Saturday 24 October 2015

Countdown to Halloween: Quick Crappy Review: Spirit of Grayskull 2.0

He’s a ghost, it counts

This will be an even quicker, crappier review as I only have 1 figure to talk about. We’ve actually had some contact from The New Team on behind-the-scenes issues with MattyCollector and Masters of the Universe Classics – not everything has been cleared up, as I write this we have no idea if we dirty Eurotrash will be receiving the Laser two-pack for instance, but at least some of the problems have been addressed, how well they addressed them and the merits of spending a chunk of this address complaining about people acting like arseholes uncouth beasts on the internet is still being hotly debated. I’m not going comment on that1 but instead play with this year’s Chase Figure, which I now own thanks to user MOTU_Maniac, so big thanks goes out to him. 

At retail a Chase Figure is generally a figure, often a variant and often with very few new parts (maybe a head or a weapon or something) that is made in fewer quantities than the rest of its ‘wave’ and then ‘short-packed’ (less are put into each case or pallet or whatever the toys are being sold in) so it’s harder to find, the ‘chase’ name coming from the fact that you have to chase after it, it’s one of the horrible hangovers from the 1990s when ‘collectors items’ in toys became a big thing. Of course this can’t work in an online only line like Classics without just randomly sending some buyers a different figure to what they’re expecting, which would please no-one and may possibly be against the law so Scott ‘Toyguru’ Neitlich - brand manager of the line from its inception until very recently - came up with a way to bring the Chase Figure into an online only toyline and bring the ‘fun’ and ‘hunt’ back into toy collecting – he is going to hell for this. His idea was that randomly with no prior warning, not even to subscribers, the Chase figure will appear on the Mattycollector website for purchase so unless you’re checking their site every 10 minutes every day of the year you’ll probably miss it fairly often, and while I may have very little life, I have more life than to be doing that. Now in his defence the he did put the Chase figure in one subscriber-only Early Access sale and they have appeared on Cyber Monday (the worst day of the year to shop online anywhere but a particularly awful day to shop at but if you missed that Early Access day (like I stupidly did) or aren’t a subscriber the best way to buy the figure is to pay slightly more and get it off another fan, and despite what you may have heard not everyone in the he-man fandom are entitled moany bastards, some are quite considerate and buy a bunch of extra chase figures to sell on at cost – so why I effectively paid for postage twice I still got Spirit of Grayskull for way below eBay prices and without all the hassle, so thanks again MOTU_Maniac.

So yes, Spirit of Grayskull is the Chase Figure for Masters of the Universe Classics 2015, sold only on, the website and online store of the collector’s wing of Mattel, and only at random times throughout the year. He’s the ghostly form of King Grayskull, the first He-Man in the Classics and ‘200X’ cartoon continuity (the early 2000s ‘manga-ry’ one you probably hated) and the origin of the ‘grayskull’ part of ‘by the power of Grayskull’, although the concept of The Spirit of Grayskull goes back to the very first media He-Man characters appeared in – the first issue of the mini-comics that came packaged with the toys: ‘He-Man & The Power Sword’2 where it was the castle’s first magical inhabitant in the days before The Sorceress existed. This is actually the second version of this version of the character (got that?), only 2 of the original Spirit of Grayskull were produced: one for a charity auction and the other for the SDCC 2008 raffle. That version was in fact very different from this, being made of shiny translucent blue plastic similar to Star Wars’ holo variants. I think the rationale was that by making Spirit of Grayskull this year’s Chase Figure in a year that was supposed to be focussing on vintage toys and ‘A-List’ characters from other media is it ‘guaranteed’ fans a chance to own a figure they previously could never hope to own – but by making this version so radically different from the original it kind of defeats that purpose, the real deciding factor was probably him being incredibly cheap to make in a year filled with lots of new tooling. So the Chase Figure is stupid and THIS Chase figure is a waste of a slot but as a toy? Spirit of Grayskull rocks (or glows, I guess).

I tried to take a glowing in the dark
shot but as I have the photographic skills
of a hamster, this is what I ended up with.
You wouldn't get this shit over at
The Fwoosh.
This is mostly because he glows in the dark, if you want me to buy a cheap repaint sold at full price, make it see-thru or make it glow in the dark, if you make it both like Grayskull here I will actually pay extra to get it – which I in fact did. The figure itself isn’t really very transparent, not close to what I thought it would be – nowhere near as c-thru as the original figure or his predecessor Spirt of Hordak (chase figure for 2013 and the toy that started the bloody concept), though given that the second Spirit of Hordak was unveiled fans began dreaming-up mocking names like ‘Jolly Rancher Hordak’ and ‘Kool-Aid Hordak’ based solely on him being see-thru and red perhaps this was done to see if it would allow Grayskull to keep some of his dignity and anyway his cape and weapons are very transparent. Even if he’s not that transparent he is that glow-in-the-dark. I have him haunting the back of my shelf behind all the Masters of the Universe and Great Rebellion and even back there he lights up like a sodding torch, I have just about stopped going ‘what the fuck is…ooh it’s Spirit of Grayskull’ when I wake up in the middle of the night for a piss. By combining my two favourite toy gimmicks I wholly consider him good value for money and I bet Mattel agrees – there is nothing new on the figure at all, he’s just the same D’Vann Grayskull that’s been used since 2008 – a figure that was already cost effective for Mattel: being that the only parts he doesn’t share with He-Man is his head and armour/cape piece and being that about 72% of the vintage line is based around He-Man parts (and the rest seemingly around Trap-Jaw bits3) this was not expensive to make, cutting down costs even more is his lack of paint-apps – which begin and end with a dark green wash. This is all completely functional and makes him look very ghostly but it also makes him look very minty – I’ve licked him and he doesn’t taste like mint (a missed opportunity indeed) but he does look like spearmint icing and every time I look at him I fancy cake – meaning that not only did he cost me too much money, not only does he make me look sad, not only does he make people question my sexuality – but he’s making me fat as well. 

Hush, that's a great joke.
I kid, I am completely happy with the figure – the only real issue with the King Grayskull figure is that between his long hair and fury collar he has just about zero neck articulation (though it is, technically, on a ball-joint) and that’s an issue with all versions of King Grayskull (of which this is the fifth) and I knew that going in (I also own the fourth version) and unlike those early Grayskulls he appears to have much tighter ankle joints – though he is new so there’s plenty of time for him to learn the shelf-diving techniques of his fellow He-Men. There is a general complaint lobbied at 200X-era figures, especially from the early years, that they’re not as accurate as they could/should be because they’ve lost a of their exaggerated bulk; in the cartoon he comes from the King here is a huge man, especially his upper body, a lot wider than He-Man himself (which this figure is the same proportions as) again this is an ‘issue’ with the original figure and it wouldn’t have made much sense for the ghost of that figure to have suddenly doubled in size but I do feel the need to bring it up for fear someone will complain that I didn’t – not that I ever get any comments anyway *passive aggressive hinting*. I personally don’t care because I came into the line (late) knowing full well that these were all being made in a unified style (being ‘put through the Classicizer’), a practice many will argue stopped around the time of the Club FILMation (I disagree) and was buried by the release of the movie figures (I…yeah ok you’ve got a point with Gwildor and Saurod). My point is I expected nothing else, and the sculpt of the basic buck is so good I don’t mind it being used (unlike, say, the thighs Hasbro keep using for whatever they’re calling their 6” Marvel Comics line today) but I can totally see why it would bug some people and I doubt that super-wide Grayskull would have stuck out as ‘over-detailed’ Gwildor and Blade and ‘too cartoony’ Fang-Man and Madame Razz certainly don’t – IMO. Accessories wise though I am not completely happy – he comes with He-Man’s sword, shield and axe but not with his sword. “What are you talking about dwitefry” you would ask if you existed “I can see the damn sword in the pictures, I recognise it and everything” yeah but King Grayskull uses a completely different style of Power Sword, the one designed for the 200X cartoon and in the episode dedicated to him a very big was made of it being HIS sword, I think that in Classics this isn’t the case and that sword was built by Man-At-Arms but one cannon is not a good enough excuse for not including a character’s signature weapon as far as I’m concerned, it would be like packaging a classic Captain America with just his energy shield or the holographic shield he had in the Secret Wars toyline – technically correct to A source material but you’d be well within your rights to grumble he didn’t come with his classic shield as well - especially as this figure cost fuck all to make, they could have thrown in a minty-flavoured transparent 200X Power Sword, no, they should have.

Pictured: Not HIS Sword
But overall I’m very satisfied with Spirit of Grayskull 2.0, yeah I’m satisfied because he combines my two favourite toy gimmicks with a one-two punch of it being one of my favourite Masters of the Universe characters and being a call-back to an obscure part of the franchise’s history, something I greatly enjoy (I like my continuity porn, sorry) he IS superfluous, he IS just a repaint and he SHOULD have been someone like Dree-Ell and Uncle Montork and the Chase Figure system IS shit but he looks damn striking on the shelf (hell, he’s the only character on it you can see in the dark) and he has a lot of things about him that appeal to me (and make up for the lack of HIS sword) so he goes in the ‘win’ pile. Sadly it looks as though next year the Chase Figure will be Anti-He-Man - another repaint that, annoyingly, I HAVE to have (I’d make a joke about First World Problems but I hate that term) so it looks like I’ll have to do the Chase Figure Fuck Around again *sigh* maybe some nice forum member will grab some extras if they happen to stumble across the 10 minutes he pops over from Antiternia.  

1 OK just a little bit, while I wholly agree that people shouldn’t act like raging turds when posting on a company’s Facebook or forum, regardless of how annoyed they are about a topic, I don’t think this was the right time to bring it up, had the New Team member (Skeletor’s Love Child, whose real name is….Kim I think?)  posted a separate post about it on another day in perhaps a ‘keep it respectful it could be damaging the line’ thread of its own I don’t think there’d be such issue being taken with it, instead she used what should have been a post dedicating to shutting up fans to something that makes them debate s'more.
2 that comic actually calls it The Spirit of the Castle
3 this is an exaggeration, I know full well that characters like Rio Blast, Twistoid, Ram-Man, Modulok, Mantenna and Leech share little to no parts with anyone, it’s just for comedy value. 

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