When was the last time action figures got people so worked up they tried to ban them? Was it Al Snow and his mannequin head that some people thought endorsed violence against women? I kinda reckoned that after seeing toys of fictional rapist The Comedian hanging from the pegs at Toys R us, we were past any possible furor.
Not so. An activist in Al Sharpton’s National Action Network – who actually claims to like the movie Django Unchained! – has come into the picture with a fundamental misunderstanding of toy collecting.
“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC’s president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”
These appeal to children? Ehhh, not so much. As I wrote originally, these are primarily designed for those adult collectors who, like Quentin Tarantino himself, have a particular nostalgia for the ’70s Mego style of toy. A kid would rather have superheroes that fire missiles over a Christoph Waltz doll with removable clothes. A reasonably well-adjusted kid, anyhow.
“I actually enjoyed the movie, but we cannot support this type of commercialization,” [activist Najee]Ali said. “I don’t seen any dolls representing Hitler that came from Tarantino’s (Holocaust movie ‘Inglourious Basterds’)…I don’t see them making dolls of Holocaust survivors who are bald and starving in concentration camps.”
Okay, a few things worth discussing here. One, there actually has been a Hitler doll, albeit not one too widely available. With that said, none of the characters here is directly analogous to Hitler. If they were Zero Dark Thirty toys and one of them was Osama bin Laden, you’d have a better point. There was a doll made of Christoph Waltz’s ruthless, Jew-killing Nazi. On a more banal level, the Indiana Jones toy line featured Nazi-era German soldiers, as well as evil Soviets from the fourth film. All representative of regimes that caused real-life mass deaths.
Two, none of these figures are of slaves in chains. The closest is Broomhilda, a slave in a maid’s outfit. Assuming anyone were to play with these figures rather than simply displaying them, however, the most likely scenario is to have her and Django kicking ass on the bad guys.
Three, NECA makes toys based on R-rated movies. It’s their forte. Kids shouldn’t be buying Freddy Krueger toys either.
And finally…people would probably have mostly ignored these figures if you hadn’t said anything, folks. Now, they’re going to snap them up and put them on eBay as “RARE Hot CONTROVERSIAL Action Figures Banned!!!!”
Maybe hold out for the 12-inchers that are set to see release in March instead.
I don’t preach sermons. Ministers shouldn’t pontificate about collectible toys without knowing the basics.