Imperial Toys Catalog (1983)

This week, I’m talking about knock-offs. First off: one of the crown jewels of my collection, the 1983 Imperial Toys catalog.

I have been looking for this for a very long time and finally scored a near-perfect copy last month. The reason for my desire should be apparent from the cover art, which rips off two things I love in dizzying fashion. First off, don’t those dragons look familiar? That’s because they are crude, modified traces of David C Sutherland III’s art from the Monster Manual. Then there’s the Pegasus/Centurion that seems to want to capitalize on Clash of the Titans.

The toy line was called Dragons & Daggers. It was a blatant attempt to capitalize on the popularity of LJN’s Dungeons & Dragons toys (right down to the sliding puzzles), aimed at the five & dime market. I got the two-headed dragon at my local Ben Franklin (which I just learned was a chain!). Later additions to the line were a variety of cool riding beasts made in for the scale of Battle Cat and Panthor from the He-Man line.

Catalogs like this (and maybe catalogs in general) feel special to me. By their nature, they are disposable, so there can’t be that many of them still in circulation, especially in the case of distro catalogs like this that were aimed toward business owners. I suspect not a lot of collectors know about the odd little corner of D&D history this occupies, and likely even fewer care.

It is special in another way. The other toys and junk in the catalog are an amazing trip down memory lane. I have zero nostalgia for this stuff and would never have remembered them if not for seeing them here, but I appreciate the chance the catalog affords me to catch a glimpse of those long gone five & dime shelves.

One thought on “Imperial Toys Catalog (1983)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *