Soldier Ape was the 'all-purpose Gorilla' of Mego's first line of Ape figures. The original Planet of the Apes movie, on which the entire first line was based, had many identically clad Gorillas who functioned as hunters, soldiers, police, and laborers. With no specific role model, "Soldier Ape" seemed an appropriate enough name. What he lacks in a name, however, Mego made up for when it came to his outfit. He is the most complex figure of the first series.
With a standard dark brown body and hands sculpted especially for the ape figures, it is perhaps fitting that his only physical shortcoming is above the neck. Unlike the other apes, Soldier Ape has crudely sculpted features only vaguely reminiscent of the award-winning makeup of the movie.
All Soldier Apes wear brown stretch pants, mid-height "laced" boots, and a tunic with brown fabric sleeves and embossed vinyl torso, and matching fabric/vinyl gloves.
The vinyl used in the Soldier Ape's outfits has several variations: The most common version was smooth blue, as seen on the right. The "Brown" Soldier outfit came in shades from a true chocolate brown to an almost burgundy or maroon tone. The least common version is also blue, but with a reptile-skin texture in the material. Looking closely at the vinyl, you see that in addition to color, actual "scales" are imprinted into the material. The Lizard Skin outfit, as it is called, has two variations of its own: The high gloss version, as seen here on the left, and a version with less of a sheen, but with silver speckles embedded throughout the vinyl.
Rarest of all the soldiers is the Silver Soldier Ape, shown below. Photo courtesy Lou Melograna.
Very few of these have ever been documented. Some say that this variation results from the deterioration of a standard uniform. (Editor's note--Some complain that it's more GREY than Silver, but let's face it, Silver just sounds cooler.)
In addition to their outfit, boots and gloves, Soldier Apes have
a brown plastic bandolier (with two pockets and no space for the
short sword which the second series Generals carry), plus a black
M-16 with string.
Above are some screen caps of the Apes TV Commercials featuring some early Mego Soldier Ape prototypes.(all photo cred for the commercial photos go to Mike T1K)
Although usually, the Mego Soldier Ape is found with reddish brown sleeves and pants, and General Ursus ( who shares the same style outfit) is found with the browner fabric. Either one can be found with either outfit or as in this case, a Soldier Ape with the tunic with brown sleeves and the reddish brown pants.
First issue card with catalog (courtesy of Mike J.)
second issue card with snake-skin tunic variation (courtesy of Mike J.)
It was once believed that cuffed soldier apes were only released in the UK, although much scarcer than their gloved counterparts, cuffed soldier apes have been found on U.S. cards with both type-one and type-two bodies. (courtesy of Mike J.)
The jury is still out on this, prototype or test market figure, that was actually sold carded. Head is cast in same color vinyl as cornelius, has cloth and leather bandolier, and sleeves and pants are non-stretchy. A picture of the same figure appears on the treehouse box.
A comparison head shot. (courtesy of Mike J.)
Palitoy (actually just marked Bradgate) Soldier Ape on his very rare blue first Release UK Card, note the type 1 body.(courtesy of Mike J.)
Palitoy Soldier Ape on his Second Release UK Card (courtesy of Mike J.)
Mego Soldier Apes were sold in Italy on US cards with the addition of the Baravelli logo (courtesy of Mike J)
The very rare Japanese Bullmark release of the Mego Soldier Ape (Courtesy Mike J)