the vintage CG’s flag included with the playset. The shape and design are faithfully recreated here in three dimensions and look amazing. One sword has a blue hilt and green blade, while the other has a burgundy hilt with a purple blade. They fit perfectly into his hands and he looks great wielding them.
His torso armor can also be removed. You just pop the head off, and undo the buttons on either side and it slides right off. It’s very annoying to get back on though, trying to pop the buttons back into place and slide them in just right, but it can be done.
FUN – This figure is immensely fun. This is especially interesting considering this is a brand new character with no nostalgiac ties for anyone buying him. He’s cool to look at, very cool to pose, and just all around fun to play with. The awesome accessories he comes with definitely adds to the fun factor.
This is one of those modern collector action figures that I think even kids could just have hours of fun playing with. The design is definitely one that seems to embody the concept of a fun figure, and even though it’s a brand new character, it made me feel like a kid again playing with it.
QUALITY CONTROL/THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR – Not a thing.
OVERALL – This is a great figure. The design, sculpt, articulation, accessories, pretty much everything comes together in an excellent blend of a really cool toy. There are a couple of changes I would have made to the figure, such as the blonde hair and the green teeth. I probably would have also figured out a way to make the armor not add so much bulk to him. But even with those minor gripes, this is an awesome action figure.
After handling the figure in person, it became clear why Mattel chose this design as the winner. Visually, it’s very striking, and it’s a great representation of what Masters of the Universe is all about, which is fun. It feels like something that would have been made into a figure back in the 80’s during the vintage line, and I’d wager that when the guys at Mattel saw this design they smacked their foreheads and said “Why didn’t we think of this thirty years ago?”.
I know that many fans who had entered the contest are still feeling sore over not having their designs chosen, and I can definitely sympathize with that. However, I do think Mattel made the right call with this one. Even people who aren’t into brand new characters in MOTUC are buying up this guy, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great figure that, while not essential, definitely makes a great new addition to any collection.
FINAL SCORE: 4 / 5
Where to buy: This figure was originally sold on Mattycollector.com and is now sold out. However, you can buy it at the following online retailer.
Be sure to check out these extra photos below that couldn’t fit in the review.