Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Toy Review Masters of the Universe Classics Castaspella from Mattel

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I am not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to She-Ra and all of her flowery, fruity pals. I didn’t watch the cartoon when I was a kid because it was for girls and… well, that’s pretty much the whole story. I knew about the Evil Horde because they were so much cooler than Skeletor and his goons, but I couldn’t tell you much about the heroes of Etheria.
This, of course, did not stop me from writing over 20,000 words of a Doctor Who story that just happened to take place on Etheria. But that’s another story.
To write this story I had to do a little bit of research. I had to look at geography, character profiles, and the different representations of various characters in media. Granted, I didn’t care too much about how characters were portrayed. I had an idea of who I wanted doing what and was familiar enough with most characters to slot them into certain roles. With many of the characters just hearing their name was a good enough indication of how they could be used.
For instance – it does not take a Wikipedia search to understand that Castaspella is a magic user. I’m pretty sure even Skeletor’s henchmen could pick up on that.
I introduced Casta into the story right before I lost my inspiration to write and as a result she was one of the characters I was excited to see as a figure in the Masters of the Universe Classics line (I never used Netossa or Frosta – if I had I might not have eBayed them).
In my narrative Casta was a fair-to-middling sorceress. Nowhere near the level of Shadow Weaver, but definitely more competent than Orko allowed himself to be seen (don’t get me started on my portrayal of Orko).
Anyway, I’m happy to have her.
First Glance: The blue and yellow coloring is extra super-heroic. I like it because it makes Castaspella stand out amongst the other figures.
Articulation: Castaspella has most of the standard MOTUC female articulation.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joints
Biceps - swivels
Elbows –pivots
Wrists – swivels
Waist – swivel
Hips – ball joints
Thighs – swivels
Knees –pivots
Ankles – pivots
Between the long hair and the disco collar you would think the head wouldn't be very posable. You'd be wrong.
Castaspella has new calves. The swivels were eliminated to accommodate her unique boot design. I’m okay with that. Those boot-top swivels are the most disposable of any of the MOTUC points of articulation.
Two joints that I hate to see missing or downgraded are the ankle rockers. Unfortunately Casta doesn’t have them. I’m honestly not sure why, as her feet seem to be the standard female boot design.
All of the joints on my figure are solid and tight.
Sculpt: Castaspella has a new head and… what? Torso covering? I still don’t know whether to qualify this as Sculpt of Flair, let alone what to actually call it. She also has new forearms and calves.
The head has yet another big and interesting hairdo. Some may debate over whether these figures should have rooted hair or sculpted hair (or as I suggested there should be two heads with each figure from the Princess of Power series), but I think the Horsemen do a great job of creating unique styles for a line of figures that, over the course of time, all ended up sporting what could best be described as “Rat’s Nests”. Casta’s is tall enough to make Lt. Moxie Magnus proud.
Her face conveys wisdom and kindness, which is appropriate for a magic user oriented toward the light. I like that her expression is a little more serene and neutral, as opposed to some of the other ladies that might be smiling or angry.
The new forearms sport some unique bracers that look very magic-y. Castaspella’s lightning bolt motif is sculpted in with a nice round gemstone sort of thing near the top. Her right hand is an open fist and her left is not exactly a spellcasting hand. I mean, that’s what it is supposed to be, but it’s more closed than I would like. Also it’s made of really soft rubber.
The new boots also feature the lightning bolt, though it’s actually a cut-out at the top of the boot. It looks really cool and is definitely worth the loss of the boot-top swivel.
The rest of Castaspella is all standard female MOTUC parts, down to her ugly hips. Thankfully her skirt is long enough to conceal them.
Coloring: Casta sports a light skin tone with the usual washes.
Her hair doesn’t have the washes of some of the other figures, but still looks good.
Her face detailing is perfect. The eyes have eyeliner and the irises and pupils are centered. Her eyebrows match her hair and are straight. The lips look good as well. I like the dark hue that goes with her hair. Also, I am very slightly uncomfortable talking about action figure lips. Let’s move on.
The newly sculpted parts have nice matching colors. The base yellow matches everywhere and the gold trim looks great. The blue leggings don’t have any detail, but they look good.
All of the paint on my figure is tight and applied well. There’s no splotching or slop. I have to give Mattel a lot of credit for getting on the QC for their paint apps. The only real gripes I seem to have with these figures lately all have to do with design choices. The actual execution of the figures seems to have improved greatly. Let’s hope 2014 continues that trend.
Flair: Castaspella has a new top and skirt. Apparently I have decided the top goes here.
And that top is pretty awesome. It has a big ol’ 70s disco collar that is part of the shoulder straps. The trim is really cool and has a sort of trapezoid sticking up in the middle with a circular gem-looking thing in it. It’s just a neat way of making Casta’s outfit look more unique. The sculpted lightning on the front is part of her motif and is the main reason she looks a bit more superheroic than other characters in the line.
Well, that and her belt. Or skirt top. I’m not clear on what the deal is. But it’s another lightning bolt and it looks awesome. The skirt itself has a great sculpt with tons of folds. The shape bells out a good bit and is long enough to cover her unsightly hip joint. Due to the wide bottom it also doesn’t interfere with leg posing.
Accessories: Castaspella comes with two magic effects and a shield.
The shield is the same one all of the POP characters have come with and I am way over it. This one is cast in a translucent yellow, so at least it has that going for it.
The first magic effect is a disc that clips onto the figures waist and can sort of spin a little bit. It’s a neat idea but it looks kind of stupid and doesn’t work all that well. I would have preferred some jagged edges rather than the perfect circle we got.
The other effect is a ball that fits over the figure’s right hand and has lightning or fire or whatever shooting out of it. It looks awesome. It took me a minute to figure out exactly how it fit on, but I got it and it looks rad. And there are a couple of different ways it can interact with the figure and look cool.
These are totally okay accessories, but I could’ve lost the big disc and the shield and gotten a better spellcasting hand and been happy.
Packaging: The standard MOTUC blister card. I love the blister and this is probably my favorite modern toy packaging. I think the best thing about it is that Mattel has kept the design consistent through the life of the series. That does not often happen. Granted, I open all of my figures, but for the folks who leave them in the package it must be nice to have one line that actually all matches.
There’s a bio on the back as well that isn’t entirely silly:
Enchantress Who Hypnotizes”. Well, that answers that. I thought her hair was sort of a light chestnut, but clearly she’s a redhead. I also find it interesting that she is “Special friends with both Angella and Frosta”. What the heck does that mean, exactly? And should I have not gotten rid of Frosta?
Value: Definitely worth the price, but not so much once you add shipping.
Overall: This is one of the few POP figures that I had any real desire to see and I am pleased to say that Matty did a great job with her. A few minor gripes aside, I don’t think they could have done much better.
4 out of 5
Castaspella will likely be one of the pricier releases to pick up on the secondary market. If she has name recognition with me, chances are she’s going to be a really big deal with POP fans.

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