Sunday, August 21, 2011
Merchandise on the Planet of the Apes, Part Two
Karen: In part one of this series we looked at POTA merchandise from the 70s, back in the 'golden era' of Apemania. Today we'll take a look at more recent merchandise. It's funny how toys and merchandise continue to be made based on the original films. It's a testament I suppose to their enduring charm. One note: we're only looking at stuff based on the original POTA - so you won't see anything from the Tim Burton remake here. This is certainly not an encyclopedic look at Apes merchandise but simply items we're aware of.
Karen: Most of the modern stuff is in the area of figures -and some of them are quite impressive. There are the Diamond Select/Emce figures that recreate the Mego line (it might have only been four figures from the original line -I'm not sure). From what I gather, they actually used the original sculpts to create their figures, and copied the costumes meticulously. Even the packaging looks the same. It's like a time machine back to a toy store circa 1973. I just wonder what that did to the secondary market for the Mego figures?
Karen: There were also the Hasbro line of figures. I'll just say I'm not a big fan of this line. I think they had a tough time with the apes' hair. I mean, look at this Cornelius figure. What's up with the wavy hair? It just looks weird. I do think the costumes and accessories weren't too bad. Some of these figures also came in tubes, which I thought was pretty odd packaging.
Karen: Of course no discussion of modern action figures is complete without Sideshow Collectibles. Known for their attention to detail and high quality, their Apes line didn't disappoint. Not only did we get the major ape characters, but figures of astronauts Taylor and Brent, Taylor in his slave outfit, his love interest Nova, and even some of the mutants from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Sideshow went with molded rather than fabric hair and it looks pretty good. I have the Dr. Zaius figure and it is outstanding. Most figures included some nice accessories too. Here's a picture of my Dr. Zaius.
Karen: But the very best Apes figures, in my opinion, were the gorillas made by Hot Toys. These figures are just the creme de la creme. There was a gorilla soldier, a gorilla captain, and General Ursus. Let me tell you, I have General Ursus, and he is a beaut. The costume details, the face sculpt, the hair -all perfect. He's also extremely articulated so nearly any pose you can think of is possible. His accessories include a rifle and pistol, and his awesome helmet is removable. I think this is the very best figure I have ever seen for POTA. Of course, the major catch with Sideshow and Hot Toys is the price. At anywhere from $40-70 a figure, it could be pretty costly to try to collect a complete set! I had a hard time getting the good General; I tried two on-line stores, both of which showed him as being in stock, only to have them contact me and tell me they were sold out. I kept bidding on auctions at eBay, only to get out-bid. I finally won an auction, but then the seller told me that somehow the General's hands had mysteriously gone missing! Finally I did win an auction and bring the big monkey home.
Karen: A Japanese company called Medicom produced a pretty large line of figures from the original films that included even the ape-onauts! I also really like their Lawgiver statue. They had fairly good sculpts but very limited articulation. Unlike the Hasbro, Sideshow, and Hot Toys figures, these ones were only 6" in size. I haven't gotten my hands on any of these yet but I might try in the future.
Karen: I love mini-figures, so I get a big kick out of these POTA Kubricks. I only have the ape soldiers with a horse but I believe there were at least eight different sets. Even at this small scale, there's a lot of detail, and even the packaging is pretty cool. I've seen these go for all sorts of prices. I got lucky and bought my set at a convention for $10. I later looked at some eBay auctions and saw it going for as much as three times that.
Karen: Although I never got the DVD set that included a bust of Caesar (the DVDs were actually inside I believe), I did manage to pick up the very nice Blu Ray set put out about two years ago (and at a bargain price). The films look simply spectacular -the first film in particular has just gorgeous color. There are a ton of extras, and I've spent hours watching all the documentaries and trailers. If you are an apes fan you really must see the Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary. It may have been shown on AMC or FMC, but it's worth repeat viewings. I still haven't listened to the commentary tracks on POTA yet (the only film with commentary by the way). The packaging is quite innovative, with a slip case that combines Taylor's ship and an ominous looking Caesar. The whole thing folds out, and inside is a detailed timeline that shows the two different timelines for the films. There's also a very nice book with great background on the films, as well as beautiful color photos taken from the sets. I love looking at this book! The only drawback to the set is the way the discs themselves are mounted on the inside of the case. There's a circular rubber disc for each DVD, which fits the hole in the center of each, but I've had difficulty getting mine to stay on, so they frequently wind up loose in the slip case. But that's quite minor when you look at everything you get in this set. This is a very worthwhile addition to anyone's collection.
Karen: A side-note: the photos of the apes on the discs themselves, as well as the cover photo of Caesar, are actually pictures of the folks from Apemania, who do amazing recreations of the ape characters. Their website is a virtual treasure trove for Apes fans. I highly recommend taking a look -or three!
Karen: Besides the excellent book in the DVD set, I can recommend Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo, Larry Landsman, and Edward Gross. It looks at the films in chronological order, supplying a lot of information about the behind the scenes work done to make each film. The brief TV series is also covered. There are black and white still throughout the book and an eight page color section.
Karen: Lastly, I couldn't sign off without mentioning my latest Apes purchase: a couple of weeks ago I ordered this t-shirt from Stylin online. Because as we all know, chimpin' ain't easy.