Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Fortress of Fangs.

I've been holding off on posting this for a while now because...well, because this is the perfect post. I look at the following photos, I reminisce about my childhood and I've realized that this is me. What you see before you in the next lump of convoluted paragraphs and immature gushing is everything I am as an individual, wrapped up in a single chunk of playtime plastic. What is it? Well, unless you've already scrolled down and peeked, you'll see. Oh, you'll sssseeee.

That was a snake joke. Ha.

Growing up, the toys that have always meant the most to me are the ones that have, in a bizarre way, scared me. There's something deeply troubling with that, but I'm not here to scale into dark voids of my mind, I'm here to scale The Fortress of Fangs.

I can't admit that what you're about to see is scary, or even at all intimidating. If you stand it up against the Ghostbusters Firehouse, you'd be full of shit. Because what you're about to see rules. Next to something like, say, Castle Greyskull, you'd be getting warmer. It's the only other play-set that can come close, and even that can be argued. Although Greyskull IS a giant, bad-ass skull, beneath the swamp green exterior and torture chambers within, it's still just a dumb ol' castle. WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO SEE takes Fun Time to a whole new level. What you're about to see can, and will, eat the Ewok Village.


So, what do you think?

Aside from knowing it was "Dungeons and Dragons" related, it took me forever to figure out what it was truly tied to. Mostly, I remember the miniature figurines you'd collect and paint, and those were sealed up, locked away in Jimmy's closet and off-fucking-limits.

Thanks to the Internet, I find out that, yes, this is definitely tied to "Dungeons and Dragons," and that's really fucking awesome. Because this was definitely not dozens of tiny, die-cast models that I wasn't allowed to touch.

I never got into the role playing aspect of it, the painstaking procedure of decorating your battalion of really expensive metal models, but anything that deals with such an array lineup of horrible and and repulsive characters is welcome with open arms.

And that is where they did things right and perfect and wonderful.

They made toys. Action figures. Legitimate shit to fight against The Thundercats.

Jimmy had a ton of these demon figurines and creepy monsters from the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" line, and to say I wasn't enamored with them all is an understatement. These things used to scare me. I'd have actual nightmares over these PVC mutants. It's so weird. I get so misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Frog-men with spears, goblins with swords, evil witches with bright blue faces, etc. And these were the ones that were made of immovable, heavy plastic. More so, the company would release evil warriors and masked sadists with decent points of articulation, furthering playtime imagination with more progressive beheadings and forest plunging.

I really don't know too much of the history of these toys, and when I tried to search-google-hunt, I didn't care. I'd much rather live in my own, already formed memories and, hell, looking at all the pictures of what I don't own is making me dumb jealous. Which is, sadly, a lot. And surprisingly expensive.

Spot me a cool grand for an eBay run?

Obviously, this all used to be Jimmy's -- one of the dozens of play-sets, action figures and artifacts from an era gone by. Through timely manipulation and outright thievery, I've officially inherited them and they've become mine and all mine.

Before, I've wondered why any smart man would give up such treasure so easily, but I'm well on my way to doing the same damn thing. I've yet to pull out a compass and start mapping my way to the nearest Goodwill, but I know, in my heart, a day like that will come. I don't want it to, but who can say whether or not I will tire of owning shelves full of stuff that makes me look like I've never talked to a human being before?


So let's do a virtual tour of this bad boy. In my youth, I've spent hours and re-enacting intergalactic wars and demonic picnics with such play-sets, because it was the only safe haven for Han Solos and Lockjaws. The tub was great for underwater exploration, and the backyard made for some great scenic backdrops, but I always ended up at...say, the Fortress of Fangs.

The only other effort I put into anything during this time was faking sick to stay home from school. It always blew up in my face when I couldn't play Super Nintendo and was stuck re-reading informational books on spiders and snakes. When you had "the flu," it wasn't wise to get caught hootin' and hollerin' over a wild game of Starfox.

And with that, let us pretend we're actually scaling these dark, green walls and losing our minds in bloody caves and hellish mazes. For old times sake, ya know?

Let's begin our journey!

First off, yikes. It's looking at you. The ugly sonnavabitch stares at you. It mocks from across your bedroom, it glares and snarls while you try to sleep. The Fortress of Fangs is a mean sonnavabitch.

Here we go, ladies and gents, the beginning of your expedition! Did you wear appropriate shoes? Wait, you wore flip-flops? You dumb.

There's no real entrance to the FOF, so I picked this specific spot because both other starting points are empty rooms with a blue crayon decorating the floor. As we travel along, you'll be presented with missing pieces, dents made from my teeth and the aforementioned Crayola graffiti throughout, proving that I just did not give a shit about my older siblings' stuff.

Let's get going, shall we?

First up: your average, every day, run of the mill passageway! Pay no attention to the fact that you're gonna be tightly squeezing by a red board loaded with spikes the size of street cones. If you're lucky, they're the size of ice cream cones (it's hard to accurately judge this). Unfortunately, in this situation, it does not matter at fucking all.

...because you're gonna die.

But hey, let's say you do get past this. Let's say you either jumped back in the nick of time, or did some super awesome tuck and roll past this death-device. Who's to say the trap was even tripped and went off? Feeling pretty good about that, right?

Sorry, you just just threw yourself down into a lake of fire.

Without any regard for your success, FOF has immediately killed you. Because you weren't already killed.

Assuming you escaped the painful descent into Hell, that is. Let's just assume you ran past the spikes and, miraculously, decided to take a leap of faith over the abyss. You're good to go!

Now, left or right?

If you go right, you're given the opportunity to once again slide down into the lake of fire you've so recently narrowly diverted. I guess it's for the people who had second thoughts on the matter. Off the top of my head, I can't name a single benefit of tumbling down into a liquid inferno, but I'm sure there's gotta be something radical to it.

So, you decide to go left -- you've made the right choice. Just, ya know, watch out for the dangerous, teetering axe looming over your head. Which, if you've yet to understand the point of this evil snake-dungeon, it is to no doubt fall down upon your skull and kill you. That's all this place is here for. This is all that you're here for -- to die.

You are going to die.


You have to go down. Like, you really, really have to. Unless you want to take a chance and double back through the barrage of spikes and pits and immediate death, your best option is to stay the course and see what lies beneath the madness. I know, I know, I told you that you're going to die, no way around it. Your stamina is weak, your morale is what's the point? You've eaten all the granola bars stuffed away in your backpack and you've stubbed your toe and it really hurts.

Fine, FINE.

You will be rewarded for your suffering and unbelievably good luck. After all, it IS a "fortress," and what good is a fortress if it isn't guarding something? I wanted to keep it a surprise, but if you're going to be a baby about it...alright, yeah. You're headed towards some cool shit.
Yes! A pile of gold coins and other treasures that are yellow!

You've done it, you've made it all the way down into the bowels of sin and evil! And now you're gonna be rich! Load up your Jansport with jewels, stuff your pockets with baubles and gems, do what you gotta do to make this nightmare a success!

Just, um, realize're stuck here. I KNOW I KNOW WHAT I SAID BEFORE. And it's true! You're compensated for everything you've been put through, but...

Again, sorry about this. If it makes you feel any better, the skeleton does look like it's smiling.

Hope you had fun!


  1. Wow, I totally missed out on this one growing up! The only "fortress" I had was this Hoth base ( True, it also had collapsing parts which would make you fall... into snow. lol I would've had a blast with the Fortress of Fangs!

  2. The FoF is awesome and all, but, to me, the most impressive part of this post is how IMMACULATE your stove is. Has it *ever* been used? Especially those dishes under the eyes. To put this accomplishment in perspective, I'm pretty sure my first wet dreams were about Castle Greyskull, the USS Flagg and Skeletor's fortress.

  3. Ahhhh, the Fortress of Fangs! I had this as a kid...briefly. See, I conned my grandma into buying it for me. It was a big lizard-looking thing...she was used to me and my weird, lizard-looking toys. I had to con grandma, because she was blissfully unaware that mom and dad thought D&D was a game concocted by Satan himself to pervert my snow white soul. Oh, I had all sorts of D&D stuff, but I bought all of it with my allowance, and ditched the packaging before I got home so the folks wouldn't see the demonic toys I was bringing home! I played the game...with friends down the street. I watched the cartoon...while mom and dad were asleep on Saturday mornings. Still, those activities were easy to cover up...not so much a giant green fortress!

    Well, Grandma falls for the con, and I make sure to put the box in the garage garbage can. I play with the FoF for several days, revelling in its various traps and pitfalls! Han Solo and Chewbacca had a devil of a time escaping from its clutches! Things went well...until garbage day. Mom goes to take the garbage to the street, and the can falls over...spilling out the insidious box that marks this as Satan's answer to the Barbie Malibu Penthouse! I'm busted!!!

    Mom lets me keep it for a short while...I told her I only use it for my Star Wars stuff, as a lair for Darth Vader and the Emperor. She buys it for a bit, mainly because it happens to have a whole crapload of stormtroopers guarding it at that moment. Still, within a week or so, mom gets rid of it while I'm at school. She decides that it is likely a magnet for all sorts of evil spirits...I might as well have brought in a Ouija board decorated with pentagrams and a copy of the Satanic Bible.

    Oh, FoF, we had a brief relationship...but it was magical! I've thought of you fondly over the years...your lovely lava traps, your perky spikes of I miss thee!!!