Toy Review: Hasbro Indiana Jones Adventure Series 1

Will the Indiana Jones Adventure Series line get canceled when its barely begun? That’s the fear a lot of fans have right now, with the word coming down from Hasbro that no new figures in the line will be announced at Comic-Con, as would be the norm for any active line. The figures haven’t been easily found at mass retail, and there’s concern that rather than giving us visually dynamic characters like Mola Ram upfront, Hasbro has focused too much on Indy variants and generic-looking men in suits. Fans have requested 6-inch Indiana Jones figures for years, and if this line doesn’t work, it might be a while before anyone tries again.

The history of Indiana Jones toys is fraught with missteps. After Kenner’s success with Star Wars toys, they made an extensive Raiders of the Lost Ark line with figures and playsets. It had a pretty comprehensive character roster, though the peg-warming figures of the line — German Mechanic and Indiana Jones in German soldier uniform — hung around for years afterward. (Nazis are a tough sell, unsurprisingly.)

A Raid Redemption?

LJN Toys took over for Temple of Doom, prototyping five figures but only releasing three. Last Crusade got nothing, but when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came along, Hasbro went all out with a comprehensive 3-3/4 inch line covering every movie thus far. Unfortunately, the first waves were plagued by bad paint jobs and out-of-proportion hands and accessories. By the time these problems got corrected, a Temple of Doom wave saw only very limited release and a second Raiders wave became a Comic-Con exclusive boxed set. As we are threatened with again, many of the most visually interesting characters were saved for too late in the line.

It’ll be too bad if this line doesn’t continue, because wave 1 of the Adventure Series offers probably the best Raiders figures ever, with the possible exception of some imports and super high-end stuff. Waves 2 and 3 have split movies, but the first wave is entirely Raiders, featuring Indiana Jones, Marion, Sallah, Ceremonial Belloq, and Toht. Collect them all to build the Ark of the Covenant.

Hat Man Forever

Indiana Jones is the most important figure to get right, so let’s focus on him first. One version of this figure was ordered from Hasbro Pulse; the other, like the rest of the figures in the wave, provided by Hasbro for purposes of review. The Pulse figure had a bizarre face print with Indy’s eyes an inhumanly pale blue, like he took spice on Arrakis. It was otherwise Harrison Ford-like, but the pale eyes gave an uncanny valley effect. The Hasbro review sample, as seen in these pics, had darker eyes and a much better face print — unfortunately, this is a line that comes in closed boxes, so there’s no way to see which one you get. The Ford likeness is especially strong in profile.

Indy comes with multiple swap-out hands, and unlike with most other action figures, the peg joint is in the arm, while the hand contains the socket, like Mezco’s One:12 Collective figures. This makes them true ball joints rather than the standard disc and pin and allows a bit more motion. Unfortunately, he can’t hold the whip and gun at the same time as both hands for specifically holding those are right hands, but he can hold the included fertility idol in a left hand. He even comes with a fist for Nazi-punching. Alas, there is no “Harrison Ford finger of doom” hand.

Fiddly Digits

Here’s the challenging part of the figure, to be kind: the gun holster and the clip to hold his rolled-up whip are tiny, soft plastic peg-and-hole systems. It takes small fingers, 20/20 vision, and possibly a thumbtack or compass point to pry open the hole in order to push a soft peg through a soft but more rigid hole. And don’t expect it to stay in there. On our sample, the whip holder stayed in maybe an hour. A small hook would have worked better.

In addition to the rolled-up whip he has an unfurled one in a circular rotation. Odds are Hasbro couldn’t afford a poseable wire at this price point, but maybe with the boiling water/sudden cooling method you can repose it. It’s not the greatest whip for display, but it’ll do.

Coloring is smooth between Indy’s sleeves and his jacket. A lot of figures where these are separate pieces don’t do it as well. The trick is that his butterfly shoulder joints are brown like the jacket, not beige like the shirt. A dusty wash adds much; It’s nice to see companies other than McFarlane realize that a little dirtiness adds a lot of realism. His hat is not removable, all the better to sell you several different hat-less Indy’s elsewhere in the line. The heads are mostly an easy pop-off and switch, should one so desire. We’ve waited 20+ years for a domestic-release 6-inch Indiana Jones figure, and while there’s room for improvement, this one delivers pretty well.

Can He Dig It?

Sallah is a fairly basic figure, with coiled up rope and a shovel, and perhaps not the Sallah variant most would have chosen (the red fez is a more typical Sallah style). Nonetheless, he’d make a pretty good generic Bible figure for those inclined to make such displays. He and Indy can carry the Ark of the Covenant, more or less, which you can assemble with pieces from each of the five figures. Every inner package contains instructions along with figures and accessories wrapped in tissue paper printed like maps.

Sallah has the weakest likeness with the simplest eyes while Belloq is the best with a super-detailed face. He only wore this costume for one scene, but it’s visually distinctive, and this version was a rare mail-away in the original line. Hasbro’s probably never going to make a figure with an actual exploding head, but you can pop it off to simulate his fate.

Toht ‘n’ Kopf

Toht, however, does come with his gruesome melty face, though only one hat that fits on both heads. An odd feature on him is that his shirt collar is a separate piece from his suited body, so in some poses you can see a cut there and flesh tone between collar and rest-of-shirt. Something to watch for.

His jacket cape slips on and off easily, and his gloved hand holds a small Luger gun. Switch it out for the amulet-burned, ungloved right hand if you wish. The glasses are well-executed and nonremovable. Note that Toht is not a large man, so his suited body isn’t, er, suit-able for other six-inch figures in other lines, generally.

Finally, there’s Marion, in her signature red-pants outfit. It’s a good likeness, and she comes with a frying pan and a somewhat articulated monkey, who moves at the neck, shoulders, and tail. His forearms are bent at the elbow, so don’t even think about making him do the Nazi salute. The best way to sit him on Marion’s shoulder is to tuck the tail under her hair.

Articulation is tough to assess when so many of the figures have long plastic robes and shirts obscuring the joints. But most have a ball joint at the waist, a big improvement over Star Wars Black Series having no waist joint and an upper-torso ball. Marion is the exception, as hers does ride a bit higher in the torso.

Like to Move It

For the most part, the necks are double-ball, hips are true ball, and most of the others (shoulder, elbow, knee) are disc and pin, with the standard pin-and-rocker ankle. To the extent that they have butterfly shoulder joints, most figures have them quite restricted by clothing. They also include upper-thigh cuts.

The Ark isn’t quite movie accurate, in that you can’t just slide poles into it to carry it. The side poles are made up of three parts, and cannot be assembled as poles separate from the Ark itself. Not a big deal. The lid does open, and it won’t kill you, though you can and should feel free to Photoshop spirits emerging.

All told, it’s a really strong Raiders wave, and it’s a shame it wasn’t followed by a full Temple of Doom wave. A general lack of confidence in Dial of Destiny’s toy potential has instead seen its full wave split in two and combined with half-waves of Temple of Doom and Last Crusade, with buildable accessories from those two films. And let’s face it, Antonio Banderas’ Renaldo isn’t going to be flying off shelves in a world where G.I. Joe’s Shipwreck exists.

Riding Into the Sunset?

At least some of the figures many have always wanted did at last get made. All of them won’t.

Take a look through the images below for more looks.