It’s crazy how you can go ages without any real D&D licensed toys and then all of the sudden, they’re dropping all over the place, like slimy guts out of a slain Beholder. Hasbro has been using the license to make figures based off the old 80’s cartoon and the upcoming film, Honor Among Thieves, but now NECA has stepped into the ring with the license to do modern versions of the old LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons figures. The first two releases are Warduke and Grimsword, and I’m starting my look at these today with Warduke!
To me, Warduke was the Boba Fett of the AD&D world: A mysterious masked warrior with waves of badassery wafting off of him. He was easily my favorite figure in the LJN line, and he would always be waging some epic battles with the heroic Strongheart. NECA’s version comes in their standard Ultimate style packaging. You get a window box with a flap covering the front and a mix of artwork and actual photos of the figure all around. And that’s a hell of a piece of character art on the front of the box! I’m really excited to check this guy out, so let’s just dive right in!
Even before I got him out of the box, I have to admit that I was in awe of this figure while still peeping at him through the window. NECA took the original toy design and just ran with it, turning everything up to the hyper-detailed and realistic max. I’m actually a bit speechless and not sure where to begin, because this figure looks absolutely stunning on just about every level. The network of belts and straps crisscrossing his torso are all sculpted separately, giving up a lot of depth to the figure in general. The yellow belt from the original figure is now painted in gold with a demon-head motif and a more pronounced brown furry sash dipping down between his legs. He has one buccaneer boot on the right foot with red oval stones and his left boot is fortified with a sculpted, spiked armored plate and straps. Warduke’s right side is far less heavily defended and showing a lot of skin, while his left arm and leg are clad in sculpted chainmail, with a gorgeous metallic blue finish. His right arm also has an armored bracer and gauntlet with individually sculpted straps, painted right down to the tiny silver buckles. The eclectic costume is rounded out by a spiked left shoulder guard and an amulet hanging around his neck, strung with what looks like golden fangs. Warduke may not be a fan of symmetry, but he sure knows how to look intimidating!
The mysterious helmeted head is painted in the same sumptuous metallic blue as the chain mail, with the exposed area inside the helmet left black and featureless, except for two piercing red eyes. The package suggests there is just a man under there, by as a kid my imagination went with something more dark and demonic. He has some red ornamental stones on the forehead and back of the helmet, as well as stubby horns on top. The wings on the helmet are a bit more refined than the ones on the original figure, and they’re even pretty damn sharp at the tips! Part of me would have liked to see a little more in the way of facial contours inside the helmet, but it almost looks like he’s meant to be wearing a mask under it, and that’s fine.
Warduke wears three blades on his person, carried in varying styles of scabbards and sheathes. The most notable being his broadsword, which resides in a scabbard across his back. The scabbard is smooth and without texture, but does have some sculpted straps and a copper painted throat and tip. The second largest is a blue scabbard with ornamental gold throat and tip, as well as some bands, and hangs off his belt by a real gold chain. He also has a sculpted red pouch hanging between this scabbard and the one for the larger sword. And finally, on his right hip he has a brown sheath with some black wraps, sculpted stitching along the edges, and a red diamond-shaped jewel with some ornamental beads hanging. The detail on all of these pieces is fantastic, and they contribute to his eclectic look. Campaigns in AD&D are always about improving your gear through loot, and all of this stuff certainly looks like it was acquired and added to his arsenal along the way.
The articulation here is pretty solid, with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The neck is ball jointed, and you get another ball joint down near the waist. The hips are ball jointed, allowing for a bit of swivel up there, and the ankles ensure his feet can stay flat on the ground in wider stances. The wrists are hinged pegs, allowing for the hands to be swapped out. You get two pairs of accessory holding hands, and a right hand with a pointing finger. I had no issues with any of the joints on this figure, and I think the range of motion is really good. The elbows can pull of 90-degrees, which is not bad for this type of joint, albeit double hinges would have been preferred. I think my only nitpick here would be that the arms hang a little far from the body, but I guess that gives him a readiness stance, which works for the character. OK, let’s look at the weapons, and we’ll start small and work our way up!
The brown sheath holds what looks like a miniature fachion. It has an angled blue hilt that matches the color of Warduke’s chainmail and helmet. The blade is painted silver and has some notable wear on the blade. I’m actually not sure if this is intentional or not, but it really looks great for weathering. The grip has some deep sculpted scrollwork patterns and two silver painted rivets.
The dagger is probably big enough to be considered a short sword. It has a long, thin blade, almost like a stiletto. The hilt is gold with some red painted jewels and not much of a guard. It’s not a perfect match for the broadsword, but the two do go together fairly well.
The broadsword is certainly an imposing piece of cutlery, with an extended grip that could work as a two-hander. The grip is painted brown and the guard and pommel are both gold, with a painted red jewel in the center of the guard. The blade thins near the blade and then swells out just a bit for the remainder of its double-edge. Unlike the smaller weapons, the silver finish on this blade is immaculate.
Of course, Warduke also comes with his rather iconic skull shield! It never occurred to me as a kid playing with the figure, that Warduke’s armor was designed with his left arm intended as his sword arm, and the shield carried in his right to protect his less-armored half. I don’t think I made that connection until I was a teenager studying arms and armor in my spare time. The shield looks amazing with a beautiful dark steel finish and a lumpiness to the sculpt that makes it look like it was forged with a bit of crudeness. It’s an absolutely intimidating piece with the horned skull and dark voids for eyes. The reverse side has a grab bar and a sculpted arm strap textured like leather with rivets holding it into place.
And finally, Warduke comes with a flame effect for his sword, which really elevates the display quality of what was an already amazing figure. The piece is cast in soft orange translucent plastic and it fits rather snugly around the sword. Because clearly this guy didn’t look badass enough without igniting his blade. I mean, holy shit!
I’m well aware that I tend to churn out pretty positive reviews on the stuff I look at here. What can I say? I don’t buy stuff that I don’t think I’m going to like, and as a result I’m not usually disappointed. But when I say that Warduke here is one of the best figures I’ve handled in a long while, I hope that comes across as genuine and not just some hyperbole. This figure is absolutely stunning to look at and loads of fun to play with, and while some would demand more in the way of articulation, I think this is a perfect blend of sculpt and poseability. But in the end, it’s the modernized design, the detail in the sculpt, and the quality of the paint that sells it so well. It is indeed the ultimate version of the character that I could have only dreamed of owning as a kid. And with so many excellent Mythic Legions figure reviews under my belt, I’m still willing to say that this is probably the best fantasy-themed figure I’ve ever looked at here. I’m anxious to check out Grimsword, and I can only hope that this line continues to cover as many of the LJN figures as possible.