MUMMIES ALIVE! (KENNER)
“Hunter Ja-Kal, ancient Egypt’s greatest hunter has been called form the dead to defend the young descendent of an ancient pharaoh and to command his band of Mummy champions. Hunter Ja-Kal wears the armored wings of the falcon-god Horus, giving him the power of flight.”
Like the ‘80s before them, the ‘90s had more than a few cartoons designed purely to sell toys. One of my personal favorites was 1997’s Mummies Alive!, which followed a band of undead Egyptian warriors, whose job it was to protect the young boy that was the reincarnation of their Pharaoh Rhapses. The show was decent enough, but the real star was, obviously, the toys. Kenner* handled the toyline, which was really cool, but sadly short-lived. Nevertheless, we did at least get the main Mummies, including their leader Ja-Kal, who I’ll be looking at today!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Hunter Ja-Kal was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Mummies Alive! line. He was one of three Ja-Kals in the line, and is the one of the three that depicts him in his most standard appearance from the show. The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. Ja-Kal’s sculpt was shared with the Nile-Ator Cycle’s pack-in Ja-Kal figure. It’s otherwise unique to these two figures. It’s a pretty solid offering for the time. While it’s not a perfect recreation of the cartoon appearance, it’s pretty close, and most of the discrepancies come from the figure adding in some extra details. Stylistically, he’s sort of similar to Total Justice, but without the insane expression or over-posing that plagued that line. It’s sort of a best of both worlds scenario. The proportions are still very ’90s hero, but there’s some internal consistency, and it matches up pretty well with the aesthetic of the show, so it works out alright. I suppose an argument could be made that his limbs are rather on the lanky side, but the guy *is* a mummy, so I think it’s excusable. The detailing on the wrappings is exquisitely handled; this would look good on a modern figure, it’s fantastic on a figure of this vintage. Accenting the pretty sweet sculpt is an equally sweet paint job. The base colors make for a nice match to the cartoon, plus there’s some really fun accent work on all of the wrapped areas, which successfully makes them look like they’ve been wrapped around a decaying corps for a few thousand years. Bet those things smell *amazing*. Ja-Kal originally included a bunch of snap-on armor pieces, recreating his more battle-ready look from the show. My figure is sadly without those pieces, but I bet they were pretty cool.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I got into Mummies Alive! not too long after it originally aired, but it was long enough that I missed out on most of the toys at retail. The best I could do were the goofy “Fright Sight” figures, which languished in stores for half a decade after the show was off the air. Fortunately, I was able to fish this guy out of a loose figure bin at Baltimore ComicCon about a decade ago. He didn’t have any of his extras, but at least I had a Ja-Kal figure, right? This line doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, but it was actually really awesome. I feel like I kinda need to track down the rest of the figures now…
*Interestingly, while Kenner’s name appears on all the packaging, the actual figure’s copyright stamp says Hasbro. Hasbro of course owned Kenner at this time, but the Hasbro/Kenner products typically only bore the Kenner name.