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Dragon's Lair 3D

Dragon's Lair 3D action figures

Anyone who grew up in the 1980's will probably always remember three things - the accidental explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the emotional US Invasion of Grenada which was immortalized by Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge, and the first movie that you could actually play - Dragon's Lair. Okay, maybe you'll only remember two things.

Sherman, set the way-back machine for 1983. It is one year before 1984, so everyone just has to talk about George Orwell. There was also a huge video game market feeding arcades across the country, and that market was stuttering like Porky Pig coming off a bad trip. From this land of confusion Phil Collins was able to use puppets in a video when MTV actually played videos, and a new game emerged that combined professional feature quality animation in a video game.

Dragon's Lair wasn't the first game to use a laserdisc, but it was the first game to truly give the player a sense of actually playing a movie. It was also the first game to charge the whopping sum of fifty cents for one play, and yet people lined up and waited for hours to play. To say it was popular is an understatement, and the game itself made over $32 million in eight months. It also spawned merchandise, a sequel that wasn't released until 1991 (though it was completed in 1984), and a Saturday morning cartoon (back in the dark ages when cartoons didn't even have their own network). There are three video games in the Smithsonian Institute, and one of them is Dragon's Lair. The other two are Pong and Pac-Man, so not only did Dragon's Lair beat out the curse of not having a p-named game, it beat out the other worthy contenders like Mavis Bacon Teaches Typing.

The triumvirate that breathed life into the game was composed of game designer Rick Dyer of Advanced Microcomputer Systems, Don Bluth of Bluth Studios and Cinematronics. Rick designed the game, Don animated it (with some help) and Cinematronics handled the technical aspects of getting it manufactured. The game was animated by hand, cost over a million dollars to produce and it took six years to create the animation for the game, which totaled about 22 minutes. You could win the game in 12 if you had all the right moves, and you could lose in less than one. Animators did the voices in the game since they had a tight budget and Marlon Brando was busy getting fat.

A new version of the game is being created that is due for release on the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube in August 2002. The game is called Dragon's Lair 3D, and is being designed with the original designer, composer and some of the animators on board to ensure that it is faithful to the original. This time, traditional animation is replaced by computer graphics, a move that mirrors trends towards computer animation in the world of film.

The basic story of the game combines elements from the two Dragon's Lair games. In the first, Dirk the Daring must rescue Princess Daphne from Singe the Dragon in his lair (hence the clever title). In the second game, Dirk travels through time to save Daphne (ever in trouble) from the evil wizard Mordroc. In the second game Dirk and Daphne are married and they have a lot of kids, though after looking at Daphne it isn't hard to figure out why. In Dragon's Lair 3D, Dirk must rescue someone (you get one guess who) from Singe the dragon in the castle of the evil wizard Mordroc.

Dragon's Lair 3D action figures

While all this history and information is surely incredibly useful and entertaining, you are here for the toys, which took quite a while to get here. The first series of Dragon's Lair 3D figures are based on the Dragon's Lair series of games and have characters that appear in the three games, and these are the first (and only) action figures to be made of the characters.

Freshman toy company Anjon is producing the figures and this is their first foray into manufacturing their own toys. Chris Dern (a Resaurus alum) did the sculpting work on the figures and along with his partner in crime Ivan Nagalo have brought these from the video screen to plastic. Three of the figures are blister carded while Singe comes boxed and is a deluxe figure. Singe is bigger than the other three figures, but isn't really true to scale because making him that size would have been cost prohibitive.

One of the impressive things about the figures is the use of varying materials in the figures to create either a certain look or extra features. In addition to the standard plastics used in most action figures, there are bendy features, hidden armatures with a softer skin over them, rubbery hair and gem-like clear pieces for treasure. They also have twisty-ties. If there ever were a ubiquitous infrastructure to toys, it would be made of twisty-ties. You heard it here first.

Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.

Dirk the DaringDirk the Daring is the hero of the Dragon's Lair games and winner of the 'knight whose name could easily be misspelled to form a dirty word' award. Dirk coined 'the Daring' because he didn't like 'the Dorky' or 'the Doofy' and since he had to pay by the letter 'the Diaphanous' was out of his price range (and not really appropriate anyway).

Like most knights, Dirk wears armor and carries a sword for poking evil where it hurts (and occasionally tickles). Dirk also has a backpack, which is handy for carrying out all manner of treasure. Dirk's backpack does open and the accessories can be placed in the pack for safe keeping.

Dirk comes packed with a tentacled eyeball creature, a sword that can be placed in a sheath on his belt, two keys, and a potion. The keys go to a safety deposit box in a bus terminal (you didn't hear that here). The eyeball creature is a bendy, so the various stalks can all be posed in different ways and the base is large enough to keep the creature stable. Dirk himself is fully articulated, and much of his articulation is hidden in the design of the figure. His neck, waist, both wrists, both biceps, and feet twist and the shoulders both have ball-joints. The legs also have swivel joints so Dirk can do a little kicking whether it be in the lair, or in Las Vegas.

DaphneDaphne is a damsel, and she might as well be known as 'Daphne the Distressed' because she's clearly in it. Daphne is the prisoner of Singe the dragon, but why Singe kidnapped her isn't obvious. She is a Princess, so there might be a ransom, or perhaps she is bait for Dirk, so Singe can test out the traps in his lair. One thing is certain: Singe didn't capture her to eat her, since he could easily have done that already. Yes, you should get your mind out of the gutter!

Daphne, like most women in video games designed by men, doesn't wear much. Heels (which go with anything) and some lingerie, which goes well with her shapely frame, are all that adorn fair Daphne. And her crown. If Daphne's body seems familiar, it may be due to using Playboy magazines as reference while animating her. That also solves the mystery of $15,000 in the production budget spent at 'Jay's Adult Entertainment World' labeled 'research'.

Daphne doesn't stand well on her own (perhaps a bit top heavy), but she comes with a stand made of gold coins, and with it she's stable and has no problems with any drooping. She isn't as articulated as Dirk, but she doesn't have to run around and slay anything either. She has twisting shoulders, thighs, waist and neck, and she has really long hair that does down her back.

If you think a pile of gold will sate a princess, think again. She also has a large magic medallion that is translucent and has a small companion - a Fire Drake. While the Drake is just under two inches tall (to go with Daphne's five and a half) he still more articulation as his gal pal. Both arms and legs can swivel, and the neck can twist so he can look from side to side. On his back are a pair of wings that are articulated so they can be moved in a flapping motion. Since he looks like a little version of Singe and is red, does that mean his mother is blue and Singe is his dad? I guess we'll have to wait for the E! Behind the Scenes for the truth.

SingeSinge is the centerpiece of the first series of action figures, and the game. Dirk may be the hero, but without the dragon, there wouldn't be a Dragon's Lair. Singe is the climax of the game, where Dirk (after getting some choice advice from Daphne) must grab the magic sword, slay the dragon and then use the key to unlock the prison to get Daphne out. Singe prefers to be called 'Singe the Scary' but Dirk likes 'Singe the Slain'.

As in many movies, the bad guys (and good guys) never die permanently, and Singe has been resurrected to act as a heavy in the new Dragon's Lair 3D game. Instead of going solo, Singe has teamed up with Mordroc to defeat Dirk (and it gives them the option of falling back on double mint gum commercials).

Singe is the largest figure in the line, and also has the most varied materials in the toy. Singe combines hard plastic, soft plastic, bendy parts and hidden armatures with pure evil to come up with the ultimate toy version of the dreadful dragon. Singe's tail is about nine inches long, and he is around eight inches in height, so he is packaged as a deluxe figure and comes in a box rather than carded. Singe is packed with a magic sword, a giant translucent gem base to keep the sword in 'excalibur' style, and a metal chain with the key to Daphne's prison on it. The chain is real metal and fits around Singe's neck for Dirk to try and grab.

Singe has plenty of articulation, with ball jointed shoulders and swivel thighs and a mouth that can open and close. The head can twist at the top of the neck and the neck also twists where it enters the body. The neck is made of bendy material to allow a wise range of poses for the head. The tail is the pièce de résistance, and in addition to being rather long it has a number of innovations. The main part of the tail has a rubbery skin that covers two armatures inside that can be clicked into place to pose the tail while the skin covers it completely. The ends of the tail is a bendy material, so it can be posed as well, and the transition from bendy to rubberized skin is completely seemless. The only visible joint on the tail is where it connects to the body (it is a separate piece for packaging), and the ridges on the back are made of a softer plastic. Singe is an amazing fusion of materials that works perfectly.

MordrocWhen the word wizard comes to mind images of Gandalf or Dumbledore may come to mind, but as Hagrid points out 'not all wizards are good'. Part of that is due to some people being greedy or power hungry, and the rest is because the Good Wizards' Guild is a closed shop, and there really isn't room for anyone else right now.

Mordroc is the primary antagonist from Dragon's Lair 2, kidnapping Daphne (who is now married to Dirk), and he was tapped to fill in since Singe was basically dead after the first game. Mordroc probably kidnapped Daphne because with his face, he really wasn't going to get any dates that didn't involve abduction. That and he was mean, which women don't tend to like, so make a note of it.

Mordroc isn't just the bad guy in DL2, but he's teaming up with Singe (newly back from the dead) to head up the villains in Dragon's Lair 3D. While Singe does the abducting honors, Mordroc lends out his medieval castle as a hideout. The plan is that combining Singe's brawn and Mordroc's really bad skin will result in an unstoppable force for evil. Time will tell on that one.

Mordroc likes to work with others, so along with him he brought a couple of Ding Bats to help out. The bats are made of soft plastic and while they have no articulation they are squishy and can be balled up. Don't eat them though, they are high in cholesterol.

Mordroc wears a soft plastic robe that hides his articulation and his out of shape body. Under the robe he packs plenty of articulation with ball jointed shoulders, bicep twists on both arms, wrist and ankle twists, thigh swivels and the head has a ball joint so he has more poseability. The robe has been engineered to allow the shoulder and bicep articulation to work perfectly, so even though he looks like he can't move much he is fully poseable. Combine that with his mystical power staff (included) and a big hump on his back, and who could stop him? Dirk, that's who!

Pictures of Dirk the Daring

Pictures of Princess Daphne

Pictures of Mordroc

Pictures of Singe the Dragon

Big Picture
of Dirk

Big Picture
of Daphne

Big Picture
of Mordroc

Big Picture
of Singe

Where to buy Dragon's Lair 3D: The regular action figures (Dirk, Daphne, and Mordroc) retail for about $10 each, while Singe is a deluxe action figure and retails for around $18, they are available through Digital Leisure's official site, specialty stores such as Electronics Boutique, Gamestop, MusicLand (Sam Goody, Suncoast Video, Media Play, On Cue), and your local comic book store, as well as various online toy retailers.

Several such online stores are RTM sponsors Big Bad Toy Store, NHAtoys.com, and The Outer Reaches. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)

In addition, AnJon will be in attendance at Dragon Con 2002 in Atlanta, with their products and autographs available. AnJon, Inc. also intends to have a drawing held to win versions signed by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Rick Dyer the creators of the original Dragon's Lair arcade game.

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