Review: Indiana Jones with the Ark of the Covenant (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: July 21, 2008
FIGURE SPECIFICATIONS – “Map Room” Indiana Jones
Since the re-introduction of the Star Wars 3.75 scale lines in the mid-1990s, Hasbro has produced two different types of basic action figures. The first are the single carded releases, which are the bread and butter of their toy universe. The other type is one that tends to go into hibernation every so often. This is the “deluxe” figure line. Essentially, these are sets that are either too large and/or too in-depth to exist at the single carded price.
The Hasbro Indiana Jones universe appears set to follow this stratification as well. Set at an MSRP of $10, the first few waves of Indiana Jones deluxe figures appeared on shelves alongside the initial single-carded offerings. Star Wars collectors already familiar with this segment of the Hasbro 3.75 scale universe will be in for a pleasant surprise at the diversity and quality of the Indiana Jones deluxe line. While some are mere two-packs of figures, many others pair a figure with a small vehicle or mini-playset. However, there is one set which pairs a figure with an all-important accessory deemed too large for the basic line.
That “all-important” accessory is a must-have for any Indy fan—the 3.75 scale version of the Ark of the Covenant. Packaged along with the “Map Room” version of Indiana Jones, this set is one of the more popular deluxe releases in this initial salvo, and it doesn’t stay on store pegs for very long. However, is it worth the price and popularity? The answer is a resounding “Yes” for the most part.
PORTRAIT: Above Average (Bordering on Average)
Between this and the “Temple Idol” Indy, this portrait looks more like Raiders-era Harrison Ford despite having the majority of the head encased in a sculpted head wrap. Unfortunately, the paint application leaves much to be desired again. The whites of the eyes still stray beyond their boundaries, and the lighter color paint of the head wrap slops onto the edges of the face. Thankfully, Hasbro’s work on the head wrap redeems many of these failings. Their sculptors did an outstanding job simulating layers upon layers of cloth through the carefully placement of the many wrinkles and crevices. While detrimental to the rating in this review, the portrait’s flaws are not as damaging in person due to the face’s size in relation to the larger size of the head wrap.
Considering the figure is not the sole focus of this set combined with the fact that the entire body is hidden by a closed robe, it would have been very easy for Hasbro to put forth minimal effort on the costume. To their credit, they went more than the extra mile and did a spectacular job on the underlying costume. The trousers and shoes are on par with what we’ve seen so far. The same is true for the belt—although it hangs a bit too loose this time. The real gem of the underlying costume is Indy’s shirt. Of course, it sports the realistic flow and folds of a real shirt, elements which were found on previous Indiana figures. This time, though, Hasbro threw in one additional touch of realism. By using a darker shade of yellow-brown in the middle of the chest, Hasbro created the illusion of a sweat stain. Kudos to Hasbro for including such an environmentally and biologically accurate element to an already exceptional costume.
As for the outer robe, Hasbro produced a soft goods costume that looks good when scaled down to action figure size. The stitching is clean as opposed to being an eyesore, and the material is very durable. The belt holds the robe together very well, aided in large part by a Velcro clasp in the back. When combined with the sculpted head wrap, this figure’s outfit is an excellent scaled rendition of the filming costume.
ARTICULATION: Above Average (Bordering on Excellent)
As with the costume, it would have been very easy for Hasbro to cut corners on poseability and give this figure minimal articulation. Again, to their credit, they gave “Map Room” Indy nearly the same amount of articulation as the single carded Indiana figures. The only joints missing are the wrist joints. Instead, Hasbro sculpted static hand poses to preserve the visual aesthetics of Indy’s rolled-up sleeves. While not very detrimental to the overall figure, it still brings the figure down to a level just below the previously reviewed Indy figures.
ACCESSORIES: Below Average
No, that’s not a typo. Keep in mind that the Ark is not counted in this category. Its size and importance have promoted it to its own category. “Map Room” Indy comes with only two recycled accessories—the coiled bullwhip and revolver. Both are just as highly detailed as they were in the Temple Idol version.
So why the terrible rating?
Because Hasbro gave us a “Map Room” Indiana Jones without the Staff of Ra!! This is an accessory that was central to the scene and vital to this rendition of Indy, but it is nowhere to be found. For all of the successes in this set, this is an extremely disappointing aspect. It should be noted however that recent Internet reports indicate that an upcoming deluxe set will be “Indiana Jones with Map Room”, which begs the question: “Why didn’t they just save this Indy for that set, give him the Staff of Ra, and make this ‘Rene Belloq with Ark of the Covenant’?” Such a pairing would have made greater sense as Belloq is a terrific stand-alone figure but only truly complete with the Ark before him.
Ultimately, the accessories in this set are a let-down despite the high likelihood of the deluxe Map Room set coming later this fall or early 2009.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT: Above Average (Bordering on Excellent)
Of all the relics, the Ark of the Covenant is the most memorable and recognizable. It is also the largest. Naturally, it makes sense to include this in a deluxe assortment offering. With only two exceptions, the Ark is an absolutely perfect translation of the filming prop. The ribbed textures are cut with machine-like precision, and the four murals on the Ark’s sides are superbly done bas reliefs. Most remarkable is just how intricate the details are on the two winged angels sitting atop the lid. The feathers are symmetrical, and each one is cleanly carved. The lid is easy to remove yet stays firmly attached, and Hasbro added a clever touch by sculpting a pile of sand on the inside base of the Ark.
The aforementioned flaws deal with scale and the completeness of the Ark. When compared to images of the filming prop, the two angels on the Ark’s lid are grossly under-scaled on Hasbro’s version. However, this is an error that would only be noticeable by side-by-side comparisons to the actual prop. The second flaw is the omission of the rods attached to the sides of the Ark, which allowed the Nazis to carry it from location to location. As most images of the Ark show it with these attachments, it is a very peculiar omission, one that could have allowed for more interactivity with the action figures.
OVERALL RATING: Excellent (Bordering on Above Average)
Despite its shortcomings in the accessories department, this figure set is one of the best products currently available in the Indiana Jones toy line. The Ark is beautifully crafted and serves as both an excellent centerpiece for collectors’ shelves and a complementary accessory for several currently-available basic figures. As for “Map Room” Indy, it is a figure of high quality and many surprising nuances.
This deluxe set is easily recommended even with a $10 MSRP. When you consider the high price tag of the basic figure line along with the inconsistent and shoddy quality of those figures’ portraits, this set is even more highly recommended because of the steep increase in quality. Rather than settle for one of the disappointing carded figures, your money will be better spent on this item.
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