While I was down in Florida last month, I visited a local flea market that I’d last been to a decade earlier. It’s not a very big flea market, but in those sort of places you can always find at least one stall with a bunch of toys. To my not-so-surprise, I think half the toys I saw in 1998 were still there.
Most of the items were just loose wrestling figures and Power Rangers, which seem to make up 75% of all flea market toy vendor’s inventory. But nestled among the Earthworm Jim Princess Whats-Her-Names and Double Dragon figures I made a pretty good find: Robin Hood and Sheriff Nottingham, both MOC, from Kenner’s 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves line.
Discovering the lead hero and primary villain from this line, who–along with Azeem–were the only figures I owned as a kid, and a price of $5 each made them a must-buy, if only for the purposes of this Show and Tell.
Believe it or not, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a big hit when it was released–in fact, it was second in box office receipts only to Terminator 2: Judgment Day that year. This was back when Kevin Costner was making movies like Field of Dreams and Dances With Wolves and was years before he destroyed his own reputation forever with Waterworld, resurfacing occasionally to make a feel-good sports flick.
Prince of Thieves was one, to my knowledge, the first time mainstream audiences were exposed to a “realistic” take on the Robin Hood legend. It also offered one of the rare Hollywood depictions of an unquestionably heroic, wise Arab character. Despite its immense popularity at the time of release, it seems largely forgotten now. But at least it gave us Men in Tights.
As many toy fans know, Kenner’s Robin Hood line was very obviously a rush job as it was made almost entirely from pre-existing Kenner molds going all the way back to their Star Wars days on through Super Powers and even Robocop and the Ultra Police (RUP). The “Sherwood Forest Play Set” was in fact a thinly-veiled Ewok Village.
Robin Hood himself is famously made from a SP Green Arrow (minus the knee articulation). However, he does have a surprisingly good head sculpt–that’s very obviously Kevin Costner. And the soft good clothes, particularly for this scale, aren’t bad either. The only particularly cheap part of the figure, aside from the mold reuse, are the lame white arrows. It’s cool that they can be stored in a fabric quiver on his back, though. And believe it or not, the plastic bow actually works; I remember actually finding that kind of fun as a kid.
Unfortunately, another aspect of these toys being made on the cheap is the low-grade plastic used. My Robin Hood’s legs have that tacky feeling that comes from decaying plastic. The Sheriff was fine, however.
Unfortunately, it seems Kenner sunk most of its effort into Robin Hood himself. The Sheriff of Nottingham is ridiculous. His head is actually just a repainted Chainsaw from RUP and looks nothing like Alan Rickman. His body, on the other hand, comes from none other than SP Lex Luthor himself (sans upper armor). I’m not sure who’s arms he has, but I’m sure they’re not new. He also comes with a serviceable sword and a laughably cheap silver cape worthy of Liberace himself.
While this figure line is rightly notorious for being made on the cheap, I remember rather liking the toys as a kid. For being made almost entirely from reused molds, it came out looking pretty good, mostly thanks to the solid execution on the soft goods.