Saturday, April 9, 2011

Minifigs: Johnny Thunder

I don't know about your LEGO collection, but mine is one is which Johnny Thunder looms large. The "Indiana Jones" of LEGO's Adventurer themes, Johnny came into my LEGO collection thirteen years ago, and has had a commanding presence there since. Part of this is due to the fact that he's the perfect adventuring hero to take on adventures into any theme. Many was the game where Johnny Thunder--sometimes with the other Adventurers, sometimes alone--found himself in the Castle realms, or the Pirate seas, or maybe in Ninja lands, or even beamed away to outer space.

Of course, Johnny also looms large as physical presence in many collections, because he was one of the earlier examples of LEGO releasing "character figs" in mass quantities throughout a line. The original version of Johnny, shown immediately below, was present in great numbers throughout the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Adventurer releases, as well as a couple 2001 LEGO Studios sets. A slightly modified Johnny-head would come in 2003 with the Orient Expedition sets, and that later Johnny would also have different choices of shirts, unlike the original Johnny.

All things considered, I got lucky; my collection only has five sets with Johnny Thunder, and two of those were acquired as the "Great Take Apart" was beginning. However, I also have the KK2 Chess Set, which gives all eight pawns on the Shadow Knight side of the board classic Johnny heads... so they're rather pervasive in my collection.

As a result, Johnny Thunder has become one of those "problem figs" that have to be accommodated to every major LEGO collection. One of the earliest problem figs was Majisto--how many bearded old wizards wearing blue does your Castle realm need?--and wizards have continued to be problem figs in most Castle collections, I daresay. Harry Potter was THE example of a problem fig in the years 2001-2004ish, if you were a Castle fan. After all, you wanted those useful building parts, and there were a lot of nifty pieces... but what were you going to do with a platoon of Harry Potters?

This post isn't going to look at where all 8 of those Chess Set heads ended up (perhaps another post will), but it *will* examine where the True-Johnny Five have ended up.

Having already mentioned that Johnny Thunder, as a character, looms large in my collection, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I have an actual Johnny Thunder, built to be a Johnny Thunder, present in my collection. I consider the original Johnny head to be more "Johnny" than the Orient Expedition re-cast, and after five years as "Johnny," I wasn't about to make the fig I acquired in 1998 as a part of Sphinx Secret Surprise be disrobed of his title. However, I was quite happy in 2003 to give him a more colourful shirt--or perhaps it's a vest, since the arms are a different colour?--and a couple years later I decided to give him some dark blue "jeans." The result is a slightly more colourful, but still completely recognisable Johnny.

(As a sidenote, it may be interesting for me to point out that although both Sphinx Secret Surprise and Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins are among my top 5 all time sets in my collection, I have not rebuilt either of them in the course my "great rebuild" over the past few years. I think the adventuring nature of the Adventurers--able to adventure into any theme--has a lot to do with this anomaly.)

Since none of my Adventurer sets are built, the four remaining Johnnies do not have to be Johnnies at all. Here is a picture of the "True-Johnny Five" reunited:

One will recognize the regarbed Johnny Thunder himself at the centre of the photo, and may wonder why there's another apparently unmodified Johnny standing to his left. It should be noted that this Johnny (who hails from Passage of the Jun-Chi) carries a musket, not a rifle, and has an Orient Expedition head. Actually, he *is* Johnny Thunder, meaning that I do have two legitimately Johnny Thundered Johnnies in my collection. He belongs to an "alternate reality/history" where instead of being a 20th century explorer/archaeologist, Johnny was an explorer/hunter who fought with a band of stalwart rebels in an Alamo-like situation in the late 18th/early 19th century.

Directly connected to this alternate-reality Johnny is Johnny #3, at the viewer's left, wearing the brown tricorne, and also holding a black musket. His stickered torso is his own, and he is part of "tan" regiment that is besieging the "Alamo". He is an actor by trade, coming from LEGO Studios set Temple of Gloom, so perhaps it is appropriate that he (and his torso) "play another part."

Johnny #4, who is between Actor-Johnny(#3) and the "real" Johnny, is a member of my Wild West "blackcoat" regiment, which (as you can see) wears Lord Sinister torsos from the Orient Expedition sets. Johnny #4 comes from Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins.

And that only leaves Johnny #5, who is a Royal Knight with shiny new "Castle 2007" era silver armour, and a handsome Little Armory axe. He is the original owner of the green shirt that the "real" Johnny wears, and comes from Jungle River.

So... that's my collection of Johnny Thunders, and it is far more manageable than some. What about you? What do you do with these problem figs?


  1. I have a good number of Johnny figs myself...Never found them troublesome, though.

    One of my favorite themes...Would like to pick up more of them in the future.
    God bless,
    Joel ><>.

  2. The new Pharaoh's Quest sets are a welcome return to the Adventurer genre, but while I'm glad to get new torsos, heads, etc, I have to admit that none of the new "adventurers" are likely to compete with Johnny T. and his band of merry men in my collection.