IN THE WORKS

Jada Toys Diecast Nano Metalfigs

by Oz Mills

Many and varied are the physical objects that have represented Dungeons & Dragons characters and creatures since the game first launched in 1974. Bottle caps, tokens, jellybeans, LEGO models and an array of random items have been helpful in populating our fantasy worlds over the years (not to mention the dime store toys, whose role led to their canonization in the game). If you’re looking to ditch stand-ins and offer your players high-quality miniatures that feel weighty, diecast modelmaker Jada Toys has your back.

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“Ever since we launched our Nano Metalfigs line years ago, we’ve had people reach out to us and say, ‘You’ve gotta make D&D!’” says Brian Sun, Senior Marketing Manager at Jada Toys. “We’ve always known that community and how the roleplaying game is interesting to people of all ages. And we’re all collectors at heart so really this was inevitable.”

As this was Jada Toys’ first foray into the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the initial step was to brainstorm which figures would be developed. Sun (alongside Director of Product Development, Juhn Lim, and Senior Licensing Manager, Jason Richman) took advice from the experts on the D&D Team as suggestions went back and forth on which creatures and characters to immortalize.

“A lot of us had to learn about the individual characters, and the D&D Team helped us there,” says Sun, as Richman remembers the odd amusing misstep in those early discussions: “I recall we kept mentioning a character called Acererak, and I was pronouncing it wrong the whole time!”

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Acererak (“Split the name into two pieces, ‘Acere’ and ‘rak.’ That’s how we landed on the pronunciation ah-SAIR-ak,” explains Chris Perkins), the powerful archlich appearing on the front of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, hasn’t made it into the range yet. But the Jada Toys team worked with artists who grew up on D&D to assemble a collection that includes a red dragon, a beholder, a mind flayer, drow ranger Drizzt, and Baldur’s Gate’s Minsc and Boo, alongside other various race and class combinations.

“Once an idea was approved, we’d begin drawing designs. We needed to be able to translate that character art into a real product. We often had to find a happy medium between what looks cool and what was realistic. For example, you can’t have a character’s weapon be too large or that giant sword might break off,” Juhn explains.

“We quickly understood that it was not going to be possible to create an adult dragon because it would be much too big. Instead, we put our efforts into designing a young dragon which would be much more appropriately sized.”

Jada Toys’ range of D&D diecast miniatures are being released in “Starter” ($4.99), “Medium” ($9.99), and “Deluxe” ($14.99) packs. Starter packs include four human-sized figures, Medium packs bring together four figures plus a medium-sized monster, while the Deluxe pack adds the young red dragon and four figures. In the first wave, the Medium pack includes a beholder, while a planned second wave will feature an ogre.

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“You might think we could now produce a range of similar dragons in different colors but the design of creatures in Dungeons & Dragons is very specific. This isn’t a generic, one-size-fits-all dragon you could find on any shelf. The design of the head and the horns are iconic and we think fans will appreciate that accuracy,” Juhn says, adding that plastic elements also helped the designers bring these creatures to life.

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“The beholder has a clear plastic stand that allows it to float above the other figures. And while the dragon has plastic wings, you’re going to realize it’s still a hefty piece of diecast.”

Whether these figures are used for play or kept on display as collectables, their quality gives them a distinct sheen.

“We make sure that the whole package has a cool look to it, and we often use metallic finishes to give the figures a premium feel.” says Juhn. “They’re still durable enough that you could toss them around, but they have that presence where if you shine a light on them on a shelf it’s going to be very eye-catching.”

Jada Toys’ Dungeons & Dragons Nano Metalfigs diecast miniatures are exclusively available at Walmart, and on sale at additional retailers beginning January 2021.