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Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Classics
by yo go re

"Alakazam, alakazime! Put out your action figures right on time!"

...wow, none of his spells work right, do they?

Presto the Magician tries his best to aid the team with magic and items from his Hat of Many Spells.

It's great that all the other kids get names, but Presto is just "Presto." According to the series bible, his real name is Albert, but it's never mentioned in the series. (Additionally, Portuguese Wikipedia ["Portupedia"? --ed.] gives his last name as Sidney, and in a 1996 comic he introduced himself as "Preston," so assemble all those in whatever order you feel like.) In the Season 1 episode "City at the Edge of Midnight," a boy the kids know from Earth indicates that "Presto" was a pre-existing nickname, further lending credence to the "Dungeon Master hijacked these kids to The Realm specifically" theory. Because doing simple card tricks totally tracks with commanding the primal forces of nature.

Like the worst figures in this line, Presto is wearing long robes that get in the way of his articulation, are so true to the cartoon that they barely have any sculpted detail, and don't line up on the sides where the robe is split. Yes, obviously this is an accurate re-creation of the way he looked in the cartoon, but there had to be better ways to do it. Imagine a plain body underneath a softgoods robe. At least then the figure would be able to move adequately. They'd just need to sculpt his little elf booties, and the wide tan belt with a component pouch hanging from it.

Even if they did that, one part would need to be plastic, and that's his hat. The source of his unpredictable powers, Presto's hat is a typical pointy wizard's cap in the same green as his robe. He takes it off, waves his hand over it, and tries (and usually fails) to produce some magical effect. When he was statted, the hat was given the effects of a Rod of Wonder, an item that lets you roll percentile dice to determine what it does. Since the item functions two ways in the cartoon - being worn and being used - the toy had to figure out the best way to achieve that, and what they did is exceedingly clever.

The hat is mostly solid, though with a large hole in the interior that plugs onto a substantial peg coming out of the top of the toy's head. Or rather, the top of the toy's hair: because that would look weirdly awkward (outside of a FLCL toyline), Presto includes a swappable piece for when he's got his hat off, showing just regular hair. That's good design! The face is one of the better likenesses this line has had so far, with his small smile, his pointy chin, and his glasses down on the end of his nose.

To display Presto using the hat's magic, we get two translucent purple energy effects that plug into the hole: one is a wide flare of energy, spiking out beyond the brim of the hat, and the other a long and winding stream of energy that has a clip that will fit around his wrist, making it look like the energy is streaming from the hat to his hand. That is so cool! The tabs and hole are specifically shaped, mostly round with a thin line sticking off the back, to make sure they only fit together one direction. Bumps on the peg ensure the pieces will stay on securely, rather than falling apart with the slightest movement.

Beneath the dress, Presto's articulation is just like the others': awivel/hinge ankles, swivel/hinged knees, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist (that really does little more than a swivel would), swivel/hinge wrists, swivel hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, a hinged neck, and balljointed head. The legs can't do much, thanks to the costume, but the arms are enough to utilize the hat and magic pieces.

Rather than a Build-A-Figure, the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Classics have a "Build-A-Dice-Set" - get them all and you'll be able to play a game of D&D. Presto has the most dangerous die in the game, the D4. Because it will hurt if you step on it.

Other than that live-action car commerical (where he's the one who finally does get them home), Presto seems fated to remain in The Realm; the very first episode shows him willing to stay and learn magic while the others moved on, and even a cameo in a Forgotten Realms comic had him (as an adult) trying to apprentice himself to Elminster, an existing game NPC. I know The Realm works on Narnia rules, and no matter how long you stay there, you'll get back home moments after you left, but what if not everybody leaves at once? Can Presto watch his friends go back to Earth, live a long life (if he's not killed by a monster or some murder hobos), and when he's ready to retire just mosey on home, popping back into reality at the same moment the rest of them do, but with several additional decades of memory in his head? Feh, magic! So confusing!

-- 11/08/23

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