Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Strongheart and Destrier by LJN

Its time for more AD&D figure fun on Vintage Vault. Last time we looked at one of the giants, so this time we’ll check out one of the more normal sized figures, Strongheart, along with his trusty steed. In keeping with the theme of the AD&D license, LJN often assigned classes and alignments to their figures and the aptly named Strongheart was a Good Paladin. And as was often the case, Strongheart here made a cameo on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. The packages for these toys are long gone, but Strongheart came carded and Destrier came in a window box. While they were each sold separately, they were intended to go together, as we’ll soon see.

Strongheart was a pretty iconic figure for me as a kid. At the time of his release in 1983, I was still a little young to grasp all the fineries of the AD&D game, but I had some of the books and I was starting to dabble. While Strongheart probably wasn’t one for pillaging dungeons for loot, he still became the face of the common adventurer for me whenever I dabbled with the game.
And iconic indeed! Strongheart is the quinticential brave night in shining armor. He has a noble headsculpt with a bold mustache and high cheekbones. You can practically hear him spouting off words like “blaggard!” and “knave!” while pwning dragon fools and rescuing princesses. His helmet, with visor sculpted in the raised position, angled steel antlers, and a swirling white plume is the height of majesty. The sculpting on the rest of the figure’s body is equally impressive, particularly the scalloped kneeguards and the embossed discs on his chest plate. He even has a flowing, glittery blue softgoods cape to finish off the ensemble. The figure manages to pull off the iconic knightly look without being generic. Even almost 30 years later, this figure still looks great.
Strongheart has the basic five points of articulation: Head, shoulders and hips. His head rotates side to side, but his shoulders and hips all have ball joints to give his limbs a little more of a varied field of motion. He comes only with his sword, which is a standard no-nonsense implement of justice. I always thought it odd that he didn’t come with a shield as well, since many of the other figures came with at least two accessories.
Of course, every brave knight needs his trusty steed. There were only three ride-on beasts released by LJN for the AD&D figures and Strongheart got two of them. Wait, can’t the figures share? Not really. The way the ride-ons work is similar to Kenner’s old Tauntaun and Dewback mounts from the Star Wars line. The figure’s legs go into a trap door on the beast’s back and there are a set of Strongheart’s fake legs sculpted on the sides of the saddle to make it look like he’s riding it. As a result, Strongheart is the only figure that looks right on him.
Destrier is a mighty big, brown war horse with a set of intricate multipiece soft plastic armor. One piece covers his head and mane with ornamental reigns coming off of his mouth. Another piece covers his breast and is adorned with a beaked bird head with feathered wings spreading out to each side. The body armor and saddle makes up the third piece, complete with the above mentioned fake Strongheart legs and a scabbard that can hold Stronghearts sword. All the pieces fasten together with slots and straps and hold onto the horse really well.
Truth be told, Destrier isn’t much of an action figure, he’s really just a statue. The only articulation is a swivel cut in his neck which allows it to turn side to side. His legs are sculpted with one front leg up, and he can stand perfectly on his own. He makes for a really majestic display with Strongheart sitting on top of him.
These days, neither Strongheart or Destrier are particularly difficult to find, nor are they terribly expensive, if you’re content with loose examples. Strongheart even holds up pretty well, although you often find chipping on the paint of his plume and his hip joints tend to go loose. The armor’s silver paint often loses its lustre but even that tends to add to the character of the figure. Probably the biggest problem is finding him with his cape still attached. Destrier sometimes suffers some rot to the rubber straps, but otherwise, he’s a pretty hearty toy that usually just needs to be cleaned up. Either way, this pair makes a great centerpiece to any AD&D collection.

Dungeons & Dragons cartoon image borrowed from The Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Encyclopedia. Your one-stop source for everything and anything related to the classic Saturday morning cartoon.

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