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Ark of the Covenant

Raiders of the Lost Ark
by yo go re

So after totally mid Indy and totally not-worth-it Sallah, does anybody mind if we just skip to the end? Like, maybe we'll swing back around and hit these other figures, maybe not, but let's see if the BAF is worth the time and tedium of the rest of the line.

Build an acacia wood chest 2½' square on the ends and 4¼' long. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and put gold crown molding around it. Cast four gold rings for the feet, and insert gilded acacia poles through them to carry the chest. Build it a lid with two cherubim bending down to cover the top with their wings.

Doing a Build-An-Artifact for an Indiana Jones line is a brilliant idea: the Ark of the Covenant is the macguffin of Indiana Jones as a brand, but it's too big to sell by itself and too expensive to sell with a pack-in figure. So yeah, split it into pieces and help the rest of the line sell, why not? Suffer through all five figures in this line, and you can assemble your own golden footstool.

And boy, is it gold! All 14 pieces are molded from the same golden plastic, then not painted even in the slightest. Don't worry, it's shiny, but not metallic - no swirly plastic here. Unfortunately, if you look at the actual prop, you'll see that the cloth wraps around the center of the carrying bars are meant to be reddish brown fabric with tan crocheting in between the segments, and that definitely wasn't done here. It's possible this is based on the scene in the Well of Souls, but there was yellow light shining on everything there, so you can't use that as reference!

The side and end panels that come with Toht and Marion are identical, so you don't have to worry about mixing them up accidentally. I think the carvings on the ends are meant to represent the Flood, but the ones on the side are hard to see because they end up behind the poles. Great design, Bezalel, you really thought that through ahead of time! The lid is removable, but there's nothing inside. The bottom is uneven, presumably to represent the sand Col. Dietrich found in there, but it's 1) too shallow and 2) unpainted, so it just looks like bad molding. Come on, even the Adventure Heroes version got this right! And now I find myself wishing there was an Ark Ghost action figure; it would certainly be more interesting than half of what we actually got.

Marcus Brody famously says in Raiders of the Lost Ark that "the Bible speaks of the Ark levelling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it is invincible." If you remember the bit in Last Crusade where Marcus Brody is wandering around Iskenderun like a bumbling fool, you can see that foreshadowed here, because the Bible speaks of no such thing. At no point is the Ark implied to have any powers of its own: it is literally the equivalent of that foam padding Warhammer guys carry their miniatures in. It's a fancy shipping crate; it's luggage; it's packaging (you don't throw out). Heck, in 1 Samuel 4 the Israelites actually do take it into battle, and end up losing badly. So anything other than "has a lid" and "is capable of carrying an item" was made up by George Lucas. The poles are done as three pieces each: the ends and the wrapped center; they plug together through the loops on the corners of the Ark, so it won't slide off them. The lid is a tight fit as well, requiring at least a minor effort to remove.

If any line has ever needed a BAF, it's this one. There's not a person on God's green Earth who was looking forward to this Marion or this Sallah, but they're still selling because you can call the fans "Noah": they really want to build that Ark! Maybe it's time to admit that Indiana Jones just can't carry a line by himself the way Star Wars can. This is the fourth time it's been attempted, and none of them have really been a success. Perhaps Indy just needs to be a single-release character in a broader line, the way Diamond Select would do it. They didn't try to force an entire Rocketeer line, did they? No, they just made the man himself and called it a day. So make a single Indy, and if there's demand, build out slowly from there. Getting a 6" scale Ark of the Covenant is nice, but the figures you have to buy to complete it are not doing it any favors.

Indiana Jones | Sallah | Marion Ravenwood | Rene Belloq | Major Arnold Toht

-- 07/29/23

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