Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Melf by LJN

Yes, its Friday and thank God for that, because if it weren’t for Vintage Vault, I’d be shit out of content. The stores’ toy shelves are still bare of anything new or interesting and we’re hovering in the Summer duldrums, waiting for new product to launch. So, today we’re checking out another AD&D figure by LJN and for the first time I actually have a cardback to show off!

And there it is! Today we’re looking at the Good Fighter Elf, who just so happens to be named Melf. Yes, Melf the Elf. Its unfortunate. The front of the cardback has a stripe on the top corner declaring him to be one of the good guys. There’s a nice piece of artwork showing off the character beside the bubble, and under that, there’s an informative blurb about the Elf Fighter. Its not so much a bio of the character, but more details about the race and class, which I always thought was cool. As a tie-in line, LJN really worked hard to keep these toys authentically linked to the AD&D lore, and I always appreciated that.

The back panel of the card shows a pretty cool illustration of some of the figures and beasts in action. You can see the Northlord Barbarian and Strongheart the Paladin, both figures we’ve already looked at. You can also see some guys we haven’t gotten to yet. The bottom shows some rather poor quality photos of some of the PVC monsters, although oddly enough doesn’t tell you who they are!

Moving on to the figure itself, Melf has always been a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, he is a very cool figure, with some exceptional detail for such a little guy and some very cool gear. On the other hand, his head sculpt always bothered me, because it just doesn’t seem like an Elf to me, and that’s why I always used him as a Half-Elf. His noggin is just too big and meaty and he looks like there’s some human mixed in there. Apart from that the head sculpt is very nicely detailed. You can clearly make out his pointed ears, flowing blonde hair and his headband. Unfortunately, it just looks like he got punched in the face a bunch of times. He certainly looks nothing like the face illustrated on the cardback.

The rest of the figure, on the other hand, looks pretty close to the artwork. The most important thing to know about this guy is that he is tiny. Nonetheless, LJN spared no expense on the sculpt. The chainmail on his arms and legs is all textured with a nice criss-cross pattern. His tunic features armor discs and he has a little belt with a pouch sculpted on it. Even his tiny boots feature some loving details. The paintwork is equally impressive, with light blue for the chainmail, brown for the tunic and boots, and yellow for his armor accents. The whole ensemble is finished off with a softgoods cape and high collar that attaches around his neck with a little silver string.

In addition to great detail, Melf comes with some cool weapons. He has a bow and quiver of arrows, a sword, and a shield. The sword is pretty standard with a yellow hilt and a leaf-shaped blade, all of which is as long as Melf is tall. [So, obviously, my alcohol addled mind missed it, but as an astute reader has correctly pointed out, I shot this with Warduke’s sword. I’ll have to dig through some baggies of parts to find Melf’s original sword, but I’ll get to it eventually. As always, folks, thanks for keeping me on my toes! -FF] The shield is very well done with a sculpted wood pattern on the front face, sculpted rivets, a sculpted emblem, and a yellow border. The bow and quiver are sculpted in one piece, and while he really can’t hold them in an action pose you can sling it on his shoulder or have him leaning on it.

Despite his size, Melf features the same basic articulation as nearly all the AD&D figures. You get ball joints in the shoulders and hips, and a head that turns left and right.

Melf is by no means a perfect figure. It should be really hard to get past that head of his. But everything else about this figure is executed so well, that I can be pretty forgiving. He’s always been an iconic looking figure and one that looks like he jumped right out of the pages of one of Gygax’s player manuals. His gear is well thought out and fun, and he looks great when displayed in an adventuring party with the other good guys of the bunch.

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