Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: D&D Classic Creatures

 

I like Dungeons & Dragons.  I also like the miniatures.  And, as we’ve seen, I like Demogorgon.  He’s a unique and terrifying opponent – unlike anything done by another company, and one of the ultimate enemies you could face in any RPG.  Until recently, it’s been somewhat hard to get him in Miniature form, which is silly – a lot of creatures could have a substitute on the table.  Orcus (another demon lord) is close enough to a Balrog that you could put one of those up there.  But Demogorgon?  Not so simple.  He’s had way-too-small pewter minis by Ral Partha and Grenadier over the years (including the one featured on Stranger Things), he has an EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE correctly-sized unpainted mini that came out recently, he’s got a 2004 too-small looks-bad painted D&D miniature, he’s got the massive Lootcrate figure… and now Wizards of the Coast has made TWO more minis of him.  I can’t help but wonder if Stranger Things’s use of the name has something to do with this.  Anyway, this set has two more figures of the Prince of Demons.

 

The “Classic Creatures” set consists of nine (ten with the bonus) monsters designed to look like their classic, 1st-Edition art.  The orcs are pigs, the Troll is skinny, the Owlbear resembles an old knockoff dinosaur, and Demogorgon is absolutely his classic mandrill-headed self.  Now, this does mean that WOTC still “owes” us an updated Demo sculpt… but hey, his classic self absolutely needed the love!  This set retails for $70 or $80 depending on retailer, and gives you two Orcs, two Sahuagin, a Troll, an Owlbear, an Ogre Mage, a Purple Worm, and Demogorgon.  If you preordered the set, there was a bonus Demogorgon included – smaller (“medium”-sized), and posed in a tribute to the mini featured on Stranger Things.  If you didn’t pre-order, you can snag that mini for like $15 off eBay, which is where I got mine.  Its small size means that you’ll be using it as Demogorgon spawn, or an Aspect, or an Avatar, or whatnot, but it’s rather nice to have.  Just FYI, I got my bonus-Demogorgon a little late, and I’m visiting family for the holidays… so photos of THAT miniature aren’t using my usual lighting and diorama setup.  Instead, I’ve been taking pictures of him in my Dad’s condo, or wherever else is handy.

 

Yeah.  Ahahaha.  Anyway, let us look at this set, and revel in the minis!  The “medium” figures are about an inch tall (Demogorgon is bigger), “large” about double that.  The Huge Demogorgon is about 3″-4″ tall (he feels a little undersized for the RPG), and the Purple Worm is a good 5″ or so.  Their bases are appropriate size for a D&D map.  We’ll start small, then move larger, and wrap up with both Demogorgons.  Sound good?

 

D&D Orcs haven’t really been pig-faced in a long time, as it only happened because of miscommunication with an artist (orc/pork ahahahaha). So really, this is a rare design, and not likely one you’ll use in a game except for the nostalgia factor. But look! A pig-orc!

 

Likewise with the archer. He does not resemble Orcs as D&D has envisioned them, though he could stand in for a wereboar if you wanted.

 

Sahuagin have gotten more and more fishlike, further from their original fish-MAN appearance. They used to be described as fish-elves, in fact, which you can kinda see here.

 

The second Sahuagin looks kinda surprised, and it feels like mine is leaning back too far for his own good.

 

Trolls in D&D used to be extremely skinny, but have been made bulkier and bulkier as time has gone by. Their most recent mini was skinny-ish, but still, there are some pretty Hulk-esque trolls out there. This one is, by far, the skinniest, and as a result one of the smallest “large” D&D minis there is! However, Trolls do come in all shapes and sizes, and this guy is a great addition to the mob. The small size does feel like a little less bang for your buck, though – just realize that it’s intentional for accuracy. Perhaps someday I will do a group shot of them from the Minis line, to show their amazing variety.

 

The Ogre Mage is far bulkier than the Troll, of course. Ogre Magi are essentially Oni, and depending on the edition have just been called Oni – you’ve seen my pictures of some of those minis on my Yokai posts, and it’s amusing how easily this guy fits in with the others, though he is a little less on the frills side, and more “classic.” Anyway, he’s a big bulky Japanese Ogre!

 

Now the Owlbear – that’s what I’m talking about! Released minis of the Owlbear are, of course, bears with owl heads and some feathers. But this creature was originally one of those dime-store dinos, with original art to match the toy. This Owlbear has the distinctive flattop, and having it in mini form is just hilariously awesome! The original “dino” is actually hard to find, having been oddly replaced in most random selections in the years since. The classic Owlbear is one of my favorites of the set, and also worth a photo with other minis in the line.

 

Ah, the Purple Worm! It’s been done before – once in the prepainted line – and it’s a pretty basic design, but this figure is unique even among them. Purple Worms have never really changed much, but there has been variation in skin texture and mouth design over the years. This one’s got its own style, and honestly it’s also the only Purple Worm we’ve gotten in about ten years. It’s easily the biggest and heaviest in the set, and coincidentally the easiest to pop off its base if you’re into that sort of thing (mine did when I took it out of the packaging, lol). Well, now it’s time for a bunch of Demogorgon pictures. Are you ready?

 

Demogorgon, the twin-headed Prince of Demons, stands at the miniatures equivalent of 15′ tall. Everything that he should have is there – tendril arms, mandrill heads, split tail, monstrous pose – yes, he’s different from the 5E art, but this is unmistakably the same Demogorgon we have fought for forty years! in fact, compare this to his appearance in Baldur’s Gate 2 – see what I mean? Now, this figure does seem to have one flaw – it might just be mine, but it seems that his weight causes him to lean forward on those comparatively thin legs of his, forcing you to use hot water to tilt him back upright again. This might not be a wide-ranging issue, but see if your Demogorgon begins to stoop after a while on his feet.

 

In fact, you can see him stoop a little bit next to the 2004 Aspect of Demogorgon. Also, man, this new Demogorgon is so much better than that poor, unfortunate blue figure.

 

Mind you, the LootCrate figure is in another realm entirely. Demogorgon’s recent art is an interesting departure from what came before, though thematically it’s closer than you might think. Both work, and it’s good to have options.

 

Just for kicks and giggles, I’m still amazed at how different the Stranger Things monster is from its namesake.

 

Speaking of Stranger Things, here’s the bonus miniature! I put him in a planter in the lobby of my dad’s building. Anyway, this isn’t the same as the mini used in Stranger Things. That figure was intentionally kinda off-brand, since it wasn’t “officially” D&D, so it turned him into more of a straight-up dragon. But the pose is similar! It’s also “medium” in size, although it’s taller than those humanoids you saw. Hilariously, he’s pretty close in height to the Aspect of Demogorgon. I’ll be honest, I fell in love with this little guy at first sight. He’s been riding around in my shirt pocket all week!

 

From the side, it looks like it’s dancing – haha! Also, that tail is split, and gives the mini some depth. A front view would make you think that Demogorgon is kind of a flat figure, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

This pleasant parent-child photo shows off the smaller Demogorgon’s detailing, too – it may be tiny, but they did a great job sculpting and painting it!

 

In fact, it really is roughly as big as the 2004 Aspect. it’s funny, because one of the two is big for a Medium, and the other is small for a Large.

 

Also, here he is in the Christmas tree. I love visiting my family!

Well, there you have it! Nine (or ten) miniatures taken from the early ’70s, and including some creatures that ironically needed an update! I like it a lot, personally. It’s not perfect (I’d have subbed some other monsters for the second Orc and Sahuagin), but it’s really nicely-done. That $70 is bout what those minis would cost from an ordinary set, and this really is nicely-themed. Plus, we’re finally getting more of Demogorgon – here’s hoping for a good Gargantuan-sized mini next!

 

4 responses to “Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: D&D Classic Creatures

  1. Pingback: Troll - Daily Breaking News·

  2. Pingback: Demogorgons(02) - Daily Breaking News·

  3. Pingback: Owlbear - Daily Breaking News·

  4. Pingback: Orc Archer - Daily Breaking News·

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