I know. Apache Chief is late for Apache Chief Week. But he’s the star, right? Give the guy some slack!! Okay, it’s really me that needs it! It’s been a difficult week for DC Universe Classics Collectors and it’s been similarly difficult for me to work on these reviews.
First, a quick aside about current events. The subscription period is over, ending at just 60% of the required number and yet things are still up in the air concerning the subscription. “Matty” let us know on Facebook that they’ll have an update for us later in the week, but, perhaps more interestingly, Fangirl 2.0 said on Mattycollector that they’ll have to “make some decisions about the 2012 offering”. Considering the basic pitch was that the sub figures would be no more for 2012 should the sub fail, we may (or may not) have an interesting update on our hands sometime this week. As always, we’ll bring you some news & commentary once we have it.
So, on to Apache Chief…
Over the weekend, I talked a bit in El Dorado’s review about the value of the ethnic characters in Super Friends and how I tend to think they’re given a raw deal by some DC fans. The portrayals of our favorite heroes weren’t exactly the greatest in the cartoons, but, often enough, we could overlook any ambiguity because we knew the characters and their history from the comics. The show-created characters were never afforded that same safety net. In many cases, the handful of appearances that each hero made are all we have to go on. I think that’s more the problem than anything inherent to the characters themselves. I have no doubt that a strong writer at DC could turn any of the show-created heroes into much more interesting, layered characters. I can’t write them off simply because that hasn’t been done yet.
To further that line of thought, if you watch the entire run of Super Friends, you’ll find that next to nothing is ever really revealed about most of the new heroes – they just appear alongside our favorite characters. But Apache Chief does stand… uh, a little taller because he received an origin story by way of Giganta. See, in the cartoon, Giganta was the sworn enemy of Apache Chief, not Wonder Woman.
The origin of the pair is shown in the episode “History of Doom”. The episode happens at some indeterminate point in the future, when some aliens (or humans in robes, whatever) visit Earth to learn more about how it was destroyed. They watch some old tapes showing various “historical records” including the origin of Apache Chief and Giganta. Now, you have to turn off the logic center of your brain when I explain this to you. It’s a 1978 cartoon and that means it’s okay that two Native Americans were just walking around a forest in period garb, that there’s a 20ft tall bear (with boobs), and that some magic powder and shouting E-NUK-CHUK is sufficient to make one grow to 50ft tall, which, in turn, is plenty big enough to pick up a 20ft bear (with boobs) and relocate him behind a nearby mountain. Hey! Once I tell you all the parts you need to suspend disbelief for… you’ve already heard the entire origin. Fancy that. Oh, and we also learn that Apache Chief’s name is, in fact, Apache Chief.
(And if you must know, they were followed by this evil redhead cowgirl on a horse who’s strong enough to move a giant boulder and start a rockslide, can lasso a bag of magic powder from a considerable distance, and doesn’t have to say E-NUK-CHUK to get really big (and really evil). Oh, and for some reason decides to dress like a cavegirl).
Okay, so that’s not the best – but at least he got an origin and y’know… that’s something. My point about these characters receiving a little love from a high level DC writer still stands.
Anyway, you’re probably here for me to talk about the figure rather than prattle on about subscriptions and thirty-five year old cartoon horrors, right? Apache Chief is built on a basic 9″ male buck. It’s completely serviceable, but I’m kinda tired of so many of the recent C&Cs being the same height. I’m going to lament (i.e. whine about) the loss of the C&C for quite some time, but the truth is that it’s just not as cool as it used to be. I appreciate that we’re still getting unique sculpts like Nekron & the Anti-Monitor, and smart re-use is always fine with me too – it’s just the height that’s bugging me.
We all know that the circumstances (constraints?) that Mattel produces this line under have changed quite a bit since the line started, but those early days offered a lot more variety in the C&C department than this last stretch. I think the overall line has suffered for it. Apache Chief may not be the best review to talk about that in because his sculpt works and I definitely don’t want him smaller nor do I want to complaing about he should’ve been bigger because I don’t know that Mattel could’ve made him bigger (though Giganta size might’ve been nice). Still, I wish that this last batch of C&C’s weren’t all being taken to the maximum height. I know some of you will disagree (bigger is better?), but looking back I wish there could have been some kind of tiered height system and that the “maximum” had been used more sparingly.
Okay, height complaint aside. This is a well-sculpted Apache Chief. The basic buck is appropriate (and yes, there are nipples – thank you, Trigon) and some new pieces are added to get the details right – new boots, forearms, loincloth, vest, scarf, and the new head. The pieces all have some nice details – folds & stitching – to help the animated look better translate and fit in with the rest of the line. Similarly, Apache Chief’s got a great head sculpt that helps to make a great overall figure. Even better, the long hair is made of a pliable plastic that doesn’t restrict the neck movement (as is the jacket – it’s removable). Continue to Page 2…