I've said it before and I'll say it again: 1980s fantasy-themed toys are awesome. And thankfully, there was no shortage of them produced. I'm forever grateful for the popularity of things like Masters of the Universe and the Conan the Barbarian movie, because they led to the creation of some amazing (and sometimes amazingly bad) cheap toys.
One such creation was a series of mythical beasts by the Imperial toy company in the early '80s. I know some of them were released under the name "Dragons and Daggers" (which you can see an example of at ToyArchive.com) Others might have been nameless. They consisted of creatures such as a winged horse, a unicorn and a two-headed dragon. Back in the day I imagine there were plenty of little kids to were a bit let down on Christmas and birthdays, expecting official Masters of the Universe merchandise, but getting Imperial figures and other knockoffs instead. Today, I'd personally love to unwrap a present and see these obscure weirdos staring up at me!
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I'm not sure where or when exactly these monsters originated as I got the set of six off eBay. My guess is that they could be found during the early-mid 1980s being sold at places like pharmacies and dime stores, and maybe even as carnival/arcade prizes. All they are marked with is "Hong Kong." They are made of soft rubber, and while my full set is green with white paint accents, I also saw them available in other colors such as yellow, black and red-orange.
Let's take a look at each of the six beasts:
Here we have a two-headed dragon. For being a cheap toy, the sculpt actually has some nice detail to it, from the scales to the little teeth in both mouths.
This winged horse guy is the one that is most obviously copied from an Imperial figure (unless it was the other way around, which I doubt). I like how it puts a bit of an evil spin on a pegasus.
Here's a dino-like winged dragon. The wings are a bit wonky on mine (probably from years in storage), but I enjoy his tiny T-Rex arms.
This winged lion is probably my favorite from the set. He's just badass!
Here's another dragon, although this one has one head instead of two. I'm not sure what kid would have picked the one-headed dragon out of the box over the two-headed dragon, but whatever. This guy's still pretty cool.
And finally we have, uh...a pterodactyl? I'm not sure what this is doing in a set of fantasy monsters. Maybe it was re-purposed from a previous set of dinosaurs or something?
Also worth mentioning: I've got the two other figures pictured above, which seem to be based on these Imperial knockoffs, but are slightly different sculpts. They're made out of a firmer soft plastic and are somewhat cheaper-looking. Knockoffs of knockoffs of knockoffs, I guess?
What about you? Do you have any additional info about any of these figures, remember seeing them anywhere, or own any yourself? Be sure to let us know in the comments!