When Frank Herbert published Dune in 1965, he introduced the world into his expansive science-fiction epic filled with political intrigue and mysteries. Following the plight of Paul Atreides, the young boy who survived the empire’s betrayal of his family after taking stewardship over Arrakis. Like many heroes that came before and after him, Paul Atreides had unique powers that made him the messiah for the Fremen of Arrakis. However, the Bene Gesserit manufactured both his existence along with the Fremen’s myth of a messiah.
Years later, the adventures of Paul Atreides gained even more attention as David Lynch directed the film adaption. While the film kept in many of the core elements of the novel’s plot, Lynch condensed the epic tale into a 137-minute-long movie. Thus, he breezed past many plot points to fit it all within the film. Moreover, some fans of the book felt that some elements that Lynch changed were awkward. For instance, the personal defense shields that barely shimmered over the body in the novel became clunky blocks that followed around the actors on screen.
Still, Lynch’s film introduced thousands of new fans to the Dune franchise. Along with the film, LJN produced a series of Dune action figures in 1984. As these action figures tied in directly with the film, they featured the same cast of characters. So, fans of both the books and the film treasure this line.
Presenting the top ten LJN Dune toys that brought David Lynch’s movie to life
10. LJN Sardaukar Warrior (1984)
Within the Imperium, few warriors could match the skill and power of the Sardaukar warriors. To create some of the most powerful warriors, the Sardaukar raised their young members in a savage natural environment. Thus, nearly half of these young warriors, around six out of every thirteen, never survived past the 11-years-old. Those who survived gained the skill to continue through intensive swordsmanship training, forging the feared warriors. Moreover, they ingrained devout zealotry into their warriors that kept them loyal to the Imperial house.
The only warriors who stood a chance of defeating the Sardaukar warriors were the fanatical warriors of Arrakis’s Fremen. So, it was no surprise that Paul Atreides and his Fremen followers traded blows with these warriors. Despite their opposing views, he and the Fremen respected the skill and power of the Sardaukar. Once Atreides became the emperor, the Sardaukar, who lost their prominent position, avoided any further conflict with the Fremen.
As the obvious troop-building force, LJN featured a Sardaukar warrior within their 1984 Dune toy line. Like many action figures in this line, the warriors featured a battle-matic action that made their arms move. To activate this action, players pressed down on a lever on the back of the figure. Otherwise, this figure featured basic articulation. In addition, this action figure came with a pistol, a dagger, and a Harkonnen rifle as accessories.
9. LJN Fremen Tarpel Gun (1984)
Even though the personal defense weapons made most gunfights unviable, many forces in the Dune universe still used laser and ranged weapons. For instance, the Fremen forces carried around the Tarpel Gun to strike against their foes. However, this weapon only had limited viability in battle. The Holtzman generator for personal defense shields nullified any projectiles that traveled too quickly. Instead, warriors used slow-purposeful strikes with knives, swords, and other blades to break through these shields. Meanwhile, lasgun blasts triggered a sub-atomic nuclear explosion when they struck these shields. Thus, even the Fremen had to use caution when pulling out their Tarpel guns.
Still, LJN opted to feature the Fremen Tarpel Gun when they created the Dune toy line. This replica comfortably fits in the hands of children. It also produced electronic sounds as the flashing lights indicated the firing of the gun.
To provide an opposing force, LJN also created the Sardaukar Laser Gun. Like the Tarpel gun, the Sardaukar weapon also featured electronic sounds and flashing lights. With these two weapons combined, the war for Arrakis’s freedom could occur within living rooms and yards.
8. LJN Sand Scout (1984)
Thanks to Arrakis’s harsh conditions, special machines were necessary to collect spice and evade sandworms. Since spice only formed thanks to the sandworms of Arrakis, the houses that ruled over the planet required these specialized machines. Both the Harkonnen and the Atreides relied on sand scouts to locate deposits of spice amongst the endless sand.
So, when LJN designed their Dune toy line, they created a small series of motorized vehicles. For instance, they created the Sand Scout that sought out deposits of spice. This vehicle featured 4×4 power, like the rest of LJN’s Rough Riders, which let the scout climb tough terrain. So, this vehicle bridged the Dune toy line with the Rough Riders line. Likewise, LJN also introduced the Sand Roller and Sand Crawler to the line.
7. LJN Rabban (1984)
While many easily recognize the major houses of the Dune universe, like Harkonnen, many minor houses also exist in the universe. Unfortunately for the house of Rabban, the Harkonnen absorbed their members within their clan. Thus, the Rabban family became subservient to the main house. Notably, one of Harkonnen’s members, Abulurd Harkonnen, took on his wife’s family name when he married her. Meanwhile, his son, Glossu Rabban, eventually earned his place within the House of Harkonnen.
Thanks to Glossu’s ruthless sadism, the Fremen referred to him by a variety of names, including the Beast, Mudir Nahya, and King Cobra. Those under his rule saw him as an ineffective tyrant, as he hoped to maintain power through fear. Moreover, he cemented his legacy as a sadist when he murdered his father. In the end, Glossu Rabban could not hold back the Fremen revolution. Thus, they beheaded him in return for his brutal reign.
As Rabban played a significant role in the 1984 film, LJN decided to feature him within their basic Dune action figures. Like the Sardaukar Warrior, Rabban featured a battle-matic action that made his arms move with the push of a lever. Meanwhile, the action figure featured three accessories, including a dagger, a rifle, and a gas mask.
6. LJN Stilgar the Fremen (1984)
As control over Arrakis shifted hands from the Harkonnen to Atreides, Swordmaster Duncan Idaho scouted out the Fremen on the planet. As he studied them, he befriended Stilgar, who he felt embodied the essence of the Fremen culture. Thanks to Stilgar, Idaho became loyal to both the House of Atreides and the Fremen.
This friendship helped both Paul Atreides and his mother, Jessica, seek out refuge amongst the Fremen. As the Fremen began to recognize Paul as their prophesized Lisan al Gaib, their messianic savior, Stilgar became one of his generals. Valiantly fighting by Paul’s side, Stilgar helped the boy realize his dream to defeat the man who betrayed his family, the emperor. In return, Paul helped turn Arrakis from a barren desert into a lush, green planet, realizing Stilgar’s dreams. Later, Stilgar gathered Fremen forces to fight against Alia Atreides.
As one of the most prominent forces in the Fremen troops, LJN created a basic figure of Stilgar the Fremen. This figure also featured the Battle-Matic action that allowed his arms to move at the press of a button. Meanwhile, this action figure came packaged with three accessories: a tarpel gun, a grappling hook, and a maker hook.
5. LJN Feyd (1984)
As the younger brother of the Beast, Glossu Rabban, Feyd held a significant place in the House of Harkonnen’s hierarchy. Unlike his brutish brother, Feyd preferred to use his charisma and intelligence to gain power. However, he remained as sadistic and cruel as the rest of the members.
As he was growing up, his father, Abulurd, saw Feyd as the rightful heir to his family. Likewise, after Glossu murdered Abulurd, the baron saw potential in Feyd as well. So, he took in the boy to mold him into the heir for his family, with this favoring growing stronger as Glossu’s brutality became known.
Originally, the Bene Gesserit planned for Feyd to become the one who would merge the House of Harkonnen with the House of Atreides. To achieve this, they had selectively bred the proper genes for generations, hoping to eventually produce a Kwisatz Haderach from the union. Unfortunately, their plans fell into shambles when Jessica produced a male heir for the House of Atreides.
As Paul Atreides rose to defeat the House of Harkonnen and the emperor, Feyd stood in his way and challenged him to ritual single combat. Feyd almost won the battle through a hidden poison spur. Despite his advantage, Paul still won the duel and took Feyd’s life.
Honoring Sting’s place in the movie, LJN produced a basic figure that showcased his likeness as Feyd. Like most other action figures in this line, this toy featured the Battle-matic action that made his arms move at the press of a button. He also came with two accessories, a cat in a cage and a dagger.
4. LJN Baron Harkonnen (1984)
Out of all the members of the House of Harkonnen, none are more reviled than the obese Baron himself. Aside from his sadistic tendencies, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was well known for his immense weight. He had become so morbidly obese over the years that he required antigravity suspensors to move about. The 1984 film increased his grotesqueness by covering his face with boils.
When the emperor set the House of Atreides as the new stewards over Arrakis, which the Harkonnen once ruled over, the Baron wasted no plan in plotting the downfall of the Atreides. Besides hating them for their recent position over Arrakis, the House of Harkonnen despised Atreides for generations. So, he gathered his troops to bombard the Atreides settlement on Arrakis.
Unfortunately, his victory over the House of Atreides was short-lived, for Paul Atreides survived the devastation. Knowing that Harkonnen and the Emperor had betrayed his father, Paul set out on a quest for revenge. In the end, he died at the hands of Paul’s little sister, Alia Atreides, who poisoned him with a Gom Jabbar.
As Baron Harkonnen was one of the most significant villains from both the book and the film, LJN made certain to include him within the basic figures for their line. Despite his immense size, they managed to include the Battle-matic Action that moved his arms with a press of a lever on his back. However, he came with no accessories, instead only wearing the hover-suit from the film.
3. LJN Paul Atreides (1984)
When it comes to characters from the original book and 1984 film, there are none more crucial than Paul Atreides. As the product of a generations-long breeding program, Paul could tap into the near god-like powers of the Bene Gesserit, like their use of the Voice to influence others. However, he gained a power that the Bene Gesserit only dreamed of having, his dreams gave him glimpses of the possible futures. So, Paul could accurately predict the impending future.
Despite all his power, Paul could not prevent the downfall of the House of Atreides after they became the stewards of Arrakis. While his father perished in the attack, Paul escaped with his mother, Jessica, to take shelter with the local Fremen people. As he recouped with the Fremen, he began to bond with them. Likewise, the Fremen saw Paul’s abilities and came to believe that he was the foretold Lisan al Gaib, a prophecy that the Bene Gesserit implanted within the Fremen culture long ago.
With the backing of the Fremen, Paul led a jihad against the empire, taking down the House of Harkonnen and the Padishah emperor. As Paul became the next emperor, he returned the favor by helping to transform Arrakis into a lush, green planet.
Unsurprisingly, LJN included Paul Atreides within their line-up of basic action figures for the Dune toy line. Like the other action figures in the toy line, Paul featured a Battle-matic action that made his arms move at the press of a lever. He also came with three accessories, a knife, a weirding module, and a voice unit.
2. LJN Spice Scout (1984)
For any house that ruled over Arrakis, one of the most important machines in their fleet would be the one that collects the Spice from the planet’s sands. Without Spice, the very society that allowed the universe to function and transverse space would break down. As Spice allowed certain individuals to gain enough intellect to become biological computers, there were no thinking computers present within the known reaches of the empire. Likewise, other groups like the Bene Gesserit would lose their power without the use of Spice.
So, the Spice Scout proved to be the most important machine present in the galaxy. Since Spice only originated from Arrakis, this product could only be found with the use of these specialized machines. As other machines located the deposits of spice, the Spice scout would shift through the sands to extract the drug.
So, LJN made one of the largest figures in their Dune toy line the Spice Scout. This spherical bronze vehicle would roll across the sands of Arrakis. Meanwhile, the foremost cylinder would shift through the sand’s contents, extracting the spice. This toy featured swivel steering, which gave users total control over the vehicle’s movement. Finally, the toy featured a rotating command cockpit that hid weapons inside. This vehicle could house one of the basic action figures within its cockpit.
1. LJN Sandworm (1984)
Even those who had only barely heard of Dune know of the massive sandworms that terrorized the sands of Arrakis. Attracted by vibrations in the ground, especially those from the harvesting machines, these creatures seemed to guard the valuable Spice Melange. More importantly, their larvae secreted the substance that became this important drug once it reached the surface, where the heat and sands of Arrakis would transform it.
Since these creatures could easily grow to lengths over 450 meters long, they could devastate any machines or settlements on the planet. There are even myths that stated that some of these creatures grew to a thousand meters long. Between their massive size and tendency to live underground, few have managed to honestly study these creatures. So, much of their habitat and life cycle is only known through legends.
Aside from their massive size, the Sandworms also have a thick, rough hide that acts as armor. Despite the armoring of their scaly hide, there are gaps between the plates that the Fremen have learned to hook into. As the Sandworm would roll to prevent the gap from touching the planet’s sands, those hooked onto the worm could effectively ride these creatures, especially with the use of Maker hooks.
As one of the most eye-catching elements of the Dune universe, LJN included the Sandworm as part of their Dune toy line. As they prepped to release the line, they promoted both a stuffed and bendable sandworm figure. However, only the fourteen-inch bendable sandworm made it to store shelves. Moreover, this is one of only a few products that gives fans the chance to showcase the creatures that hide beneath Arrakis’s sands.
What are your favorite Dune toys from LJN?
Today, we have shared with you ten of the most exciting toys that LJN produced for their Dune toy line. Each of these action figures, vehicles, and other toys faithfully recreated the look and feel of David Lynch’s film. While the toy line originally failed in the toy aisle, along with its associated film, fans still love to look for these figures.
So, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what your favorite toys from Dune are in the comments below.
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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!