Heroes Playsets Fortress
By Past Nastification
The label “fortress” appears nowhere on the box, but it feels like the right word. The fortress was the anchor piece of the playset in which the previously-reviewed Imitation Vamp was also included. Released as part of the “Heroes Playset” and found at Family Dollar, the fortress is a mess. A wonderful, adorable mess that is impossible to hate.
Part missile silo, firehouse, observation tower, and with a dash of Castle Grayskull DNA, this fortress is all over the place. Its modular, three-part nature is nonsensical. But that doesn’t matter because the whole thing is just fun.
The overall recipe has no logic, but the sculpting that runs through it is quite good and somehow pulls the whole thing together, much like the area rug in The Big Lebowski. The shapes and lines are reminiscent of the set designs of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Hatches, Kirby shapes, and kibble abound. In fact, a Star Trek customizer could paint one of these things grey and chop it up to create diorama or photography pieces and feel satisfied.
The center area of the fortress is a garage door beneath a watchtower. The garage door opens down and outward as if to cross a mote. The watchtower features a big gun. The centralized “mouth” is where the Castle Grayskull echoes can be heard.
The left-hand side of the fortress looks like a science fiction furnace, topped with a double gun station, which is topped with a helipad. By “helipad”, I mean it’s small flat surface with an H sticker applied to it. Maybe an area large enough for a FANG to utilize. And by “flat”, I mean slightly droopy in the middle because the plastic is of a discount nature. More on that in a minute.
The right-hand side of the fortress is a missile silo. The missile itself is only scaled to be about nine feet tall, taking up not quite half of the vertical length of the structure, so it’s a missed opportunity. A larger, more ICBM-feeling missile would have been super-awesome (so much as a children’s toy glorifying an ICBM could be). The structure does feature a removable panel, behind which are four missile tips. In terms of action figure playtime drama, the missile silo is probably the most interesting part.
The interior/backside of the parts have no detail, aside from being the “negative” shapes of the front pieces. There are no footpegs, molded computers, or even texturing. The watchtower “interior” upper level floor isn’t even deep enough for figures to stand on. But to worry about these things is to overthink it here.
Now- the plastic. Don’t let my enthusiasm about this playset trick you. This is not a sturdy toy. The plastic is about as sturdy as Tupperware- the entire structure flexes when setting figures on it. It’s not horrible, but not as rigid as one would hope. Light shows through the plastic, too. When photographing it I had to make sure nothing was backlit as to prevent the x-ray look. The plastic isn’t so thin that it would crack like an old Mego vacuum-formed playset or the trays of an action figure case, though.
Some other items were included with the fortress and the Imitation Vamp, as you can see in the box artwork. But they’re not worth talking about, to be direct about it.
If Hasbro, with its access to great designers and sculptors had released this toy, I’d call it a monstrous lump of garbage. But its deep-discount roots give it a thick layer of scorn-protection. The name “Midwood Brands, LLC” is printed on the electronics box (which, by the way, doesn’t work). I don’t know if that’s the name of the toy company, or the subcontractor that made the electronic component.
I do know that if I owned this wonderful mishmash of shapes when I was nine years old, it would have been a Cobra base preparing for the Joes to attack. This is a playset that begs you to put action figures on it. Could the Joes stop Cobra from getting that under-scaled ICBM launched?