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The Ramayana
by yo go re

Monkeys make everything better. The Greeks knew it. The Carthaginians knew it. Now you know it. Er, wait - you probably already knew it. And the Hindus have known it for ages, too: one of their most popular gods is a monkey, and he's even got a starring role in the epic Ramayana.

Mighty Hanuman is Rama's most devoted friend and powerful ally in his quest. Hanuman Endowed with an extraordinary mind, unimaginable strength, and shape-shifting mystical powers, Hanuman can lift mountains, fly through the air, and even transform into a cat. But, are these feats even enough to defeat the demon-king Ravana's minions and free Sita from his evil clutches? Join Hanuman in his struggle to overcome both mental and physical obstacles so that his truest friend Rama will be able to return hom triumphant and with Sita by his side.

Man, who wouldn't want a magical monkey as a sidekick? Of course, in the Ramayana, Hanuman is symbolic of the mind, which makes him a mental monkey, too. See, just like a monkey, the ideal mind is always active, jumping from place to place (or thought to thought) and always willing to snatch up something new. There's no border the mind cannot cross, and no feat it cannot perform - that's how Hanuman manages to pull off such spectacular stunts.

Hanuman is wearing baggy pants, but little else. His shins and forearms are wrapped and he has a golden collar on his shoulders, somebody needs a wax but his chest and feet are bare. He's also wearing a sash that hangs down like a bit of loincloth, as well.

The figure is sculpted in a slight squat, an appropriate animal stance. Even so, he stands 6¼" tall, making for one sizeable primate. He has hinged knees and swivel hips, plus swivel wrists, hinged elbows, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck. There are no ankles, so don't plan on standing Hanuman upright. It would be nice if he had biceps or a waist: he's a monkey, he needs to be extra-poseable. His tail is soft and flexible, but not bendy - there's no wire inside.

Just like Rama, Hanuman was sculpted by Big Chief. he's rocking the Amish beard The entire body is covered with a nice coat of fur, leaving just his face, fingers, palms, toes and the soles of his feet bare. There's a swirling pattern on his collar, the cloth on his limbs looks appropriately layered, and his pants have plenty of loose wrinkles. The monkey face is a bit strange, almost cat-like, but still nice. His body is brown, but with a lightgray wash over the top. It's mostly on his chest, hands and feet, and there are shadows painted in the folds of his pants.

ornate Hanuman has three accessories, starting with his golden crown - he is the monkey king, after all. The sculpt is just as intricate as it is on the figure, and the crown is red and gold. Getting the crown to fit on Hanuman's head is a struggle, however, because it's molded from such stiff plastic. There's no "give" to help it slip down far enough to properly cling to the head, and once it's on, it pops off easily again. It looks nice, sure, but doesn't function quite like it should.

He also includes his traditional weapon, the gada mace. Ancient Indian Mjlonir The gada is a sign of strength, and also the power to rule. It's a real Indian weapon, though it didn't necessarily look like this: the figure's has a wrapped wooden handle and six fins around the head. Today many wrstling trophies are made to look like the gada, because Hanuman is sort of the patron saint of Indian wrestling.

The figure's final accessory is a strange one: a mountain. that is one stylin' monkey! During battle with the demon Ravana, Rama's brother Lakshmana was severely injured and was sure to die. The only thing that could possibly save him was sanjivani, a mixture of medicinal plants that grow in the Himalayas: about 1,600 miles away. Even worse, they only had until the sun appeared the next morning to heal Lakshmana. Hanuman volunteered to run to the mountain to fetch the plants, but could't find them. Not about to let down his beloved master, he picked up the entire Dronagiri mountain and carried it back to Rama.

I brots you a mountain... but I eated it. The accessory shows a mountain peak ringed by clouds, and it's small enough to fit in the palm of Hanuman's hand - there's even a peg to keep it in place. The figure's left hand is sculpted in a chopping pose, as opposed to the right hand's gripping fist. The package also includes a comic showing Hanuman leaping over the ocean to seek Sita on the island of Lanka - or as you know it, Sri Lanka.

Hanuman is a fun figure. He's not quite as impressive as his lord Rama, but I'm sure Hanuman would want it that way. Even if you know nothing of the Ramayana, how can you pass up a figure of the Monkey King. Heck, pretend he's Sun Wukong from the Chinese classic Journey to the West: or maybe you Dragon Ball Z fans will recognize the Japanese variant of his name? Saiten Taisei Son Goku. Didn't you ever wonder why he had a monkey tail? The gada becomes an infinitely expanding staff and the ability to leap huge distances becomes riding on a cloud, and there you go, Sun Wukong is based on Hanuman. And if you've gotten into the Four Horsemen's Seventh Kingdom line, Hanuman would make a fine resident of Animynthus. Really, Hanuman is a fun figure, and worth adding to your collection.


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