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T'Chaka

Black Panther
by yo go re

T'Challa's father is named T'Chaka, which we can only assume means his grandfather was named T'Chaja and his son will be named T'Chama.

As king of Wakanda, T'Chaka assumes the Blank Panther identity and with it, the responsibility to protect the sacred metal, vibranium, and the honored history of his kingdom.

Getting King T'Chaka in this toyline is pretty momentous. We often say that you can judge the success of a line by how far into the supporting cast it gets, and making a figure of the hero's dad is pretty dang far. I mean, you don't see anyone making toys of Superman's parents, do you? [Two of them --ed.] Or Spider-Man's Aunt May? [A Minimate and a doll --ed.] Uncle Ben? [Also yes --ed.] Thomas and Martha Wayne? [Well technically... --ed.] Okay, fine, never mind! Look, the point is that you have to be a pretty major character for a toyline to ever get around to making your family, and this toy's existence says Black Panther now qualifies.

Of course, it helps that daddy dearest mostly uses molds Hasbro already had lying around. The majority of the figure is the same as Civil War Black Panther - the torso, arms, and feet are all the same as we saw on that toy three years ago. T'Chaka wears slightly baggy pants with wraps around his shins, so those get to be different. Of course, the fact that he accents his version of the Black Panther suit with a kente cloth wrapped around his waist and draped over his shoulder really sets him apart well! That's some award-worthy costuming right there! (Just ask the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.) The wrap is a separate PVC piece that fits over the toy's body, so you could remove it if you want, but why would you want?

The head is also new, because King T'Chaka didn't wear the same mask/helmet T'Challa did. Yes, it's still a panther-shaped piece, but the metal accents are a different shape, framing his jaw as well as his cheekbones, and with a line running back the forehead. One fun little detail to be found is the inclusion of tiny silver fangs on his chin. Threatening!

The accents on T'Chaka's suit are golden, rather than T'Challa's silver, which further helps set this toy apart from the previous one. Even his eyes are gold! The chin-fangs are silver, but they're the only bits. The paint masks on the kente cloth are hugely complex, a blend of purple, yellow, red, green, and black, in a pattern that must have been murder to get right! There's a little bit on mine that's visibly misaligned, but the design is so visually energetic overall that I don't even care. In a line (and, in particular, a specific series) that's so dark, this dash of color really stands out.

The skirt does block the hip articulation a little, but since all King T'Chaka did in the movie was stand in one place and display exceedingly poor judgement in who he should invite back to his house, it's fine. He's still got all the joints this existing mold brings with it, of course.

There's no accessory here, just the left leg of M'Baku, the series' Build-A-Figure. Since M'Baku is a normal human-sized guy, the leg doesn't look too impressive by itself.

The first series of Black Panther toys leaned way too heavily on white guys from the comics, and this second series goes too far the other way: with three nearly identical Panthers and a repainted Dora Milaje, it's leaning way too heavily on the movie. Where are the comic toys? Give us the more tactical suit T'Challa wore in Hell's Kitchen. Give us the armor he used to fight Dr. Doom. Give us Kasper Cole, with that black trenchcoat. Give us Killmonger's Black Panther costume. Give us the White Wolf if you must, but give us something. Prefer an all-movie series? Border Tribe, River Tribe, Shuri. Half this series is really disappointing, though T'Chaka definitely counts as one of the high points.

-- 02/25/19


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