I’ve been desperately trying to streamline my collecting these days, which is why my reviews have been pretty focused lately and rarely hold many surprises. It’s Hasbro, it’s Mythic Legions, it’s Phicen or Hot Toys, etc. etc. It’s mainly a question of the very finite amount of precious space I have remaining and what I am willing to spend it on. A far cry from the days when I would scour the clearance racks at Toys R Us and buy whatever was cheap and tickled my fancy. Still, every now and then something turns up out of left field and I just have to go for it. It also helps when that thing is a an assortment of tiny miniatures.
Dungeons & Dragons! When I was young I enjoyed the franchise through a Saturday morning cartoon and the LJN figure line. Later, it was a defining element of my early teenage years, right about the time I was getting out of playing with toys. I had a few friends that played and we would get together every other week to play. But for me D&D transcended the act of playing the game. I was obsessed with the books, the stats, the monsters, making maps, and yes collecting and painting the tiny miniatures. There was a store dedicated to paper and pencil RPGs and board games called The Compleat Strategist in the neighborhood mall that was like nirvana to me. Anywho, fast forward to my last trip to my Walmart’s dismal toy section, and I would have come away empty handed if it weren’t for finding this curious box of D&D miniatures from Jada Toys.
As far as I know, Jada is known for their diecast cars and miniature figures, so the D&D license seems like a no-brainer. And we all know Hasbro wasn’t doing a god damn thing with the license, right? This set of five painted miniatures comes in a window box, which pretty much lets the miniatures do all the talking. The D&D logo is downplayed, the bottom denotes who you’re getting, and the back has a pretty cool fantasy painting. The set gives you all you need to set up a little battle between your party of four adventurers and a vile beholder. Let’s open it up and have a look.
Oh yeah, did I mention that one of the party members IS FREAKING MINSC FROM BALDUR’S GATE??? He’s the only actual named member of the party on the package and yes, it includes his miniature giant space hamster, Boo! Well, sort of. Boo is just a purple glob on his shoulder. You really have to keep in mind that these are only a little over an inch and a half tall. With that having been said, the sculpt is OK, albeit pretty soft. It’s far from on par with some of the better D&D miniatures I used to have. MINSC is wearing a scale armor hauberk, a cape, and has a broadsword. He stands heroically with hands on hips.
I think the sculpt could have been helped out a lot more by better paint. MINSC is done up in a four color palate, which consists of brown for the hauberk, metallic purple for the cape and face tatts, flesh for his skin tone, and gray for the base, arm bracers, pants and boots. None of the finer details are distinguished, and I don’t mind that for the some stuff like the belt and boots, but it’s a shame they couldn’t paint the sword a different color than his cape. On my worst day I could have painted this figure better, and I was never good at painting these things.
Next up we have the Elf Bard, which I think is overall a lot better than Minsc. The sculpt is still pretty soft, but it conveys the outfit fairly well and he is posed playing his lute. The color palate here is also a bit more varied. The outfit is lavender, the cape is purple, the boots and base are brown, the instrument is black, plus you get his flesh tone and white hair. Sure, he’s probably the least exciting figure in the bunch, but I guess it’s nice to have music while you’re fighting a beholder to the death.
The third member of the party is the Tiefling Paladin and this is probably my favorite of the adventurers. The sculpt here is a lot more impressive than the previous two. You get some good detail in her armor and I really dig the crazy array of cutlery she has hanging off her belt. Her right hand is outstretched and about to strike with her flail, while her right hand is drawn into a fist. I also love her tail, which is sculpted as part of the cape interior between her legs. The paint on this one is limited to four colors: Metallic purple for the bulk of the figure and base, blue for the cape, black for her hair and belt, and red for her skin. This is a damn cool little figure.
The final adventurer is the Orc Paladin and I’m really torn on this one. The sculpt is very soft, but I can make out some details like the belt and satchel. The armored pieces are a little better, but his face is just a mushy lump. I do like the pose a lot. The coloring here isn’t the best. You get a beige for the bulk of his body and cape. Silver for the armor, shield, sword, and base. His face is a grayish green with some black for his eyes and beard and hair.
And the real showpiece of this collection is the Beholder, which comes floating on a translucent plastic stand. I’m not sure how much of this guy is actually diecast because he’s rather light. I know the eye stalks are all a bendable rubbery plastic. I can’t say enough good things about the sculpt here. It’s absolutely fantastic. They worked in a lot of his scales, some stubby little horns, and the teeth are absolutely terrifying. The only thing I will nitpick her is the choice of coloring. Metallic blue seems like an odd direction to go for his skin, as does the gold for his eyes. I can’t deny that it’s a striking color scheme, but it comes off looking a bit like those cheap novelty Christmas tree ornament you might find in a bin at Target. That sounds harsh, and I do really like this figure a lot, but I think it could have been so much better with a different deco. Indeed, the general choice to go with metallic paint in this set is a bit of a poser to me.
So what’s my overall feeling here? Eh, I don’t know. It’s really cool to find a set of D&D miniatures in the toy aisle of a major retailer and it makes a lot of sense for a company like Jada to do them. The sculpts are OK, but I think if these were painted with more care and detail this set could have gone from a mere curiosity to something really cool. Also keep in mind, this set was less than $10, which had a lot to do with me deciding to pick it up. It makes me a little more forgiving, but I would have happily paid another five or even ten bucks for decent paint. Ultimately, I think these are fun, and a little research turned up that they have another similar set of a adventurers facing off against a dragon. I might just have to check that one out too.