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Once as rare as the treasures Indy seeks
The daring adventures of intrepid archaeologist Henry 'Indiana' Jones Jr, as portrayed on screen by Harrison Ford, have been capturing the imaginations of children around the world for almost thirty years. But, surprisingly, few toys and games were produced to tie in with the original trilogy of movies. While other films like Star Wars inspired huge ranges of toys, merchandise based on Indy's adventures was kept relatively low-key. While this may have been bad news for Doctor Jones' young fans, it has turned what few toys do exist into highly prized collectors' items.
However, with Indy's latest adventure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the market has been flooded with a whole slew of Indiana Jones toys, games, and more, based on both the new and old adventures. It looks like now is the time to start expanding those collections!
Surprisingly rare toys and figures
When George Lucas created the first Star Wars movie in 1977, he shrewdly elected to make a deal with the Kenner toy company for the rights to produce toys and figures based on the characters, spaceships, and locations in the film. So when Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones series, became a huge hit for Lucas (as producer) and director Steven Spielberg in 1981, it came as no surprise that Kenner were asked to do the same for that movie. What was unexpected was the relatively small range of toys and action figures that Kenner released, and the low distribution in comparison to the Star Wars range.
In fact, the first wave of Indiana Jones toys to be distributed, in the year following the film's release, consisted of just four figures and two playsets, which were based on the 'Map Room' and 'Well of Souls' locations from Raiders. Another year later, five more figures and another playset were produced. Unlike the long-running series of Star Wars toys, the Indiana Jones range did not prove as popular and was shelved by Kenner after just two years.
On the release of the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, in 1984, the license to produce toys related to the movie was granted to another toy company, LJN. But while a number of action figures and a playset were planned, only 3 figures were ever released. No official toys were produced for the third film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
A toy collector's dream
The low numbers of toys released, and their short time on toy shop shelves, has made what Indiana Jones toys did exist before 2008 into highly sought-after collector's items. Figures and toys which are still in their original, unopened, packaging can fetch a very high price, while 'loose' figures can still fetch a valuable sum. The collectors' 'Holy Grail' of Indiana Jones toys is the 'Belloq in Ceremonial Robe' action figure. Only ten of these are believed to exist, making it a prized item for toy collectors in general.
A new line of Indiana Jones toys
With the release of Indy's latest adventure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in May 2008, the scarcity of Indiana Jones toys may be about to end. Toy giants Hasbro, Inc. have struck a deal with Lucas Licensing to develop a wide range of Indiana Jones toys and games to be released shortly before the film itself. While the original toys will still be treasures sought after by toy collectors around the globe, a new generation of Indiana Jones fans will not be left wanting for toys and figures to play out Indy's adventures for themselves!