Indiana Jones

The Story of Indiana Jones toys is certainly a long one that has traveled through more than four decades. Unlike other mainstream franchises, Indiana Jones action figures and toys were cranked out by a few different toy companies along the way, but it all began with Kenner. When Raiders of the Lost Ark was first released in 1981, Paramount Pictures knew it would be successful. It had all the ingredients needed for a blockbuster, including Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, but automatically signing movies for toy licensing deals at the time wasn’t the norm as it is nowadays. As it just so happened, George Lucas knew a thing or two about turning movies into successful toy lines, so when Paramount begin looking for toy deals, they went straight to Kenner. Since the movie had already been released in the summer of 1981, Kenner immediately went into merchandising mode to get as many products out as they could, but an actual action figure line wouldn’t see the light of day until the following year, in the spring of 1982. Since Kenner had no idea if any future Indiana Jones movies or projects would ever get made, they would use the same strategy they used for Star Wars, and try to get as many figures and accessories out as they could, and as quickly as possible. To help market the toy line, Kenner decided to call it “The Adventures of Indiana Jones” line, instead of simply Raiders of the Lost Ark. This would allow Kenner to possibly keep the line going long after the movie disappeared from theatres. The line was launched in the spring of 1982 with strong sales, and turned out to be the the success that Kenner was hoping for, but that success didn’t last long with no new Indiana Jones movies or multi-media outlets to promote a toy line. With an uncertain future, the line came to an end in 1983, and Kenner terminated their licensing deal.

“If adventure has a name… must be Indiana Jones” was the tagline from the newest Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The movie was released in 1984, and went on to become a smash success by grossing over $333 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film in the world that year. After Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1981, Paramount Pictures knew a sequel was a no-brainer. Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas all returned for the follow-up, but the same could not be said for Kenner Toys. Kenner decided to opt out of their contract in 1984, so the toy license for Indiana Jones was back on the market. The fact that Temple of Doom was being advertised as a more “adult themed” movie, probably influenced that decision as well. With the Indiana Jones license available for the taking, a small toy company called LJN swooped in and grabbed it. LJN had been around since 1970, with their big claim to fame being figures based on E.T, Michael Jackson and Dungeons & Dragons. It definitely seemed like an odd choice at the time, but the truth is, there just wasn’t a ton of interest in the Temple of Doom action figure line with the big toy companies and LJN was the only player wanting to play. The LJN Indiana Jones line was small…..I mean like only three figures small. With no playsets, vehicles or accessories, the LJN line was very short lived and came to a quiet end the same year it was released in 1984.

Despite the massive box office numbers of both previous Indiana Jones movies, that success did not necessarily translate over to the merchandising side of things. This was especially true in the toy aisles. Kenner’s action figure line was considered a moderate success, but certainly not the numbers that were expected. LJN’s attempt to revive the Indiana Jones action figure line, was a complete disaster and their licensing deal to the franchise was ended in 1985. So once again, the rights to make Indiana Jones toys was on the market. A small international toy company called Star Toys decided to accept that challenge. Star Toys was a smaller company that wasn’t really known for their action figure lines, but got the Indiana Jones toy license at an affordable price, so they felt it was worth the risk. For their line of Indiana Jones action figures, Star Toys decided to make ONE character, and that was Indiana Jones himself. That being said, Star Toys did create several different versions of Indy, none of which had anything to do with the previous two Indiana Jones movies. To say this toy line was not good, would be a massive understatement. It was a train wreck, but at least we got some new Indiana Jones toys, and that can’t be a totally bad thing.

When George Lucas formally announced that he was going to re-unite the old gang and make another Indiana Jones movie in 2008, he stunned the entire world, but in a good way. After reviving his beloved Star Wars franchise with the Prequels, it was now time for some Indiana Jones love as well. After varying attempts of creating an Indiana Jones toy line were made, Lucasfilm began shopping the Indy toy license around once again. It was quickly snatched up by toy giant Hasbro, who had previously merged with Kenner in 1993. Kenner made the first original Indiana Jones toys back in 1982, so Hasbro seemed like the logical choice. Hasbro then really blew everyone’s minds when they announced they would not only make figures based on the newest Indy movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but rather all previous Indiana Jones movies as well, to include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and the Last Crusade. These new figures would all be released within just one year as Hasbro’s Indiana Jones toy line would eventually come to an end at Christmas of 2008.

Finally, the king of multi-media, Disney, also signed on for some Indy action figures. On October 30, 2012, the Walt Disney company purchased Lucasfilm for $4 Billion. Not only did that deal include Star Wars, but also the Indiana Jones franchise. This means that Disney could now do what they wish with Indy’s world, but Disney’s relationship with the king of adventure didn’t just begin then. Disney began making merchandise based on the classic franchise, once they opened Indiana Jones attractions at both of their U.S parks (and later included Euro Disney). The Epic Stunt Spectacular opened at MGM Studios in 1989, while the Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride opened at Disneyland in 1995. Since no toy line had the rights to create Indiana Jones merchandise at the time, Disney jumped all over it by releasing toys and accessories to market their attractions. The first Disney produced Indiana Jones action figures were released in 2001, and continue their successful run to this day.

Over its storied history many quality (and some not so good) Indiana Jones products were released since 1981, and continue to this day by companies such as Kenner, LJN, Disney, Hasbro and even Star Toys to a lesser extent. Just like every toy line, the values of certain items can greatly fluctuate over time. This is based on several factors, including the item’s time period, scarcity, consumer demand and overall condition. The good news for Indiana Jones collectors is there always a demand for items from this franchise, as Kenner, LJN, and Hasbro created some truly iconic pieces. Loose individual figures from the Kenner and LJN lines can still be found on the secondary market in varying degrees. The same goes for playsets and accessories. Carded or boxed items can still fetch quite a bit of money, especially if they are the main characters. The Star Toys line of figures can be tough to find on the secondary market, as they were only released overseas. Aside from the hard core Indy collectors, there is not a huge demand for these figures. The Disney figures vary in price but most are still fairly affordable. The fact they can only be found in the Disney parks make them desirable to collectors. The Hasbro line is an interesting one indeed. Most of the items produced by Hasbro can still be easily found on the secondary market at reasonable prices, but those prices are definitely beginning to creep up a bit, especially with certain waves (Temple of Doom and Last Crusade) and accessories. The Hasbro items will only go up in time and are definitely worth picking up when found at a good price. Values on Indiana Jones items remain steady with values and prices always inching up each year. The market remains strong due to an ever present 80’s nostalgic desire and a rabid fan base. The figures, playsets, vehicles, and other accessories from the various Indiana Jones lines will only increase in value as these figures and sets become rarer and harder to find in the future. Not to mention the newest Indiana Jones movie being released in 2022, and I’m more than sure that Disney has further plans for our favorite explorer.

Click These Links to See The Individual Indiana Jones Pages

Kenner 1982-1983

LJN 1984

Star Toys 1987

Disney 2001-Present

Hasbro 2008-2011

Kenner’s The Temple
Prototype Sheet
Kenner’s Raven Bar
Prototype Sheet
Short Round Prototype
Willie Scott Prototype