Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull, released in December of 2013, was quite an achievement in an era when big playsets are becoming rarer and rarer. Larger, more complex and more detailed than the original, Classics Castle Grayskull was offered for a preorder price of $250 – more than three times the inflation-adjusted cost of the original, but still not bad given the size, complexity, and lower number of units produced.
MOTU Classics Castle Grayskull’s biggest single influence is the original prototype playset sculpted by Mark Taylor in 1981, although the Classics version is somewhat tamer and less decrepit looking. Some of this influence is no doubt filtered through the cross sell artwork and minicomic depictions by Alfredo Alcala (both based on the prototype). Other influences include some invented details from Alfredo Alcala’s artwork, the original, vintage Castle Grayskull playset, the original Rudy Obero box art, and a concept Dungeon playset designed by Ted Mayer.
Here’s a more detailed breakout of the influences that went into creating the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull:
Material taken from the vintage prototype or vintage concept art includes:
- Ledge on the left tower
- “Pawn” piece on top of the helmet
- Taller helmet and battlements
- Eye shape
- Removable handle in the side allows for concept Castle’s side battlements
- Throne design
- Computer design
- Skull motif at top of elevator
- Hidden side door
- Battle Tester
Material taken from the vintage playset:
- Elevator design
- Flag design
- Ladder and laser blaster design
- Banner, trap door and dungeon grate decals
- Drawbridge design, front and back
- Handle on the side piece (removable)
Vintage box art material:
- Nose shape
- Elongated fangs
- Enlarged lower teeth
- Third floor
- Dungeon walls (window and skull designs from Ted Mayer’s dungeon playset)
- Secret slot to gain entrance to Castle located to the side of the jaw bridge
There are several unique touches to the playset as well, including an additional secret door off the side of the throne room, a secret orb room in the back side of the helmet, and extended floor with plug for Wind Raider stand, and an “evil” throne room banner to match the original “good” one.
The original design for the Classics Castle Grayskull (artwork by Nate Baertsch, who is a frequent collaborator with the Four Horsemen) was to include a number of other goodies as well, including a clear “Spirit of Grayskull” display (from Alfredo Alcala’s artwork), a removable dungeon, a triangular weapons rack, a mechanism to open the secret door on the castle’s left tower, a sculpted dungeon grate, and a few other goodies. These seem to have been removed from the final product due to cost.
Return to Table of Contents.
6 thoughts on “MOTU Classics Castle Grayskull”
I wasn’t able to get the MOTUC Grayskull, unfortunately, though I’m planning to pick one up with some of my tax refund early next year if I can find one at a decent price. Even with the bits that were cut– I REALLY wish the Alcala-inspired Spirit of Grayskull had been included– it’s a magnificent playset and display piece. It’s as awesome and impressive to me now as the vintage Grayskull was when I was a kid!
I also really appreciate that they got Rudy Obrero to paint package art for several of the big-ticket MOTUC items. It was a pure fan service decision that they could have easily just not done. The MOTUC team made plenty of mistakes and downright baffling decisions, but they also really knocked it out the park sometimes. Too many people seem to forget that.
Yeah, the Spirit of Grayskull would be my number 1 want as well. Even more than the dungeon grate, which would be hidden anyway. Love that they used and continued to use Rudy’s art!
Well, for an impregnable fortress it sure has a lot of access points XDXD
Ok, jokes aside I think that is a very cool upgrade over the vintage in many ways but looking at the pictures and to some videos I noted some questionable choices in design.
The Throne: is very cool and better than the vintage one but is not very “figure friendly” and they looked a bit ankward when seated on. And because the stupid choice to made capes in soft plastic instead of fabric (sorry, but I hate plastic capes XD), caped figures cannot sit at all without removing the cape.
The prison: totally out of scale with the figures and not even alligned with the trapdoor. I understand that the space within the Castle is limited, but in this case if the prison wasn’t working as well as it should, then it should have been cut out and use that budget for some other feature, like the Spirit of Grayskull or at least one of the two weapon racks.
However is cool to see finally a three dimensional version of the “Ancient Cosmonaut” suit: it was my favorite decoration of the original Castle (because it was so out of place and thus sparking my imagination about how and why it was there).
Yeah, there were several missteps. They got more right than they got wrong. Unfortunately MOTUC figures don’t really sit as much as they slouch, so the throne doesn’t work well. But I’m still glad it’s there, since it showed up in so much vintage material.
The prison is definitely a waste of space. I know what they were trying to do, but it just didn’t work out. A 3d dungeon grate would have been a better use of space.
This is the first time I’ve read this excellent (and exhaustive!) exploration of the influences that inform the Classics Grayskull. Many thanks, as it was most illuminating. Being a MOTU fan who limits himself to Alcala material, it was nice to see how much of his work was incorporated into the final playset. 🙂
I’m probably way out of the loop, but I had no idea a ‘Spirit of Grayskull’ clear cast piece was mooted for inclusion at one point! That is an exceptional idea, and I’m disappointed that (as far as I know) no custom builders have pursued it (akin to the excellent ‘manhole cover’ and triangular weapons rack that were made available). Or have they? Any information would be most appreciated. 🙂
Thanks Jimbo, I appreciate it. I’m not aware of anyone currently making any custom of this display piece for sale, although I think I saw a one-off custom a few years back.