Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Trendmasters' Tarzan

            As proof of my terrible business sense, the first in a series of posts examining ERB's legendary hero...

            Although I had been aware of Tarzan for many years thanks to the various TV shows and old movies, I wasn't properly introduced until 1995, when the now-defunct Trendmasters toy company released a line of toys entitled Tarzan: The Epic Adventures to coincide with the contemporaneous television series, although the two had little in common besides the title.

            What makes this now nearly-forgotten toy line special is that it was not just some quick cash-in to release a man in a loincloth with several generic jungle animals, Trendmasters (a company that gathered together a whole bunch of geek-friendly licenses such as Godzilla, Mars Attacks and Voltron) decided to expand the line and fill out its corners with those other famous ERB creations, the worlds of Pellucidar and Barsoom. The line was divided into three sub-lines: the Lord of the Jungle, At the Earth's Core and the Conqueror of Mars*, with various figures, vehicles and playsets devoted to each. Thus, we not only got fairly accurate figures of Tarzan, but also John Carter, Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas.

            Truth be told, they're more than a little silly, with Tarzan decked out in various armors and weaponry that he never used in the books. But this was my first exposure to the vivid imagination of ERB, and without these toys I would have never sought out the original books, or indeed even heard of John Carter and all the rest.

             I've long since given away my originals from when I was a kid, and while I sometimes have the inclination to go hunt down the entire line, time, money and space usually put a dampener on that. But thankfully we have the internet  these days, which allows me to look back at the line via the embedded commercials above and reminisce on my first exposure to what remains my greatest literary love.

            *Although he did have one official, memorable jaunt to Pellucidar, Tarzan never actually made it to Barsoom to mix it up with the various peoples and creatures of Mars. There have been later crossovers where Tarzan has met John Carter, perhaps most notably in a Dark Horse comic book series.

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