Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dragonriders of the Styx!

I'm starting to realize that I have (and have always had) a penchant for cheap-o, no name toys. When I was a kid, while I dearly loved all of my Star Wars and G.I. Joe toys, I also equally enjoyed my collection of the kind of toys one would find at those "discount" stores, who's toy aisles were often packed with Sgt. Rock, Warrior Beasts and (a personal favorite) Dragonriders of the Styx.

So, naturally, being obsessed with hunting down every toy I had as a kid, I've managed to accumulate a pretty decent collection of Dragonriders figures and I'm only missing the ones that are hella expensive, but I'm sure that one day the gods of the toy hunt will shine down upon me and I'll get them too.

But let's take a look at the figures I'm amassed so far... (click the images to view dragon sized)

The Dragonriders line basically cashed in on the brief, yet massive, mainstream popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, following the launch of their killer toy line from LJN and the debut of the Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, for a while there, fantasy stuff was a hot commodity and smaller companies were quick to fill toy aisle pegs with cheap fantasy toys.

Let's take a closer look at these dudes...

First up is "The Demon", who... well... is pretty much just a demon. I never said these toys were original. But every kid needs a good denizen of Hell in my opinion and as a kid, I made this figure terrorize my more unfortunate protagonists on a regular basis.

Note that although super-cheap, they at least had knee joints which is more than Kenner could give to their Star Wars figures. Of course, this figure is literally just a red plastic mold with one pass of black paint. So, the action figure gods giveth and taketh away.

Here we have "The Wizard", who probably had a name, but I'm too lazy to go look it up. In all honesty, I hated this figure as a kid, and only have him now for completionist reasons. He always looked like Robin Williams dressed a s a wizard to me. Wizards aren't supposed to look that derpy. He looks like the only spell he's mastered is the Curse of Getting Off My Lawn.

Here we have "The Dragonman"! While kind of a doofy looking creature, with his "I'll gladly go chase a stick if you throw it" look, the concept of a half-man/half-dragon was just too awesome to me as a kid. This guy popped up in my adventures often back in the day, usually playing the role of some sort of swamp monster. Probably because he was green. I wasn't that creative.

"Ragnar the Warrior" was the closest I was ever going to get to having a 3.75" Conan figure. Ragnar, who I eventually renamed "Thundros" actually ended up taking the lead heroic role in my Dungeons & Dragons adventures, usurping Strongheart, and often going head to head in a series of knock-down, drag-out sword fights with none other than Warduke himself. Those were heady days, my friends.

And finally, we have "Guliz the Ogre", a truly beloved figure in my collection both then and now. True, he's simple and not very detailed, but between his vampire fangs, skull necklace and blue skin, he was a perfect storm of awesomeness as far as I was concerned as a kid. Again, in my more fantasy-fueled Dungeons & Dragons adventures, Guliz often played the roll of the secondary baddie who showed up as hired muscle. One adventure that I still remember to this day involved a battle to the death in a gladiatorial arena between Guliz and Crystar (from the classic Remco line). Needless to say, Crystar won, but Guliz didn't make it easy on him.

So those are all of the Dragonriders of the Styx figures I have so far. I'm still missing the Black Knight and some of the vehicle/monster drivers (which are ridiculously hard to find and thus crazy expensive), but who knows; I may stumble on to them eventually.

Thanks for reading!