Sunday, August 17, 2008

Windtalkers (2002) - USMC SGT Joe Enders

From Afghanistan to the war in the Pacific, the USMC has been there. The movie "Windtalkers" was supposed to be about the USMC Navajo code talkers but instead focused more on Nicholas Cage's character, US Marine Corps sergeant Joe Enders and his angst rather than on the codebreakers the movie derives its title from. The Native Americans were recruited into the United States Marine Corps as radio operators whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages. These code talkers transmitted their messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal and informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Just a slight change in pronunciation and/or inflection of a Navajo word can change its meaning and because it had never been written down, there were no resources to which the Japanese could refer. This made the code impenetrable and these invaluable code talkers played a key role in turning the tide against the Japanese forces. At Iwo Jima, the code talkers transmitted over 800 error-free messages over a 48-hour period. Because of its success, the code talkers were sworn to secrecy and their existence and remarkable accomplishments went largely unheralded until July 2001 when America officially and formally recognised the valor of these World War II heroes by presenting the 29 original USMC code talkers with Congressional Gold Medals.

So Windtalkers was supposed to be about the Navajo code talkers and the US Marine sergeants supposedly assigned to protect them and failing which, to kill them so as to ensure that the Japanese could never break the code. The code talkers were real but the part about US Marines killing their own fellow american/marine/buddy to protect the code may be just part of movie magic, just like in the film "U-571 (2000)" where a World War II German submarine is boarded in 1942 by disguised United States Navy submariners, seeking to capture its Enigma cipher machine. It was British personnel from HMS Bulldog who first captured a naval Enigma machine, from U-110 in the North Atlantic May 1941, before the United States entered the war. The real U-571 was not captured but sunk in January 1944, off Ireland, by a Short Sunderland flying boat from No. 461 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force.

In line with the release of the "Windtalkers" movie in Hong Kong, Dragon released 200 pieces of this boxed set. When Dragon was still the 1/6 king in the late 90s and early 2000 period, they would release military/action movie-related merchandise for movies such as China Strike Force, The Corruptor, Black Hawk Down, SWAT, Bad Boys II, Wasabi, K-19: Widow Maker and We were soldiers (in no particular order). Hot Toys and Sideshow has since taken over that mantle.

The Windtalkers boxed set came with a slipcase

The actual box containing two figures, Corporal Joe Enders (actually Joe was promoted to Sergeant for the Saipan operation) and Private Ben Yahzee. Dragon also released a figure of Christian Slater as Sergeant Ox Anderson.

Also came with three cards and a plastic card of credit card size with the numbered "WT 099/200"

Nicholas Cage as USMC Sergeant Joe Enders. Nicholas Cage is a huge comics fan and changed his name from Nicolas Coppola to Nicholas Cage (inspired by Marvel Comics character Luke Cage) early in his career to avoid the appearance of nepotism as the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola. He named his son Kal El, which is Superman's birthname on the planet Krypton. He was once attached to play Superman in a film to be directed by Tim Burton but that didn't fly. He did play Johnny Blaze in "Ghost Rider (2007)". He had a hit in "The Rock (1996)" with Sir Sean Connery, and had already worked with John Woo in "Face/Off (1997)". The boxed set came without any gun for Joe Enders. Word was Nicholas Cage is anti-war and did not want any official figure released of him holding a weapon, this from a man who makes a fine living handling all sorts of weapons and even starred in a movie as an illegal arms dealer in "Lord of War (2005)". Anyhoo, it wasn't difficult to get him a Thompson Sub-machine gun which he used in the movie. Interestingly, the US Marines' Thompson SMG has a compensator attached in front to divert some muzzle gases upwards to keep the muzzle down when firing. This was omitted from other models, like the one Tom Hanks carried as Captain Miller in "Saving Private Ryan (1998)".

Sure looks like Nicholas Cage

What's amazing is that the dog tag he's wearing has his ID details and blood type, among other things

"Semper Fi" is Latin for "Always Faithful" and is best known as the motto of the United States Marine Corps.


Anonymous said...

very cool collection:) i collect dragon figures too i have mostly russians hey you have the hitler drastic plastic right do you know if they have already released a stalin cause i only have hitler and fdr:) -jeanna

alex teo said...

hi jeanna, i missed out on fdr :( don't know anything about stalin - drastic plastic has gone all quiet. thanks for looking ;> hope you visit again

Anonymous said...

fyi: In the event of capture, the Talkers had solemnly agreed to commit suicide rather than allow America's most valuable war code fall into the hands of the enemy. If a captured Navajo did not follow that grim instruction, the bodyguard's instructions were understood: shoot and kill the Code Talker.

alex teo said...

hey man thanks for the info and thanks for the link :) greatly appreciated