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Originally published January 11, 2013

“Django” Action Figures Draw Criticism

by Zenitha Prince
Special to the AFRO

    Community activist Najee Ali holds an action figure depicting Calvin Candie, Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the Quentin Tarantino film "Django Unchained", during a news conference Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013 in Los Angeles. The slavery-era figures are raising questions about whether they're appropriate. Ali, director of the advocacy group Project Islamic Hope, plans to call for the removal of the toys from the market, calling the action figures "a slap in the face of our ancestors." (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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“Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino’s blood-drenched tale of slavery romance and vengeance is doing well at U.S. box offices, despite criticisms that it trivializes the horrors of Black enslavement. But the director’s homage to the spaghetti western is sparking new outrage over action figures related to the film.

Black activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), are calling for a national boycott of a set of officially approved action figures, based on the movie, which recently appeared in stores.

“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAN's president in Los Angeles, told the New York Daily News on Jan. 8. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”

The 8-inch figurines, which come complete with tailored western clothing, and authentic weapons and accessories, were created by the National Entertainment Collectibles Association following consultation with the Weinstein Company, the studio behind Tarantino's film. The 10-doll assortment depict the movie’s main characters, including Django and his wife Broomhilda, played by Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, respectively; and “house slave” Stephen, played by Samuel L Jackson.

Najee Ali, of Project Islamic Hope, joined Tulloss in decrying the figurines, telling the Associated Press that the toys are “a slap in the face of our ancestors.”

“I don’t see any dolls representing Hitler that came from Tarantino’s (Holocaust movie “Inglorious Basterds”)...I don’t see them making dolls of Holocaust survivors who are bald and starving in concentration camps,” Ali told the Daily News.

The retro-style figurines, which are intended for adult collectors, will join other memorabilia from Tarantino’s films and are available via online sites such as Amazon. So far, consumer reactions have been mixed, with some defending the products and others questioning their sensitivity.

“I really don't get it folks!! Please quit your whining! THEY ARE CHARACTERS FROM A MOVIE!!!

“I want the whole collection myself!” said one commenter.

“I am sitting here in complete shock that the struggle of my ancestors would be exploited. I found this to be very tasteless, and very insensitive. Amazon should really reconsider selling these. Slavery isn't something that should be made into a toy/doll,” wrote another.