Some kids wanted to take their Fisher-Price Little People on a trip to the car wash or to a McDonald’s. Others would put Barbie up in her Dream House. Still others wanted to imprison a handful of heroes into a draconic head-shaped labyrinth. For the latter, there was “Fortress of Fangs.”Let’s backtrack a bit: It’s the early 1980s and Dungeons & Dragons publisher was pushing hard to put the role-playing game into the mainstream. 1983 saw the premiere of the animated D&D series on Saturday morning television – and what’s a Saturday morning cartoon without some toys to tie-in?
Like other ’80s TV toons, a successful series meant a lot of opportunities to crank out some toys. Manufacturer LJN licensed the D&D brand for a line of action figures and accessories.
One of the biggest items from this line was the “Fortress of Fangs” playset. Recommended for ages 4 and up, the set included a large plastic reptilian head and “over 12 action features including”:
- “flying” Evil Creature Throne
- Moving Wall of Spikes
- Secret Trap Door
- Catapult Platform
- Hidden Treasure Slide
- Falling Hatchet
- Hidden Pull-Out Ladder
- Weapons Rack
Like playsets geared toward the same age range, the action figures (sold separately, of course) could go through multiple levels, climbing ladders and sliding down from room to room.
The playset was heavily promoted for the younger side of the recommended age range, understandably because of the cartoon tie-in – but we see no reason why D&D players can’t utilize this playset to add some color and ‘pop’ to a map! Imagine using the catapult platform to simulate an attack, or letting your players discover hidden ladders (or even interesting items of your own creation – use our Dungeon Discoveries decks to help out!)
Ads promoted the set as having “a face only a child could love” – but come on, wouldn’t you adult TTRPG players love to get your hands on this too? Because of its versatility and ability to introduce all ages to the world of Dungeons and Dragons, we hereby deem “Fortress of Fangs” a Legendary Item.
For collectors or those wanting to get their hands on a unique centerpiece for their next tabletop map, this Legendary Item can be found on ebay, ranging from $50-$150 USD. If you happen to have one but it is missing a few pieces, or perhaps even needs new decals, replacements have even been found at the auction site.
Chase is a writer and D&D fanatic that turned his first character into the subject of a new book series: Abel Mondragon. Other geeky obsessions include obscure TV history, cooking, painting (walls) and finding an appropriate Simpsons quote for any situation.