Vintage Indiana Jones

July 3, 2009 | By More

Indiana Jones®, Raiders of the Lost Ark Action Figures®, Action Figure Review

One of my favorite things to ask people is, “What’s your favorite movie?”  I’ve even asked it when interviewing folks.  I use it to understand folk’s sense of humor and acceptance of geekiness.  Now, if you’ve visited this site more than once, you’ll know I’m a huge Star Wars fan and collector.  What you probably wouldn’t guess is that “”Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my all time favorite movie.Indiana Jones®, Raiders of the Lost Ark Action Figures®, Action Figure ReviewWhyis that?   A number of reasons.  One, I think taking place on Earth grounds it a bit.  You don’t have to guess at any of the physics of how things work. Second, it’s action packed, but in a realistic way.  I could go on and on, Indy’s imperfections, mummies in the desert, etc… The number one reason, however, is that it’s just plain fun.  Lucas & Spielberg planned the film as homage to the old Saturday Matinee serials. And what were those serials for?  Entertaining people. And in the end, that is what Raiders is good at.


Kenner produced a small line of Indiana Jones figures. Probably the most prolific place I remember seeing them was the JC Penny’s Christmas Catalog. Now, Raiders came out in 1981 and Indy here has a 1982 date on him.  Needless to say, they missed their window.  I would guess kids were using their Han Solo figures in Indy’s place by that point.

Obviously sculpting wasn’t at the point it is today.  Indy rightfully looks like a Han Solo figure.  Plop a hat on Bespin Han and *Poof!* Indiana Jones! Okay, maybe not.    But the face does remind me of the original Han Solo figure.

Indiana Jones®, Raiders of the Lost Ark Action Figures®, Action Figure Review

Indy’s jacket has all the right details collar and strap around the back.  Couple of buttons undone on the shirt.  There are even sculpted buttons on the shirt.

At the bottom of his khakis Indy has his trade mark brown shoes.  There is a bit of lacing evident on the shoes, as well. There are maybe three things that really keep this figure from being a perfect Indiana Jones.

One the band on the hat is brown.  I’m sure this was a victim of cost and Kenner execs saying, “What kid will notice?”  Not a big deal, in the overall scheme.

Second, the hands of this figure are horrible. After having done a great job on the rest figure, the sculptor must have let an intern finish the hands. They look more like something you would find on a bootleg rather than a production figure.

Lastly, Indy is missing his bag of tricks. Sculpted or separate it’s just not there.  The kicker is that if you were lucky enough to find the Map Room playset, there was a accessory bag for that version of Indy. The bad part is he normally wear the strap under his jacket.   Beggars can’t be choosers, though.

Indiana Jones®, Raiders of the Lost Ark Action Figures®, Action Figure Review


Indiana Jones®, Raiders of the Lost Ark Action Figures®, Action Figure ReviewThe Indiana Jones figures line seems to have taken it’s cues from the “Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid’ line.  Indy has several features in common with the Western heroes of that film. First, he has a quick draw right arm.  It’s spring loaded overhand for whip.  Underarm for his gun.To follow suit with that, Indy’s holster has an open front for a quick draw.

Lastly, he has the same articulation points: head, shoulders, knees and hips.  The odd one is the hips. Now, why would Indy have this crazy hip joint? Well, turns out Kenner did a repaint of one of the Butch and Sundance horses for Indy to ride.  No crazy dewback trap door or Speeder Bike T-bar for Indy.  He can sit like the hero he is on top of a horse. As a matter of fact, all of the male figures for the line share this ability.

Accessory’s are an action star’s best friend. Indy came with a revolver and a whip.  The whip was nothing more that a piece of string with a plastic handle on one end. The whip is held in place on Indy’s hip on a small hook.  The Butch and Sundance figures came with pistols that were rubbery, Indy’s was solid. This leads to one small problem.  Through repeated adventures, Indy lost about half of his right thumb.  He shares this affliction with a number of my vintage GI Joes.


It’s really sad this line didn’t go farther.  I think the sculpting was as good, if not better, than his contemporaries in the Star Wars line.  The action feature spring loaded arm doesn’t really mess with his appearance.  The main reason I liked these figures then and now?  They’re fun.  They had cool accessories, better than SW figure articulation, and decent sculpting.  Indy didn’t even really need a bunch of enemy’s to fight.  Any flower bed could be a jungle to explore and a soft ball couldbe a giant boulder rolling after Indy.

Well, that’s it for today.  I’m going to go dust off my Atari 2600 and play some vintage “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Engineernerd Score: 90/100

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