Friday, November 23, 2012

Figure Friday: Tatanka

The story of the Tatanka action figure begins with the Texas Tornado. Kerry von Erich wore tassels on his boots when he wrestled in the WWF as the Texas Tornado. His action figure looked like this:

Enter Tatanka in 1992. Like the Texas Tornado, he wore tassels on his boots, too. And what do you know? His action figure was identical, minus the head (which was thankfully replaced with another head, one that resembled Tatanka's. There would be no decapitation victims getting action figures by Hasbro. That would have to wait until Jakks Pacific's Al Snow figure, complete with the "severed head" of a woman which led to its recall from Wal-Mart shelves).

Yes, despite the Native American's long undefeated streak, he was not afforded an original action figure, but rather a re-painted Kerry von Erich, although at least Chris Chavis's figure is supposed to have a foot in each of its boots. Worse still, the Tatanka action figure is missing its loin cloth! Uh, what I mean is, it is missing the leather covering that hung off Tatanka's belt over top of his trunks. This figure is still wearing trunks, fortunately, and they are the right color, but since Kerry von Erich never wore a leather Native American adornment around his waist, neither did the Tatanka action figure.

If you still don't believe me about Hasbro deliberately re-using body parts of existing action figures, here's a sketch of a Berzerker action figure that never came to be that again uses the Texas Tornado body. The Berzerker, I remind you, wore tassels on his boots, as well (although he wrestled with a shirt on).


To top it all off (literally), Tatanka's head doesn't even look all that much like him. Yes, the mullet and red mohawk are there, but Tatanka's face here is far too ugly to be the real thing. If the real Tatanka looked like that, he never would have had a wife in the first place to cheat on him with Paul "Max Moon" Diamond.

On the plus side, I never really noticed these inaccuracies as a kid, probably because Tatanka was off TV by 1996, while I still have the action figure to this day, meaning that my idea of what Tatanka looked like came mainly from a creation of Hasbro, not Mr. and Mrs. Chavis.

Another plus for this figure is the crucifix-like positioning of the arms. Although designed for performing clotheslines, which require the child (and hopefully not a grown man) to twist poor Tatanka's spring-loaded torso up to 180 degrees and then release it, it also happens to make the Tatanka figure the perfect victim of the Razor's Edge (as well as the centerpiece of an Easter-time passion scene). It reminds me of the even more Christ-like Arn Anderson figure, which comes from a line of WCW dolls seemingly designed to be over-analyzed by freshman English majors.

On the down side, although several figures such as the British Bulldog, Lex Luger, certain models of Hulk Hogan, and Ludvig Borga (yes, the six-month wonder got his own figure) are quite capable of delivering a convincing crucifix powerbomb, Razor Ramon is not among that group. Shame on Hasbro for having the perfect opportunity to, for once, build a wrestler's actual finisher into its action figure.


This story does, however, have a happy ending, as the 1990s Tatanka would finally receive an accurate plastic adaptation thanks to Jakks Pacific's WWE Classics action figure line. Not only can this Tatanka take a Razor's Edge, but it can take and deliver any move imaginable thanks to its many joints. And most importantly, it finally has a loin cloth.

Except it's the wrong color.

Tatanka's struggle truly is man's struggle.

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