I love that word. It’s one of my favorites. I think it’s one of the most inclusive, evocative words we have and hearing it makes me happy.
Tonight, we’re going to talk about adventure as combined with another of my favorite words, hero. Specifically, we’re going to talk about when the two words, along with two others, look like this…
This past Friday, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull arrived in movie theaters almost twenty years after the last installment in the series. To commemorate and capitalize on this, toy giant Hasbro has released a slew of Indy toys spanning the spectrum of their boys arsenal. For most collectors, the core 3 3/4" action figure line is the main attraction. I must admit, I dutifully dashed from store to store the day they were released and, at this point, have rounded up nearly all the single-carded 3 3/4" figures Hasbro’s thrown at us.
But I haven’t opened any of them.
On the other hand, I’ve also purchased all the Adventure Heroes and opened up every last glorious one of them.
Oh yes, they’re glorious. More on that in a bit.
I have a checkered past with Hasbro’s bitty pre-school figures. As most people who know me around the boards know, I’m a big Rescue Heroes fan, so the "chunky", cartoonish style of action figure has always appealed to me. I tried to get into Star Wars Galactic Heroes twice, but it didn’t take either time (But the third time has proven to be a charm, more on that in a future post -JJJ). Those figures are largely unarticulated, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t nearly all in the same pose, and are a bit too small for me.
Next came the Marvel Comics-based Super Hero Squad. Pretty good variety of poses, better articulation (and more of it), but the paint is almost always a disaster and they’re still a bit too small (and, due to the varying statures of many of the characters, not in great scale with each other), so I’ve never purchased any.
Then came Transformers Robot Heroes. Now we’re getting somewhere. Varying poses, decent articulation across the board (still a bit too small, but I can overlook that), and great paint ops. BUT…I’m not really a TransFan anymore and, after two waves of great G1 characters, Hasbro went to waves of movie Transformers I couldn’t care less about. I have the initial G1 guys, but they’re sitting in a drawer.
Now comes Indy…
They are in great poses.
They are all articulated.
They are immaculately painted.
AND, they’re a bit bigger.
All that and a film franchise I like, on the whole, more than Star Wars?
This is the line I’ve been waiting for.
Let’s check’em out.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Good Guys
Indiana Jones (Temple): Despite the presence of the fertility idol in his hand, I view this as the bog standard Indy. He’s got the whip, the jacket, the fedora, everything a globe-trotting pulp adventurer needs. Plus, he’s the most articulated Adventure Hero of the lot with joints at the neck, shoulders, and wrists. That’s five points, baby, and he’s two inches tall! Perhaps best of all, Hasbro has gone the extra mile in detailing this new line. If the idol in his hand didn’t tell you this is Indy from his first on-screen adventure, maybe this will…
He’s got the dammed spider on his back! It gets no cooler. This Indy is packaged with the Tribal Warrior.
Every Adventure Hero needs a good Damsel-In-Distress/Sidekick/Comic Foil, so let’s get right to…
Marion Ravenwood w/monkey: One thing I’ve always loved about the Galactic Heroes line is, though the figures look nothing like the actors, they look exactly like the characters. That’s what’s cool about Marion here; her face conveys the character’s spunk and spirit right down to the freckled face (remember, the details). In that way, I think Adventure Hero Marion is a better capture of Karen Allen than her 3 3/4" counterpart. AH Marion only has two points of articulation, left shoulder and waist, but they work well enough with her pose to be somewhat useful. Marion is packaged with Indiana Jones (Map Room).
So, Indy has The Girl. Where’s The Best Friend?
Sallah: Sallah’s been carrying the torch for Indy since the original Kenner 3 3/4" line and the Adventure Hero figure in no different. Sallah is articulated at the shoulders and waist and has some great paint detailing on his vest and belt. The torch flame is translucent for added coolness. Sallah is packaged with Mummy.
Enough of the supporting cast. Back to the main man…
Indiana Jones (Mechanic Fight): This is the figure that got me into the line. The head sculpt, the pose, the paint, sculpted holster and attached coiled whip; everything about this figure screamed Indy to me and I had to have him. He’s articulated at the neck and shoulders and is every bit as awesome as he looks above. I love this figure. He comes packaged with German Mechanic.
Indiana Jones (Map Room): This is the least of the Indys released so far and the least of the Adventure Heroes line at large. His head is too small (it should be bigger than the other Indys’ since it’s wrapped up, but it’s the same size) and, I dunno, he’s just too bland. I’m not sure the Map Room scene was something that needed to be commemorated in the AH line straight away. He does have three points of articulation, shoulders and right wrist, and the headpiece of the Staff of Ra has some bits of detail, so that’s something, I guess. Map Room Indy comes packaged with Marion Ravenwood but, given that AH Marion is from the Cairo sequence, I’d much rather have seen her come with an AH Monkey Man.
Indiana Jones (Cairo): I’ve saved the most kick-ass Indy for last. Whip and revolver at the ready this guy will take…you…on. He has four points of articulation; neck, shoulders, and waist, and can be posed convincingly with either weapon. I also love the untucked shirttail and, though it’s hard to see in the above pic, the fully sculpted satchel jutting from his waist. It would have been easy for Hasbro to just sculpt a lump on Indy’s left hip, paint it brown, and call it a bag, but they didn’t and that rules. The lines of paint demarcation between Indy’s hands and his weapons are also fantastic for the scale. One last detailing note, I love the five o’clock shadow on all the Indys, it’s so evocative of the character. Cairo Indy comes packaged with the Cairo Swordsman.
So, those’re your heroes but, as every adventure fan worth his pulp will tell you, they can be nothing without…
The Bad Guys
Rene Belloq: This guy is all about the paint details. From his headpiece, to his robes, to his sash, to his chest piece, it’s all terrific. Throw in articulation at the shoulders, right wrist, and waist and Belloq is one of my favorite figures in the line so far. Also, unlike Map Room Indy, his head is appropriately tall to accommodate the fact that he’s wearing a headdress. Great figure. Belloq comes packaged with the Ark & Ghost.
German Mechanic: You can have your Belloqs, your Mola Rams, and your Walter Donovans; no one has give Indiana Jones more trouble over the years than actor/stuntman/wrestler Pat Roach. This figure represents one of two characters Roach played in Raiders and is also one of two characters to appear in the Adventure Heroes line but not the 3 3/4" line. He features three points of articulation, shoulders and waist, and is suitably bigger than the other figures. I also love the paint detail on his boot covers (whatever those are called). German Mechanic comes packaged, unsurprisingly, with Indiana Jones (Mechanic Fight).
Cairo Swordsman: Whereas the German Mechanic beat Indy to a pulp for five minutes of screen time, this hapless loser was dispatched in about five seconds. Still, he seems to be an enduring icon of Indy evil, so here he is in the Adventure Heroes line. One note of trivia, this figure is actually more movie-accurate than any previous one as it depicts the swordsman in black boots rather than sandals. Seriously, check it out…
Anyway, the Swordman is not one of my favorite Adventure Heroes. With just shoulder and right wrist articulation, it’s hard to get him into a cool fighting pose given his sculpt. Like Map Room Indy, his head is also a bit too small. The good news is the Swordsman comes packaged with Indiana Jones (Cairo), which is one of the best figures in the line, so far.
Tribal Warrior: The second character to appear exclusively in the Adventure Heroes line, this generic native is one of the better figures in the line. The paint detailing is terrific from head to toes, and he’s got four points of articulation; shoulders, left wrist, and waist, which is tied for second only to the figure he comes packaged with, Indiana Jones (Temple). Together, they’re a must-own set.
Mummy and Snakes: These are just some fun throw-in monsters in the Adventure Heroes line that really add atmosphere to a display. The mummy, presumably from the Well of Souls, has two points of articulation, neck and right shoulder, and is sculpted with a snake wrapped all the way around him. Note the awesome paint detailing of not only the serpent, but the different shades used for the bandages and the bones underneath. How easy would it have been for Hasbro to skimp and just paint him white?
The snakes are not asps, but there are still very dangerous. Included as pack-ins with the Sallah/Mummy and Indy/Marion sets, these coiled cobras are well-painted and quite cute…for deadly reptiles. Again, the snakes are the kind of thing Hasbro didn’t have to do, but doing them makes the Adventure Heroes line something special, in my view.
So, now the players are in place. You know who’s good and who’s evil. But what is all this fighting about? What are these Raiders all after? Well, the answer to that may be the coolest thing in the Adventure Heroes line to date. I present you the concentrated awesome that is…
Ark & Ghost: At the center of Indiana Jones’ first screen adventure is an ancient religious symbol of ultimate power. And it’s just so cute. Just like the human characters, the Adventure Heroes Ark of the Covenant perfectly captures of the essence of what it’s meant to be while maintaining the pre-school style. The sculpted detail is great and the paint suitably metallic. The only things that could make it better would be if it opened and there was actually sculpted and painted sand inside. Oh, wait a minute…
It does! And there is!
Does it get cooler?
If you look closely, you can see the lid and the rim around the Ark are sculpted so that the lid will rest over a ridge and not slide off. Seriously, this is one of the coolest accessories in any line ever, I think.
But we’re not done.
There’s also the Ghost, that enraged spirit of ages past that emerges from the Ark to take revenge on the villains for disturbing its rest (and, probably, trying to use it for evil). The ghost has no articulation, but that’s OK as it features one of the line’s best sculpts and is cast in eerie blue translucent plastic. As if that’s not enough, the bottom of the Ghost is squared-off so you can do this…
…and the Ghost rests perfectly inside the Ark. The Ark & Ghost come packaged with Rene Belloq and, along with the Indy/Tribal Warrior set, are an absolute must-own if you’re looking to get into Adventure Heroes.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Good Guys
Indiana Jones: This is the basic Indy from the new movie. I’m not sure if it’s intentional but, because of the slightly Dumboed ears, he looks older than the Adventure Hero Indys from Raiders. Old Henry Jones is holding his coiled whip in one hand, the eponymous Crystal Skull (nicely translucent) in the other and features only shoulder articulation. He’s a good looking figure, but pales in comparison with some of the Raiders Indys. Indiana Jones comes packaged with Colonel Dovchenko.
Indiana Jones (kneeling): Now this is more like it. I don’t recall this happening in the movie, but this is what we’re used to with Adventure Hero Indys; a dynamic pose and good articulation. The paint on this guy is great (though the stubble is lighter than on any other AH Indy) and he features four points of articulation; neck, shoulders, waist, which allow for some cool shooting poses. This Indy is packaged with the Ugha Warrior and is far better than his standing counterpart.
Mutt Williams: To my surprise, Indy’s new sidekick here is easily my favorite KOTCS Adventure Hero. The paint detail on the metal bits of his jacket and jean cuffs is awesome and his three points of articulation; shoulders and right wrist, allow you pose him convincingly with his trusty switchblade. Mutt’s another good example of an AH figure looking nothing like the actor, but just like the character. Mutt comes packaged with Irina Spalko.
The Bad Guys
Irina Spalko: The main KOTCS baddie marks the second female Adventure Hero and the first in an action pose. I could use the head sculpt a bit more angular to better match the character, but she looks pretty good as is. The sculpted detail of her holstered pistol and sheath are particularly nice. Irina features shoulder articulation which is great for posing her dueling Mutt Williams, with whom she’s packaged.
Colonel Dovchenko: This one’s a real headscratcher. The sculpt here is good, but this is Dovchenko as he appeared in the opening sequence of the film, wearing an American army uniform to infiltrate Area 51. Also, this figure has brown hair, Dovchenko is blond, which means this could basically be an American army colonel figure rather than KOTCS’s heavy. Another problem is the marriage of sculpt and articulation. The right arm is sculpted at an angle away from the body and, with nothing but shoulder articulation, the head doesn’t turn, so it’s impossible to pose Colonel Dovchenko (who whoever this is) aiming his gun. The paint’s really well done, but that’s little consolation; this one’s a disappointment. Colonel Dovchenko is packaged with Indiana Jones and, between the two of them, it’s a pretty skipable set.
Ugha Warrior: They have nothing more than a bit part in the movie, but this is still a nice Adventure Heroes figure. The sculpting of the ritual scars is really nice and the paint on all his adornments is very well done. One curiosity: he has the standard Hasbro Heroes four fingers on each hand…but five toes on each foot. I didn’t catch whether the Ugha in the movie had six toes, but it’d be an awesome detail if they did. I’m sure it’s just a mistake. Ugha Warrior only has two points of articulation, neck and waist, but it’s not as bad as it sounds because his arm positioning allows you to pose him a couple different ways. Ugha Warrior comes packaged with Indiana Jones (kneeling).
There you have it. I’d have to say Indiana Jones Adventure Heroes are my favorite toys this year and have me seriously considering returning all my 3 3/4" figures. I literally cannot wait for the next wave (currently pictured on HasbroToyShop.com) which will feature characters from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Rumor has it a Last Crusade-centric wave will follow that. There’s also the exclusive mail-away Indiana Jones with horse from Raiders. Can’t wait to get my hands on that, too.
If you have any doubts about getting into Adventure Heroes, I hope I’ve erased them. Whether you’re an Indiana Jones fan, a Hasbro Heroes fan or, like me, both, I believe these are the best versions of these characters out there.
The next update to this post will be a wish list for future waves of Adventure Heroes. I’d love to see a Galactic Heroes level of character depth and some vehicles, etc.
Until then, go buy these guys. You will not be sorry.