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Dungeons & Dragons
by Rustin Parr

At last, a friend for Theus of Grimward, Thannis of Grinjammed, and Thambis of Gramjimnt.

Grimsword the Evil Knight is a mighty warrior and fierce fighter. He hopes to rule the land someday, after he defeats all his enemies in combat. Grimsword has many evil friends fighting by his side, but he cannot be trusted. He will betray or fight anyone in order to gain power.

NECA doesn't provide any info about their D&D releases, so that's from the back lower front right of the 1983 LJN toy, which was one of the Evil Battle Renegades. Yes, they put their bios right on the front of the cards. Because they were wildmen in those days! Like Warduke, Grimsword appeared (and was statted) in Quest for the Heartstone, but he wasn't one of the pre-fab characters included in The Shady Dragon Inn, the book that gave them backgrounds and motivations. So for four decades, he's just been "the big guy who likes snakes."

And boy, "big" he is! I mean... this guy is huge. Just for context, he's nearly as tall as his tray in the standard sized "NECA Ultimates" box! But in hand... he's darn cool. At 8⅜" tall, the beefiness of the figure really just does wonders for his sense of fun and value in person. I had no connection with the old LJN Advancaed Dungeons & Dragons toys until well into adulthood/online toy fandom, so I can't say whether the old toy was similarly larger than all his fellows, or if this is a trait NECA sculptor Marty Henley have made up, but it does give him something more than just "snakes."

The LJN figure was nothing if not distinctive, and NECA has done a pretty good job adapting the design to modern sensibility and detail. He wears a combo of plate and chainmail, for the best of both protection and mobility. The black armor with red and silver highlights would be sinister yet unmemorable (look at any MMO where players can pick their own colors, and you'll quickly see how tired this is), but wrapping a green, stylized snake around his midsetion four time does wonders for the ol' iconography! The snake's tongue reaches up onto his flared right shoulder armor, and its tail becomes a hook for weapons on the left side of the waist. He even has another snake head on his left kneepad, that's how much he loves serpents!

Grimsword wears a fairly normal knight's helmet, with eyeholes in the faceplate and a thick ridge over the top, but the antenna things on his ears are just weird. Theoretically they could act as "catches" to stop incoming blows from reaching his head at all... but... they just look silly. The old toy had them like this, so they had to be here, but I'd rather they weren't. Or at least that they were smaller. The best we can say about them is they're on swivels, so you can angle them for better head posing.

Articulation is good for his size. He has swivel/hinge ankles, swivels at the bottom of the shins, swivel/hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. The ankle hinges are slightly stiff, and the shape of the shoes means the feet don't want to tip up very far. Similarly, the red fan-plates on the elbows and knees keep those joints from bending all the way that they'd normally be able to. All of that serpentine melange does render him a bit top-heavy, and bulk-wise the feet do seem slightly undersized or too narrow proportionally. So make sure to take care with that ample articulation to avoid any falls and the dreaded resultant breaks (as I well know myself).

He comes with his signature long (grim) sword, which you'll never mistake for anyone else's because the crossguard on the hilt is made of the same kind of spikes as his antennae. He's also got the tonally spot-on cobra-themed morningstar he tended to wield in all the character art, with a metal chain and surprisingly pointy mace head hanging from it. That's right, even though his name was "Grimsword," both the card art and the sourcebook made the morningstar his primary weapon just because it was more snakey. He also gets not one or two or three but four four - pairs of hands: fists, open with pointy index fingers, open, and gripping.

One of the signatures of the original LJN AD&D line seemed to be the big elaborate shields, and Grimsword's one here is just as beefy as he is. The sculpt is nice and pretty 80s-esque, with a large, raised snake head in the center of its diamond shae, and the snake's tongue sticking down to the lowest point. The accessory has two "leather" loops running horizontally on the backside so he can wear it on either arm and still have his hands free.

Without that personal childhood connection to the LJN toys, I can't say I was particularly enthusiastic about this figure originally, but who else would one really pick as the second update for NECA to tackle? I'm not sure how all-in for this line I'll be, but this figure goes a long way towards convincing me. Grimsword may not have gotten as much attention (and therefore as constant a stream of updates and lore) from fans over the years as Warduke has, but this is one wild design for a toy!

-- 10/26/23

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