Show and Tell > Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves

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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.

20 thoughts on “Show and Tell > Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves”

  1. I loved both the toyline and the movie as a kid – still do – and it's a shame it hardly gets mentioned these days. When it came out it was a huge deal. The theme tune alone was setting records in the charts.

    I wish one of the companies would do a MOTUC style remake of this line. The toys kicked ass. Never realised they were reused molds though…

    Thanks for jogging some memories!

  2. I remember the movie was popular because of Kevin costner's butt scene,lol.And the annoying pop song they used for it.The reuse of molds are laughable.

  3. I was all about Robin Hood for quite a while, but I never had any of the figures though, which was okay, cuz a friend of mine had a bunch. The film seems like a joke now, but it was HUGE back then.

  4. Nottingham's arms are also Green Arrow arms.

    I wasn't too keen on both the movie & the track, which seemed like it was chart topping for like a bloody year, but I did like the look of the toys. Never bought any though.

  5. "The Canadian government has apologized for Bryan Adams on numerous occasions." That song was played every hour on the hour!

    Good points about the movie, Kevin Costner, and the figures. Looking at the packaging: A. That Sheriff is terrible B. Who the hell is the Dark Warrior? and C. How was there no Maid Marion?

  6. Canadia has a lot to be sorry for! 😉 Except Canadian Bacon… mmm, sooo good!

    The Dark Warrior may be one of the mercenaries that the Sheriff hired to deal with Robin and his band of merry men. Why would anyone want a Maid Marion figure, she's a gurrl. Even if they did make one, she'd probablly be a re-used Wonder Woman or something.

  7. I had several of the toys. Despite learning that they were repaints, they were quite good. Friar Tuck was a Gamorean Guard, but it actually WORKED.

    This movie also gave us that awesome Bryan Adams song, heh.

    I liked the movie, the song, the video and the toys. I'd loved to scored some MOC ones.

  8. Geesh guys, these things had been on clearance shelves and discount bins forever and you couldn't give them away. Having an American Robin Hood, especially Kevin Costner, was ridiculous then and it still is.

    I'm much more looking forward to Russell Crowe's version. He's an Aussie (and they're all criminals) but he's at least in Her Majesty's kingdom – (a joke you don't have to censor me).

    I suppose my age is part of my bias, as I'm partial to the old Mego Robin Hood figures.

  9. I saw some of those Robin Hood figures at a comic shop a few weeks back. To say the least, I was shocked to find them.

  10. @Novelty: No…I bought those from a company that made stands for Star Wars figs. I think that particular company is out of business now, but you can find similar stands out there.

  11. I had every toy in that line. I actually just ebayed away several carded and loose ones a few months ago.

    It was a strangely neat line to me, I think largely because I realized it was reused Super Powers and Star Wars guys. And, hey, the working bows and thump-powered crossbows were pretty nifty, as well.

    PrfktTear was probably joking, but I remember reading an interview with a designer for the line who mentioned that at least one of the reasons they didn't make Maid Marian was because Wonder Woman was the only mold they had that'd work.

  12. I loved this toy line when I was a kid. I *think* I had most of the figures and at least two different versions of Robin Hood.

    I was always annoyed that they didn't make a Maid Marian. My mum actually purchased Azeem (sp?) for me thinking it was Maid Marian (the cloth head-dress had obscured the face of the figure).

    And I also loved the working bows and arrows. I never did get the playset, but created my own version based on the picture on the card-back from cardboard, egg cartons and all those items which hold equally creative possibilities when you're a kid.

  13. @Agent 86: I DESPERATELY wanted the Nottingham Forest set but my dad wouldn't get it for me. Every time I wanted a playset of something he'd tell me it was cheap plastic and you could make it yourself. So I told him to make one then.

    We got a LOAD of twigs from the actual Sherwood Forest (we first saw the film on holiday near there) and a bunch of wooden coasters for platforms, as well as other stuff from a hardware store, then tied it all together with wire.

    Bloody thing fell apart within seconds. He never told me he could make playsets again after that… >:D

  14. I constructed my own Technodrome… it consisted of a flat cardboard box which I painted purple and gave eyes… still got the thing, stored my figures in it when they went up in the attic.

  15. NERDS…wow your really gonna waste your time on little toys that little boy's play with. That's weird…your weird…you know what…what am i even doing talking to you FREAKS. Well I got to go. See you weirdo's around… Hopefully not!!!

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