Fantasy Forest – Random Toys
Not all toys are action figures, so this week we’re taking a look at a reissued board game from the makers of Dungeons & Dragons. Join us as we travel through Fantasy Forest!
Fantasy Forest is a board game to introduce young children to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. The object of the game is to be the first person to reach the magical castle as you make your way through a winding path full of monsters and shortcuts.
The original game came with typical playing pieces similar to the game “Sorry” and monster cards that had numbers in the corner of each card. In 1990, TSR reissued the Fantasy Forest game and made a few changes. You still have the monster cards, but there are four new cards with characters from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon (Presto, Hank, Sheila & Uni) The playing pieces were changed to cardboard stand-ups of children. There were also four PVC figures of the cartoon characters included.
The board game board folds in half and is adorned with a ton of artwork. There’s the main path to the magical castle with tons of different monsters all around it interacting at certain areas to either attack or supply a shortcut. The board also shows each of the cards along with areas to stack unused cards along with cards you’ve already played.
The gameplay is pretty fun. Movement is based on the number in the corner of each card. You always have 3 cards in your hand so you have a choice on if you’re going to move anywhere from 1 to 8 steps depending on your cards. There is a strategy to this as you can plan your steps so you don’t fall into monster traps or so you can hit shortcuts. The biggest drawback is that other players can steal your cards if they land on your space and there’s a lot of crowding in the start of the game.
The four figures are added into the gameplay with their corresponding cards. If you receive one of their cards, you get the figure placed in front of you until someone else gets the same card (There’s only one of each character card in the deck so you have to wait until the deck is reshuffled before you’ll lose the figure, which will happen before you’re mid way through the game if you have 4 players) each figure has a shortcut on the board so if you are in control of the figure, you can use that shortcut when you come to it.
Now, the very interesting thing about these figures is that they are marked 1986 TSR M+B Made in Portugal. The M+B stands for Maia & Borges, a Portuguese company that manufactures a lot of different PVC figures. They originally made a full 8 figure set based on the D&D cartoon in 1986. The full set was only released in Europe and included Presto, Hank, Sheila, Uni, Bobby, Eric, Diana & Dungeon Master. This set plus a 9 figure PVC set made in Spain are the only officially licensed figures based on the D&D cartoon characters.
The PVC figures stand much taller than the mini D&D figures, but are a little too short to fit well with the regular D&D action figures.
Presto the magician is posed standing fairly straight with his hands out as if he’s either casting a spell or trying to stop someone from attacking him. The sculpt is pretty dead on for the cartoon character. The addition of a patch of land sculpted to one of the feet helps the figure balance really well. Presto doesn’t fall down even though his wide side stance would usually make multi jointed figures fall either forward or backwards.
Hank the ranger has the most dynamic pose of these four. He’s in the classic hero pose, drawing back an energy bolt on his bow and ready to attack. The sculpt is very nice and has all the details you’d expect to see for this figure. Just like Presto, Hank has an added land sculpt on his foot for balance and it helps keep him from falling down.
Sheila the thief has a strange pose. I guess it’s more one of wonderment. I think a pose of her in mid run/walk stride while pulling her hood up to go invisible would have been a better pose. Like the others, the sculpt is pretty accurate to the cartoon model. She also has the sculpted land piece which helps due to her second foot not being fully flat on the ground.
Uni the unicorn is the only one that doesn’t have an extra base piece sculpted to it’s feet. This is probably due to Uni having three feet touching the ground which already gives a great amount of balance. Uni’s fourth leg is up in a bit of a kicking motion or maybe Uni is landing from a jump, I’m not sure. It’s a bit of an odd sculpt as I think it would have been fine with all 4 legs on the ground. Uni’s eyes look a little odd with the blue and pink paint apps. I think the blue was used because in some parts of the cartoon, the sclera looks blue grey (probably due to the animation itself) The figure sculpt is pretty faithful regardless.
While Fantasy Forest is an OK game, the real reason to get the reissue game is the PVC figures. This is the only way you could get any Dungeons & Dragons figures based on the cartoon in the US. For fans of the cartoon, finding any of these figures is like finding gold.