Back in 2012, Round 5 and Mad Toy Design teamed up with Bruce Lee Enterprises to create a series of designer toys based on Bruce and many of the martial arts icons with which he shared the screen. The result was a toy line called Bruce Lee’s Temple of Kung-Fu, a series of several dozen blind boxed figures including a number of Bruce variants, fellow martial artists like Chuck Norris, Jim Kelly and Bolo Yeung, and more Kung-Fu staples like warrior monks, ninjas, samurai and the white bearded Old Master.
These guys are awesome! Each figure stands about 3″ tall, and features a blank body with mostly painted details, a blank head with unique face design, and sculpted hair and accessories, which add a unique dimensionality to the figures’ aesthetic. Each figure features a ball jointed neck, as well as cut shoulders, allowing some range of motion… while I would have loved to see the wrists, waist and ankles also get articulated, the figures remain very sturdy and easy to stand with their limited moving parts.
For only a first wave, the series is impressive in its spread of characters. There are a myriad of Bruce Lee figures, including the legend in his yellow and black Game of Death jumpsuit, shirtless with black pants as seen in Enter the Dragon, in a tank top and jeans, ready for a street fight, and even dressed as Kato from Green Hornet. The figures go the extra mile, by giving each incarnation of Bruce unique hair based on his style at the time, as well as a variety of facial expressions ranging from a confident, battle-ready smile to a bruised and bloody grimace. Each looks awesome, and helps to diversify the wide range of Bruce figures in the lineup.
It’s the other characters that make this line even more special. Bolo and Han from Enter the Dragon look great, the former featuring an overlay to signify his bulky musculature and the latter with his oversized metal hand. Chuck Norris is cool and hilarious, with his overlays of thick chest and arm hair, and my personal favorite Jim Kelly is totally cool with his badass afro and mutton chop sideburns.
There is a simple charm to the Temple of Kung-Fu figures which I find irresistible. These guys are so cool, and so fun, they’d be a joy even if they weren’t also a perfect tribute to the major players in the golden age of Kung Fu movies. It’s a shame this line never took off beyond this first series, but the silver lining s this– Five Below has picked them up and is currently selling the blind boxed figures at a great price of only $3 each. That’s where I found mine, and I was quickly able to amass a small army of Bruce Lee’s, along with his friends and foes.
For any fans of Bruce Lee and classic Kung-Fu movies, these figures come with the highest possible recommendation. They’re incredibly cool, delightfully self-referential, and a blast to collect, especially at less than $5 a pop at Five Below. I’m glad I gave these a shot, and wish I had discovered them sooner… it’s a shame we won’t see the line expand with more icons of classic Kung-Fu cinema. But as it stands, nothing will stop me from appreciating the totally cool art toys we did get from this line, and in that respect Bruce Lee’s Temple of Kung-Fu lives on.