Dungeons & Dragons (Cartoon Classics): Dungeon Master and Venger by Hasbro

Today, I’m getting all up to date on Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons line, or at least the one that’s based on the old 80’s cartoon. This line has had its share of problems, with lots and lots of QC issues, from figures arriving broken in the package to figures breaking soon after being taken out. Indeed, my very first experience with this line was instantly snapping Diana’s right elbow joint! Since then I’ve been boiling the figures before handling them, and I haven’t had any other issues. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I’ve waited for these toys for enough decades that I want to see it to the end. And that brings me to the first multi-pack in the line, with the evil Venger and that little shit, The Dungeon Master coming together in one big box!

The box is shaped exactly like the one used for the Honor Among Thieves Gelatinous Cube, with that one weird angle in place of a top, right corner. You get some beautiful artwork inspired by the cartoon as well as the “40” which is denoting the 40th Anniversary of the toon. Photos of the toy is the best you’re going to get as far as seeing these before you buy them, which is why I try to be fairly timely on my reviews of these. Once again, each figure comes with dice. I haven’t really been showcasing these, because as much as I used to play the actual role playing game when I was in Middle School and High School, I never felt the connection between the game and the cartoon was all that strong. Most of my friends who watched it weren’t even remotely interested in ever playing the game. Anyway, let’s start with Dungeon Master…

This little bastard was a good choice to bundle with Venger, because he’s small and not really all that much of a figure. And that’s not a slam against what Hasbro did with him, because there’s really only so much you could do with this guy. The body and legs are static, you get rotating hinges in the shoulders as well as hinged pegs in the wrists. The neck has some kind of joint, but I can barely get him to turn his head at all and I’m not going to bother to boil him to see if it unlocks any more movement. I suppose if Hasbro went with softgoods robes, we could have had some more articulation here, but the sculpted costume captures the look spot on.

I think the head sculpt is OK. I feel like there’s something a little bit off about it, but it’s certainly not bad. There’s a hint of smugness to him that’s actually quite brilliant. I’m not even joking when I tell you that I absolutely hated this dude in the cartoon. It made absolutely no sense to me as to why he was such a cryptic bastard, putting these kids in mortal peril every week so they could do his dirty work. It was kind of appropriate that the toon was cancelled before they ever got home, because I like to think he actually had no idea at all how to get them home, even if certain episodes dispel my cynical theory. So, this is a decent figure, nothing great, but I’d say it’s the best Hasbro could do with the character design they had to work with. Let’s move on to Venger…

I’m pretty torn on this figure. On the one hand, I think they nailed the sculpt beautifully. The flowing plastic skirt looks great, as does his red armor and the sculpted black shoulder covers. The wings plug into his back as one piece and can be easily unplugged if you want to keep him in the box. The matte colors really sell the animated look, but you still get a little glossy red to spruce things up. He’s a nice, big and majestic figure that suits the character perfectly.

The head sculpt is also solid, but for some reason, Hasbro took a page from McFarlane’s book and painted him with side-eye. Side-eye works fine for statues, but not for action figures. Action figures should NEVER go side-eye. Maybe it was some kind of meta commentary on how poorly the articulation works on this figure, but I’ll swing back around to that in a minute. The eyes may sound like a minor nitpick, but it really limits the kind of posing you can do with him and not have it look like something is off. With that having been said, I love everything else about this portrait, right down to his tiny fangs and his enormously asymmetrical horn.

So… articulation! Venger has a full range of articulation in his legs, and I won’t bother going into it because it’s pretty pointless. The plastic skirt causes a tenting effect, which renders all that leg articulation moot. Ironically, I still had to boil his legs to get him to stand because his left ankle joint was stuck with his toe pointing downwards. There are slits in the sides of the plastic skirts, but they don’t really help. Even if Hasbro were to release his steed, Nightmare, I doubt there’s anyway this figure could sit on a horse. The arms are a lot better with full articulation in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and thankfully slits in the shoulder covers don’t inhibit them. You also get a ball joint under the chest. Like Dungeon Master, I don’t know that the limitations for the lower body could have been helped without the use of a cloth skirt.

Venger does come with an extra pair of hands with built in magical blast effects. These are pretty decent, and I was surprised how easy it was to swap the hands without fear of damaging the fragile joints. His regular hands include one graspy hand and one fist, which work fine for menacing poses.

This set also comes with a cardboard backdrop of the amusement park with the D&D ride, which is a nice touch, but one of the folds on mine was nearly torn right out of the package. I do actually like these figures, despite all the nitpicks, but I will say I was disappointed that Venger just isn’t very much fun to pose or play with. As an adult collector, that doesn’t bother me too much, as these are meant to stand on a shelf and look cool and maybe be fiddled with every now and then. Truth be told, I think these all look great on display, and while I’ve certainly tempered my expectations for these figures, it’s kind of a miracle that we’re getting them at all. I’m still excited to get Presto, Eric, and Sheila, but I doubt the line is going to extend much past that next wave, and I’m OK with that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.