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by yo go re

For decades, Fantasy fiction has been dominated by European perspectives, with anything else just being a brief excursion into "exotic" cultures (aka "broad stereotypes still written by people who grew up reading The Hobbit"). Tired of forests, castles, and snowy mountains, Lone Coconut has released Plunderlings, a series of pirate goblins sailing around on a monster-filled archipelago, exploring the world, meeting new friends, and stealing their treasure.

The Plunderlings are divided into "themes" - basically tribes or jobs or specializations or what have you. The initial three themes were Raiders, Berserkers, and Nomads. The first two are pretty self-explanatory - light fighters and heavy fighters - but the third, Nomads, doesn't really tell you what it's all about. Sounds like they're always on the move, like explorers or something. But if my first Plunderling, Goyle, is any indication, the Nomads are less direct foes, attacking with guile rather than brute force.

All the Plunderlings (so far) share the same basic sculpt, created by Seba Dom. They're definitely cute little things, with large hands and feet (with black claws on each digit), limbs that are thicker near the extremities than by the body, a bit of a pot belly, and (in the case of Goyle) tattered shorts held up by a rope belt. He's got a cute little butt, even concealed by the trunks as it is. There's no texture on the skin, so these little goblins must not have scales or anything. Do goblins normally have scales, or am I just getting confused by Norman Osborn's chainmail?

When the Plunderlings Kickstarter started, I shared it with my D&D-iest friends. The only response I got was the GM, who said "I'm sure Paizo's lawyers are going to love them" (in case you thought I was the most snarky one in any given group). And sure, they've got round heads, humongous, pointy ears, and sharp teeth, but Pathfinder goblins look sinister, while these look friendly, even when they're flashing their fangs. Each figure includes three heads: one with the mouth closed (but two little tusks sticking up); one with the lips parted by the teeth together in their best approximation of a smile; and one with the teeth parted slightly, for even more fun.

A Plunderling stands just under 4" tall, which puts them in a 6"-7" scale. The way they're stylized makes them look fairly compatible with Mythic Legions, too. They move with swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, balljointed hips, balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. Everything moved perfectly well straight out of the box, and swapping parts was easy: the head and hands simply pop off, to be replaced with the ones you want. The joints hold their poses well, and the big feet make for a stable base if you've got them flat on the floor.

Judging by his accessories, Goyle is a classic D&D-style Rogue, all sneaky and stabby. He and Shadow Star can compete to see who gets the most kills. In addition to the alternate heads, the set includes alternate hands (for holding things, rather than being open - if you wanted fists, you had to purchase those separately through the Backerkit). The actual accessories he gets are a pair of daggers, featuring big, chunky, silver blades and leather-wrapped handles with a bronzey/​gold color on the handguard and pommel. He wears a hooded purple cloak, which for this toy is technically done as a cape and a separate hood - the cape fits around the neck, and the hood has notches for the ears to fit into. Its rich color contrasts nicely against the grey-blue skin, and he looks absolutely adorable in it. A little C-clamp plugs into the cape so you can store a weapon back there, and he's got a black frog for... lunch? Barter? A pet?

The Plunderlings are a super cute idea for a toyline. Little cartoony goblins going around and having small pirate adventures? What's not to like! Heck, make it a cartoon, and introduce us to more of their monster buddies on the island chain; like One Piece, but not interminable, or a softer, more episodic Pirates of Dark Water. An island of Flumphs or Beholders who can't get at buried treasure because they float, and thus can't touch the ground; Harpies and Displacer Beasts re-enacting Tweety and Sylvester scenes; a Gorgon who agrees to hand over her treasure after they set her up on a date with a Gargoyle because he's already made of stone. There's lots of potential!

-- 01/02/21

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