Castle Grayskull Wasteland – Masters of the Universe: Battleground #1

Do you have it?

Well do you? What do you have?

Say it. You know what I’m talking about.

Say it. Nobody is listening, and you will be glad that you did, I promise.

Eternian cotton candy baristas earn significant hazard pay.
50% of the MotU: Battlegrounds “Castle Grayskull Wastelands” terrain. Second 50%, visible in the top image in this post, is a duplicate of this.

Your ma knows who He-Man is.

I mean, the woman probably knows loads of ripped guys, but I’m guessing relatively few that call themselves “The Most Powerful Man in the Universe“… and probably even fewer that actually look like they might be.

In fact, the huge scope of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (MotU) multimedia, pop-culture phoenomenon in the early/mid eighties makes it a safe bet that, when MotU comes up, this is the sort of image that pops into your mum’s mind.

The gonzo character design and naming conventions stuck with everyone who came across MotU I reckon. Eternia is a place where nominative determinism is not only common, but ubiquitous.

On Eternia, if the first words that you learn to write are “POST-MAN”, then you are not going to be a nurse, a rocket scientist or a rat catcher. You are not even going to work in a sorting office (Sort-Or would be made redundant) or work for UPS (Yoopee’ess-Man has four mouths to feed, plus his family).

You will deliver post, house to house, every day. Forever.

Eternia Community College, Class of ’86

Even if you assimilate that information – that the MotU setting is a bit “out-there” – you can still be surprised. Frankly, I was shocked to find out that Extendar was given that name by his parents before Hordak performed a grisly series of performance… enhancing… I guess… experiments on him.

Legally known as “Tower of Power” before he could do this.

So Eternia is undoubtedly a strange place, but is honestly a beautiful one too, with some really lovely artwork used to sell the location and inhabitants over the years.

I got this gorgeous image of Battle Cat from battleramblog.com. Click on it to see more.

If you know of any Eternian location, then it is, in all likelihood Castle Grayskull.

At the time when all that your mum (and probably your dad) could think about was He-Man’s mighty thews, it is likely that all you could think about was Castle Grayskull, a locus of mystical power, central to the lore, reimagined countless times in every medium that you can think of…

When presented with such a rich source of inspiration for painting my new Masters of the Universe: Battleground terrain, I had all sorts of palette decisions to make. As can be seen above, Castle GraySkull and its Eternian surroundings can be pretty much any colour from brown to purple to blue to grey to red to grey etc.

MotU: Origins Castle Grayskull box art. Vibrant, saturated, kaleidoscopic, expansive, multi-coloured and inspiring.

I have painted enough ruined building for my toy soldiers over the years to know that I didnt want to paint these pieces boring grey. I also definitely wanted to reference the origins of the decorative elements from different eras of toys that are duplicated across the set.

In the end it was looking at the gorgeous artwork from the MotU: Origins Castle Grayskull box art (above) that settled it.

Castle Grayskull isn’t green or grey or blue or purple, it is all of those colours and more. While I didnt want a synthwave, neon, eighties, cyberpunk colour to the stone of my terrain pieces, I did want a broad spectrum of colour to appear on the pieces.

This interview with one of the artists involved in the creation of the box art was a fun thing listen to while I painted the terrain.

I am pleased with how the terrain set turned out. I think that it looks the part, and fits what my idea of what Grayskull themed ruins for a miniatures game should look like: evocative, but not too intrusive.

A flat green or grey that looks like the various toys might do it for you, but doesn’t really do it for me. I wouldn’t paint miniatures of WWII soldiers to look like plastic Army Men toys, if you get me.

I do want the terrain and miniatures for this to be recognisable – I don’t really see the point otherwise – but I don’t want them to look like shrunk down versions of the action figures and playsets.

The sword motif on the left comes from the 200X era Grayskull. At least, I havent seen it anywhere else.

Of course if you do want that look, then thats entirely up to you, and I hope that you share the images online. But if anyone has an interest in how I approached these, there is a loose guide below.

Castle Greyskull Wasteland Terrain Painting

  • Spray a dark, purplish red all over.
  • Zenithal spray a pale, chalky, mint green.
  • Sprayed/stipple a mid yellow in random areas.
  • Overbrush an acid green towards middle and lower areas of the terrain..
  • Overbrush a blue-grey to bottom10mm of walls, approximately
  • Overbrush a mid green to top 10mm of walls, approximately.
  • Wash a thinned purple to top 5mm of walls ish.
  • Drybrush from top to bottom, using a cold cream colour.
  • Wash all over with a mix of blue and brown.
  • Mid brown to wooden areas.
  • Orange to appropriate tech areas.
  • Drybrush the orange areas and any other metallic areas with a steel colour.
  • Wash the orange areas with yellow.
  • Paint the hanging pennants and tapestries any colours you want. I went with green and purple on mine.
  • Wash the steel coloured metallic areas with brown or black.
  • Wash the wood and the creepers on the walls. With brown.
  • Paint the bases a pale orange, slightly darker than the board found in the game.
  • Drybrush the bases with a lighter pale orange.
  • Drybrush the wood, skulls, ivy, banners and rocks with a bone colour
  • Wash the rocks of your choice with a thinned purple.
Skeletor and He-Man, coming soon…

Thanks for reading!

28 Responses

  1. I HAVE THE POWAAAAAAAA!

    Okay now I need to actually read the blog post. BRB right back.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m waiting…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Those are some spectacular looking ruins, and your write-up made me chortle. Plus, free tutorial! All in all, this blog post was excellent value for money, and by money, I mean my time, which is actually money, according to CAPITALISM.

        I think you were wise to avoid painting them like wobbly single-tone Filmation watercolour-looking backgrounds, or the mass produced plastic look of toy scenery; the look you have achieved is far more appealing and evocative of what Eternia could be. You score 4.5 out of 5 Modulok parts (the dog chewed up that other limb).

        Liked by 2 people

        • There is an interesting capitalism element to the story of the runaway success of MotU in the eighties, that I was tempted to mention, but the post was getting too long already and I wanted to steer clear of political topics. But yes, *time* is *money* and *time* times *He-Man* equals *money* times Grayskull^Power. Probably.

          I reckon that Archon is going to make a push-fit Modulok. I have no concrete evidence, but my Ozymandias levels of MotUB data gathering have led to this particular grok.

          U HERD IT HEIR FURST!!1!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. You knew just what I needed this Friday morning. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • I was going to ask if Cheetor had been talking to you. And say that if he hadn’t been . .. he should be! Glad you saw this. And Cheetor . . . well done! Glad you both have the power!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I should, of course, have mentioned http://givemlead.blogspot.com
        the internet’s premier MotU wargaming blog – in this context symphonicpoet. It was planned, but slipped my mind, so thanks for the reminder.

        I’m hoping that there will be some Masters of the Universe: Battleground content showing up there in the not too distant future.

        Thanks for the feedback!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Heh, is there a Friday morning that cannot beimproved by Castle Grayskull? I doubt it.

      I meant to link to your vast back catalogue of MotU influenced toy soldier projects ABG26, but it slipped my mind, sorry. Ill do it in one of the follow up posts. It is a good time to be a MotU wargamer 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is top notch! It has given me an allergic reaction and I now have an itch to watch some MoTu cartoons. 😜.

    What game system are you using, if any, to play with your toys? Wiley Games has some FFoL stuff that works well for the setting, namely the Wasteland Warriors supplement.

    Looking forward to more!

    PAX

    Liked by 2 people

    • I read MotU mini-comics and regular MotU comics as a kid, and I saw the 87 live action movie, but I didn’t catch much of the original Filmation shows. They were not on the TV that I had access to as a kid, so they are a distinct blind spot in my (limited) MotU knowledge. I find them a tough watch these days to be honest, but I appreciate that people have a lot of fondness for them.

      I have watched a few of the Filmation shows recently, but I got more of a kick out of watching all of the 200X show. It only ran for a season and a half, and is pretty well regarded by fans and critics, but for some reason the world wasnt ready for that version of He-Man and co in 2002 or so. I recommend it if you fancy watching some MotU though. It is superior to the recent Kevin Smith “Revelation” series IMO, but YMMV etc.

      The MotU episode of “The Toys That Made Us” on Netflix is a mandatory watch for a fan I think. The 2017 documentary “Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” overlaps with TTTMU, but is also a great watch for a fan.

      As for rules t use with the figures, the first plan is the set that the figures came in “Masters of the Universe: Battleground”. Its like Warcry, but on a hex grid. Looks like fun.

      I am considering playing some 7TV games with them too. They fit that sort of play nicely.

      I played some Fistful of Lead games a very long time ago, andenjoyed them. I just took a look at the current version and bought the PDFs. They may be just the ticket 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback Luke Z!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow! The complexity and colour depth you achieved here is really eye catching. These do look more like a matte painting or something, than plastic terrain pieces. Excellent work, I can’t wait to see what you do with the figures themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Al, that is exactly what I want to hear really 🙂

      I recently saw photos that someone who painted a set in a kind of flat Grayskull green colour took with multiple coloured light sources and and heavily doctored the image afterwards. The end result was a fun photo that riffs on the toy packaging images. That sort of thing is a goal in itself, and can be fun.

      That said, for my gaming miniatures and terrain I want something that doesnt need to be fixed in post. I want the game to look as much like the make-believe version of the story going on in my head as I can, at the time, in-camera.

      You can’t fix playtime in post 🙂

      My painting on the upcoming Mout:B figures isn’t as polychromatic as the terrain, it is more like my usual approach to subjects like this. These days I like the idea that the terrain looks somehow distinct from the protagonists, to draw the eye and keep the game on visual point. I tend to imagine it a bit like in a Scooby-Doo show, or in the MotU Filmation episodes, where the terrain is the background and the miniatures are the animated characters above it.

      I dont always achieve this rather high-fallutin concept, but I do enjoy attempting it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is beauty. 😤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful coloring. Really like the blending on the stonework you did here. I’d love to play on that set!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Hobbs!

      It was an experiment really, but this time it worked out pretty well. My next attempt to try something new won’t likely be as pleasing as this, but every so often you hit the sweet spot 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, wow. I think you nailed it. That’s right, you got the exact balance point between the usual stone tones we all do and the garish cartoony colour of the toys in the eighties. These look truly, truly magnificent. With the touch of colour, yet not being psychedelic. YOU are the Master of Universe!

    Liked by 2 people

    • As mentioned in response to Allison above, the muted-but-kaleidoscopic vibe that you can see in the background images of old Hanna-Barbera cartoons in particular is the vibe that I wanted, while still having the terrain be recognisably “Castle Grayskull” to the viewer.

      It was a bit of a gamble really – they could have ended up looking awful – but it paid off this time. I’m pleased that you like it Suber, and as always thank you for your positive feedback 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love not just the painting but the post in general too, no doubt the work of Blogor. Are you going to go with a similar cartoony style for the minis?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Blogg-Or hasnt been flexing his oiled, navy blue muscles that often recently, so like the paint job, the post itself wasn’t definitely going to be a slamdunk or anything, so I am glad that you liked it Mikko.

      For at least two decades (probably more) people have been telling me that my miniature painting tends to be “cartoony”, usually meaning it in a positive way. I think that those people are right, and as a result I am painting the Eternias themselves simlarly to how I usually paint I think.

      As a side note, the visual influence of things like MotU and TRON and Judge Dredd comics in the 1980’s are essentially why I tend to paint miniatures the way that I do, so there is a circular element to this. I paint miniatures my way as a direct result of things like MotU, and it is MotU that is now aligning with me in miniature form 😀

      Which is easily the most pretentious thing that I have written for quite a while…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Man I was too old for He-Man! Still, LOVE the post and your painting here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • At this stage I’m not sure that I ever became too old for He-Man really 😅

      Even if the oddball setting and premise has limited hold on you Mark, the terrain and miniatures have a lot in common with the other bits and pieces that I work on, so will hopefully still be worth a look.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Would you be able to list the actual paints used? It’s an amazing paint job and I’d be really keen to try it – but have no idea what a dark purplish red spray is lol.

    Like

    • I didnt record the specific paints I’m afraid Ben, I just tend to use whatever is nearby that feels right.

      The list of colours above should give you enough info to wing it I hope. The exact paints are less critical than eyeballing the application in some ways.
      Close enough should be good enough I expect. Aim for something like Citadel Gal Vorbak Red for the base coat.

      The theory, is illustrated best by Guerrilla Miniature Games fantastic tutorials (https://youtu.be/VQyLwDaz3pc) is that a contrasting colour in the recesses will make a light colour on top pop nicely.

      Hope that helps.

      Like

  11. […] Castle Grayskull Wasteland – Masters of the Universe: Battleground #1 […]

    Like

  12. Nice. Like most English-speaking children over our age, I grew up with He-Man and have a huge nostalgic soft spot for anything Eternian, so I’ll be looking forward to reading how you work through this project. Considering their rather humble scope as ‘piled up bricks’ I really like what you’ve done here; the colouration really works to evoke the hues of the cartoons. If I’d painted this it would have looked like Grayskull had been visited by Eternia’s most useless graffiti artist but you’ve made it look true to the source. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very kind of you to say Argentbadger, thanks 🙂
      The wall colour variation was an experiment. I was far from certain that it would work out, but I felt like I needed to push my boundaries a bit and try it.
      The terrain set did finish up looking better than I had hoped in the end too, which was nice, but definitely not a given.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Really love the vibrant and contrast-rich terrain. -that slight dust effect really looks the part.

    Liked by 1 person

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