Gauntlet Giveaway! An investigation into the Gauntlet Legends limited edition pewter miniatures

Back in 2015 we looked fleetingly at the Gauntlet Legends pewter miniature giveaway. If you're not familiar and can't be bothered clicking this link to refresh your memory, allow me to offer a quick recap on the situation. Gauntlet Legends is a 3D polygonal sequel to the original 2D Gauntlet and Gauntlet II titles released by Atari in the mid 1980s. Gauntlet Legends was subsequently released into arcades in 1998 and then ported to a range of home systems in 1999 and 2000 - one of which was the Sega Dreamcast.

The game received a fairly positive reception on release for the Nintendo 64, PlayStation and finally Dreamcast, offering a solid - if somewhat repetitive - romp through various fantasy stages, with the player (accompanied by up to 3 friends on N64 and Dreamcast) being required to knock the ever-loving crap out of hordes of mindless enemies as they progressed through the adventure. The Dreamcast version of Gauntlet Legends was the final home port to be released and featured several aspects of Gauntlet Dark Legacy, the follow up title released in arcades in 1999. 

This post really isn't about the actual game Gauntlet Legends though. It's about something a little bit more interesting and esoteric - the fabled Gauntlet Legends pewter miniatures that were given away for free to anybody who purchased the NTSC-U version of the game for either Dreamcast or PlayStation.

Gauntlet Legends NTSC-U box art showing the Gauntlet Giveaway! (source)

As detailed in that 2015 post, the covers of the NTSC-U edition of Gauntlet Legends offered the opportunity to claim a free set of these pewter figures based on characters from the game, and all that was required in order to own them was to send in a supplied mailing slip and proof of purchase to publisher Midway Home Entertainment. 

This 'Gauntlet Giveaway!' was advertised both on the front of the manual (which doubled up as the front cover in most NTSC-U and NTSC-J Dreamcast games), and on the rear cover; while the mail order slip could be found inside the manual. As the Dreamcast port of Gauntlet Legends was launched in early June 2000, and the giveaway only ran until the end of December 2000, gamers only had 7 months to stake a claim to their birthrights (well, their little metal models).

The Gauntlet Giveaway mail order slip
Close-up of the offer advert - details inside!

Until getting my hands on an American copy of Gauntlet Legends for Dreamcast, I had never heard of this promotion, but I later discovered that a similar scheme had previously been run in connection with the Nintendo 64 version of the game. The difference being that in the case of the N64, a single miniature came bundled in the box as part of an exclusive Walmart promotion, and they are now some of the rarest Nintendo 64 special editions available.

Back in 2015, I lamented about the mysterious nature of these minature models (well, mysterious from a European perspective), and the seemingly nonexistent nature of any information surrounding them; namely how many variants had been manufactured and how many sets had been claimed. Back then there was precious little info available about the promotion, and even now, if you do a cursory Google search you'll invariably end up looking at the same 2015 blog post hosted here on the Junkyard, the Gauntlet Wiki, or some forum posts from the early 2000s. 

What we do know though, is that the Gauntlet Legends pewter miniatures were manufactured by Reaper - one of the biggest names in the miniatures and model manufacturing sector. Why then, do I bring up this relic from the mists of time? Because we only went and got our hands on a set of the fabled Gauntlet Legends miniatures, that's why!

The Legends of Gauntlet in miniature form

The way these things came into my possession is actually pretty bizarre in its own right, so indulge me while I explain the whole sordid sequence of events before we take a closer look at the miniatures themselves, and also an extra nugget of interesting detail contained therein.

If you are in any way interested in the Dreamcast English translation scene, you'll no doubt be familiar with a gentleman named Derek Pascarella. He is the driving force behind a lot of the translation projects currently ongoing, which are bringing Japan-only titles to a new English-speaking audience. Now, during a rare break fom his impressively ardent quest to translate every single obscure Dreamcast dating sim and visual novel into English, Derek found himself browsing the US eBay site where he stumbled across a rather intriguing listing:

Somewhat bemused and puzzled, Derek sent this to my Dreamcast Junkyard colleague Lewis Cox; and thinking it was quite humourous, Lewis naturally passed it on to me. As soon as I saw the listing though, I knew exactly what these figures were and so the plot instantly thickened to the consistency of blancmange. 

Why was somebody in the US selling a collection of Gauntlet Legends miniatures for such a meagre sum, with the listing title 'Dreamcast Junkyard'? I asked Lewis to ask Derek to buy them immediately, and ship them from the States to me here in the UK...and thankfully Derek obliged. A week or so later, the miniatures arrived, along with the information that the seller had no idea what they were and had searched online for more details, thus discovering my 2015 blog post...and had then simply titled them 'Dreamcast Junkyard.'

What they look like with the packaging (source)

So far, so utterly bizarre. Once again, my thanks go to both Lewis and Derek for inadvertantly alerting me to this particular (complete but unboxed) collection of some of the rarest pieces of gaming merchadise on the planet. And for the price of a couple of crates of beer, too (they cost $40 shipped in total, while some complete boxed sets have sold for upwards of $250). But what's so especially odd is that the seller titled them 'Dreamcast Junkyard' having found that previous post, and now the very same miniatures are being featured here as a follow up. Weird how things work out, eh?

Enought about that though. What of the actual miniatures themselves? And what of the extra oddity I teased earlier on in this diatribe? Well, first - another group shot and some extreme close-ups of the individual characters so you can see the level of detail lavished upon them:

N*Sync's new tour was going well
Living Tree
Yellow Wizard

From the small amount of information curently available online, it appears that there were around 12 individual miniatures cast, and the selection received when you ordered them was somewhat randomised. It looks like every set got the tall 'Skorne' figurine, but the others were almost totally pot luck. From some other images available online, it seems they shipped in a blister pack of five, but that other miniatures were at some point available as individual puchases, but from where and during which time period I'm not entirely sure. There's also some evidence that several other charaters were planned, but then later cancelled and never released to the public.

What's especially intriguing is that one of the figures I have - titled 'Valkyrie' - appears to be of a slightly different size and weight to the others, is marked with the name 'Ridolfi' and is stamped with '©1998 Atari Games' on the bottom; while the remaining miniatures do not have their names on the front of their bases, but instead have 'J. Guthrie' on the rear, along with 'Midway ©2000' on the base.

Valkyrie has 'Ridolfi' stamped on the rear of the base...
...and '©1998 Atari Games' on the bottom...
...while the others have 'J. Guthrie' on the base...
...and Midway ©2000 on the bottom

A theory I have for this is that the Valkyrie figure is a leftover from an original run of miniatures produced to market the 1998 arcade release of Gauntlet Legends (and then subsequently bundled with the previously mentioned N64 special edition), while the other figures are later and were minted exclusively to market the Dreamcast and PlayStation console releases. When the Dreamcast and PlayStation giveaway was formulated, Midway just chucked any leftover 1998 miniatures into the mix to save costs.

After a bit of light internet digging, I discovered that J. Guthrie is actually Julie Guthrie, a renowned sculptor known for her work in the field of miniature creation and who has worked on many, many different projects in the field; and similarly Ridolfi is Bob Ridolfi also a renowned sculptor of miniatures. In essence, two different sculptors appear to have been commissioned by Reaper Miniatures, who in turn were comissioned by either Atari or Midway depending on what they were calling themselves at that particular time.

It's probably also worth mentioning here that the other characters I have in my possession (alongside Skorne and Valkyrie) appear to be the 'Yellow Wizard,' a tree / Ent-like variant of the 'Golem' enemy (called Living Tree), and a crocodile-themed varient of the common 'Grunt' enemy (known as Lizardman).

Thought it was only right to include at least one screen from the actual game (source)

So there we are. This is a pretty niche topic to cover, but that's what we're all about at The Dreamcast Junkyard. The more niche, the better in fact. And it doesn't get more niche than blogging about pewter miniatures from Gauntlet Legends that approximatley 7 people on the entire planet know or care about.

Thanks once again to Derek, Lewis, the eBay seller who thought these miniatures were called 'Dreamcast Junkyard,' the two folks who commented on the 2015 blog post saying they had them in their collection (I only saw the comments recently!), and of course Atari, Midway, Reaper, Julie Guthrie and Bob Ridolfi for their involvement (hope I haven't left anyone out).

Rest in peace

So, the question remains - do you also have any of these figures in your collection? How do yours differ from the ones featured here? How much of this have I got completely and utterly wrong? Have you any idea how many times I misspelled 'minature' 'miniature' while writing this guff? In the immortal words of The X Files: the truth is out there. Or, y'know, in the comments.


Laurence Goodchild said...

Nice detective work! I'll have to set up an eBay search term alert for "Dreamcast Junkyard". Who knows, it could happen again one day.

DCGX said...

That's pretty damn cool, and a nice addition to any collection.

Pizza Hotline said...

Love a good old DCJY detective sleuth article. What an interesting and exciting story. Absolutely hilarious eBay listing title, they had it so wrong !

Janino296 said...

Beautiful stuff!

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks for the comments folks!

Lewis Cox said...

This is the best kind of Junkyard article! Funny how things work out!

Caleb said...

I have the Jester figure from Dark Legacy! I actually don't know that much at all about this miniature. I got it along with a bunch of random pewter stuff.

Unknown said...

I have the four smaller characters and plan to list them on eBay soonish. They look exactly like the ones pictured but are cleaner/crisper. I do not have the large "Skorne" I am not sure what value these have, they are not worth my time to sell them for $6 but this writeup seems to imply that $6 was a great price. I am in the USA.

Vtmobius said...

I have the N64 version. Wish I kept that vg box. I got the warrior with the axe. Totally be interested in the rest of the group.