Enchanted Camelot, Kenner, and the Development of Jewel Riders

Is there anyone not talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens these days?  Chris is certainly excited to see the movie (and Ronnie significantly less so), but even the prospect of seeing his favorite movie twins together again can’t stop Chris from feeling overwhelmed by the marketing blitz this movie has gotten.

But enough about Star Wars!  We’re here to talk about Jewel Riders!  I know the two don’t look too similar on the surface aside from having spunky princesses, sagely mentors, and family drama that can upend kingdoms.  However, there is one thing that ties the two together.

Kenner Logo

Kenner was a toy company founded in 1947 in Cincinnati, Ohio, by the Steiner brothers.  They have an amazing product development history, including such prominent brands as Play-Doh, the Easy-Bake Oven, and Spirograph.

Kenner - Easy Bake Oven

Vintage Easy Bake Oven

Kenner - Play doh

Vintage Play-Doh

But their toy-making coup d’etat came in 1977 when they made the action figures for the original Star Wars film.

Kenner - Star Wars

Chris recently watched an interesting short documentary on this called Plastic Galaxy – The Story of Star Wars Toys – which is free streaming on Amazon Prime.  Check out the trailer below.

Star Wars toys were a boom for Kenner, even if the first wave of figures weren’t out by Christmas.  They had the ingenious marketing ploy of selling a cardboard cutout that parents could put under the tree for the kids, with the promise of delivery soon afterward – and it worked!

Kenner - Star Wars Early Bird 1

Hey kids, just pretend your figures go here! Merry Christmas!

A completed display.

A completed display.  (Also, I know it’s hard to see here, but Luke’s lightsaber shares an action feature with Sun Power Gwenevere!)

In the eighties, Kenner got into some great licensing opportunities.  They were the first to produce dolls for the adorable Strawberry Shortcake franchise, as well as producing the wonderful DC Super Powers figures.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

DC Super Powers Checklist

DC Super Powers Checklist

In 1991, Kenner was acquired by fellow toy company Hasbro, best known today for their Transformers, My Little Pony, and Jem and the Holograms Toys.

Kenner - Hasbro Logo

Kenner - Jem Logo

And in 1994-1995, Kenner-Hasbro was hard at work on a new line of magical action dolls under the working title “Enchanted Camelot.”  Other aliases included “Enchated Jewel Riders” and “Princess Guinevere and her Jewel Adventures.” Whether the toys came first, or the story ideas by Robert Mandell is unknown.  But “Enchanted Camelot” was the first stage of Jewel Riders’ evolution to the show we know and love today.

One of the only known pieces of Enchanted Camelot Artwork

One of the only known pieces of Enchanted Camelot Artwork

In this version of the story, Princess Guinevere, Melody (Tamara), Alexandra (Fallon), and Shawn (Drake) ride the Wild Magic with their friends Amber (Sunstar), Cleo, Samantha (Sugar), Rusty (Spike), Moonglow (Moondance), and Thunder.  You can, of course, read the Enchanted Camelot script for the episode that became Jewel Quest here on the site.

Over the last several years, pre-production toy concepts have gone up for auction on Ebay, and several have sold for hundreds of dollars.

animals

Enchanted Camelot Kitbash Samples

Notes saved from the Ebay Auction stated:

Princess Gwenevere Horse Sun Star prototype [1995] Kenner

…So where are the wings? you are probably asking?  Originally Sun Star did not have wings and was just a unicorn.  Various models are made at different times of the project.  The yellow model was the very first concept model when it was tested with children.  It was made from an existing horse and modified.  The horn used to light up but batteries have probably corroded the system.  The pink model was the first color test seeing if it would look good as a clear horse with opaque paint. It was eventually decided that giving Fallon a horse was not magical enough so Fallon’s horse became a unicorn and Gwen’s horse became a flying unicorn.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first concept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series.

These models are what is called “kit bash”.  It is a rough model usually formed from other existing pieces to test the concept.”

sunstar2

Amber (Sunstar)

sunstar

 

Princess Gwenevere Fallon’s Lion prototype [1995] Kenner

…So, about now you are thinking “What Lion?” Fallon rides a blue unicorn!” Well, orginally she did not. Each of the characters had a different animal to ride. But after early concept testing it was decided to go with the unicorn for the girls and make Gwen’s unicorn into a pegasus since girls like horses more.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first conept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series.

This model is what is called “kit bash”. It is a rough model usually formed from other existing peices to test the concept.

This is a purple lion in keeping with Fallon’s color scheme in the show. It also has her moonstone shapes on the riding gear.

Note that not all of the models in the group shot still exist. The ones that do will show up in a later auction.This auction is only for the lion.

lion

Moonglow? Fallon’s steed appears to have bounced back and forth between cat and horse.

lion3 lion2

The seller’s words regarding Shawn (Drake)’s wolf, Thunder:

Princess Gwenevere Drake’s wolf prototype 1996 Kenner

Various models are made at different times of the project.  The wolf that Drake rides was one of the very first concept model when it was tested with children.  It was made from an existing toy and modified with wax, Sculpy and fur.  The head is an original wax sculpting and the ear tips have broken off.

The character did not change much from this original look – but this never made it into production.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first concept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series. The Wolf is one of those animals.

These models are what is called “kit bash”.  It is a rough model usually formed from other existing pieces to test the concept.

 

wolf

Shawn (Drake)’s wolf Thunder. Sadly, one of these was never actually produced in the line that made it to retail!

wolf3 wolf6 wolf5 wolf2

Princess Gwenevere Tamara’s Dragon Friend prototype 1996 Kenner

This is a model of the small green dragon which always accompanied Tamara on her adventures.  It is a concept model showing how the character and its feature would work.  The play pattern on this is to play with wings that open for day adventures, then lay it on its back so its eyes would close and the wings wrap around it to pretend to sleep. There was a feature in its necklace jewel that when bright and dark with gravity – but it does not seem to be working any more.

The figure is about 3 inches tall.  It never made it into production.  It is made of plastic, nylon hair and Sculpy.

 

sugar

Samantha (Sugar). We would have loved to see one or more of Tamara’s Babies other than Spike make it into the line!

 

sugar2 sugar3 sugar4 sugar5

And that’s it, folks!  Enchanted Camelot would have been so, so different, and yet there are so many hints that it was growing into the series we know and love.  We hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective on Kenner and the “Enchanted Camelot” toys!

For further information on Kenner and their toy lines, visit Kenner Collector!

Wishing you all a magical holiday season!

Chris & Ronnie

6 Responses to “Enchanted Camelot, Kenner, and the Development of Jewel Riders

  • It is so amazing to be able to see all of these original models after being a fan for so many years! <3

    • jewelridersarchive
      4 years ago

      Seeing these always has me wishing we’d gotten things like Sugar and Thunder in the real line. How cool would that have been!

  • jeweledeyes
    4 years ago

    Wow, I remember Kenner! I had forgotten about them, I didn’t realize they also made the Jewel Riders toys! I love seeing these. Even though I love Moondance, Fallon’s lion is actually pretty cool XD I wish they would have made the wolf and Sugar!

    • jewelridersarchive
      4 years ago

      I love the lion too! She really reminds me of Clawdeen from the Princess of Power line!

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    I really like Moondance as a character but part of me wishes they’d gone with the cat, just for variety.

    And dang, these prototypes are just sculpey and paint! I’m not sure why I expected something more… um… something-I-can’t-do-ish from officialdom, but I was surprised.

    • jewelridersarchive
      4 years ago

      If they’d gone with the cat for Fallon, I wonder if that would have played into the rivalry between her and the wolves of the Pack?

      They’re pretty kitbashy! I actually was able to win a couple of the auctions for some of these, and they really are rough! But such an interesting developmental stage to see.

      ~Chris

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