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Drizzt & Guenhwyvar

Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms
by yo go re

He comes from a land down unda.

In the late '60s, Ed Greenwood created a setting for his childhood stories. Long ago, this land was closely connected to Earth, but as time passed humanity forgot about its sister reality - thus "The Forgotten Realms." Upon discovering Dungeons & Dragons, Greenwood adapted his creation to the game system, and eventually published dozens of articles in Dragon magazine. When the game company wanted to add a new campaign setting to its library, they recognized how cohesive Greenwood's world was, and in 1987 The Forgotten Realms was released as a box set, eventually becoming the most popular setting with players.

Also in 1987, author RA Salvatore submitted a manuscript to the company's book publishing arm. The managing editor liked it, but asked him to change some things so it could be set in the Forgotten Realms, looking to promote the new setting. The main character was Wulfgar, a barbarian with a company of comrades around him. When he was unable to use one of the characters he intended to, Salvatore had to create a replacement on the spot: Drizzt Do'Urden, the heroic drow (dark elf). He was originally just a mentor/sidekick character, but by the third book in the trilogy he'd taken over the spotlight, and is now the closest thing D&D has to a main character.

The figure's sculpt is entirely new. Hasbro may be the undisputed kings of 6" figures (other than the unfortunate stumble of Overwatch), but it's not like they could just cleverly reuse some Marvel Legends molds to create Drizzt. He's wearing a full suit of armor that, knowing D&D, probably confers him some bonuses beyond simple protection. Though you can tell he's from a magical world because when he chooses the best stat-boosting pieces to equip, they all look good together, part of a cohesive whole, rather than a bunch of random pieces like you get when maxxing your character in a videogame. This is an intricate sculpt, with layered plates on the greaves, tasset, breastplate, pauldrons, and gauntlets. Technically Drizzt is only 5'4", so the toy should be smaller, but (as we've seen so often with Wolverine toys), that doesn't mean much when it's time to create action figures.

Drizzt includes two heads: one calm, the other snarling angrily. More than that, though, he also includes two kinds of hair: hanging straight down or blowing to the side. The great thing is that the hairs are separate from the heads, meaning you can swap them around and create four different looks for the figure. Putting the relaxed hair on is a little tough, because you have to make sure the pointed ears get into the right gap, but it's doable. Just flex it open slightly.

There's no exposed skin below the neck, so the head is the only place we see Drizzt's pale periwinkle skin. His gear is not exactly colorful, being a mix of dark blue and brown, with pale gold trim. But just because the colors are muted, it doesn't mean they're applied poorly. Get enough light on him to make out the edges between the colors, and it all looks outstanding. All those thin little gold lines over broad, dark areas, and no spills or slop at all? That's impressive! Plus, he's painted just as fully on the back as on the front, so no corners were cut there.

The articulation is top-notch; would you expect any less from Hasbro? Drizzt has a balljointed head, neck hinged at the top and balljointed at the bottom, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged pecs, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a hinged chest, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinged ankles. The armor is all designed in such a way as to minimze any interference with the joints - soft skirt flaps, shoulder armor that sits away from the body just a little bit, etc. Now, obviously you can't do anything too extreme if you still have his fur-trimmed cape on, but he does look nice without it, and it's not terrible trying to work around it.

In addition to the cape, the heads, and the hair, Drizzt's acessories include a unicorn necklace (that wants to stick out rather than hanging down against his chest, it must be said) representing the symbol of his goddess Mielikki, an alternate pair of hands (one fist and one gesturing), and his scimitars, the improbably named Icingdeath and Twinkle. They're pretty iconic weapons, in Forgotten Realms circles, so to not include them would have been criminal, and to make them look wrong would have been annoying. They have unique sculpts (and unique scabbards hanging from his belt), and get translucent blue energy effects that fit over the blades to make them look like they're doing ice damage (even though Twinkle is just magically sharp). Icingdeath is his right-hand weapon, the one with the hilt shaped like a cat's mouth; Twinkle is the one with the full crossguard, and is wielded lefthanded.

Lest you think Skeletor was the only pop cultural figure to hang out with a pet panther, Drizzt is sold here with Guenhwyvar (which we can only assume is pronounced "Guinevere," and is being spelt in ye olde stupide highe fantasye style). [it's not "fantasy," it's Welsh --ed.] Same thing. in-story, it's the high elvish word for "shadow," and the fact it just so happens to sound exactly like King Arthur's girlfriend is pure coincidence. Drizzt carries a small black figurine of a seated cat, and when he places it on the ground and calls for Guenhwyvar, she materializes from the Astral Plane.

The cat is larger than a real one would be, and is sculpted with a sleek, muscular body. The surface is covered with a fine fur texture. The tail is packaged separately in the try, to save space; it just pushes in easily. The body is black, with a bit of a purple sheen on the top. The eyes are yellow, and the inside of the mouth a dark pink behind the white teeth.

Guen's articulation is impressive. She moves at the tail, paws, heels, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, chest, neck, head, and jaw. There's so much articulation, in fact, we're surprised there hasn't been any indication of these molds being reused yet. Where's our Black Panther "Afterlife Visions" deluxe set, featuring T'Challa and his father-panther? Where's our update of the Savage Land ML set, with a new head to make this into Zabu? This is a really cool toy of a big cat, but it had to be too expensive to only make once.

Like the Cutie Marks & Dragons set last year, this one includes a branded D20. It's larger than most dice, and molded in a translucent green. There are also six cards depicting various Dungeons & Dragons monsters, with text on the back. Some kind of fantasy gobbledygook. Probably Welsh.

As a collaborative game where players create their own adventurers, D&D doesn't have a lot of important characters who would be recognizable to everyone. You can't make a toy of a small-town ranger who dual-wields axes and loves the forests, of a city watch recruit from a family that moved from pseudo-Italian islands to the big city, of a tiefling who has trouble telling one side of a river from the other, and expect everyone to want to buy them. And attempts to sell generic figures of various classes have never traditionally done well. So unless Hasbro wants to make action figures of the cast of the '80s cartoon, there aren't more than a handful of noteable characters who would work as toys. Drizzt may be the only one there is. This is a very cool toy, but we'd like him even better if we knew he was just the first entry in a series, not a one-off thing.

-- 08/14/21

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