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May movie swag review: 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'

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Indyworst_l

3boxesFinding a box of promotional swag in one’s mailbox is a common event here at EW, kinda like writing about American Idol, or playing with dolls. Last month, however, I received three boxes stuffed with tie-in toys for three prospective May blockbusters, each more elaborately packaged than the last: Iron Man, then Speed Racer, then Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With 20 separate items of swag inside my office, I realized I had to do something other than pick out my favorites and give the rest to the office-mates who, um, have kids.

So earlier this month, I began reviewing each box as its respective movie is released, rating them in categories of packaging, bounty, the coolest toy, the lamest toy, and the general feeling of swag overkill. We’ve already covered Iron Man and Speed Racer. So let’s swing our whips over the jump and take a look inside our final May movie toy box: Indiana Jones.

INDIANA JONES

Indybox_lPackaging: The box looks like one of the crates from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark,and when you open the top cover, you’re greeted with a flap coveringprinted to look like the inside of the crate: Indy’s whip, that goldidol from the opening of Raiders, the Holy Grail, and PapaJones’ grail diary. (It would seem the Sankara Stones were lost inshipping.) More impressively, you also trip a switch that plays theopening chords — you know, “da dadadaaaaa da dadaaaaaa, da da daDAAAA, da da DA DA DA!” — from John Williams’ Indiana Jones theme. When you lift thatflap, you find another fake-y grail diary on top of a thick layer ofstraw, which not only gets all over all the toys stashed underneath it,but also your office carpet. Yeesh!

Bounty: Our grail overfloweth. There’s something called the”Akator Temple Race Game,” which seems to involve fourbarrel-of-monkeys-like Indy game pieces moving down a large plasticmodel of those collapsing circular stairs from Crystal Skull; an Indy action figure from Raiders of the Lost Ark(“with whip-cracking action!”); Indy and “German Mechanic” AdventureHeroes figures; a Ken-doll sized “German Officer” figure from The Last Crusade(from the Castle Brunwald sequence, and notably devoid of any Naziiconography); a 100-piece Indy jigsaw puzzle of a photo collage ofimages from the first three Indy movies; and, no joke, The Game ofLIFE, Indy style, as you travel around the world to find the Ark, theHoly Grail, and the Sankara Stones (oh, there they are!).

Indybest_lCoolest toy: I mean, first of all, it’s a Mr. Potato Head.Then it’s got this written on the front of the box: “Mr. Potato Head:Taters of the Lost Ark”; on the back of the box, he’s referred to as”World famous Tater-turned-Adventurer Idaho Spuds.” (Better than the Star Warsversion, “Darth Tater?” Discuss in the message boards below.) In onehand, Spuds is holding a whip, albeit permanently curled into a tightcircle, while the other hand is permanently attached to a Raiders-like golden potato idol. When you press on his fedora, you hear this: “Da dadadaaaaa da dadaaaaaa, da da daDAAAA, da da DA DA DA!“Even though it only comes with an extra set of teeth — the standardPotato Head grin, to replace the “Indy smirk mouth” that comes attached— this dude is definitely going on the book shelf. 

Indyworst_lLamest toy: I mean, first of all, it looks like a coiledturd. And the electronic sound FX in this “Electronic Sound FX Whip”consist of tinny whip-cracks backed by, yes, “Da dadadaaaaa da dadaaaaaa, da da daDAAAA, da da DA DA DA!“(Annnnnd suddenly I never want to hear this music again.) I’m dubious,too, about how happy parents will be once they realize the three foot”soft whip!” they’ve given their child is less a chance to “live theadventure!” and more just a weapon for hitting things from a distance,because I doubt most kids are going to heed the warning on the front ofthe box: “CAUTION: Always hold whip handle. Do not aim at people oranimals. Do not get wet. Use only in a wide open space away frombreakable objects.” Or, if they do, it will be to do the exact oppositeof everything listed above.

Overall swag factor: Well, there’s certainly a lot of stuffhere, and Paramount and Hasbro certainly went to a lot of trouble toshow it all off. But I just don’t see many kids (or kid-like adults)exactly shrieking with glee over an “Akator Temple Race Game.” So on ascale of 10 swags, where 1 is an Indiana Jones sticker and a 10 is the actual lost Ark containing both the Holy Grail and the Sankara Stones (but, let’s be clear, no face-melting wraths of God), I’d give this box a 6.