NYCC 2012: Mattel - Castle Grayskull


Will Mattel actually deliver?

Matty Collector unveiled its plans for Castle Grayskull at NYCC. As previously mentioned, the company will not be doing a display prototype; instead they're asking for pre-orders based wholly on the strength of these specs. And, at a glance, Castle Grayskull almost looks too good to be true.

Keeping in mind that Castle Grayskull will run you US$200 US$250, the iconic playset still seems an oddly good value. The specs list is as being over 25 inches tall with a slightly greater width and diameter (listed as being "subject to change"). Any doubts regarding scale can be effectively assuaged by these alleged proportions and keep in mind that the size is just one aspect of the overall product. Mattel has also pledged during its NYCC panel that, while they seek to include additional features, everything seen here will appear in the final product.

Check out the jump to see what may defy belief.

Castle Grayskull will not have all four walls. Much of my initial enthusiasm came from the notion that we'd have a "complete" Castle Grayskull but Mattel has instead opted for the more traditional approach of a two-walled castle which can fold into itself for storage purposes. I'm sure that the decision will please at least one segment of Masters of the Universe community whom appreciate faithfulness to the original toy line. While I personally regard the decision as being infinitely less cool (especially since I wanted a full castle when I was a kid), I can both understand and respect this choice.

As with the original toy, Castle Grayskull's interior is broken up into two floors (plus the roof). However, this time around it seems that the interior of the castle will have actual sculpting as opposed to merely being a thin layer of plastic mirroring the exterior's sculpt.

The other interesting aspect is that Mattel has gone back to the Castle Grayskull prototype for inspiration, meaning that this set will have features that were planned in the original but ultimately omitted. This includes a working side-door as well as a "bat wing jet pack and training device".

The wall decorations will apparently be sculpted rather than merely be decals. Supposedly the chains will be functional so that one figure can be restrained. I'm not sure whether the manacles will be a pliable, rubbery plastic or have some sort of a snap feature. There also seems to be some sort of a trap door above the dungeon as well as a secret passage leading out to a ledge. (Secret passages are such fun, aren't they? You know, growing up I always wanted a secret passage in my home.) The throne will supposedly fits most 6.5-inch Masters figures. Concealed beneath the dome is a "Secret Orb room" (the orb itself is presumably sold separately. I believe a few figures, like King Grayskull, come with one). Then, of course, there are all the classic features like the working jawbridge (aka the front gate) to be accounted for as well.

Honestly, the set seems to feature too much to mention here. Check out the pre-order listing for additional detail.

The He-Man pictured should represent the size of a standard Masters figure in comparison to Castle Grayskull. It's also worth noting that the original Castle Grayskull would reportedly only come up to about the proposed new one's eyes.

Overall, I'm not sure what to think. The originally estimated US$200 price point was a little costly but that seems to have been bumped up to an even beefier US$250. The shipping cost currently isn't known beyond Mattel's warning that it will be "substantially higher" than normal. Since some of their figures run over US$12 to ship, I'm imagining that this may indicate the US$20+ range possibly all the way up to US$30. Sure, it's going to be massive and any building in scale with 6.5-inch figures will be enormous but that price tag is still a little staggering.

Another big issue is that they're asking you to order a year in advance. Bear in mind that there's never any real guarantee that any of us will still be living where are in a year's time and, given Digital River's track record, you can expect some difficulty in actually getting it to a new address. It should be noted, however, that the offer mentions that an email reminder will be sent a month prior to the release which will give buyers the opportunity to change their address or credit card information. The actual charge won't happen until this point so your money won't necessarily be held hostage.

Will Castle Grayskull ultimately be worth it? There's no way of knowing until it actually releases. I imagine that if it passes -- and I'm sure it will since Masters is the cornerstone of Matty Collector -- they may eventually re-release it. Beyond that, Mattel has also announced the possibility that a limited supply may be made available through Matty Collector at around the time of the release at "a significant mark-up". Personally, as a collector who feels a little iffy whenever he buys an item costing more than US$30, this represents a rather significant buying decision. It's more than twice what I've paid for my priciest collectibles and, while having many fond memories of Castle Grayskull as a child, I'm not entirely sure that I want to drop this kind of money for this this sort of an item. How about you?

Pre-orders open this Tuesday and will run for an unspecified time period. While we don't know what Mattel has set as their target number of pre-orders for the project to move forward, brand manager Scott Neitlich commented along the lines of it being around the number of subs needed for Club Eternia. And, as Mattel has rather cruelly proven with their first pre-order attempt (for the ill-fated Miss Martian and Superboy Young Justice figures), you can fully expect them to not go through with it if their unknown target isn't met. Then again, this is Masters of the Universe so I would imagine it's going to reach its goal.


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