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Apache Chief

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

What kind of stinking superhero loses his powers to a cup of coffee in the crotch?

Apache Chief can grow many, many times his normal size, and remain that way - all day if necessary! He is a proud, unbending, rock-hard pillar of justice; a rigid staff of liberty.

Of all the stupid things related to the Superfriends' diversity hires, naming a character "Apache Chief" may be the stupidest. Is he actually a chief, or is this like all the characters who call themselves "Doctor" without holding an advanced degree? For that matter, is he even an Apache? Or did they just decide to give him an "Indian-y" name? It'd be like if instead of "Batman," Bruce Wayne fought crime as "Vermont Mayor." You can't just slam together two "ethnic" words and have them make sense.

Apache Chief comes in seven pieces, like most of Mattel's build-a-figures. If you buy the six figures in Series 18, you can collect the pieces and assemble him yourself. There are no variants in this series, so none of the pieces are more plentiful than the others. That's a nice break from the norm, since we usually get saddled with an extra arm or leg to throw in the bin and be stuck with forever. If only BAFs were built on a single buck, we could Frankenstein together our own horrors.

Once assembled, Apache Chief stands 9¼" tall. Mattel keeps insisting that their BAFs are limited to being 10" tall (without any reasoning for why - if their contract with DC limits the figures to a specific size rather than a scale, then their legal team did something wrong), so why wouldn't they go right up to that barrier? We're not asking for a 50" figure - which we'd need to be truly in-scale - but anything under 12" seems halfassed for a guy whose power is specifically that he grows big. He's still little!

Mattel loves reusing bodies on their figures, and that extends to the BAFs, as well. Apache Chief uses Atom Smasher's arms and legs, and Trigon's chest, though there have been sculptural changes to all of them - different wristbands on the arms, no sash on the chest, etc.

The newly sculpted pieces are well done, of course: the boots have large, rough stitches down the front and back, for that authentic "mocassin" look, and the folded edges at the top have a different texture from the rest, suggesting a realistic animal hide; there are similar patches on the lower edges of his loincloth and vest, as well. The cartoon certainly didn't go that far with the details, but it did have a band there (as you'll see below).

Algonquin Commandant has unmistakably Native American features, with high cheekbones, an aquiline bridge of the nose, and a square jaw that seems to show a slight underbite. It's hard to say how close to the animation model this is, because the style of the show was so flat and undetailed, but there's no mistaking who it is.

Apache Chief was rare among the Multi-Culture Pals in that he was afforded the luxury of an origin. In "History of Doom," we see Apache Chief as a young boy (when he was still called "Apache Chief," suggesting he never actually got a superhero name). He was walking with one of the elders of his tribe when they were attacked by a bear. The older man sprinkled him with an "ancient Indian powder," which might either be an ancient powder used by Indians, or it might be a powder made from ancient Indians. Ancient Indian powder.

By saying the magic word "inukchuk" (unless you're a writer on Family Guy, at which point you think it's "ee nay chuk," because you're stupid), he could grow to 50' tall. There's a similar word - inuksuk - that refers to a stone cairn built to represent a human, but it's an Inuit word. For those who don't know, the Inuits live in the northern part of Canada, while the Apaches live in Arizona. So, not very close at all. Apache Chief was eventually introduced to the comics as Manitou Raven, but he was completely unrecognizable. This figure, though, is the classic cartoon version, a campy '70s throwback sure to appeal to Gen-Xers.

Black Vulcan | El Dorado | Toyman | Captain Boomerang | Samurai | Bronze Tiger

-- 10/26/11


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