• Will

From The Collection - Vivid Imaginations Robin Hood Dress-Up Set (2006)

There was a surprising amount of merchandise produced for Tiger Aspect's 2006 adaptation of Robin Hood for the BBC - action figures, taking dolls, puzzles, everything from roleplay sets to tie-in magazines, and later in the show's run, original audio plays. One of my most sought-after items from the series was a dress-up set, as it contained the holy grail for a Robin Hood fan - along with a tunic and sword, the set came with a replica dog tag, as worn on the members of Robin's gang! I finally managed to find one of these sets online last year, and so I bought it solely to acquire the tag - everything else is an additional collector's item as far as I'm concerned!

The set is intended for children from the age of five, and the tunic reflects this; it's tiny! The pullover outfit is a facsimile of the outfit Robin wears in the first season, with his green suede hoodie and leather utility waistcoat with hood attachment. Entirely polyester, the hoodie is surprisingly detailed for a kids' plaything, with interlacing on the front of the shirt as well as contrasting colour detailing on the front closure and cuffs, representing the roped fabric on the actual costume. The leather coat is presented in a mock-suede brown fabric (mock-leather in the promo shot on the box), with slight metallic detailing to represent buckles. Pockets and hems are represented very accurately with contrasting stitching to good effect. (A strange but fun detail is the inclusion of the show's logo on the left chest.) On the prop, Robin has a few trinkets hanging off the coat; it's a shame they weren't added onto this set, considering the tag was included, but as they're such a minor detail, that's understandable.

The sword is a fun little model of Robin's curved Saracen sword, brought back with him from the Holy Land. It seems to be a stripped version of the 'Electronic Saracen Sword' as advertised on the back of the box. There is a battery compartment fused to the hilt and a speaker grille on the front side (as seen to the left), subtly worked into the design in a floral pattern, where a coloured motif of the same is present on the prop. (Though this is a non-working electronic sword, despite the clear repurposing, I have never seen any evidence that an actual electronic version was released.) The hilt is a surprisingly faithful mock-up of the original prop, with teal accents and washed-out paint applications to give a slightly weathered look. Similar to the tunic, the back of the hilt features a sticker of the show's logo. It's a shame that, as part of a dress-up kit, the electronic version wasn't included as part of this set - though I suspect none were ever made commercially available.

The dog tag is simple; a recreation of the wood tags worn by each member of Robin Hood's band. The tag is roughly the same size as the original props, perhaps a little smaller, but it's nice to see a proper facsimile when it would have been easy to make these tiny and cheap. The tag comes on a black string with a velcro tab closure at the back; I removed this and replaced it with a leather cord for everyday wear (this is the sole reason I bought the set, after all!). The tag is painted very simply but effectively, giving a nice depth to the finish; the symbol (appearing on both sides of the tag) is the Locksley seal, visible in the first episode of the series engraved on the mantlepiece in Locksley Manor. In the series, the tags were made by Will Scarlett, a skilled carpenter.

A lovely touch about the packaging is that it includes both a young boy and girl in Robin's outfit, a nice bit of gender neutrality!

All in all it's a fun little set that does what it says on the tin, with great attention to detail, as the action figures also feature. I hope to collect a lot more of this range, though they're becoming harder and harder to find!

What would you like to have discussed? A big movie, an obscure show, a weird knick-knack from a forgotten decade? Let me know in the comments or send a message!

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