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Beholder

Dungeons & Dragons
by yo go re

Okay, the owlbear was nice and all, but let's get to the monster we were really waiting for.

Dungeons & Dragons Dicelings are a synergystic fusing of two of Hasbro's usual products: D&D, of course, but also Transformers - these are things that change into other things. The first "things," in this case are all the same things: an icosahedron, better known as the 20-sided die.

While the Owlbear's die could possibly have passed for a table-legal one, this one definitely can't. Even leaving aside any internal weighting issues, two of the faces (the 20 and the 19) have raised bumps on them that would prevent that side from landing face-down, and thus decreasing the odds you'd ever see a 1 or 2 come up (since, as you're aware, all the faces on opposite sides of a die add up to the same number).

It can be hard to tell where to start converting this die if you don't already know. The instructions aren't even much help. It's between the 5 and the 15, for the record. See that big visible hinge between the 16 and the 6? On the opposite side from that.

The Beholder is probably the most iconic original D&D creature there is. Dragons, ghouls, witches... those things all existed before the game did. But a floating eyeball? That's pure Gygax, baby! Well, Terry Kuntz, originally, but Gary Gygax fleshed out Terry's idea. It appeared in the second episode of the cartoon, where Dungeon Master described it thusly: "The Beholder is a foul and evil beast who came up from the underworld and destroyed all things of beauty in the valley." If you're going to parody D&D, a Beholder is going to be part of it.

The Beholder was originally drawn like a stoned balloon, then some sort of veiny testicle, before finally in 1984 getting the scaly look it's most known for. The face on this one is a terrific representation, with its large central eye bulging between a pair of lids and beneath a single brow ridge. The lizard-like skin is matched by those bumped panels on the die faces we talked about above, and its hinged jaw can open to allow us to see the fully detailed mouth behind the sharp fangs.

Beholders have exactly 10 eyestalks, so this toy does as well: two attached to the head, four onthe hinges from the front, two on hinges in the back, and two more hanging down from those same panels. Honestly, they could have been done better, though. The four panels on top should really be able to fold down flat against the body, like the owlbear's back did, and although there are balljoints in the middle of each of those stalks, the poseability would be improved if the socket were on the distal half and the ball were on the proximal half, the opposite of what we get here. At least on two of them, to mix things up.

Since they're just a ball with eyestalks, Beholders get everywhere by floating; in First Edition, it had an organ in the center of its body called the "levator magnus"; by Third Edition, a whole bunch of its organs would float, even after its death, so no one was sure which ones did what. This toy doesn't have anything that make it look like it's floating, because the style of the toy would just look like it was balancing on the ground normally. The majority of the figure is orange, and there's a dark wash on the scales. I believe the eyes are supposed to be white, but the paint on them is thin enough that they just end up peachy-pink. The interior of the mouth is dark purple, and the fangs are bony. His large central eye has a triangular pupil - how weird!

While the Owlbear was specifically branded as an Honor Among Thieves movie toy, the Beholder is not - it's just a random Dungeons & Dragons figure. And it's definitely a fun little idea, but a plain, poseable toy could be better.

-- 03/07/23


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