Tarzan Figures and other neat stuff!

I have a huge collection of Tarzan Stuff... books, comics, action figures, toys, and various movies on VHS and DVD. My collection also includes other "Jungle Heroes" that were no doubt inspired by Tarzan. According to Wikipedia, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes was first published in 1912, which means that 2012 marked Tarzan's 100th birthday! Happy Birthday Tarzan!!!


With 100 years worth of Tarzan collectables, it wouldn't be very difficult to fill a museum with only Tarzan items. My collection isn't quite that crazy, but it is quite diverse. I got started collecting "Tarzan" in 1999 after I saw the Disney animated movie and bought a few of the Mattel action figures. Things just got out of hand after that!

This Tarzan of the Apes book was published by Whitman in 1964. It has been in my family for some time. My mother and her siblings had it when they were just kids, and it was always kicking around the house when I was growing up. When I started seriously collecting Tarzan stuff, the first thing I did was to find this book and put it on my shelf! Of course, I read it too!

Here is an illustration from the Whitman book to show how Tarzan was depicted.

This is the Grosset & Dunlap hardcover edition of Tarzan Lord of the Jungle. The original copyright date is 1928, but I think this is a more resent copy from the 1950s or 60s.
It would be impossible to collect every single Tarzan book ever published. Even if you just collected the paperbacks it would be quite challeging. There are 24 Tarzan books in the series, and they have all been reprinted numerous times. Above is the Ballantine Books 1969 edition of Tarzan and the Ant Men (at left) and the New English Library 1976 edition of Tarzan Lord of the Jungle (at right). The cover artwork for this book seems to mix up Tarzan with Mowgli.  Here is a complete list of Tarzan books:

1. Tarzan of the Apes (My favourite book in the series!)
2. The Return of Tarzan
3. The Beasts of Tarzan
4. The Son of Tarzan
5. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
6. Jungle Tales of Tarzan (This is my second favourite book in the series. Highly recommended!)
7. Tarzan the Untamed
8. Tarzan the Terrible
9. Tarzan and the Golden Lion
10. Tarzan and the Ant Men
11. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
12. Tarzan and the Lost Empire
13. Tarzan at the Earth's Core
14. Tarzan the Invincible
15. Tarzan Triumphant
16. Tarzan and the City of Gold
17. Tarzan and the Lion Man
18. Tarzan and the Leopard Men
19. Tarzan's Quest
20. Tarzan and the Forbidden City
21. Tarzan the Magnificent
22. Tarzan and the Foreign Legion
23. Tarzan and the Madman
24. Tarzan and the Castaways

There are also two children's books by Burroughs:
1. The Tarzan Twins
2. Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins


In addition to books, Tarzan has a long history in comics. He appeared in newspaper comic strips since the late 1920s and in comic books since the late 1940s. This is a hardcover graphic novel version of Tarzan of the Apes illustrated by Burne Hogarth. It was published by Watson-Guptill Publications in 1972. Hogarth is one of the original artists who did the Tarzan newspaper comic strip.

Dell Publishing began the main Tarzan comic book series, which Gold Key/Western Publishing later took over at issue No. 132. Shown above, at left, is the (slightly torn) cover of Tarzan of the Apes by Gold Key, No. 191, April 1970. DC Comics/National Periodical Publications continued this series with No. 207. Shown above at right is the DC Comics issue No. 212, Sept. 1972, with cover art by Joe Kubert.

 
DC Comics also published Korak, Son of Tarzan which later became Tarzan Family. Shown above is my favourite Tarzan comic cover, DC Comics Tarzan Family issue No. 66, Dec 1976. In the early 1970s DC Comics also published Weird Worlds which featured additional characters of Edgar Rice Burroughs such as John Carter.

In 1977 Marvel Comics took over the Tarzan series, though they discontinued the numbering that had been used through the Dell, Gold Key and DC Comics series, and started again with issue 1. Shown above is Tarzan Lord of the Jungle, issue No. 2, 1977, by Marvel Comics.

Tarzan Action Figures

As far as I can tell, from 1912 to the 1960s the only Tarzan figures that were produced were small one piece moulded figures that were often left unpainted. In 1966 Banner produced a wind-up tin toy figure of Tarzan.


In the early 1970s Mego made this 8 inch doll of Tarzan as part of the World's Greatest Super Heroes collection. This seems to be the first articulated action figure or doll of Tarzan. They also made a smaller 5 inch Tarzan bendy figure, shown above in close up (this figure is actually about half the size of the Tarzan doll).  In the late 1970s Mattel offered a 9 inch Tarzan doll as part of their Big Jim series. It's a rare figure to find so I don't have that one in my collection yet. It was sold with a black jungle cat which later became He-Man's pal Battle Cat for the Master of the Universe series.

In the 1980s Dakin made this 7 inch action figure. An identical 4 inch action figure was also made.

Here is a Tarzan Pop-up Book published by Random House in 1984. Below is the last page in the book showing several of the pop-up characters.


This 15 inch Tarzan action figure was made in 1995 by Trendmasters as part of their extensive Tarzan the Epic Adventure series. Two styles of the 15 inch Tarzan figure were made, the other one having a red cape and gold armour. A 15 inch Gorilla figure was also produced. This Tarzan figure has a sensor in its chest that activates a sound recording of the famous Tarzan yell. A button on the figure's back turns the sound off. The figure is made with solid plastic and is quite heavy for a toy. As shown below, the armour is removable.


In addition to their 12 inch Tarzan figures, Trendmasters also made three different sized action figure collections in the Epic Adventures line. Above is a 4-3/4 inch bendy figure, a 5-3/4 inch action figure, and a 4 inch figure. Various other characters and aliens were available in each of these collections along with different versions of Tarzan (the figures of Tarzan were from the same mould but painted different colours or given different accessories). The 5-3/4 inch figure has a button on its chest that plays the Tarzan yell, which is an awesome feature. Like the 12 inch figure, it came with various types of armor. The 4 inch figure does not have jointed legs, only the arms and head can move.

I bought this Tarzan figure on e-bay. The packaging, head sculpt as well as both arms and legs are similar to the Epic Tarzan 5 inch figures from 1995, but the chest/body section is completely different. There is no date or makers information on the card, so I suspect that this might be a bootleg Tarzan figure. Nothing is printed on the back of the card, it's just blank cardboard. I actually like this figure better than the original Trendmasters version.

Also in 1995, three PVC figures of Tarzan were available in France. They are 4 inches tall. I have two of them, shown above. The third figure is Tarzan with his legs shaped as though he is riding an animal, such as an elephant, though it's my impression the figure was never sold with one. Each figure is very well sculpted and make for an awesome addition to the collection. My favourite is the one with Cheeta!

Then in 1999 Disney released the Tarzan animated movie...

Mattel produced the first action figures to be based on the 1999 Tarzan movie by Disney. Above is the 12 inch Rad Repeatin' Tarzan, which is quite well made. The back of the figure has serveral buttons which allow you to record your voice and play it back. A separate button activates Tarzan's right arm and a recording of the Tarzan yell. The figure comes with a knife, spear, belt, wristbands and has a removeable fabric loincloth. A back view of the Rad Repeatin' Tarzan box is shown below.
 
Variation: Mattel also made a less common variation of this figure that was simply called Tarzan, and had the arm action and yell sound, but did not have the Rad Repeatin' feature. This figure also had differently sculpted hair that was styled to look like the dreadlocks were blowing in the wind, and it comes with a knife and a long green plastic snake. The box is similar to the Rad Repeatin' Tarzan box, but in place of the illustration of Tarzan yelling is an illustration of Tarzan crouching on a tree branch, and the box simply says "Tarzan" in white text next to the illustration instead of "Rad Repeatin' Tarzan".
 
Important info for collectors: Many online sellers, such as on e-bay, claim that this Rad Repeatin' Tarzan was recalled, however that is an incorrect myth. This toy was never recalled. What happened was, back in 1999 there was some controversy (caused by some very stupid people) that the position of Tarzan's arm combined with the action arm feature, made it appear that Tarzan was (to put it nicely) pleasing himself. Yes, roll your eyes! How stupid people can be!!! As a result, the Disney company had their Disney Store staff remove the plastic fasteners from the elbow of Tarzan's action arm, which allowed the arm to be repositioned, but the toys remained on store shelves. Such online sellers should also take note of another important fact: It is illegal to sell recalled toys!
 
In addition, recalling a toy is a very serious matter. The only reason a company would recall a toy is because the toy has proven to be a safety hazard in some way for children, which is not the case with this Tarzan figure. Mattel is a very responsible toy company and takes toy recalls very seriously. All of Mattel's toy recalls are posted on the Mattel website, going back to 1998, the year before this Tarzan toy was produced. You can see for yourself that no Tarzan toys have ever been  recalled by Mattel by viewing their recall list at this link: http://service.mattel.com/us/recall.aspx
 
Here are some of the 6.5 inch figures made in 1999 by Mattel. There are six different Tarzan figures, but I noticed Mattel had simply made moulds for three figures and repainted each in two styles. So I only bought one of each figure mould.

The full series of 6.5 inch Tarzan action figures is shown on the back of the Rad Repeatin' Tarzan box.

Mattel also made this nifty 5.5 inch Tarzan bendy figure in 1999. Note that this figure has the right ear covered by hair and the left ear showing. This hair style will become the model for several future Disney Tarzan figures, including all of the those made as part of the Adventures series, and the Disney On Ice Tarzan figure.

Here are the Mattel PVC Tarzan figures from 1999.

The complete collection of Mattel PVC Tarzan figures as shown on the back of the packaging.

Mattel also made two die-cast metal diorama Tarzan figures in 1999. They are attached to a base and can spin around buy turning a wheel-like leaver on the back of the base. Below are closer views of each figure. They are each 6 inches tall including the base. Tarzan and the rocky ground section are metal while the animals are plastic.


This electronic talking bank (below) was also sold in 1999 and is one of my favourite items in my Tarzan collection. It's so awesome I've shown it from all four sides! Press the leaf shaped button and Tarzan moves up and down while one of several short sound recordings of Tarzan's voice is heard. The modeling of this figure is very accurate to the design of the animated character which I really like, and in my opinion is easily the best figure of Disney's Tarzan to date. It makes me wish that the figure wasn't attached to the bank, it would have been awesome as a separate action figure. 

    
Although the mechanical function for this Tarzan bank is very ingeniously designed, the mechanism was made quite cheaply so it is very fragile. Though I left this bank safely on a shelf and only ever touched the button, the movements for my Tarzan bank have simply stopped working so it now only plays the sounds. Bummer!

Here is a plasticTarzan drinking glass made in Toronto, Ontari-ari-o! I forget if these were available from gas stations or a fast food store? Both sides of the glass are shown. This artwork is awesome!

 These Tarzan cookies were sold at dollar stores around 2000. The side of the box shows the different cookie pictures.

Here is the Disney Tarzan Spin Pop candy holder from 1999. It was originaly sold with a hard candy lollipop attached at the top of the log stump. Press the button on the handle, which is battery activated, and the lollipop would spin. The PVC figure of Tarzan and Sabor are awesome, though this is a very usless toy. Especially once the lollipop is gone! I've shown all four sides.


A Tarzan collection is not complete without a toy spear! This Disney Tarzan spear set from 1999 shoots sponge darts (shown below). The tip of the spear is soft plastic and a removale cover for the dart holder. Pull back on the back half of the spear (which has a spring inside) and let go to activate the air pump, then watch the dart fly across the room. Hours of fun!

Above is the Tarzan figure sold at North American McDonalds restaurants in 1999.  It is a 5 inch figure with several points of articulation. It came with a log that has wheels. The figure sold at McDonalds in Europe was quite different (shown below). It is a 4-1/4 inch figure with a log base on wheels. The log is a friction toy. A finger activated leaver on the figure's back makes Tarzan's arms beat his chest. It's an awesome figure.  


 Here are some other Tarzan Toys from McDonalds. The small PVC figure with the hook shown above is 3-3/4 in length and came with a part of a treehouse playset. It's from the early to mid 2000s. The kneeling Tarzan figure shown below is 2-3/4 tall with the base, made of hard plastic and was part of a series to celebrate 100 years of Disney in 2002. I'm not sure when the Sabor figure was made.

Here is the Read-Along book and cassette tape sold in 1999.

Many storybook versions of Disney's Tarzan have been published. This hardcover book is from 1999 and has a foil section around the title.

This hardcover book is also from 1999.

This hardcover book is titled "Studio Album - Tarzan" and is a graphic novel based on the movie.

This is a very large sized, soft cover book "How to Draw Disney'sTarzan" from the Walter Foster How to Draw series. It was published in 1999.

Here's an example of the drawing instructions inside. Several characters from the movie are shown being drawn step by step in this way. This page shows Tarzan's head, and the next page in the book shows how to draw the complete figure. 
 
Here's my drawing of Tarzan, above, made in 2001. It was copied free-hand (no tracing) directly from an episode of the Legends of Tarzan animated TV series, which premiered in 2001. A YouTube video of the show's opening sequence is included below. I'm a huge fan of Disney's Tarzan, so I recorded as many of the episodes as I could. To make this picture I paused my VHS tape and drew what I saw on the TV. This is the exact pose that was seen on the show, I just had to add Tarzan's feet as they were cut off along the bottom of the screen.
 
I'll be honest, Disney's version of Tarzan is the sexiest cartoon character in existence. There I said It! He's clearly the male version of Disney's Jessica Rabbit. While I find it silly of me and a tad embarrassing to be enamoured with a cartoon character, this version of Tarzan was clearly designed by the Disney artists to have such an effect on their audience! In fact, when the movie was in theatres there was controversy in some countries because of how skimpy Tarzan's loin cloth is. It was considered as being too risqué, and rightfully so! However, being risqué and pushing the social boundary of what is considered decent or indecent has been an element of Tarzan movies since the 1930's.
 
The opening for The Legend of Tarzan animated series from 2001.
 
No matter how many times I watch this I'm always amazed at what a remarkable job the artists did on the animation for this opening sequence. It's just phenomenal! I wish Disney would have made the series available on DVD but to my knowledge it never was. I'd love to own this entire series!
 
This hardcover Tarzan storybook is from 2005.

In the mid 2000s a second 12 inch Tarzan figure was sold at Disney stores as part of the Adventures series. Tarzan was teamed up with Hercules, Aladdin and Peter Pan in a new action figure collection. Captain Hook was the only villain. I like this 12 inch Tarzan because it is modeled more closely after the design of the cartoon character as compaired with the Mattel 12 inch figure. Note the hair is similar to Mattel's bendy figure.

Here is a comparison of the two 12 inch Tarzan figures.

Here is the 5.5 inch figure from the Adventures series, available only at Disney stores mid 2000s. The back of the box shows the other characters that were available. Again, note the hair style. Following a trend in kids action figures at the time, this Tarzan figure was stylized to have huge feet.
This is likely the funniest Tarzan toy in my collection. Tarzan's glider vehicle was sold at Disney stores as part of the Adventures series. A nifty 6 inch figure was included. Same hair style as the Mattel bendy figure. This is the first Disney Tarzan figure to have a thin vynal loin cloth instead of fabric. The glider "wings" fold in and pop open when a button is pushed. Not only is it a bizzare looking vehicle, it's funny to think that Tarzan would ever need to use it.

 Here is a side view of the glider. The figure just fits in the seat. Nice that they included a holder for Tarzan's spear. You can also see the wooden paneling detail that was added to the surface of all the brown areas. Below is the front view with the glider wings folded. A very goofy looking vechicle!


Below is the Disney On Ice souvenir 8 inch Tarzan figure from around 2002. It's made of very solid, shiney plastic and has a fabric loin cloth attached in the waist joint of the figure. Same hair style as the Mattel bendy figure.


The Disney On Ice show featured three jungle stories: Jungle Book, Tarzan and Lion King. It was an excellent show. The actors who played Tarzan and Jane did a lot of rope climbing and death defying acrobatics in the air that was really impressive, but sort of freaked me out. I was glad when they were back on the ground again! I also really liked the full sizes skating elephants in the Jungle Book story. I'll add pictures soon.

Here is a tiny 1-1/2 inch figure of Tarzan, the smallest one in my collection. It's from the Disney Heroes collection of mini figures that were sold inside chocolate eggs in 2004. Of all the availble mini figures, Tarzan is the rarest in the collection and the one that is most predominately featured on the box (shown below). I ate a lot of chocolate eggs in my attempt to find Tarzan, but it was my friend Marcus who found it for me in his first egg! Above I've shown the actual figure with Sabor, next to the picture of the figure on the box (with the blue background). As you can see the two figures are quite different. The figure on the box doesn't have a spear and is taking a step forward. I have no idea if this other figure was ever available or if it is simply a prototype image. Below is the box which held three eggs and shows Tarzan on the front.


Below is a 4 inch PVC Tarzan figure by Applause from the mid 2000s. This is a very well sculpted figure and looks just like the cartoon character. I've shown it from all sides.


    

Here are some nifty Tarzan PVC keychains also made by Applause.

Here is another PVC figure of Tarzan. I'm not sure what company made it, but it was originally sold in a set with an ape figure and a book.  

This Tarzan action figure was sold at Disney store and is from the Disney Heroes series. The sword lights up. Like the Disney Store Adveturers series, once again for some reason they made the figure with giant feet.

This is an 8 1/4 inch statue of Tarzan. A friend bought this for me in California at a flea market. Unfortunately there's no date on it, but I suspect it would have been made in 1999 or shortly after, along with all the other marchadise for Disney's Tarzan movie.

Here is a side view of the statue, which is very well detailed right down to Tarzan's green eyes.

This is the original box. The statue was packed in styrofoam, and the spear is a separate piece.

Text and photos © Mike Artelle, 2013

3 comments:

  1. I had one of the toys it was an ape that came with a removable mask and it made a noise when you pressed the button it was purple and had a cape and weapon I'm trying to find it. Do you know what im talking about? And help please

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    1. Hi Jamaine That's anew one for me! Sounds interesting, I'm very curious now to know what that figure is! :) Hope you find it. All the best. -Mike

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    2. Sounds like King Kerchak, from the Trendmasters series.

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