Its not uncommon to find examples of genetic engineering within the realm of parumplasticus populus [Latin: little plastic people]. In fact, the re-purposing of action figure DNA happens frequently within a species. What’s not as common is to see unrelated species share the same genetics. Rarer still is to find that elusive action figure line that is bred almost entirely from foreign DNA. Some within the scientific community call this kitbashing. And Kenner’s 1991 line of figures from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves took this practice to new heights.
This is not to say that the line should be condemned or dismissed based solely on its genetic composition. In my humble opinion, the line is pretty attractive. The Frankensteining of the basic building blocks is offset by the uniform application of soft goods. Save the Sheriff of Nottingham, the head sculpts are decent, especially when you ignore the first attempt Costner noggin. Actually, I don’t know which Costner head sculpt came first but one looks like him and one doesn’t. Both versions of Robin Hood (Long Bow and Crossbow) came in both head sculpts. Below are two portraits of the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves line. The first has the Costner head Long Bow Robin Hood. The second has the Costner head Crossbow Robin Hood. Perhaps your analysis is similar to mine: genetic engineering or not, this is a cool group of figs. And dirt cheap so go get a set!
My trusted colleague, Professor xrmc20, and I went about deconstructing the genetic composition of each Robin Hood figure in an attempt to decipher its original building blocks. Here follows our findings. A couple notes before we begin:
1) In many cases a piece of a Robin Hood figure comes from some other figure but often it has been modified. For instance, the Super Powers Green Arrow’s arms are used frequently but things like forearm braces have been added.
2) The majority of DNA cloning for the Robin Hood line comes from the Kenner Super Powers line. The Super Powers figures had knee articulation but the Robin Hood figures do not. So again, a Super Powers figure’s legs will be used as the base for a Robin Hood figure but they have been modified, at the very least by removing the knee articulation and often by resculpting boot detail.
3) Although Professor xrmc20 and I are certifiable geniuses it may be the case that we’ve erred in some of our hypotheses. We also may have omitted some sources of DNA. You guys are pretty smart, too, so we welcome your insights. Kind’uv.
Now, let’s pull off those soft goods and get down to the nitty gritty, ahem.
fig 1. Long Bow Robin Hood
This figure is almost entirely a Super Powers Green Arrow. Robin is even sporting the “G” belt buckle because, as Professor xrmc20 points out, he used to be known as Robin Good. Notice that detail has been added to the boots. Robin Hood’s bow is also essentially the same bow that came with Green Arrow. The Robin Hood figure in the exhibit below has what I’ve been referring to as the “Costner Head”.
fig 2. Crossbow Robin Hood
This second version of Robin Hood also uses the Green Arrow body. Green Arrow’s sculpted arm guard detail is still visible on the backs of Robin’s forearms. The Robin Hood figure in the exhibit below has the “Not So Much” head sculpt.
fig 3. Little John
Little John’s torso and arms obviously trace back to Super Powers Hawkman. It was a bit of a challenge, however, to do the genetic deconstruction on his legs. Finally we noticed a clue to help us narrow it down. Although most had been removed there was still a hint of an angled boot detail on Little John’s shin. After microscopically examining things like sculpted leg musculature we came to the conclusion that Little John uses the Super Powers Batman legs.
fig 4. The Dark Warrior
This is the second Robin Hood figure that makes use of the Super Powers Hawkman torso and arms. That much is clear. Determining the source of the Dark Warrior’s legs posed the biggest challenge and, in the end, left us undecided. A few times we thought we had figured it out only to identify some disqualifying factor. As humiliating as it is to us we petition your insights.
fig 5. Azeem
Azeem has the same problematic legs as The Dark Warrior. His torso is identical to Super Powers Shazam! His arms descend from Super Powers Green Arrow but have been modified. Most noticeably, studded forearm braces have been added.
fig 6. Sheriff of Nottingham
An important DNA source was almost overlooked with this figure. It was not until I read Doctor Poe Ghostal’s dissertation that I knew the head sculpt was lifted from Kenner’s RoboCop Chainsaw figure. Beyond that, the Sheriff repurposes Super Powers Lex Luthor’s torso and legs with the typical resculpting of the boots. His arms are the same modification of the Super Powers Green Arrow arms that can be found on Azeem.
fig 7. Will Scarlett
The torso and arms of Super Powers Robin express themselves anew with the Will Scarlett figure. Down below, Will sports Super Powers Desaad legs. An inheritor of odd DNA you are, Will Scarlet!
fig 8. Friar Tuck
Speaking of odd DNA, Friar Tuck’s genetic engineering is a bit of a departure. Clearly, his body descends directly from Kenner’s Star Wars Gamorrean Guard. But there has been quite a bit of resculpting. The chest plate is gone. The belt has additional features like a knife. The fur has been refined. But dang if those thighs aren’t just as chunky.
fig 9. Playsets and Vehicles
The Star Wars sampling does not end with Friar Tuck. The large Robin Hood Sherwood Forest playset is a smart reuse of the Return of the Jedi Ewok Village playset. The Robin Hood Battle Wagon is the product of splicing the Return of the Jedi Ewok Assault Catapult with the Power of the Force Ewok Battle Wagon.
That leaves the Robin Hood Net Launcher and Bola Bomber. Were these, perhaps, the only toys made new for the Robin Hood line? Whether or not that’s the case, I’m quite sure that these two weapons reared their DNA in the Kenner Bone Age line. Ha, Robin Hood pays it forward!