I have a huge collection of Tarzan Stuff... books, comics, action figures, toys, and various movies on VHS and DVD. My collection also includes other "Jungle Heroes" that were no doubt inspired by Tarzan. According to Wikipedia, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes was first published in 1912, which means that 2012 marked Tarzan's 100th birthday! Happy Birthday Tarzan!!!
This Tarzan of the Apes book was published by Whitman in 1964. It has been in my family for some time. My mother and her siblings had it when they were just kids, and it was always kicking around the house when I was growing up. When I started seriously collecting Tarzan stuff, the first thing I did was to find this book and put it on my shelf! Of course, I read it too!
Here is an illustration from the Whitman book to show how Tarzan was depicted.
This is the Grosset & Dunlap hardcover edition of Tarzan Lord of the Jungle. The original copyright date is 1928, but I think this is a more resent copy from the 1950s or 60s.
This book from 1954 was published by Whitman and has several really cool illustrations by Tony Sgroi, a few of which are shown below.
This is from the inside cover.
It would be impossible to collect every single Tarzan book ever published. Even if you just collected the paperbacks it would be quite challenging. There are 24 Tarzan books in the series, and they have all been reprinted numerous times. Above is the Ballantine Books 1969 edition of Tarzan and the Ant Men (at left) and the New English Library 1976 edition of Tarzan Lord of the Jungle (at right). The cover artwork for this book seems to mix up Tarzan with Mowgli. Here is a complete list of Tarzan books:
1. Tarzan of the Apes (My favourite book in the series!)
2. The Return of Tarzan
3. The Beasts of Tarzan
4. The Son of Tarzan
5. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
6. Jungle Tales of Tarzan (This is my second favourite book in the series. Highly recommended!)
7. Tarzan the Untamed
8. Tarzan the Terrible
9. Tarzan and the Golden Lion
10. Tarzan and the Ant Men
11. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
12. Tarzan and the Lost Empire
13. Tarzan at the Earth's Core
14. Tarzan the Invincible
15. Tarzan Triumphant
16. Tarzan and the City of Gold
17. Tarzan and the Lion Man
18. Tarzan and the Leopard Men
19. Tarzan's Quest
20. Tarzan and the Forbidden City
21. Tarzan the Magnificent
22. Tarzan and the Foreign Legion
23. Tarzan and the Madman
24. Tarzan and the Castaways
There are also two children's books by Burroughs:
1. The Tarzan Twins
2. Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins
In addition to books, Tarzan has a long history in comics. He appeared in newspaper comic strips since the late 1920s and in comic books since the late 1940s. This is a hardcover graphic novel version of Tarzan of the Apes illustrated by Burne Hogarth. It was published by Watson-Guptill Publications in 1972. Hogarth is one of the original artists who did the Tarzan newspaper comic strip.
In keeping with the original Tarzan of the Apes novel, Tarzan is naked throughout most of this book. (Yay!) As this is a graphic novel it was geared toward older readers (teens and up) rather than kids, though maintains a PG-13 level without showing any explicit "boy parts". We do however get to see Tarzan's bare bum, so there's that. Three cheers for Hogarth! Here are a few examples of how Tarzan was depicted.... au naturel!
This is the front cover of the magazine with the O'Keefe Tarzan pics in it.
Oddly enough there's no mention of Tarzan or O'Keeffe on the cover. What, what???
Dakin made this 7 inch action figure in 1984. An identical 4 inch action figure was also made along with two different sized figures of young Tarzan.
In 1984 the Burroughs estate, which licences Tarzan, produced several logo style images of Tarzan that were used on several products. The packaging for the above action figure series used this artwork, as well as the Marvel comic book covers shown below. I've also seen a Milton Bradley board game, a Coleco video game, Ballantine Tarzan novels, a large wall poster, and four children's "book and record" sets by Kid Stuff that used similar art.
This is a two issue comic book series published in July and August 1984 by Marvel.
I love the artwork for Tarzan in this image so I had to include a nice close up!
This is a very sexy Tarzan!
This is how Tarzan was depicted in the comic, from issue 2. Very cool artwork!
As mentioned above, in the original 1912 novel Tarzan is actually naked throughout most of the story. He doesn't wear a loincloth until toward the end of the book when he first sees another human being in a nearby tribe, who he ends up killing and stealing from... which is how he gets his loincloth. Although this was a kids comic book Marvel Comics went ahead an showed Tarzan completely buck naked (shown above and below from issue 2). Of course they obscured his boy parts but had no problem showing his bare behind. Times have certainly changed! Imagine a comic book company making a kids comic book like this nowadays! People have become so politically correct that Marvel would have been torn asunder, not unlike being attacked by Sabor or an angry Kerchak! LOL :) I think it's pretty cool that Marvel went this route and presented the story to kids the way the original novel was written. It's unfortunate that we live in such a prudish world! But that's just me, plus I collect Tarzan stuff so I'm kinda biased! Just a little! ;)
Hey look! Tarzan has a bubble bum! :)
Here is a Tarzan Pop-up Book published by Random House in 1984. Below is the last page in the book showing several of the pop-up characters.
I bought this Tarzan figure on e-bay. The packaging, head sculpt as well as both arms and legs are similar to the Epic Tarzan 5 inch figures from 1995, but the chest/body section is completely different. There is no date or makers information on the card, so I suspect that this might be a bootleg Tarzan figure. Nothing is printed on the back of the card, it's just blank cardboard. I actually like this figure better than the original Trendmasters version.
Also in 1995, three PVC figures of Tarzan were available in France, made by Disjorsa. They are 4 inches tall. I have two of them, shown above. The third figure is Tarzan with his legs shaped as though he is riding an animal, such as an elephant, though it's my impression the figure was never sold with one. Each figure is very well sculpted and make for an awesome addition to the collection. My favourite is the one with Cheeta!
Then in 1999 Disney released the Tarzan animated movie...
Important info for collectors: Many online sellers, such as on e-bay, claim that this Rad Repeatin' Tarzan was recalled, however that is an incorrect myth. This toy was never recalled. What happened was, back in 1999 there was some controversy (caused by some very stupid people) that the position of Tarzan's arm combined with the action arm feature, made it appear that Tarzan was (to put it nicely) pleasing himself. Yes, roll your eyes! How stupid people can be!!! As a result, the Disney company had their Disney Store staff remove the plastic fasteners from the elbow of Tarzan's action arm, which allowed the arm to be repositioned, but the toys remained on store shelves. Such online sellers should also take note of another important fact: It is illegal to sell recalled toys!
In addition, recalling a toy is a very serious matter. The only reason a company would recall a toy is because the toy has proven to be a safety hazard in some way for children, which is not the case with this Tarzan figure. Mattel is a very responsible toy company and takes toy recalls very seriously. All of Mattel's toy recalls are posted on the Mattel website, going back to 1998, the year before this Tarzan toy was produced. You can see for yourself that no Tarzan toys have ever been recalled by Mattel by viewing their recall list at this link: http://service.mattel.com/us/recall.aspx
Here are some of the 6.5 inch figures made in 1999 by Mattel. There are six different Tarzan figures, but I noticed Mattel had simply made moulds for three figures and repainted each in two styles. So I only bought one of each figure mould.
The full series of 6.5 inch Tarzan action figures is shown on the back of the Rad Repeatin' Tarzan box.
Mattel also made this nifty 5.5 inch Tarzan bendy figure in 1999. Note that this figure has the right ear covered by hair and the left ear showing. This hair style will become the model for several future Disney Tarzan figures, including all of the those made as part of the Disney Store's "Adventures" series, and the Disney On Ice Tarzan figure. This bendy was sold individually on a bubble card as well as in a boxed gift set called "Tarzan Adventure Set" that included the bendy figures of Tarzan Jane, Kala and the Baby Baboon.
Here are the Mattel PVC Tarzan figures from 1999. These were sold separately on a bubble card.
The complete collection of Mattel PVC Tarzan figures as shown on the back of the packaging. These were each packaged on bubble cards.
In addition to the above bubble carded PVC figures, Mattel produced two boxed gift sets of Tarzan PVC figures. One set featured "Young Tarzan" while the other set, "Tarzan to the Rescue," featured adult Tarzan and included two unique figures of Tarzan and Jane. Shown above on the left (the first one) is the unique Tarzan PVC figure that was included with the boxed set. It's very similar to the figure in the middle that was sold on a bubble card with a PVC figure of Jane holding an umbrella. The Jane figure that came in the boxed set doesn't have an umbrella and is standing on a circular green base. The Tarzan figure with the spear (above on the right) was also sold on a bubble card. I included it here just for a comparison of the three figures. The crawling Tarzan PVC figure from this collection is unique enough not to be mixed up with any of these, as it's not attached to a green base.
These Tarzan and Jane figures were only available in the "Tarzan to the Rescue" boxed gift set.
This young grey ape PVC figure was only available with the "Young Tarzan" boxed gift set.
The only unique figure in the Young Tarzan boxed gift set is a young grey ape, one of Tarzan's childhood friends. The Young Tarzan figure from the boxed gift set is shown below left out of the package, standing on all four limbs. It is the same one that was sold on a bubble card with the Young Tantor PVC figure (which is also included in the boxed set). The other Young Tarzan PVC figure that was made by Mattel is sitting with some sticks in his hand, shown below on the right. It was sold on a bubble card with Terk and another ape (both of these apes were included in the gift set). There's also a Baby Tarzan PVC figure that was sold on a bubble card with Kala, his mother ape.
Mattel also produced a large boxed playset of Tarzan's treehouse that came with a "vine swinging" PVC figure of Tarzan, shown below. The playset was made to be used with the figures from the above PVC figure collection.
I don't yet have this treehouse playset or the Tarzan figure in my collection but I wanted to show what it looks like as I really think this is a cool Tarzan toy! Above is the figure as shown on the box, and below is the actual figure from a picture that I found online. As you can see, this Tarzan figure has jointed arms and legs so it's actually a small action figure rather than a PVC figure.
Mattel also made two die-cast metal diorama Tarzan figures in 1999. They are attached to a base and can spin around buy turning a wheel-like leaver on the back of the base. Below are closer views of each figure. They are each 6 inches tall including the base. Tarzan and the rocky ground section are metal while the animals are plastic.
Here is a plasticTarzan drinking glass made in Toronto, Ontari-ari-o! I forget if these were available from gas stations or a fast food store? Both sides of the glass are shown. This artwork is awesome!
Above is the Tarzan figure sold at North American McDonalds restaurants in 1999. It is a 5 inch figure with several points of articulation. It came with a log that has wheels. The figure sold at McDonalds in Europe was quite different (shown below). It is a 4-1/4 inch figure with a log base on wheels. The log is a friction toy. A finger activated leaver on the figure's back makes Tarzan's arms beat his chest. It's an awesome figure.
Here is the Read-Along book and cassette tape sold in 1999.
Many storybook versions of Disney's Tarzan have been published. This hardcover book is from 1999 and has a foil section around the title.
This hardcover book is also from 1999.
This hardcover book is titled "Studio Album - Tarzan" and is a graphic novel based on the movie.
This is a very large sized, soft cover book "How to Draw Disney'sTarzan" from the Walter Foster How to Draw series. It was published in 1999.
Here's an example of the drawing instructions inside. Several characters from the movie are shown being drawn step by step in this way. This page shows Tarzan's head, and the next page in the book shows how to draw the complete figure.
Here's my drawing of Tarzan, above, made in 2001. It was copied free-hand (no tracing) directly from an episode of the Legends of Tarzan animated TV series, which premiered in 2001. A YouTube video of the show's opening sequence is included below. I'm a huge fan of Disney's Tarzan, so I recorded as many of the episodes as I could. To make this picture I paused my VHS tape and drew what I saw on the TV. This is the exact pose that was seen on the show, I just had to add Tarzan's feet as they were cut off along the bottom of the screen.
I'll be honest, Disney's version of Tarzan is the sexiest cartoon character in existence. There I said It! He's clearly the male version of Disney's Jessica Rabbit. While I find it silly of me and a tad embarrassing to be enamoured with a cartoon character, this version of Tarzan was clearly designed by the Disney artists to have such an effect on their audience! In fact, when the movie was in theatres there was controversy in some countries because of how skimpy Tarzan's loin cloth is. It was considered as being too risqué, and rightfully so! However, being risqué and pushing the social boundary of what is considered decent or indecent has been an element of Tarzan movies since the 1930's.
The opening for The Legend of Tarzan animated series from 2001.
No matter how many times I watch this I'm always amazed at what a remarkable job the artists did on the animation for this opening sequence. It's just phenomenal! I wish Disney would have made the series available on DVD but to my knowledge it never was. I'd love to own this entire series!
This hardcover Tarzan storybook is from 2005.
In the mid 2000s a second 12 inch Tarzan figure was sold at Disney stores as part of the Adventures series. Tarzan was teamed up with Hercules, Aladdin and Peter Pan in a new action figure collection. Captain Hook was the only villain. I like this 12 inch Tarzan because it is modeled more closely after the design of the cartoon character as compaired with the Mattel 12 inch figure. Note the hair is similar to Mattel's bendy figure.
Here is a comparison of the two 12 inch Tarzan figures.
Here is the 5.5 inch figure from the Adventures series, available only at Disney stores mid 2000s. The back of the box shows the other characters that were available. Again, note the hair style. Following a trend in kids action figures at the time, this Tarzan figure was stylized to have huge feet.
This is likely the funniest Tarzan toy in my collection. Tarzan's glider vehicle was sold at Disney stores as part of the Adventures series. A nifty 6 inch figure was included. Same hair style as the Mattel bendy figure. This is the first Disney Tarzan figure to have a thin vynal loin cloth instead of fabric. The glider "wings" fold in and pop open when a button is pushed. Not only is it a bizzare looking vehicle, it's funny to think that Tarzan would ever need to use it.
Here is a side view of the glider. The figure just fits in the seat. Nice that they included a holder for Tarzan's spear. You can also see the wooden paneling detail that was added to the surface of all the brown areas. Below is the front view with the glider wings folded. A very goofy looking vechicle!
Below is the Disney On Ice souvenir 8 inch Tarzan figure from around 2002. It's made of very solid, shiney plastic and has a fabric loin cloth attached in the waist joint of the figure. Same hair style as the Mattel bendy figure.
The Disney On Ice show featured three jungle stories: Jungle Book, Tarzan and Lion King. It was an excellent show. The actors who played Tarzan and Jane did a lot of rope climbing and death defying acrobatics in the air that was really impressive, but sort of freaked me out. I was glad when they were back on the ground again! I also really liked the full sizes skating elephants in the Jungle Book story. I'll add pictures soon.
Below is a 4 inch PVC Tarzan figure by Applause from the mid 2000s. This is a very well sculpted figure and looks just like the cartoon character. I've shown it from all sides.
Here is another PVC figure of Tarzan. I'm not sure what company made it, but it was originally sold in a set with an ape figure and a book.
It seems fitting to end this post with the above item, which takes us back to the beginning (almost!) of Tarzan's popularity. It's a hand-made wooden wall plaque featuring the poster art for the 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man, starring Johnny Weissmuller. Very cool artwork!
Text and photos © Mike Artelle, 2013, 2019