An Up-Close Look At Mattel Creations' Massive Masters Of The Universe Eternia Playset
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There are a few playsets that have become the stuff of legend. As soon as a collector mentions they have one of these iconic toys, you want to see it immediately. Growing up, maybe you knew a kid with the USS Flagg, or Super Powers Team Hall of Justice, but to me, there was always Eternia. The ultimate grail for any Masters of the Universe fan.
In the Eternia playset, originally released by Mattel in 1986, three huge towers were connected with a monorail. Alternatively, you could rearrange the setup to have the monorail simply circling the primary tower, for a unique look. However you set it, the Eternia playset--which was introduced toward the end of the Masters of the Universe toyline--was a thing of beauty. Measuring in at over 30 inches high, the "ultimate battleground" was definitely the largest piece Mattel released for the line.
While getting your hands on an original Eternia playset could get very pricey after all these years--especially in working order, given how brittle some of the pieces were–there is another alternative.
When Mattel announced they were doing a crowdfunding campaign for their Origins line--which is more in scale with the vintage 5-and-a-half-inches figures--for a brand-new Eternia set, it was hit with a mixed reaction. Mattel Creations, the crowdfunding arm of the toy company, set the price at $550 with a minimum necessary 5,000 preorders to get it funded. Early backers would receive an Origins-scale King Grayskull as an incentive, but other tiers included the moat creature (dubbed "Moaty" by fans) and the elder sorcerer Keclar--another first-time figure in the line.
Fans got their first look at Eternia at last year's San Diego Comic-Con on display fully assembled and it was somehow even bigger than we had anticipated. Even more surprising is many who purchased it, like myself, were thrilled to find out it was arriving early. For those who haven't ordered a playset of this size, you should know the 50-pound box was shipped via FedEx and dropped at my door. The size, of course, meant paying more for shipping. In the end, the final cost was roughly $640.
But maybe you didn't buy one and regret it or you're considering finding one on the secondary market but want to know what you're getting yourself into. Luckily, we can help you there. Let's take a tour of this set, fresh out of the box, and see why it's going to be difficult for Mattel to top this should they even bother to try.
The box art
Replicating the similar style of how the Masters of the Universe were boxed is key in a presentation like this. Both have new art but in the painted style on the front and pen and ink on the back, displaying fantastic scenes of characters and the scope of the adventures you can create.
That first look inside
Getting the large box open wasn't easy. But, thankfully, I'm not a mint-on-card (MOC) collector, so we can see just how stuffed this box is. Since I wasn't able to score a King Grayskull, which was shipped separately, I was curious to figure out where Moaty was, as he wasn't visible inside the box. No worries, though, he was underneath the Space Shuttle and Sky Cage box (pictured bottom right). Perhaps more importantly, each box features a beautiful sketch drawing of the pieces inside, making for a wonderful presentation.
It includes a mini-comic
Much like the Masters of the Universe toys, Eternia includes a brand-new mini-comic--and not just a reprint of the original Eternia mini-comic from 1986, which was aptly titled "The Ultimate Battleground." This original comic features He-Man teaming with King Grayskull and his Queen Osirah, a brand-new character.
Moaty is actually larger than I thought he would be. He's about three and a half inches and features really good articulation for a creature of that scale. He was originally represented on a vintage Eternia set with a sticker in the moat, but now for the first time ever is presented in fully fleshed-out plastic
Where's Moaty mow?
Yes, there are stickers
What is a playset without some assembly required? There were two sticker sheets made of really adhesive stuff. The paper stock they were on allowed very little room for a mistake as they would tear easily if you tried to move them. There were over 60 applications to decorate with.
The Central Tower
Eyes of the lion
The vintage Eternia had painted eyes, but for the remake, they went with a glassy resin for a superb look.
First, second, and third floor
Starting at the bottom, you'll find an elevator much like in the vintage Eternia set with a crank that winds the mechanism up and down the spine of the Central Tower. The elevator has pegs made for Origin figures so I popped in the first release She-Ra so she can hang out with her brother and his friends.
The second floor has a control chair with a mounted monitor with a sticker. The chair can swivel around which also pivots the Horde battle bot on the third floor, which is also used as an armory.
The Tower gun
At the top of the Central Tower is a detachable mounted saddled gun. It does have missiles that can fire and can be adjusted for height. You can take it off the tower as it's a separate piece and put it anywhere so you can have a whole other floor to play on.
The tower on the left was sculpted and painted to represent Castle Grayskull and acts as the jail portion of the set. If you set it up right, you can drop prisoners off using the Sky Cage and plop them right in this cell as it goes across the monorail.
The Viper Tower
To balance things out, we have the Viper Tower, a brick-colored snake head to represent Snake Mountain. It can swivel around and "attack" using the pull at the back of the tower.
There are two golden gargoyles at the entrance. In the original, the gargoyle on the left had an empty secret compartment, which had been replaced by a spider-web sticker. Here, the gargoyle on the right raises the drawbridge when you switch it.
The orb towards the back of the side of the Central Tower where your heroes or villains can ponder it, does something really cool.
The orb can be used to move the giant claws to grab or swipe anyone on the drawbridge. The vintage set had a similar function but wasn't as decorative.
The monorail and bits and pieces
So the monorail comes with 15 interlocking tracks. The instructions lay out the A and B tracks and how you can connect them around the towers to take your heroes on a journey in the sky. It's fun to note, that original Eternia designs from Ted Mayer had the tracks going around the base and not around the top of the towers.
To the sky
The motorized tram comes with four pieces: the shuttle, the cage, the battery-operated mount, and jet packs. Each can fit a single figure and can whirl around the towers with two AA batteries in the mount that propels each attachment. The Shuttle is probably the heaviest, but can still hold up a bulky figure like Man-At-Arms and all his armor pieces. It easily did three full rotations without stalling or falling off before I switched out vehicles.
The moat itself
Another improvement from the original is the sculpture of the actual moat being carved out instead of a detailed sticker. It's about an inch deep so if you felt compelled to put water in it, that's definitely possible. Moaty can hide under the drawbridge until he's ready to be revealed. You can see sunken weapons in the sculpt and a shade of blue that compliments both the lion's head and the base itself.