On the heels of the second Indiana Jones movie, "Temple of Doom", which was regarded by many fans as a dark film, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg got together and were determined to put together a third Indiana Jones movie that had just as much adventure as the first two, but didn't forget to have a sense of humor.
And so we were presented with INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, which if I may say, is my personal favorite of all of the Indiana Jones movies.
Within this film, Indy is contacted by a prominent businessman named Donovan, who tells him that he is searching the existing evidence to discover the location of the Holy Grail, the legendary cup of Christ. Indy puts him off, claiming that he's not convinced that the Grail exists, and that anyway, it's Indy's father, Dr. Henry Jones, who's the real expert on Grail lore. The man has spent his entire life dedicated, even obsessed, with finding it. Donovan then informs him that it is his father whom Donovan first sent on the expedition -- and who has gone missing.
Add to that the fact that Indy has come into possession of his father's Grail diary, and someone has ransacked his father's home, clearly looking for the Grail diary.
What follows is a wild adventure as Indy rescues his father from Nazis who end up chasing them both all the way to the presumed location of the Holy Grail. Along the way we discover that the two men haven't really seen eye to eye since -- well, since Indy wasn't much more than a kid, as shown in a sequence from decades earlier that kicks off the movie. Both are historians and archaeologists, but the elder Dr. Jones is a scholar, more at home in libraries and classrooms, and very unused to the sort of trouble that he now finds himself in alongside his son.
When Indy machine guns a roomful of Nazis, his father's reaction is, "Look what you did! I can't believe you did that!" When the elder Jones expresses disbelief at the level of chaos that seems to follow his son around and comments that he's not used to being chased and shot at, Indy replies, "Happens to me all the time." Incredulous at it all, Dr. Jones complains to his son, "You call this archeology?!"
But don't count the older man out completely. When being pursued on the ground by a Nazi plane, with Indy out of ammo and out of ideas, his father springs into action, scaring a flock of birds along a shoreline with his umbrella. The birds take flight -- right into the Nazi airplane, which promptly crashes.
Of course, casting the role of Dr. Henry Jones, Sr., was no easy feat. It had to be someone who could carry himself alongside Harrison Ford's legendary role, and keep up with all the action and adventure, and still provide a humorous side without losing sense of the seriousness of the situation. That would not be an easy role to fill. Fortunately, Lucas and Spielberg -- chose wisely (and if you don't get that comment, you need to watch the movie).
They got Bond -- James Bond. The original, that is -- none other than Sean Connery. If there was a better choice, given the fantastic results, I don't know what it could have been.
Unfortunately, at the time, there was no action figure line for Indiana Jones. The first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, had been capably handled by Kenner, who had designed a series of figures not too far removed from their popular Star Wars line at the time (and don't get me started on the modern irony of that!). The line did well, but with only one movie to work from, ran its course and disappeared from the shelves. The second movie, Temple of Doom, saw a larger-scale toy line produced by LJN -- unusual choice in my opinion. Given the mixed reviews of the movie and, perhaps, the unusual scale of the figures, the line didn't last much beyond a very limited first assortment. When Last Crusade came along, which even Lucas and Spielberg at the time stated was something of an "apology" for Temple of Doom, no one seemed especially interested in turning out an action figure line for it. Granted at the time, in 1989, there really weren't all that many movie-based toy lines. Star Wars had run its course, and the shelves were dominated by G.I. Joe and Transformers as much as anything, with a certain foursome of Turtles having just come on the scene. Ultimately, there just wasn't any interest in a toy line for a movie whose last outing had been something of a clunker.
However, with the arrival of the long-awaited fourth Indiana Jones movie, Kindgom of the Crystal Skull, Hasbro has taken the opportunity to turn out an extremely impressive line of Indiana Jones action figures -- that are not entirely specific to just the fourth movie. Hey, there's four movies to work with here, most of which are really in need of some good action figures. Let's face it, action figure production has become much more advanced since the days of the original movie, those Temple of Doom figures don't really work well with much of anything, and Last Crusade never even had an action figure series.
So let's give it one.
The second assortment of Indiana Jones figures is highly devoted to the Last Crusade. The assortment features such notables as a Young Indiana Jones complete with Boy Scout uniform, the Grail Knight, the lovely but treacherous Dr. Elsa Schneider, the not so lovely and even more treacherous Nazi Colonel Vogel -- And Dr. Henry Jones. Whatever my varying levels of interest in the other figures in this series might be, I knew -- him I had to have.
The figure is a superb likeness of Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones. I continue to be impressed with the accuracy of the facial sculpts, especially on such small figures (although I am sure the initial sculpts are larger and scaled down). Dr. Jones is dressed in his scholarly tweed-like suit, which I'll admit is likely to look a little unusual for those used to collecting figures dressed in super-hero costumes, military fatigues, or futuristic space armor.
The suit coat is accomplished by putting something like a vest on the figure to comprise the coat, while the figure's arms represent the sleeves of that coat. Dr. Jones also has a vest, trousers, and shoes. The top of his shirt, along with a little bow tie, can be seen, as well as the white cuffs of the shirt at the wrists.
The Dr. Jones figure isn't what I'd call the most colorful. Admittedly, the color palette of the entire Indiana Jones line is somewhat limited. Referring to the aforementioned super-heroes and space armor, Indiana Jones' adventures take place in a much more realistic setting, and the characters dress accordingly. Dr. Jones' outfit is predominantly one shade of tan, although a limited amount of painted detail compensates a bit, and for the most part is very neatly applied. This includes copper buttons on the coat and vest, slightly darker brown shoes, a small dark brown belt across the best, and a dark brown bow tie.
Dr. Jones is also wearing his hat, in its own way as distinctive as Indy's own, although I'm not sure precisely what this type of hat would be named. It looks like a fairly typical hat, except for the fact that it doesn't have much of a brim. The hat is removable, and fits on the figure's head very nicely.
Easily the smallest piece of work on this figure would be Dr. Jones' glasses. Molded as a separate piece from transparent plastic, and given gold-painted rims, the glasses are secured in place at the ears. This allowed for better painting of the eyes and eyebrows on the figure before the glasses were put in place, and also makes for a nice little extra bit of realistic detail, which is always appreciated.
Dr. Jones' accessories include the Grail Diary, presented here as a small closed book which Dr. Jones can carry in his left hand. He also has his valise and umbrella. The umbrella fits into the top of the valise, and is removable, but it doesn't actually open, so you're not going to be scaring any beach birds with it. The figure also comes with a small pistol, which I think is very unusual, since I don't recall the character using one in the movie. Been a while since I've seen it, though.
There's one other accessory. As with the initial assortment of figures in this line, Dr. Jones comes with a secret artifact in a cardboard box designed to look like a wooden crate. This box contains an artifact, and a sticker that can be used, at least until the end of the promotion to order a full Crystal Skeleton figure with Throne. I recently received mine, and it's a superb item!
No great surprise, the "relic" included with Dr. Henry Jones is the Holy Grail itself, based on the "real deal" from the movie. (Dr. Elsa Schneider comes with the "fake Grail" as an accessory). It looks a little big for the scale, but it's an accurate representation of the piece as it appears in the movie, a rather weathered, ordinary-looking cup with a gold interior.
The Dr. Jones figure is very nicely articulated, fully poseable at the head, arms. elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. Most of his articulation points feature a multiple range of motion -- swivels and pivots -- allowing for considerable movement. The ankles are not articulated, since the figure's trouser legs run a little long.
If I have one slight complaint about the figure, it's that he doesn't want to stand up straight. I don't know if this is a phenomenon unique to the figure I bought, or if it's more widespread, but as far as I can tell, one leg is slightly longer than the other, making him stand something akin to the Leaning Tower of Pisa when both legs are straight down. If this is typical of all the Dr. Jones figures, this is REALLY something that should've been caught and corrected at the outset.
It is possible to get the figure to stand up straighter by posing the right leg slightly forward and bending it at the knee. However, really, this shouldn't have been necessary.
Other than this, the Dr. Jones figure is excellent, and really, anyone who enjoyed the Last Crusade movie, and has been collecting any of the recent Indiana Jones figures, will certainly want to add this one to their collection. Unfortunately, the assortment that he's part of also been extremely difficult to find.
Personally, I am concerned about the future of the Indiana Jones line as of this writing, and am hopeful that it at least lasts long enough to get the next assortment, a Temple of Doom series, out. I know a number of people who want the Mola Rom figure, and I think it would be downright tragic if we didn't get Short Round, since he didn't quite make it out in the original LJN assortment, either. Can we cut the kid a break this time?
However, in the meantime, it's not impossible to find the Last Crusade assortment. Difficult, but not impossible. And as I said, I would expect that any Indiana Jones fan would want to add Indy's irrepressible father to their collection. I certainly did, and I'm glad I've got him. The INDIANA JONES DR. HENRY JONES figure definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!