Planet of the Apes ReAction Figure
Item No.: No. 03440 Manufacturer:Super7 Includes:Rubbery mask accessory Action Feature:Visible skin under mask Retail:$17.99 Availability: March 2019 Other: Kenner Fans Need This
If you told me that Mendez XXVI from Beneath the Planet of the Apes was made from someone who worked at Kenner 45 years ago, I'd believe you. (By an astonishing coincidence, I have been told that.) The figure feels a lot like what old-school Kenner Star Wars collectors remember, for good and for ill. I'd say the execution is a solid B+, surpassing the source material in some ways and unfortunately hitting it spot-on in others.
What I love is it looks and feels like a Kenner product. You get five joints, and limited paint. The figure's robes are cut similarly to The Emperor's legs, with flat, undetailed surfaces. (Anakin Skywalker would have curtain-like robes down there.) The arms swivel nicely and the figure is mostly molded in color - which is a virtue for getting these things to look "right." The right hand looks like it was sculpted to hold an accessory (not included), while the left hand is in a different, potentially useless pose. This is consistent with how most Kenner figures were done in the 1970s and 1980s - very few had two hands designed to hold things.
The robes flow well and look more or less exactly as they should. But take a look at that head - wow, that's an ugly head. The coloring is above and beyond what Kenner could (or would) do back in the 1970s, when kids were watching the reruns of these movies on TV. The skin has this glorious radiation-burned texture, while there are "visible man" veins and arteries along with a rosy - perhaps too rosy - hue for most of the face. It pops, it looks cool. The eyes are pale and freakish - these are the eyes of a religious zealot. And by an astonishing coincidence, these are religious zealots who worship a still-working weapon of mass destrictuion in the ruins underneath New York City. And that's where I start complaining.
On the packaging, you can see the costume's subtle subtext - rather than a cross, Mendez XXVI has a silver casing on his robes. And that makes sense - but the action figure itself has a symbol that looks more like a pointy cross. This could be a nod to the fact that a lot of Kenner's better figures got some of the details slightly off, or that it was just a goof at the factory. I don't know. It's not a dealbreaker because it's not like my eyes are good enough to get super close to see it in a bright room and notice. It's fine.
Mendez and his fellow mutants all wear very realistic human skin masks for most of the movie - and this figure includes one! Designed to be like Leia's Boushh mask from Return of the Jedi, it's a rubbery skin accessory that you can put on his head if you like. I found it dang near impossible to remove, it's so tight that I'm worried about long-term damage to the paint of the actual head if I keep taking it off and on. I'm tempted to buy a second Mendez so one stays on, and one stays off, but I'm not made of money (and I'd rather spend money on the other figures!) It looks good, and Super7 managed to avoid the "pinhead" issue that plagued some old Kenner action figures. It just made the mask too tight, and for those of you who never open your figures, this will not matter.
It's such a weird figure that I can't not love it. It fits in with a lot of old toys and for fans of those original five Planet of the Apes films, it's easy to love. If you love this style of action figure, it's worth the $20 (or less) at your local indie toy shop or favorite online toy stores. I wish it were $10, but this is a 53-year-old-movie and making toys for it is an increasingly limited audience. It's not like the kids of the 60s or 70s who still buy toys for themselves are a huge market - but if they were, they would be happy here.
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