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Indiana Jones and the Marketing Storm


One thing needs to be made clear from the start: I geek out over very little these days. But I do most certainly geek out over Indiana Jones.

Indy never got a big promotional push in the past.

It was only after the huge success of Raiders of the Lost Ark that Kenner got its act together and released a series of action figures and one 12" Indiana Jones. For Temple of Doom, LJN advertised five action figures, but only three made it to major store shelves. For Last Crusade, a "mature" approach was taken that saw a slew of T-shirts and a baseball cap or two.

With Crystal Skull, all of that will change. An enormous onslaught of merchandise is on its way - and a lot is already showing up in stores and on the Internet. Now it seems as if almost everything known to man will somehow be tied into Indy's latest adventure. For a sense of the wide range of products available, including fedoras, Crystal Skull keychains, kiddie backpacks, school supplies, and all other sorts of stuff, visit the official Indiana Jones shop. Most of the prices are reasonable, but the Adventure Heroes are a major exception. In stores, they're $5.99 a pack. At the online shop, they're inexplicably $9.99.

Here's a brief rundown of a few of the highlights. A few. Only a very, very few. I'm not even going to touch all those crossover promotions, like Dr. Pepper, Burger King, and Expedia.

Everything's Coming Up Joneses...

Indiana Jones Action HeroesAdventure Heroes

Believe it or not, this line of 2-inch figures, geared toward the youngest of archaeologists, is actually really cool. Even more cool than the traditional line of action figures. Part of what has turned into a long line of products that started with Star Wars and now encompasses Marvel superheroes and Transformers, they sport a caricature style that makes them fun to look at and collect.

Grade: A

Indiana Jones Action FiguresAction Figures

The new line of figures, at least in the first wave, focuses strictly on Raiders and Crystal Skull characters, although Last Crusade figures are on the horizon.

They're good and, now that I've opened up six in order to get relic stickers for a mail-in Crystal Skeleton figure, they are growing on me.

The problem is the figures seem over-engineered, particularly Raiders Indy, with his holster, whip holder, and satchel. I must admit, though, I was as giddy as a schoolboy when the relic boxes revealed treasures like Nurhachi's urn, a Sankara stone, and the chalice of Kali (ya see, I really do geek out over Indy stuff). Even so, the relics seem over-sized in comparison to the figures... and stumbling on those Temple of Doom relics this early in the game makes me wonder if Mola Ram, Short Round, and Willie figures will ever see the light of store shelves.

Grade: A-

Update: Yes, Mola Ram and the gang of Doom will be hitting shelves, supposedly around August/September.

Mighty MuggsMight Muggs

I have to admit the Mola Ram and Henry Jones, Sr., Mighty Muggs are two of my favorite "gets." So few Temple of Doom and Last Crusade goodies have been made over the years, so these help fill that void.

How can you argue with this caricaturistic slant on the villain with a heart? And, yes, the horned helmet does come off, revealing his infamously bald, red-striped noggin.

Grade: A

Indiana Jones Monopoly

Indiana Jones Monopoly

I'm not a fan of Wal-mart whatsoever. But even I have to admit they score some major exclusives on occasion. This Indiana Jones Monopoly set is quite possibly their biggest coup.

Indiana Jones Monopoly

Packed in a wooden crate, this bad boy gives Monopoly a whole new whip-crackin' look and feel.

Grade: A+

LEGO Indiana Jones Video GameLEGO: The Original Adventures Video Game

Whoa! The PS3 version is absolutely hilarious!

"The Lost Temple" chapter is a great opportunity to get used to the control scheme and play concepts. Then scoping out Barnett College pulls in all sorts of elements from the movies. While the main adventure is relatively short, it's still got plenty of replay value and overall it's a great piece of work.

Also picked up the DS version.

I wasn't all that thrilled with the original LEGO Star Wars DS game, so to be this pleased with the Indy game is saying quite a bit. Much more to follow...

PS3 Grade: A
DS Grade: B

Side note: Also managed to pick up a free LEGO Indy T-shirt and a code to unlock Belloq in his Ark robe at Circuit City. The swag was well earned. It took three trips. The first time, on the street date of 3 June, I was denied because "corporate" mandated the items go on sale Wednesday, 4 June, at 14:00! (By then, Target's display was already well plundered.) Then Circuit City didn't have the T-shirts (as advertised in their Sunday circular) when the games went on sale. To their credit, the folks at the store did call me when the shirts "arrived" about two hours later and they held on to one for me until I could make my third trip over there after work.

Lego Indiana JonesLEGO Sets

OK. They turned out better than I expected, but they're too darn pricey. The best buy is the motorcycle chase set that includes terrific LEGO figures of both Senior and Junior Jones.

Grade: B+

Indiana Jones CapsIndiana Jones Baseball Caps

The Indiana Jones store offers several different baseball cap styles, along with a large selection of fedoras.

For my own head, I've picked the three shown at right.

Grade: A / A-

The Complete Making of Indiana JonesThe Complete Making of Indiana Jones

One word: YOWZA!

Grade: A+

Indiana Jones: The Ultimate GuideIndiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide

Written by James Luceno, who wrote a young Indy novel back at the time of the TV series, has now tackled the entire Indiana Jones Chronicles. The deluxe, limited edition shown here is a fine piece of work, with a faux leather cover and really nice diagrams of some key Indy locations.

What's puzzling about this edition is that it's supposed to be limited to 500 copies, 200 of which went on sale through the Indiana Jones store. As expected, the book quickly dropped off the site. But now it's been relisted. More bizarre, the listing now indicates an August ship date, but I've already got my copy in my hot big hands.

A better title, though, might be The Semi-Ultimate Guide. Wouldn't an "ultimate" guide incorporate full details regarding the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles? And what about all those stories in the Marvel and Dark Horse comics and the series of spin-off novels?

Grade: A (Presentation), B+ (Content)

The Lost Journal of Indiana JonesThe Lost Journal of Henry Jones, Jr.

This has turned out to be a really nice surprise. I was expecting a simple paperback book. It's actually a faux leather semi-hardcover and it even replicates the classic Moleskine-style band to hold the journal together. Inside is a supposed recreation of Indy's journal after it was confiscated by the Soviets in 1957. It's the notebook featured prominently in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and on through the movies.

There are a couple technicalities worth noting. I find it hard to believe that Indy would need only one journal through 49 years of travel. And this is an over-sized edition. In Raiders, his journal was a much smaller, pocket-sized notebook. Even young Indy's journal was smaller and thicker.

Nonetheless, even though the contents are mostly scrapbook-like rather than a true notebook documenting Indy's thoughts as he traveled the world and kept in touch with the likes of T.E. Lawrence, it's still a fun piece of work and it even has a credible explanation as to why this journal's cover is different from the journal originally given to Indy at the start of his chronicles. Other neat bits include the Nazi's "wanted" posters for both Joneses junior and senior as well as "snapshots" and drawings of many of the key treasures Indy found along the way.

Overall, this is a real keeper for Indyologists.

Grade: A

Indiana Jones HandbookThe Indiana Jones Handbook

This is supposed to be a sort of tongue-in-cheek survival guide for adventurers everywhere. I'll reserve judgment until my copy arrives, along with The Complete Making of Indiana Jones and The Orion Mystery. That last title has little to do with Dr. Jones and everything to do with Mattopia Jones.

Grade: TBD

Idaho SpudsIdaho Spuds: Taters of the Lost Ark

Well... Yeah. Tap his fedora and a few seconds of the Raiders march rings out. But this doesn't quite generate the same jollies that Darth Tater did... and still does.

Grade: B

Indiana Jones: Sideshow CollectiblesPremium Collectibles

Sideshow Collectibles is expanding its jaw-droppingly awesome line of 12" Indiana Jones figures to include Belloq and Toht (complete with the Ark of the Covenant).

The Indiana Jones figure is superb. It is a 12-inch Harrison Ford and it makes the Hasbro large-size figures totally irrelevant.

Grade: A++

Note: This is a serious collectible. It's even "rated" as a "Collector's Model: Not Suited for Children Under 14 Years."

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