Friday, March 4, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Colorforms!

It's pretty hard to find a kid that grew up in America in the '70s or '80s that didn't have at least one set of Colorforms. Let's face it, they were cheap, looked like they had a lot of play for their buck and therefore often ended up under every kid's Christmas tree at least once. Heck, I had a couple; a Batman set and a G.I. Joe set later on.

But let's face it, this is one of those toys/games/crafts that are fun for about ten minutes. You'd peel off the rubbery (and smelly) two dimensional figures, stick them somewhere on the board, then put another one somewhere in proximity to the first one so that they sort of looked like they were interacting in some way. Then you'd look at it for a minute. Then you'd push it under your bed, never to be seen again.

Okay, to be fair, I would make and re-make some scenes, but that only bought it an extra 10-20 minutes of play before it got pushed aside.

But still, despite their lack of staying power, Colorforms were a huge hit, big sellers and still a major nostalgia bomb for many of us, myself included.

I scored this sweet Dungeons & Dragons set on eBay last week, mostly out of my love for old D&D toys and ephemera. But that didn't stop me from cracking it open and slapping those floppy heroes and villains onto the background... and then looking at it for minute, then putting it all away on the shelf for diplay.

But not before I snapped some pics first... (click the images to view Tiamat sized)

 First off, the box art is dope! It's just the type of art that I remember from the action figure card backs and coloring book covers. As a kid, this type of art smacked of a forbidden joy, reviled by parents and rampant with scale-covered, bat-winged dangers!

Inside the box, we have our usual menagerie of Colorforms components; static background scene and shiny black sheets of oddly colored vinyl figures. When I opened this set, a couple of the figures and some of their accessories were already loose and sliding around, remnants of what appears to be the one lone time some kid gave it an effort at playing with this set, only to be so bored as to let the other figures stack stuck to their black backing boards, never to be played with.

The choices of the characters, both who they are and how they were rendered, is beyond odd. I mean, a pink Warduke? And who is that little dwarven wizard character? He looks like a reject from Rankin & Bass' production of The Last Unicorn.

Anyway, none of this stopped me from putting together a harrowing scene of epic struggles in the age of swords and sorcery... umm... rendered in pink polyurethane...

Look at this exciting battle scene! A weaponless Strongheart, locked in battle with the Ogre King! Melf the male elf, looking directly at the viewer as if to say, "What the hell is going on here?" and the lovely yet competent Mercion, also looking at the viewer as if to say, "What the hell is Melf looking at?" And the maghity and fearsome Warduke... just standing there... looking pink.

Oh well, they can't all be winners. But for all its faults, this set is still an excellent example of the silliness of '80s toys (or games or crafts, depending on your point of view) and a testament to the history of a more innocent time from Dungeons & Dragons.

You know, I think I'm going to open this box back up and make another scene.

Wait... no. No I'm not.