- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue in cheek, let”s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad’s Indiana Jones Toy Vault.

Indiana Jones

Hasbro brings the latest film installment of legendary archaeologist Henry Jones Jr. to life through a complete lineup of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” figures and vehicles.

In addition to a lineup of 12-inch dolls, the company has delivered a diverse set of 33/4-inch representations of characters found in the film. The first wave includes Mutt Williams, villain Irina Spalko, a cemetery warrior and a Russian soldier; also, fans get a current and older version of Indy with khaki shirt sleeves rolled up, ready for action.

Figure profile: Kidnapped by Russian agents, Indy is taken to Hangar 51, the U.S. government’s top-secret military installation, where he is forced to help search for a mysterious artifact that can unleash incredible psychic powers. Using his whip and his wits, Indy fights his way to freedom, determined to keep the mysterious artifact out of Soviet hands.

Accessories: This gray-haired hero moves with 16 points of articulation. He gets a rocket-propelled grenade, coiled whip (which can attach to his loose belt) and removable satchel, but no hat or pistol.

Also, each of the solo-packed characters comes with a top-secret faux wooden container with an ancient relic and redemption sticker. In the case of this figure, it’s the Dagger of Atreus. Fans who paste six different stickers on the included “Ticket to Adventure” redemption form and throw in $5.99 can send away to receive the exclusive Crystal Skeleton figure with throne.

An added playability level is found in the in-scale vehicles. The best of the bunch is the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Jungle Cutter ($19.99, no figures included). The camouflage-green industrial menace has a pair of rotating blades, a firing plow projectile, foot pegs to attach figures and a place to seat an enemy soldier. Also, the vehicle’s packaging transforms into a backdrop to create one hip diorama for the younger fan.

Price: $6.99

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics offers an adaptation of the latest film through a two-part series also available as a trade paperback ($12.95), just in time for the movie’s release on Thursday.

What’s it worth: This Indy is the best Harrison Ford likeness of any of the 33/4-inch lines. When it’s teamed with a version of Mutt, some Russian soldiers and the Jungle Cutter, younger fans will absolutely get lost in the latest Indiana Jones adventure.

Indiana Jones WITH Temple trap

Hasbro celebrates the history of Indiana Jones with a complete lineup of toys based on his first three adventures. Children can take part in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade” through an enormous selection of 33/4-inch figures, scale vehicles and mini play sets.

Figure profile: Racing against his chief nemesis, Rene Belloq, to discover a coveted artifact, Indiana Jones enters an ancient temple in the jungles of Peru. Inside, he solves a series of deadly riddles while advancing toward his prize, ultimately triggering the stone temple’s collapse as he narrowly escapes with the golden idol.

Price: $9.99

Accessories: Miniature movie re-creation at its finest greets owners of this set, which contains a piece of the temple’s stone flooring with spikes on either side and a golden idol firmly secured in a centered, slotted base.

The hero, dressed in traditional Indy garb with hat and flight jacket, is hampered by limited articulation but must pull the idol out of the slot. One wrong move and the spikes will spring into him. Players must help him twist the idol base the right way and place a sandbag on the slot to free the prize.

Read all about it: Although Marvel Comics released sequential-art adaptations of all three films when they hit theaters, fans will not easily unearth these elusive treasures. Instead, I suggest Dark Horse Comics’ recently released Indiana Jones Omnibus, Volume 1($24.95). The 6-inch-by-9-inch, 352-page trade paperback collects three of the publisher’s mid-1990s miniseries about the pop-culture legend.

What’s it worth: If collectors can get past the lousy head sculpt of Harrison Ford on nearly all of his figures, they will find a fantastic selection of characters to help them assemble moments from all of the classic movies. My favorite pieces include the ornately dressed Rene Belloq ($6.99), the Indiana Jones with ark set (9.99), Indiana Jones with whip-cracking action ($6.99) and Marion Ravenwood versus a Cairo henchman two-pack (9.99).

Pop Bytes

Here’s a look at more toys and games tied to the legendary professor of archaeology and adventure.

Electronic Sound FX Whip (Hasbro, $19.99 uses three AAA batteries, included) Indiana Jones’ favorite weapon is reduced to a 3-foot-long plush thong and cracker with a hard plastic handle. Junior pushes a button near the heel to unleash cracking sounds and a bit of composer John Williams’ “Raiders March.” It’s a slick item, but Hasbro should have thrown in the fedora for a better role-playing experience.

Tater of the Lost Ark (Hasbro, $14.99) Yes, the latest themed Mr. Potato Head is the spitting image of Indiana Jones, if he were an Idaho spud. The tot gets the hat, coat and whip and can push down on the hat to get a sound bite of John Williams’ famed score. A must-have for collectors to display next to Darth Tater, Spud Trooper, Optimash Prime and Spider Spud.

Akator Temple Race Game (Milton Bradley, $19.99) This fun, time-efficient board game for the entire family centers around a spiraled temple seen in the latest Indiana Jones film. Players move miniature Indys around descending steps using dice rolls and drawing cards as they work their way to the throne-room entrance. Life can get rough as certain cards tell a player to twist the top of the tower and press down, a process that collapses some of the stairs and knocks heroes to their doom. A game takes about 15 minutes for a pair of players, but it’s a much better experience when four heroes take part. It would have been nice to have better quality game pieces (Indy is made of cheap, colored plastic) but the game’s action makes up for it.

Adventure Heroes (Hasbro, $5.99 per pair) Following in the successful steps of Hasbro’s Star Wars Galactic Heroes, the company gives tykes their own set of 2-inch-tall, slightly articulated figures spanning the Indiana Jones film legacy. The two-packs are tots’ versions of stalwarts such as Indy, Marion, Sallah, the German mechanic (you remember that fist-fighting Nazi fool) and even a mummy. My choices to fly off shelves include the Rene Belloq, Ark and Ghost set, and the Mutt Williams versus Irina Spalko package.

Indiana Jones and the Lost Tomb (Lego, $19.99, 277 pieces) The Danish block builder brings Jones’ adventures to the Lego collective in an interactive set covering a few pivotal moments from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” film. The set includes minifigures of Marion Ravenwood and Indy (with hat, whip and side pouch), two falling Anubis statues, a swinging skeleton tethered by a plastic chain, the Ark of the Covenant and a trough full of snakes to dump on the heroes. In a very clever touch, the front of the trough has an etching of R2-D2 and C-3PO. It’s an easy-to-assemble set loaded with play potential for the young fan.

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