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John Shaft

Movie Maniacs 3
by yo go re

Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to ALL the chicks?


You're daaamn right.

Who is the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?

Shaft! Born on the leading edge of the '70s blaxploitation boom, John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) was a private detective in Harlem who fought against both the oppressive forces of The Man and the seemier elements of the ghetto around him. That's pretty badass.

30 years later, Shaft's nephew (also John Shaft, but this time Samuel L. Jackson) is a New York city homicide detective, and is still fighting the good fight and showing the bad men what it's all about. If there's one thing you can count on, it's that Samuel L. Jackson, in nearly any role, is going to be a badass. Pulp Fiction? Badass hitman. Deep Blue Sea? Badass philanthropist. Star Wars? Badass Jedi. Jurassic Park? Badass arm. Can ya dig it?

Who's the cat that won't cop out, when there's danger all about?

Shaft! McFarlane Toys acquired the rights to the new Shaft film, but there were a few hitches along the way, and the line was eventually scrapped. Rather than just toss out the prototype they had spent so much time on, McToys decided to just shuffle Shaft into their Movie Maniacs Series III assortment.

The only problem with this scenario was the packaging - the Movie Maniacs line was a horror-focused packaging design, including replica posters in bone- and rat-encrusted marquees. True, the case could be made that Shaft is a maniac, and thus belonged in the line, but the marquee just looked out of place, no matter how you sliced it.

To tell the truth, Shaft's inclusion in the line created quite a stir among toy fans - was Movie Maniacs intended to be a showcase for cheap slasher-horror characters like the inaugural line's Freddy and Jason, or could the titular "maniac" have a broader definition? With the next series scheduled to have a Terminator endoskeleton and an Alien and Predator two-pack, the debate rages to this day. Right on.

He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman.

John Shaft. Just shy of 7" tall, Shaft is dressed in black shoes, black pants, a black turtleneck, and his long black coat. The "cloth" is all very well sculpted, and despite being blackity-black-black, there's plenty of detail; all the clothes are distinct, having been painted with varying shades of black (which yes, being an art major, I realize is rather oxymoronic) through the use of matte and gloss paints.

Like all the Movie Maniacs, Shaft isn't very articulated, moving only at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, and ankles (plus, half of those are impeded by his coat). He's really only got one pose but, fortunately for us, that pose is pretty wicked; he's just slid his left hand back toward his pocket, pushing aside his coat and giving us a glimpse of the bright silver gun in his shoulder harness, ready to give the demons what for. To that end, the left arm is crooked slightly, while the right is ramrod straight.

For a bit of inspired oddity, you can make Shaft salute Hitler; perhaps he's found a time machine and is trying to infiltrate der Führer's inner circle? Hell if I know, but that's about the only non-planned pose you'll be able to achieve. Well, that or raising his left arm and turning him into a black Vulcan.

Strange, though; the scene from which this pose is taken sees our hero in a deep maroon turtleneck, and still wearing his badge. I suppose that having a sculpted badge would have presented its own set of problems: it would be hard to get the expected level of detail on such a small feature, and there would be the chance that the silver paint would spill onto the shirt. Oh well - that just gives me something to customize.

That afore-mentioned gun is removable, as well - the strap on the holster is made of a soft plastic, so you can whip out his piece if you need to take the thorn out of some cat's paw. Shaft also comes with a tiny pair of sunglasses, which I leave on the figure's head all the time; the last thing I need is an angry Samuel L. Jackson staring at me.

Overall, this action figure Shaft is a bad mutha--

Shut yo' mouth!

But I'm just talkin' about Shaft, and I think you can dig it.

-- 01/10/02

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