If you have any doubt that we’ve been living in a Golden Age of 80’s Toys Revivals for the past few years, look no further than the fact that we are finally getting action figures from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon! Honestly, I’m at a point where if we can check off new action figures from Bionic Six, Kidd Video and Mighty Orbots, I could finally die a happy man. The D&D cartoon is one of those few 80’s properties that was pretty popular, but somehow managed to escape the toy treatment. That’s no small feat for a time when nearly all cartoons were just thirty minute toy commercials! Hasbro has had the D&D license for a little while now, and it looks like they’re finally doing something worthwhile with it. I was a big fan of the LJN AD&D figures back in the day, and was always happy to see when some of those characters made cameos in the cartoon, but now we’ve got the real deal. Hasbro is releasing the entire party of adventurers, along with Dungeon Master and Venger, in a few waves, and I just got in Diana the Acrobat and Hank the Ranger!
If you’re unfamiliar with the cartoon, the premise was six kids get on a Dungeons & Dragons ride at the local amusement park and find themselves transported to the fantasy world… FOR REALS! With the help (and I use that word loosely) of the enigmatic Yoda-like Dungeon Master, they each get assigned a character class, a magic weapon, and are forced to travel the realm trying to find their way home. It took me a while before realizing that the little shit was just using these kids to do his dirty work each week while dangling the way home in front of them as a possible reward.
The figures come in Hasbro’s new no-plastic packaging, which is admittedly pretty colorful, but of course does not let you see what the figures look like until you open the packages. I do like how it mimics a card and bubble style, and I may wind up keeping these packages. I especially love how the edges are going to line up to form a group shot of the party! Let’s start with Diana!
So, Diana lost her saving throw against bad QC and her right elbow snapped right out of the package. I repaired it with glue so I could go on with the review, but that’s a pretty big mark against her from the start. So, be careful with the joints on this lovely young lady, because the breakage happened with a simple attempt at manipulation and no force at all. With that said, I do like the overall sculpt here, as I think they captured the character’s costume very well. Her shaggy two-piece acrobat bikini looks good and includes a gold belt with brass studs, gold bicep bands, and a gold gorget with a brass design on it. The boots have sculpted wraps, which are painted red against the brown base color and some sculpted shag around the top edges of the boots. Unfortunately, the plastic looks really rough in some areas, particularly around the backs of the legs, where there’s some ugly seams and mold flashing. You can see more of this around the shoulders. It gives the figure something of a bootleg feel. There’s also a mess of gold spray on my figure’s top, which is really unfortunate when you consider how simple the paint deco is. Almost nothing about this figure feels polished.
I like the portrait a lot, but I’m not sure it’s a particularly great likeness to the cartoon character. It looks more stylized and it feels like something we might have seen had the actual figure been released back in the 80’s. Was Hasbro going for a retro look here? I highly doubt it, but it kind of works for me on that level.
The articulation is overall pretty decent. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The shoulders and wrists move fine, but the elbows can barely pull 90-degrees. And obviously my figure’s right elbow can’t move at all because it’s been glued. The hips are ball jointed, and while I thought the furry diaper would hinder the hips, she can still take a knee and very nearly do the splits. She does have double-hinged knees, which is nice, and there are swivels at the tops of her boots, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint up under her chest and in the neck. The joints feel a little gummy, and I just didn’t feel like she was a lot of fun to pose and play with, which is a real shame for an acrobat.
Diana comes with two accessories, both variants of her staff. They’re cast in a neon green plastic, which I like because it reminded me of the plastic used for the accessories that came with the old LJN AD&D Kelek figure accessories. Yeah, I doubt that was intentional, but whatever! The standard pole is as simple an accessory as you can get, while the other has some magical effects like it’s being spun. Let’s move on to Hank the Ranger!
Like Diana, I think this figure nails the costume pretty well. Hank sports an olive green tunic with silver studs, and green long sleeves and leggings protruding from it. His brown buccaneer boots have olive green tops, he has a wide brown belt with a silver buckle. Straightaway, this figure sports far better QC than Diana does. There are no noticeable paint flubs, no rough plastic around the joints, and everything looks so much more polished. I’m very happy to see the bump up in quality here, and I’m very interested to see if my replacement Diana will match it. On the downside, Hank’s natural stance is a little weird. His arms don’t quite hang straight at his sides, and when you combine that with the action orientated sculpt of his right hand, he feels like a figure that is either meant to be pre-posed or has some kind of action gimmick.
The portrait is OK, but I don’t like it as much as Diana’s. I think the contours of the face are exaggerated, making him look a lot younger than he’s supposed to be. Or maybe there’s a little Robert Z’Dar in there. It’s serviceable and certainly not terrible, but not great either.
Hank features the same basic points of articulation as Diana, but it feels like some of his range of motion isn’t quite as good. There are slits on the shoulders of the tunic that help a bit with the shoulders, but obviously the tunic still restricts the shoulder movement. The same is true for the part of the tunic that hangs below the belt. I also think the billowy sculpted sleeves give his elbows a bit less range as well.
Like Diana, Hank comes with two versions of his weapon, the magic missile. One is the dormant bow, and the other is when its activated and ready to fire. The regular bow is cast in a yellow-gold plastic.
The activated bow accessory is cast in translucent yellow plastic and it looks really cool, but Hank’s articulation really doesn’t allow him to use it all that convincingly. His left hand is sculpted to be drawing the magic bolt, but the elbow bend just isn’t enough to make that reach work. He does look pretty good posed as if he just released it and the bolt is about to fire. Oh yes, I neglected to mention that the figures come with D&D dice (one each), which is a cute addition, but I’m not sure how many fans of the cartoon actually played the game.
Well, this has been a rough journey with a lot of bumps in the road. Even without the elbow break, the QC on Diana is simply unforgivable, and while Hank faired a better in that department, he still had his share of problems. I’m obviously not as happy with this pair as I had hoped to be, but I’m not giving up yet. I should have Bobby the Barbarian arriving soon, and when I do that review, I’ll be sure to include how my replacement Diana turned out. I’m hoping Hasbro can still turn this line around, but right now it looks like it might be a case of these just being better than nothing. And that’s an endorsement that nobody wants.