Indiana Jones 12" Figures
Whipping Indy and Talking Indy


I expect I'll be doing an awful lot of collectible reviews for a) Dark Knight and b) Indiana Jones over the next couple weeks. Today I continue with the Indy reviews I started last week, covering two of the new 12" figures from Hasbro.

Hasbro is actually doing five 12" figures that are in this first release - two versions of Indiana Jones based on Raiders, a Cairo Swordsman and a German Soldier also based on Raiders, and a Mutt Williams, obviously based on the new movie. I haven't found the Cairo Swordsman yet, but I did pick up the other four, and I'll be reviewing the two versions of Indy tonight.

There are several other companies coming out with sixth scale versions of Indy this year, including Sideshow, Medicom and Takara. These figures will range in price from $90 to $400, depending on which one you pick up, and while they might be ideally the figures a collector would want, there will be many who can't afford those kind of prices. And let's not forget, nobody in their right mind would buy one of those for their 7 year old son to tear around the back yard.

That's where the line from Hasbro comes in. These figures aren't going to be of the same quality as the others, but then they can't be - they only cost $20! Yes, let me say that again...twenty dollars. Considering that pretty much every mass market licensed 12" figure these days, including those hollow plastic DC figures Mattel is doing, cost around $30, I have to say I was pretty surprised by the price point.

These are not supposed to hit stores before May 1st, but as you can tell, some stores are ignoring that. I picked mine up at Target, and Toys R Us and other retailers should have them soon. You can also buy them through several of my sponsors, listed at the end of the review.

Packaging - whipping Indy ***1/2; talking Indy ***
Hasbro is one of the best mass market large toy companies when it comes to their packaging. Rather than do the same thing over and over, they try to be as creative as they can with each release. With the 12" line, they've gone with an entirely new box design, and I like it quite a bit.

The plastic cover in the center actually sticks out from the box a bit, and I thought it would crush easily. It does, but it pops right back as well, so it should hold up to shelf and storage wear. This center plastic turns out to be a plastic cover over the interior cardboard tray, and it just lifts right off! In fact, other than a couple rubber bands and one twisty tie, the packaging is collector friendly, and you could easily return Indy to the box if you felt the need. Let's not get crazy here - this isn't like the excellent work by Hot Toys or Sideshow, but it is quite a bit better than the usual mass market box.

In fact, these collector friendly aspect falls apart a bit with the talking Indy, because the golden Idol is sealed against the inner tray, and you'll have to tear things up to remove that. For that he loses a half star over the whipping Indy package.

It also sports some personalization on the back, always a big plus. Each character gets some info specific to them, and there's also photos of the rest of the line up as well as a very good explanation of any action features or sound effects.

Inside the package is your "Ticket to Adventure" booklet and stamp. I mentioned that with the two packs, I didn't see any mention of the mail away offer, but I'm now guessing that's because the two packs don't count toward any of the mail away items. The 12" figures DO have the offer included, but it's going to be one that costs you.

I like the way they've designed the little booklet. It's sort of passport style, and you affix four stamps that look like actual postal stamps from the various 12" figures on the inside, fill out your information and send it in to get your very cool looking sixth scale Ark of the Covenant. However, the shipping and handling fee is going to hurt - $9.99! So to get this Ark, you'll need to spend $80 on figures, and another $10 on s/h. It better be a damn sweet Ark.

Sculpting - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy **
When it comes to most aspects of these two figures, there's a lot of sharing and reuse. However, this is not the case with the head sculpts, which are distinctly different.

These figures are quite cheap compared to others that we'll be seeing, and you have to take that into consideration of course. You can't compare this Indy to a $90 Indy without taking into consideration the differences in price. You can compare it to other $20 sixth scale figures however, and you should keep that in mind as you review it.

But when it comes to price, there are two factors - fixed cost and unit cost. Fixed costs are those things that you incur no matter how many figures you make, like the cost of tooling, the costs of the prototype/sculpting work, the cost of licensing (usually), etc. Unit costs are those costs that rise by some incremental unit for every figure produced - cost of plastic, cost of material for the outfits, costs of actual labor to assemble and paint, etc. For small specialty market companies, fixed costs are a huge part of their profit equation, because the run size of any figure is very low, and those often large fixed costs aren't spread over very many figures. On the other hand, for large companies producing mass market figures in the tens and hundreds of thousands (I suspect the days of millions of a single action figure are long gone, or at least the exception rather than the rule), the fixed costs are far less of an issue, being spread over so many figures. For them, controlling unit costs becomes critical.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to explain why even with a $20 figure, I'm being so hard on the sculpt. The quality and accuracy of the sculpt is largely a fixed cost (short of the manufacturing process botching it entirely), and getting a great looking head sculpt should not be a major issue for a figure like these. Hiring a guy like Trevor Grove (the man doing the excellent Sideshow Indy head sculpts) to do the up front work wouldn't add any appreciable cost to this figure, and so I'm far less forgiving here than I would be with something like the Outfit or Accessories, which you'll see further down.

Even considering all this, the whipping Indy doesn't have too bad a head sculpt. Harrison as Indy is in there some place, and going with the sculpted head and hat as one piece was a very smart idea. Of course, Sideshow is doing the same thing, but I could have easily seen Hasbro go with a separate hat, as they did with the talking version here.

By going as a one piece, they were able to make the hat look much more normal and properly scaled. It's tilted back slightly on his head too, making it easier to see his face. The nose has a bit of the crookedness to it, but there's no sign that I can find of his trademark scar. The expression is good, and I think that with a different paint job (the mass market work hurts) this head sculpt wouldn't be nearly as bad as I expected.

The whipping Indy would have gotten another half star in fact, but for the lame, standard Joe hand sculpts. These hold the accessories all right, and the right hand even has a spring action to keep it tight on the whip, but as far as appearance goes, they lack.

The talking Indy is a different story. They went with a separate hat, which will go into his Outfit score and hurt it. The head sculpt is very different from the whipping version, and not just because the mouth moves. Yes, there is actually a soft rubber skin over the entire head, with a hard skull underneath. The jaw on this featureless skull moves up and down when you press the button in back, making it appear somewhat like he's talking. I'll discuss this action feature more in detail later.

This mechanism results in a poorer looking Indy, because the underlying 'skull' creates a fat, round face, with a short stubby neck. Sure, the sculpt itself has some issues, like a very straight, thin nose. He reminds me more of one of the Baldwin brothers - the fatter ones - than Indiana Jones.  But it's the use of the mechanical head, nifty as it might be, that causes the majority of the problems with the head sculpt.

They did manage to give him an amusing smirking expression, so they get some points for that. He has the same lame Joe hand sculpts, minus the nifty spring action on the right hand, and these oversized hands have a tough time working with the properly scaled hand guns.

A friend said he would make a good 'sleeping Indy'.  After posing him that way (see the final photo), I have to admit that it's the preferable pose.

These guys are a little shorter than the current standard 12" figures, although that shouldn't be an issue if you pair the Swordsman with the SS Indy.  They stand about 11 1/2" tall without the hats.

Paint - ***
Interestingly enough, while the paint job probably interferes with being able to truly judge how good the head sculpt on the whipping version is, it's still not bad for a mass market release. The work is very clean on both faces, with sharp straight eyes, clean hair lines, and even a relatively decent job on the stubble. The effect is still a bit heavy handed and more toy-like, but that's the market these are aiming for. Paint operations are a unit cost, and I'm not surprised to see some cut backs here on even a large run figure like these.

Articulation - **
Hasbro has at their disposal a number of different G.I. Joe bodies. For the purposes of articulation, the 'SA' body (super articulated) is the best of the bunch. However, they didn't go that route with these two, and the figures suffer quite a bit for it. I suspect the reason they didn't is the sound and action features, which I don't recall ever being incorporated into an SA type body, but rather the older bodies with the larger torsos. Still, this is a big disappointment.

Let's start with the cut joint neck. I've hammered this over and over - the single most important joint on any action figure is the neck. You can have all the other joints in the world, but without a neck that can tilt and move forward and back, you'll never be able to get any truly natural, realistic poses out of it. And that's the case here, where this cut joint is going to force him to always look like he has a pole shoved up someplace it shouldn't be.

The whipping version is designed for the whipping action, so while he has a ball jointed left shoulder, the right shoulder is restricted to basic forward and backward movement by this action feature. The talking version has standard ball joints on both shoulders.

Both have the post/disc style of elbows, knees, ankles and wrists that I talked about with the 3 3/4" figures. This is a sort of single sided ball joint, and while they are great on small scale figures, they aren't up to snuff with today's sixth scale market.

Neither has a chest joint (it's those action features again), and only the talking version has a cut waist. They both have the standard Joe hips though, which work pretty well and are quite tight.

In fact, all the joints are quite tight, which is at least one plus. The only loose joint is the right wrist on the whipping version, designed to flop around when you use the whip feature.

Accessories - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy ***
By going with some reuse between the two figures, they were able to add several accessories to both and still keep the costs down.

The whipping version comes with his gun and holster, a soft rubber whip, and his satchel. The weapons are actually very well scaled, considering these are Hasbro toys. Too often their sixth scale weapons were oversized and goofy, but here the gun is just about perfect with a very nice sculpt. It lacks any sort of paint ops, being cast in gun metal gray, but I can forgive them that. Likewise, the whip is a litte short (only about 12" long) but it's a good thickness, not too bulky or silly looking.

The holster doesn't come off quite as well. The gun is going to be lost when you put it in there, but the holster does have a nifty wrap around closure that actually works pretty well, and the soft plastic material should hold up to play pretty well.

Finally, he has the cloth satchel. It's a little big, but actually opens with two snap closures, and has a fairly sturdy adjustable pleather strap. The buckles and rings on the satchel are actually metal too, making it more sturdy than you might anticipate. In fact, the only real downside to the satchel is that it's made from exactly the same material as the pants, so it blends in too much.

The talking version of Indy gets some additional goodies. He has the same gun, holster and soft rubber whip, but also has a second whip sculpted in a rolled up position, perfect for his belt. He also includes the golden Idol, a key accessory for any Raiders display. It's surprisingly well done and accurate, with two issues. First, there appears to be a round chunk of flashing on the right cheek. Hopefully this is not uniform across the run, and just a specific issue with mine. Second, the breasts are slightly under emphasized here, as is the head between her legs. I suspect that's for reasons of subtle propriety. Still, considering this is a toy for kids, the quality of the Idol is quite good.

Outfit - whipping Indy ***; talking Indy **1/2
Like Paint and Accessories, the Outfit is a category where you really have to take the cost of the figure into consideration.

This is the category I'm most impressed with, especially considering the price. Just like with the Accessories there's some reuse of course, but even then there's enough different between the two costumes to make them distinct. There's really only one major issue with the whipping Indy outfit, and only two...maybe two and a half...with the talking Indy that holds them back from better scores.

As I mentioned in the Sculpt section, whipping Indy's hat is sculpted and glued as part of the head, so that's already been discussed. he has the light tan shirt, dirtied up nicely. This is some very good weathering, even for figures costing quite a bit more than this. The shirt has faked rolled up sleeves, and a hole in the back to allow the lever for the action feature to stick through. There's no closures on the pockets, but more importantly there's only one closure on the front, down at the bottom. This snap works fine, but the shirt really needs another snap up higher. It's not a huge deal on the whipping version, since he's supposed to be in a state of disarray and the open shirt adds to that effect, but it's a much bigger deal on the talking version.

There's also a weird print on the shirt, sort of a striping down either side, that I don't recall from the film. Maybe it's just the mad cow setting in. This shirt is shared by the talking version, but doesn't have the sweat/dirt effects or the hole in the back. It really needs that extra snap though, a big issue for me with that figure.

They also share the same belt, which holds not just the holster, but also has a clip for the whip. The belt is fairly easy to remove and replace, and the peg/hole that does that is easily hidden by the holster. The belt rides a bit high on his body, but there's a little extra belt that you could punch a second hole in, and bring it down a little further on his pants.

Speaking of the pants, they're excellent. A great job of tailoring, with velcro and a snap to hold them closed. The pant cuffs fit nicely over the well sculpted boots, which are low enough to allow the ankles some range of movement. The boot sculpts and paint work is another highlight of the figure, but the boots on the whipping version are a slightly lighter brown than the talking version. I prefer the darker brown, but your mileage may vary.

That's it for the whipping version, but the talking version adds his removable hat and his pleather jacket. This hat makes for a very interesting observation, because it looks ridiculous on him...and it's the SAME EXACT SCULPT as the hat that's glued in place on the whipping Indy. Yep, hold them side by side, and it's exactly the same. But push it down on his puffy hair, with this rounded head sculpt, and it looks really bad. Bad enough that it pretty much ruins the appeal of the rest of the outfit.

The jacket isn't that bad, although it is a bit more bulky than I'd like. Getting pleather to work in this scale is very tough and I'm betting quite expensive, so I'm not surprised that the jacket is a bit out of scale. It's not weathered either, although I'm sure you'll have far fewer worries trying your hand at weather this jacket than you would trying the same thing with the jacket for the $90 Sideshow figure. BTW, those pockets on the front of the jacket are real pockets, that could actually hold stuff. What I don't know, but they're real.

Action/Sound Feature - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy ***
I'm not a fan of action features, but sound features are usually welcome. The whipping action is one of those that's fairly silly, and gets in the way with more important features like articulation. Put the arm in the whipping pose (it has to be above his head to work) and press the button on his back - the arm snaps forward with the whip and a whipping sound is played. I found that the arm had to be in just the right spot for it to work, and even when it does work, it's fairly lame. Even the whipping sound can't save it.

The talking Indy has his button on the front, right about where his belly button would be. Fortunately, they didn't make it large enough to require cutting a hole in the shirt.

Indy says the following clips, right from the film: "I hate these guys"; "I think we got a big problem"; "Archeology is the search for facts"; "Trust me"; "I don't know, I'm making this up as I go"; "Fortune and glory, kid...fortune and glory"; "That's why they call it the jungle, sweetheart"; "No ticket"; "My name is Indiana Jones"; "Snakes...why did it have to be snakes"; "Awoh...rats"; 

That's 11 clips, quite a few more than I expected, and all of them very clear. In fact, if his mouth didn't move, I'd have given him another half star for this feature. Even with the silly mouth movement, the feature works better than I expected. The detailing on the mouth and teeth is great, and the movement of the lips is actually pretty well done. I'd still rather not have it, as I think that a lot of the problems with the face is due to the structure of the jaw and mouth (they had to fit the face to the already designed moving jaw which is too round and fat for Indy), but I have to give them props for an action feature that works pretty smoothly.

Fun Factor - ***
Kids will clearly enjoy these more than collectors. However, they still needed the extra articulation that the SA body could have provided, and I'm betting that most kids will find the action features less than thrilling after the first few minutes of play.

Value - ****
Even with the flaws, these are incredible deals. Compare these to the Zizzle 12" figures for example, figures that cost $20 a couple years ago and did not have as nice of outfits or the action/sound features.

If Hasbro really wants to make collectors happy, they'd do one Indy without any action features, on the SA body, and take the money that would have been spent on the action features and put it into higher quality costuming. I'm not asking for a whole line like that - just one Indy. Even kids would love it - and collectors would eat it up as a low cost alternative to the Sideshow, Medicom and Takara versions.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Please pay extra special attention to this - MAKE SURE THE ORIGINAL TAPE IS IN PLACE ON THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE PACKAGE! Unfortunately, the way these have been packed, it is very easy for the sleaze bags to steal the special redemption book and sticker from inside. And if you want the Ark, you certainly won't be happy to get home and find the necessary stuff missing from the package.

Overall - talking Indy **1/2; whipping Indy ***
While the head sculpts aren't perfect...far from it in the case of the talking can't ignore that Hasbro has put together a nice set of accessories and good costume all for a VERY cheap price. Even the talking action feature works better than I anticipated, and I have to admit to being slightly impressed by these. Oh, I'm not suggesting you drop your Sideshow order because of them, but as a low cost alternative they aren't nearly as bad as predicted.

If these had been $30 each, these overalls would have dropped another half star immediately. Even at the excellent price point, I almost knocked the talking version down another half star. But these really are a great value, and you have to take that into consideration.

Another important factor is having a series of inexpensive sixth scale figures like this to get your kid's introduced to just how cool the format can be.  Obviously, I won't be buying my son a $100 or more figure to play with - but unless he plays with action figures in this format as a kid, he's not going to appreciate how cool they are when he's an adult.  And I want him to have that chance.  These figures are good enough and cheap enough to provide that chance, especially the whipping Indy.

I swapped the jacket on to the better figure - the whipping figure - and it looks pretty good (photo left).  The longer neck on this figure makes the jacket look a bit better in scale.  The huge lever in the back though makes the fit a bit weird, so it requires a bit more of a customization to really work.

Now here's the assignment for some plucky customizer. Buy both of these and be willing to sacrifice the talking version if this doesn't work. You'll have to find a way to remove his head and disable the moving jaw mechanism without damaging his ability to play the lines (it should be doable, but I won't guarantee it). Then swap the better head over with the satchel, and voila! The perfect combination of these two figures. Better yet, how about if Hasbro does it for us?

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy **
Paint - ***
Articulation - **
Accessories - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy ***
Outfit - whipping Indy ***; talking Indy **1/2
Action/Sound Feature - whipping Indy **1/2; talking Indy ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ****
Overall - talking Indy **1/2; whipping Indy ***

Where to Buy -
These will hit major retailers like Target and Toys R Us by the end of the week, but you can also order them online from these sponsors:

- CornerStoreComics has the first two waves listed at $90 for the sets of four.

- Amazing Toyz also has these first two waves listed at $90.

- Urban Collector has each wave of the first three waves on pre-order for $99 each. That's $25 a figure.

- Entertainment Earth has each of the waves listed at $99 each as well - again, that's $25 a figure.

- For the UK collectors, Forbidden Planet has them as singles for 17 - 18 GBP each.

Related Links -
Just last week, I checked out the first of the deluxe two packs, and not too long ago, I reviewed one of the new LEGO Indy sets, as well as the disappointing Gentle Giant 7" version of Indy.

Disney has done a few other Indy figures, including this wave of small ones.  If you're looking for something a bit bigger, check out the very cool sixth scale Grail diary, or this sixth scale figure.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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