He is a well-known hero who has been living as a fictional character for many years. As a cartoon character, a film star in both 'real' and cartoons, a figure in computer games and someone who is also a model and / or toy figure in many display cases.
Prince Valiant was invented in the thirties by Harold ("Hal") Foster. Foster (1892-1982) drew the comic 'Tarzan' for American newspapers, He placed his text under the drawings (instead of in the so-called text balloons) so he could tell a lot more in one story.
Foster's Tarzan drawings were very popular in the US. Under the fans was newspaper magnate William Hearst who persuaded him to work for one of his newspapers. Foster himself, however, had getting a little bored about Tarzan and began to sketch a historical figure, "Prince Arn". With this he stepped to one of the newspapers of Hearst. However, the publisher did not like the name and this was changed to Prince Valiant. Then it went fast. In February 1937 the first comic appeared in the newspapers. The full name of the series was 'Prince Valiant in the days of King Arthur'. The comic always covered a complete newspaper page.
The fictional prince Valiant was the son of the king of Thule, a non-existing country in Norway, who had fled to England. Valiant grows up in England and becomes one of the knights of King Arthur's round table. He fights evil with his singing sword, the same kind as that of King Arthur, Exalibur.
Drawings, landscapes and decors are often faithfully drawn in detail. Historically, the stories (which continues to this day, the work of Foster was continued by others after his death) are a chaos. The storyline covers almost all times when swords were the main weapons in battle. Vikings, late and early Romans, Indians, they all play a role once of a while. Valiant himself is depicted as a late medieval knight who lives in a 15th century castle. Sometimes contemporary politics also plays a role. During the 2nd World War, Valiant fights the barbarian Huns (in the US, the name of the Germans), he enters into marriage immediately after the war and starts a family. The latter is precisely in line with American politics these years to emphasize large families.
In 1954, the first feature film with Prince Valiant is released. The main characters are played by James Mason, Janet Leigh and Robert Wagner. After this move the merchandise increases rapidly. Valiant dolls, swords, crossbows, belts, etc. are popular products. Years later, another film (1994) and a long-running cartoon series appear. These provide renewed attention, among others resulting in a computer game and playmobil figures.
Prince Valiant and his friends also lend themselves to being portrayed as figures. An Elastolin figure appears immediately after the first film. It is one of the first plastic figures of Elastolin, cast in a form originally intended for the 'masse' figures and therefore less attractive. A new shape is quickly created. The very first Valiant figures from the old forms are now rare and at auctions they cost up to 3-400 euros each. The Elastolin series will be expanded at the end of the 1950s. Marx in the US also releases several Valiant series with also a castle.
It takes a long time before actual model figures appear. Hecker & Goros comes with a complete series of Valiant miniatuers in 54mm. Andrea miniatures has a beautiful 54mm figure under the name 'Viking Lord' that is still for sale.
The cartoon series in the 1990s, which is often repeated, provides multiple plastic toy series from, among others, Schleich, which are still available.
he Janetzki figures deserve special attention. Jurgen Janetzki was one of the first Germans to start a comic shop. The store was located in Munich and was very successful. In the 90s he began publishing figures, with the emphasis on Prince Valiant, called in Germany Eisenherz. This involved very well-detailed resin figures, the size of the older Elastolin figures, 70mm. Quite a number of Elastolin collector supplemented their collection of figures with this 'Janetzki Arts' figures. They were very successful and the production was housed in China. On the way to the famous plastic figures show in Herne in 2009 Janetzki died suddenly of a heart attack. The surviving relatives could not find the address in China of the firm and since then the moulds have been missing. Janetzki figures are now so popular and so expensive that there are many fake figures in circulation.