I’ll be honest, Monogram’s first assortment of Dungeons & Dragons bag clips didn’t really impress me much with its generic cast of modern fantasy characters. Sure, the monsters were cool (Bugbear! Beholder!), as were the iconic 20-sided die (critical hit!) and retro Advanced D&D Player’s Handbook demon idol, but those last two were the ultra-rare chase figures! For their follow-up D&D assortment, however, I’m more than impressed as it is based on a nostalgic childhood favorite of mine: the classic animated Dungeons & Dragons cartoon! This is the D&D I remember.
Bobby and Uni
As a kid growing up in the early Eighties, I loved everything about TSR’s epic fantasy role-playing adventure Dungeons & Dragons. Just check out my Figure Flashback of LJN’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Figures (1983) if you don’t believe me. I lived and breathed D&D, including the animated series that spanned from 1983 to 1985.
Hank and Eric
Produced by Toei Animation (Mazinger Z, Dragon Ball) the series was similar to Sid & Marty Krofft’s live-action Land of the Lost, where six kids are accidentally transported to a mysterious fantasy realm. However, unlike Marshall, Will and Holly left to fend for themselves against man-eating dinos with sticks and one smart Sleestak, this group is transformed into their powerful D&D role-playing character counterparts! Sure, they still had to fight off Orcs, Beholders, Tiamat, Venger and other nasty beasties, but at least they had magical weapons – and a friendly guide – to assist them on their quest back home.
Diana, Presto and Sheila
All the cartoon characters you remember are represented in this Monogram wave, including Hank (Ranger), Eric (Cavalier), Diana (Acrobat), Presto (Magician), Sheila (Thief), along with Bobby (Barbarian) and the group’s new fantasy friend, Uni, the Unicorn.
Arming the group of confused kids with wild weapons in this strange new world is the Dungeon Master! While an ally to our main characters in their mission to return home, the DM often offered cryptic advice and help. Like the role of Dungeon Master in the fantasy game, this creepy little dude’s role was that of a spiritual guide – where, sorry gang! – only personal fulfillment and friendly teamwork can overcome the problems you face in life. Hey, aside from being one giant advertisement for the game, animated D&D was at least a ‘toon with a moral lesson.
One of those problems our heroes faced was the evil Warduke! While only featured in one episode – 1983’s Season 1, Episode 5 “In Search of the Dungeon Master” – this cool character had already made a strong impression on D&D fans with his LJN action figure debut that very same year. Like Star Wars’ mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett that single-handedly captured Han Solo and froze him in Carbonite, the rogue fighter Warduke was responsible for capturing and imprisoning the Dungeon Master in a magic crystal. Coincidence? You decide. The inclusion of Warduke in this figural bag clip series is epic; he’s my absolute favorite figure of the bunch.
Orc and Venger
In other villainous news, two rare chare figures in this assortment arrive to stir up trouble for our lost travelers. There’s a generic Orc; a common baddie of the show (and game), along with the Big Bad himself, Venger! Being such an integral part of the animated D&D cartoon, it’s really a shame that Venger is so hard to get in this wave. Alas, I understand the logic, as there are only 9 core character slots to fill and someone had to go. Uni versus Venger? Perhaps, but that would have been an injustice too. Either way, Venger IS part of this series. You’ll just have to work a little harder to track him down.
The animated Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series was like one huge commercial for TSR’s role-playing game. But weren’t all cartoons back then (*cough* He-Man)? Regardless, animated D&D was FUN television, allowing countless kids like myself to immerse themselves in the fantasy world TSR had created. While some things bothered me – like some of the lame character classes (Acrobat?!) and non-lethal weapons (really, no SWORDS?!) – the animated Dungeons & Dragons cartoon ultimately made me wanting more. It’s just such a shame that the series, after three seasons, never received the proper send off it deserved.
Monogram’s animated D&D blind bagged bag clip assortment is available for pre-order now through many fine retailers, including Entertainment Earth. Arriving in November, fans can take their chance with a Random 6-Pack or go for the gold with an entire Display Case in which you are guaranteed two complete sets of the nine core characters (the kids, DM and Warduke), along with the two chase figures (Venger and Orc), as well as four random figures to spare. Good luck and happy adventuring!
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-Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor
-Review Samples Courtesy of Monogram
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