Monday, October 15, 2012

Special BONUS Non-Halloween Post: Matty's Castle Grayskull

Side Note: Consider this an extra since I didn’t have a proper post earlier today. I just wanted to tell Mrs. Troublemaker I love her. This might be kind of brief; I’m not sure yet. If you’re looking for the SyFy programming stuff, scroll down to the next post.
I felt like I should respond to the Castle Grayskull announcement before it officially goes up for preorder tomorrow. Because I’m sure you’re all waiting for my opinion before you decide whether or not to commit.
            Let me start by saying of course I’m buying it. So don’t jump all over me in the comments for saying discouraging things. If you want a Castle Grayskull, you’re going to buy it. It’s as simple as that. Nothing I say is going to sway anybody.
However.
I am somewhat dissatisfied with the way Matty is going about this. Yes, it is massively expensive and theoretically risky for them. And I get that neither Toy Guru nor Mattel upper management have any real obligation to us as far as this thing goes. But they seem to be handling this the same way that they handle everything else – in the most awkward way possible.
Over a month ago at PowerCon, Matty announced that they would be selling Castle Grayskull in a format that many of us had suggested in the past – a preorder. Matty made it clear that there would be no prototype beforehand and that we would be obligating ourselves to this purchase based off of nothing more than a picture of what the playset might look like and a list of what could end up being features and accessories. We all know how Mattel rolls, so I don’t think anybody was disappointed by this. We were just excited that Grayskull might be happening. The price attached to the announcement was $200 (which I thought was great, but I was doubtful it would remain that). If Matty gets the minimum preorders, they go ahead with design and production and deliver our Castle Grayskulls late next year. It was also stated that the MOTUC Castle Grayskull would be based upon (dude’s) B-sheet:
From Geek-News.MTV.com
Which is basically the old Castle Grayskull playset. Good enough.
This past Saturday at New York Comic Con Matty revealed the full intended details of the Castle, along with the preorder dates – 10/16/2012 – 1/2/2013 – and a new price of $250. There are a few pictures and the preorder page is up on the site, though it doesn’t go live until tomorrow at noon.
I am pleased and surprised at the length of the preorder period. I was expecting two weeks at the most. This way, there is plenty of time for everybody to decide and also to get through the holidays. With twelve whole weeks of time, come January 3rd there will be no question as to whether Castle Grayskull could or should be made.
The higher price doesn’t really bother me. I felt like $200 was more than fair and even though this is an increase of twenty-five percent, After looking at the new list of (intended) features and realizing just how huge this thing is going to be I still think it is well worth it.
But that drawing is crap. Matty hilariously lists these as “blueprints”. Granted, they do feature dimensions and a few details, but what is here is the largest version of the things Matty has made available. It’s stupid. I can’t tell what any of that stuff on the interior is. For a commitment of this magnitude, I fully expected Matty to provide actual blueprints, color pictures, and many detailed shots of the proposed interior. There would have been no danger in that. They make it clear over and over again that everything about this playset could change and much likely will. So show me the best-case scenario. I know we can’t see an actual design, but give us at least sketches of all of these items you mention:
Product Features
  • It’s Castle Grayskull®!
  • Ideally, the set will include everything shown in the “B sheet” product drawings to the left, but please remember these are working drawings and aren’t final yet.
  • If produced, this will be the largest, most ambitious MOTUC item ever made – the dimensions are expected to be somewhere around 25”h x 26”w x 28”d (subject to change).
  • The overall sculpt will be based on the original 1981 prototype, with the addition of an extra battle ledge, elongated jaw/face, a removable minaret on top of the dome and more!
  • Just like the vintage toy, it will be a two-sided foldout but there will be three levels to show off your MOTUC figures (in scale with most of our 6.5” figures). The vintage set only had two levels, but we’ve added another across the top for maximum display options.
  • Two secret doors – the first, a traditional door that opens out the back, and the second one, a secret brick wall that exits to the outside ledge.
  • Trap door leading to the dungeon (of course) that has an opening door, plus “locks” and chains to hold one figure.
  • Throne fits most 6.5” MOTUC figures – who will rule your Castle Grayskull®?
  • Bat wing jet pack and training device were both cut from the vintage prototype and finally get a chance at production!
  • Working elevator like the ‘81 prototype had, but we’ve added back the red skull on top that was cut. The elevator goes to all three levels, not just two levels like vintage toy.
  • Real opening Jawbridge just like you remember, only cooler!
  • Have Wind Raider? The playset will include an attachment so you can be ready for air-battle at a moment’s notice (and create a complete diorama).
  • Secret Orb room is hidden inside the dome.
  • Removable ladder to the roof leads to a blaster and the flag of Castle Grayskull®.
  • Carrying handle is optional for easy transport or clean display.
  • Did we mention… it’s Castle Grayskull®!
Let me address a couple of things here.
An actual diagram with little arrows pointing to these features would have been super. Oh, sure – they provided one. But I sure would like one I can actually fucking see. I don’t quite understand what they’re talking about with some of those things and a visual aid would be nice.
What will the bat wing jet pack (which sounds awesome) and the training device look like?
Okay, the drawbridge is cooler. How? What do you mean? My second grade teacher would have put a red mark through this sentence.
How does the Wind Raider attach? And what do you mean by “create a complete diorama”?
I guess under the circumstances there wasn’t going to be anything Matty could do that would be utterly satisfying. They can’t provide a prototype, they can’t guarantee anything, they certainly can’t tell us how many preorders they need. It’s just a deal where if we want what they’re offering we have to have faith and play their game.
I want what they’re offering. And I have just enough faith in their good intentions to buy in.
But that decision is fraught with possibilities for disappointment. Once you have committed there is no backing out. No refund. You are going to be receiving whatever Castle Grayskull they produce, regardless of what it looks like.
Matty could decide they cannot include accessories, or both secret doors, or the functioning trap door. They could realize it is not cost-effective to make the Jawbridge “cooler” – whatever that means. They could decide not to paint it or to make all of the details stickers. They could make it out of thin, flimsy plastic. Heck, they could get rid of the back side entirely and start calling it a “diorama” instead of a “playset”.
And that’s not even considering the possible quality control issues. As plagued as this line has been by stupid design choices and QC problems, does anybody really believe this gargantuan undertaking will be executed without a problem? Broken hinges, warped parts, missing pieces, improperly assembled doors – there is virtually no end to the sort of things that could be wrong or go wrong with Castle Grayskull. And how much “Customer Service Stock” do you really think they’re going to have?
And don’t even get me started on the likelihood that this thing is going to ship anywhere near the time they are suggesting.
Even considering all of that I am going to log on tomorrow and agree to buy this thing sight unseen because I am a dum-dum that loves Masters of the Universe Classics. Check back in fourteen months (if I’m lucky) and I’ll let you know how it went.
-Phantom




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