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Toys / LEGO Adventurers

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If imagination has a name, it must be... Johnny Thunder!
LEGO Adventurers (later called Orient Expedition) is one of the many themes of LEGO toys out there, revolving around adventurers Johnny Thunder, Pippin Reed (formerly Gail Storm), and Dr. Kilroy (formerly Charles Lightning) as they travel the world in search of ancient artefacts (with one exception). They had one recurring Arch-Enemy, Baron von Barron/Lord Sam Sinister (who forms a micro-Continuity Snarl), and many single-subtheme villains comprising their Rogues Gallery.

The theme itself was divided into four smaller themes, with the last one itself split into three:

  • Egypt: Revolving around Ancient Egypt, where the main setpiece was a pyramid and the primary MacGuffin was Re-Gou, the largest ruby in the world. Slyboots and Baron von Barron were the villains.
  • Amazon: Set in South America, the Adventurers search for Mayincatec treasures this time, especially the "Sun Disc", opposed by the villainous Señor Palomar.
  • Dino Island: Johnny and co. investigate a Lost World. Sam Sinister (formerly Baron von Barron), his smarter sister Alexia Sinister, and Mr. Cunningham are the antagonists this time.
  • Orient Expedition: As the name implies, all three are set in the East. The main goal is to find a golden dragon given to Marco Polo by Kublai Khan, which in turn needs three Plot Coupons to find, while outracing Lord Sam Sinister and his new allies.
    • India: The Golden Shield as well as the Sunstone is found here, the latter being needed to overthrow a tyrannical maharajah.
    • Mt. Everest: The Golden Sword is to be found near its peak. Yetis, sherpas and poachers are abound here.
    • China: The Golden Helmet and the Golden Dragon are to be found here. Opposing the crew is the evil Emperor Chang Wu.

The characters of LEGO Adventurers can be found here.

And yes, this entire theme is one big homage to Indiana Jones (with a helping of The Lost World and Jurassic Park to boot), right down to the characters. Years later, LEGO would attain the license for producing official Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park sets, which may explain why there have not been any official LEGO Adventurers sets since 2003. However, the line's iconic characters would continue to make cameos in later LEGO themes, such as The LEGO Movie and LEGO Minifigures, and the LEGO Creator 18+ set 10273 Haunted House is directly based upon Manor von Barron, home of the notorious villain himself.

This toy series includes examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The Mount Everest Story Arc was cut short in the online Orient Expedition comics. After escaping the Yeti, the heroes are captured by Lord Sam Sinister and a cliffhanger teases them "hanging by a thread"... but this isn't followed up by the next comic, which quickly summarizes Johnny Thunder retrieving the Golden Sword and moves right along into the China story arc.
  • Adventurer's Club: The Explorers Club, as seen in the puzzle book The Lost Temple.
  • Alternate Continuity: The set comics, magazine comics, audio dramas, and puzzle books tend to show the theme's story playing out in different ways, following the same overall story but often with very different details.
  • Artistic License History: Frequently only used the Theme Park Version of most cultures, although averted with in-depth details on Marco Polo's trip to China found on the Orient Expedition website.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The last of these appears - where else? - in the Himalayas, where it chases Pippin Reed and later pursues the Adventurers to the Temple of Mount Everest.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Obelisk of Evil in Manor von Barron was taken by Samuel von Barron when he noticed that its hieroglyphics spelled the most evil message imaginable. That message turns out to be "OGEL", or LEGO spelled backwards.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Curse of the Pharaoh being Pharaoh Hotep's lame mummy jokes was clearly Played for Laughs in LEGO Mania and Bricks 'n' Pieces back in 1998. Over twenty years later in 2020, the lore for 10273 Haunted House reveals that Samuel von Barron was actually Driven to Madness by Hotep's bad puns, continuing to haunt him long after he escaped the Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: 10273 Haunted House is full of Continuity Nods to the Adventurers Egypt and Orient Expedition themes, but it also references LEGO Alpha Team, Fright Knights, and Junkbot for added LEGO continuity.
  • Continuity Nod: In Orient Expedition, Johnny Thunder distracts Lord Sam Sinister by shouting, "Look back there! A baby T-Rex!" as a reference to Sinister trying to capture dinosaurs (including baby T-Rexes) in the Dino Island subtheme. Judging by the fact that Lord Sinister falls for this trick every time, he still hasn't given up his hopes of catching one.
  • Continuity Snarl: At first, there were two main villains, called Sam Sinister (or Slyboots) and Baron von Barron (or Mr. Hates). When Dino Island rolled around, Baron von Barron/Mr. Hates was renamed Sam Sinister, while the original Sam Sinister became more commonly known by his European name Slyboots. It gets particularly confusing here, where the hook-handed villain is introduced as "Sam Sinister (aka Baron von Barron)", which surely must have confused anyone who knew beforehand that Sam Sinister and Baron von Barron were originally separate characters. This got so notorious that even LEGO got into the act, putting a joke about it in their LEGO Minifigures line.
  • Cool Airship: The Adventurers had the Expedition Balloon, a zeppelin piloted in the Amazon line.
  • Cool Boat:
    • The Adventurers get a pair of Cool Boats between the River Expedition and the T-Rex Transport sets.
    • Emperor Chang Wu has an entire fleet of ships, one of which gets captained by Lord Sam Sinister.
  • Cool Car: Throughout the entire theme, the characters utilised all sorts of early 20th century offroad vehicles, some of them creatively modified for increased performance. One of the more unusual vehicles was an amphibious truck in one of the Dino Island sets.
  • Cool Plane: Both the heroes and the villains get them. In fact, this was Harry Cane's entire schtick, since he was the gang's Ace Pilot.
  • Crossover: With LEGO Studios, which featured Johnny Thunder, Pippin Reed, and Mike as actors. Johnny Thunder also appears in LEGO Racers, LEGO Universe, and much more recently The LEGO Movie, while the four main characters appear on Adventurers' Island in LEGO Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge.
  • Curse of the Pharaoh: Parodied. In the LEGO Mania and Bricks 'n' Pieces comics, Baron von Barron is subjected to Pharaoh Hotep's curse after trying to steal the ruby from his tomb. The "curse" is being trapped in a room and being forced to listen to Hotep's groan-worthy "mummy" jokes.
  • Ditching the Dub Names: When the theme began with Egypt in 1998, nearly every character had a different name between North America, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Japan, and other countries. By the time the theme concluded with Orient Expedition in 2003, the characters had consistent names in every region. For example, the main hero went from being known as Johnny Thunder, Sam Grant, Joe Freemann, Jonny Explorador, Hjalten, and Jones to just being known as Johnny Thunder.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Perhaps the most infamous and confusing instance of this in LEGO history comes from the Egypt line. Nearly every single character has different names in America, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, and other countries. For more information, see the characters page.
    • Additionally, much like LEGO Pirates, the names of some of the early sets differed greatly between America and Europe. For example, Pharaoh Hotep's temple was known as the Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins in America and the Temple of Anubis in Europe.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Egypt line had the worst cases of Dub Name Changes. By the Dino Island line, most character and set names were international rather than region-specific.
  • Evil Elevator: The Madman's Elevator in Manor von Barron is a The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror-esque drop tower elevator, installed after Samuel von Barron was Driven to Madness by the Curse of the Pharaoh.
  • Extinct Animal Park: In the Dino Island subtheme, Sam Sinister's goal is to exploit the Living Dinosaurs for profit by capturing them and then opening a dinosaur theme park. It's up to the heroic adventurers to prevent him from succeeding and to keep the dinosaurs safe in the wild.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Notable for being one of the first LEGO themes to actually avert this trope: many of the vehicles and aircraft have realistic guns mounted on them, even if they are never fired at other human beings.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The timeframe of the whole theme appears to be set between the 1910s and 1930s, as one of the many homages to Indiana Jones and various non-throwback pulp adventure novels and films.
  • Haunted House: Manor von Barron became haunted by a pair of ghosts after Samuel von Barron foolishly attempted to harness the Re-Gou's power. It now serves as an Amusement Park Haunted House attraction.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The Amazon Jungle subtheme is the only one where the recurring Big Bad Baron von Barron/Mr. Hates/Lord Sam Sinister doesn't physically appear, with new villains Señor Palomar and Rudo Villano taking center stage instead. However, The Lost Temple reveals that Palomar is working for an art collector, who remains unidentified in the book but is confirmed in Palomar's profile to be Mr. Hates.
  • Improvised Weapon: In one of the Orient Expedition online comics, after helping Pippin escape from of their prison cell, she asks how she's meant to get the others out. Johnny just hands her a part of the bed through the bars and tells her "You're a smart girl, see what you can do with this." A few moments later, all of Chang Wu's guards are lying on the floor unconscious, with Pippin jokingly commenting that she just walked up to them and they all fell asleep.
  • Indy Escape:
    • One of the alternate inspiration models for 5988 Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins shows the hot air balloon's bricks repurposed as a boulder, which Pharaoh Hotep sends rolling after Johnny Thunder and Pippin Reed.
    • In The Curse of the Mummy puzzle book and The Red Ruby! magazine comic, Mr. Hates and Slyboots are chased by a rolling boulder in Hotep's pyramid.
    • In Orient Expedition, Johnny tricks Lord Sinister into moving the claws of the Scorpion Palace idol. Doing so triggers a boulder trap that rolls after Sinister, chasing him away and giving the heroes time to find the Golden Shield.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Pharaoh Hotep's Hurricane of Puns caused Baron von Barron to scream for Johnny Thunder to save him. By the time Johnny did, von Barron was threatening Hotep with his Hook Hand for telling so many bad jokes. The curse of lame puns was so bad that von Barron's long-term reaction was actually going mad.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Within the first three lines, Johnny Thunder, Dr. Kilroy, Harry Cane, and Sam Sinister only wear one outfit, while Pippin Reed only wears two outfits. While the heroes receive three outfits each during Orient Expedition, Lord Sam Sinister is once again stuck with only one.
  • Lost World: As confirmed by LEGO Mania, Dino Island is "a mysterious lost island" untouched by the rest of the world for millions of years.
  • Mayincatec: The entire Amazon line blends together aesthetic elements from various Latin American and South American civilizations.
  • Multinational Team: Johnny Thunder is Australian, Dr. Kilroy is British, and Pippin Reed is American, judging from the voice acting of the online games The Restless Mummy and The Lost Treasure of Ancient Greece. However, since only Johnny Thunder's nationality is stated in canon and the characters' accents tend to vary in other media, the canonicity of this is disputable.
  • Mummy: Pharaoh Hotep. Though he isn't dressed in the typical bandage garb like most stereotypical mummies, he's still this by being an undead pharaoh.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: In the LEGO Mania comics, both the heroes and villains lose the Sun Disc in the jungle, where it is presumably retrieved by Achu before anyone can reclaim it.
  • Palette Swap: In the Orient Expedition line, Johnny Thunder's personal bi-plane during the China Story Arc, the Thunder Blazer, is a Palette Swap of the bi-plane flown by Lord Sinister during the Mount Everest Story Arc.
  • The Shangri-La: The second Story Arc of Orient Expedition takes place in the Himalayas as the Adventurers search for the Temple of Mount Everest.
  • Shown Their Work: Each instruction booklet in the Dino Island line included a brief science section dedicated to the four dinosaurs.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Aside from character names, Pharaoh Hotep's magic ruby is called the "ReGou" in the 1998 UK catalog and Bricks 'n' Pieces magazine, but this is written without CamelCase as "Re-Gou" in The Curse of the Mummy, the 2000 Denmark catalog, Standing Small, and 10273 Haunted House's lore.
  • Stealth Pun: Dr. Kilroy, known as Dr. Lightning in the US, is Johnny Thunder's uncle. Lightning always comes before thunder.
  • Theme Naming: "Thunder", "Gail Storm", "Lightning", and "Harry Cane" are all weather-themed names for the heroes in America, before half of them got changed after Dino Island.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: En route to the Scorpion Palace, Lord Sam Sinister chases the heroes' Elephant Caravan. He crashes his car and the heroes proceed forward without further interruption... but Lord Sinister still arrives at the Scorpion Palace first for more dramatic storytelling.
  • Two-Fisted Tales : It's basically a LEGO Indiana Jones series (years before there were official licensed Indy sets and minifigs), so this homage to early twentieth century pulp is to be expected.
  • Yellow Peril: Jokes about LEGO people aside, Emperor Chang Wu and his cronies.