By Kevin J. Guhl
Let’s face it: Hasbro’s Indiana Jones toyline is deader than the dried-out corpse Indy found stabbed through the head at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here’s a basic picture of what went wrong: Retailers flooded their shelves with Hasbro’s initial waves of Raiders and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull figures, which collectors ate up at first. However, some questionable sculpts and horrible paint applications plagued the line, and many figures became pegwarmers. When Hasbro finally released much-desired and better-sculpted figures from The Last Crusade and Temple of Doom, they were impossible to find, because of all the old figures that were still languishing on the pegs.
This sucked ass, especially for fans who had been wishing for a wide-release Indy toyline ever since Raiders and Temple of Doom figures showed up in stores for about five minutes in the early 1980s and then vaporized into nothingness like they had taken a long swig from the wrong Grail. On the plus side, Hasbro managed to crank out some awesome figures before locking up the Indy toyline in their big, dark warehouse in Pawtucket, Rhode Island — but on the negative side, there were just as many awesome Indy figures Hasbro never got around to releasing… even though many of them were sculpted and set to come out later on. Take a look inside the Ark and see the best there was — and the best that never had a chance.
8) Grail Knight
When was the last time you could find an action figure of a Crusade-era knight on toy shelves? Hmm, the closest was probably the Monty Python and the Holy Grail dolls that came out awhile back. But anyway, the Grail knight was a very memorable character in Last Crusade, sitting around making irreverent quips about those who “chose poorly.” The toy is very nice, and is the figure you need to get if you want a true Grail in scale with the figures.
7) Young Indiana Jones
This haunting figure very accurately captures the countenance of River Phoenix, who sadly OD’ed at the age of 23 just four years after Last Crusade hit theaters. It’s an odd feat, since strong facial likenesses were not this toyline’s strong point. Reportedly, Harrison Ford thought River bore a strong resemblance to him when he was that age. This figure captures the moment Indy started to become the adventurer we know, armed with the whip that scarred his face, holding one of the snakes that started his phobia, and with his first recovered artifact, the Cross of Coronado, tucked in his belt.
6) German Soldier with Motorcycle
Hasbro chickened out when it came to making it clear that its German Soldier figures had anything to do with the word Nazi. There were no symbols on the uniforms and the word was not spoken. But otherwise, Hasbro’s German soldiers looked true to the films. The best was this deluxe figure, which had a beautifully sculpted uniform that was partially cloth. And he came with a sleek helmet, goggles and his hog. He was both spiffy and perfect fodder for the Jones boys! Definitely Hasbro’s best Naz – er- German soldier.
5) Short Round
Indy’s almost-annoying but definitely awesome sidekick got a long-awaited figures in the toyline’s last wave, which was sadly a bitch to find. Hasbro avoided licensing fees and snubbed the Yankees by not painting on all of the logo on Shorty’s hat — but hey, the Yankees kinda deserve a loss now and then.
4) Crystal Skeleton
This is, hands down, one of the coolest mail-away toys ever. The 1980s were known for this kind of incentive to get kids to badger their parents to buy more toys (if more of an incentive was needed), and Hasbro brought it back in a big way in recent years with Doc in the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary line and the Crystal Skeleton in the Indiana Jones line. The gimmick was great. Each Indiana Jones figure came with a blind-packed artifact that was hidden in a box that looked like the crates seen in the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (and the beginning of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Each artifact came with a sticker of itself that could be placed in a little book that looked like a passport. When you had collected enough stickers, you could send away for this wicked translucent skeleton that came with its golden throne. This was the only figure that came with a crystal skull that actually looked like the ones in the film.
3) Dr. Henry Jones
This figure of Indy’s Dad is pure nerdgasm. Hasbro got the Connery likeness down and packed in as many details and accessories as they cool in such a small scale. His hat is removable, as are his glasses. And he comes with both his Grail diary and his briefcase with umbrella. Aside from Indy himself, this seemed to be the one other figure that fans just had to have, and Hasbro delivered. Just not in high numbers.
2) Mola Ram
Holy hell, is this an awesome toy. The likeness is spot on and this supervillain’s robes and super-campy horned helmet are wonderfully detailed. By this point in the toyline, Hasbro had really hit its stride. Sadly, it was too late. Oh, and the Mola Ram the greatest accessory of the toyline — a flaming heart that he just ripped out of some poor sap’s chest! Yes! The only toy that might be as cool as this is the Might Muggs Mola Ram.
1) Indiana Jones with Removable Hat
The one thing most fans wanted out of an Indiana Jones toyline was a perfect figure of Indiana Jones at his iconic best. Sadly, that did not happen. Of the bajillion versions of Indy released, none of them achieved pure perfection. The Last Crusade version came close, but was wearing a tie. The actual Raiders Indy looked more like a neckless Humphrey Bogart than Harrison Ford. One Indy came without a hat and sat on shelves because of it! The Indy that came with the horse was pretty decent, until what seemed to be a mold change during the production run gave him a pencil neck that made him look like Gilligan had gone on a hapless adventure in the island’s mysterious caves. The best Indy we got — and he is quite awesome — was the accessory-laden version from the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wave. He’s got the correct outfit and his hat is even removable. He comes with a whip, a pistol, and an open hand that can be switched with a hand holding a crystal skull. It felt like a deluxe figure had been released in a basic wave. By god, his proportions are even correct and he looks a lot like Harrison Ford. The biggest flaw some might see is that this Indy has gray hair, but it’s nothing a little paint can’t fix if you’re so inclined. And his hat’s a little big, but it’s not too bad. Fans are still waiting for a perfect Indiana Jones figure at this scale, but this one came extremely close.
Now make yourself sad by seeing the awesome Indy figures you’ll never own on the next page.
THE 8 BEST INDIANA JONES FIGURES WE NEVER GOT:
8) Indiana Jones in German Disguise
Indy undercover as a Nazi would have been a fun variati, letting us relive the moments when Indy kicked the Germans’ butts from within and desperately threatened to bazooka the Ark to Kingdom Come (before it briefly went there, anyway). It was one of five new Raiders of the Lost Ark figures Hasbro had planned to release in January 2009 and showed pictures of, but the toyline sadly got canned before the toys saw the light of day.
7) German Mechanic
By not releasing this figure, Hasbro robbed us of the ability to recreate one of the best lopsided fistfights/propellor-to-the-head deaths ever seen in cinema. The only saving grace is that the late Pat Roach, the huge stuntman who appeared in the first three Indy movies (most memorably as this lug) got at least one figure with the release of the Chief Temple Guard in the Temple of Doom wave.
No matter what Alfred Molina does, he’ll probably always be best-remembered for his first movie role as the untrustworthy guide who betrayed Indy and stole the Golden Fertility Idol, only to quick
ly meet his painful demise in a hail of Hovitos arrows. We don’t know if the Satipo figure Hasbro had planned would have come with a pile of tarantulas to place on his back, but it damn well should have!
5) Marcus Brody
It was really a crime that poor, bumbling Marcus never got a figure. He was one of Indy’s strongest allies and the guy who made Indy’s extracurricular treasure-hunting adventures possible. Once again, Hasbro only would have needed to reuse one of the suit bodies they had and created a new head. But Hasbro probably figured kids would steer clear of a plain figure of an old dude. Our Last Crusade re-enactment will now sadly be without its comic relief. If anything, though, he should have come with a horse.
4) Indy in a Tux
During the intro of Temple of Doom, Indy proved that he didn’t need the hat and leather jacket in order to be cool and kick ass. Dressed in a suave white tux and black tie, he got involved in a brawl that sent a Shanghai nightclub into chaos, even shishkebabbing a guy. Ouch! This is a necessary Indy variant.
3) Marion Ravenwood in White Dress
Hasbro released a Marion, but put her in her goofy Arabian clothes and produced a head sclupt that looked more like it was based on Princess Generica than Karen Allen. Hasbro must have learned from their mistake and created a Marion that captured the natural hotness of the actress and was sported her character’s slinky white dress. My god, she looked human! She even had only one shoe to stumble around on, and would have come with a pile of poisonous Cobras to try and avoid with her bare foot. But sadly, we’re screwed out of getting this one, too. I know you’re sad, but you’re gonna cry after seeing the next one.
Lordy, lord. Can you believe Hasbro was considering putting this one on the pegs? Toht might have looked like a slightly less nerdy Wallace Shawn in a black suit (which could have been used for other figures, as mentioned, and was used for an SDCC exclusive Cobra Commander figure), but we knew damn well he was one sadistic, creepy and dangerous little Gestapo agent. And he would have come with an alternate head depicting the harrowing scene when the Ark of Covenant MELTED HIS FACE OFF! Hell yes! It would have been classic, and a shock to have seen in the toy aisles, but alas it was not to be.
1) Indiana Jones
One thing Hasbro failed to give us was a perfect Indiana Jones figure. And by perfect, we mean wearing his classic costume – leather jacket, fedora, partially unbuttoned white shirt, whip — and with a spot-on Harrison Ford likeness circa Raiders of the Lost Ark. No, we got some decent head sculpts that depicted older Indy or were attached to bodies wearing outfits that weren’t quite right, and plenty of guys who had Indy’s clothes on but barely looked like him. Hasbro’s Indiana Jones figures kept improving as time went on, but the line collapsed before they could go back and create a perfect Indy. Maybe, some day…