Orcs

The year is 1982. LJN Toys just won the rights to produce a toys based on Dungeons & Dragons. The first line is a set of PVC figures, a robust selection of men and monsters. Among them are…orcs?

Toys in the PVC line are uniquely squat and ugly, but even allowing for that, these dudes look more like gnolls or kobolds than orcs. Or maybe even lizard men. It is hard to tell, thanks to the crude sculpt.

Orcs appear in an episode of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, which was produced after the toys. They look like green crocodile men with dog noses and, when you see them in motion, look more like Gamorean guards than anything else.

The D&D toys and cartoon marked TSR’s farthest push to the mainstream. The PVC and bendy toys were actually sculpted in-house by TSR. So why they didn’t just use the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio designs? And then what the hell are these toys that, you know, exactly reproduce the Sutherland design?

Believe it or not, they’re knock-offs, produced by the Hong Kong company Dimensions For Children (DFC) in 1983 as a cheap cash-in on the officially licensed toys. But they look great! So do the rest of the molded plastic figures in the Dragon Riders of the Styx line (you’ll be seeing most of them here eventually).

Naturally, TSR being a very litigious company, DFC eventually lost a lawsuit over the toys. The result was that the offending sculpts had their faces shaved off. You can occasionally find them in the wild – they look extremely creepy without their flat, blank faces…

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