Monday, January 16, 2023

A Face Only a Child Could Love

Since I was talking about LJN's AD&D toys last week in connection with Quest for the Heartstone, I thought readers might enjoy being reminded of the Fortress of Fangs playset, which was released in 1983. For once, I'll keep me snobbery to myself in commenting on these toys. Instead, I'll focus on something a little different, namely, that these were Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-branded rather than merely Dungeons & Dragons-branded. I have long suspected that this was done for legal/financial reasons relating to TSR's settlement with Dave Arneson about royalties for D&D, but I've seen no solid evidence that my suspicion is true. Even if it is, I still find the whole situation odd purely from a brand-building perspective, doubly so when you're dealing with a product aimed at kids.

In any case, as toys of this kind go, I can't deny this one looks pretty fun. I'm not exactly certain what it's supposed to be, but that rarely matters to an imaginative 8-year-old. 


  1. Don't worry, kids. If the bad guys start to win, just give Jim Kirk a call. He knows how to handle these things.

    1. What's funny is that the Fortress of Fangs looks a lot more like Vaal in the above linked Start Trek episode than the official playset based on that episode, Mission To Gamma VI.

  2. While it's likely the AD&D brand on the toys were petty legal shenanigans, I was always under the impression that was how TSR/LJN were able to incorporate paladin and assassin figures into their toy lineup (Strongheart and Kerek, respectively), since those classes were not available in Basic D&D at the time.

    As for the FOF, it was basically a collection of classic adventuring features -- stone stairs, treasure room, rivers of lava and lethal traps galore. Though this all-in-one nature also made it feel a bit like a "Fisher-Price Dungeon Funhouse" (especially the slide).

  3. I had that fortress, and most of the figures as a kid.

  4. It seems a Little Castle Greyskull