Thursday, March 29, 2012

Constructing Cole

"I got plenty of action figures, sucka!"--Booker T

Indeed he does, and such was his response when the ever-annoying Michael Cole recently bragged about his new action figure on commentary. Not being a fan of Cole or his poorly-executed character, I didn't care if I ever acquired his figure or not. It's not like you can walk into a store and buy one piece.

Nevertheless, I've always been a sucker (sucka?) for non-wrestler wrestling figures. From LJN's managers and announcers to Jakks Ringside Collection, I've loved each and every release. After all, you need wrestlers to put on matches, but who is there to call, ref, and interfere?

Aside from a mail-away Mr. McMahon this is Mattel's first real venture into non-wrestler territory. As I mentioned above, you can't exactly go into a store and buy Michael Cole, either. Instead, this is the first ever wrestling Build-A-Figure.

It's a relatively simple concept. Buy four figures each containing a piece of another figure. Open the figures and assemble the fifth. Not difficult, but somewhat frustrating for collectors who don't need to have every single figure out there. Although the idea has been used in Marvel Superhero and Star Wars figure lines, Mattel almost wasn't the first company to bring it to the wrestling ring. The Marvel/Toybiz TNA figure series was slated to include pieces of a Traci Brooks Build-A-Figure in their never released final series. The figure was a great likeness of Ms. Brooks and she still has to yet to see a plastic representation.

Mattel seems to want to make the accomplishment of building Michael Cole extra special. Not only is this Elite series exclusive to Toys "R" Us, but the Bret Hart figure in the set (containing Cole's legs) has been particularly hard to find due to it not shipping with the others initially. The figures are clad in all new attires with John Cena and Triple H in their WrestleMania XXVII attire while Hart and Daniel Bryan represent SummerSlam 2010.

Mattel did a nice job capturing the looks from these respective pay-per-view events. Although I, as always, would've preferred new characters, I can see Mattel's business decision. We're "building" a new character so it may as well take buying four old characters to do it.

I will say that Mattel's "old" Bret blows Jakks representation out of the water. That isn't something that you'll hear often from me, but the proper "current" Bret face does wonders for the figure. Cena's likeness is fairly remarkable as well.

As with most Elite figures, these four all include removable attire. Triple H was in this particular costume for probably under a minute, while the designs for Cena, Hart, and Bryan are much more common. A U.S. title for Bryan or Hart would've been a nice addition, but Mattel realizes that they don't need to add much with the Cole "pieces" already included.

Assembling the Cole figure is very easy. All of the limbs and parts simply push on without much real effort. My dreaded "Elite" mid-section joint is included, but since his jacket slides over his torso it becomes a null point.

Assembled, the figure screams "manager" to me. If wrestling manager wasn't an all but extinct art, I would suggest that Mattel release those figures this way. I could definitely appreciate a referee or ring announcer released in this manner, although I'd prefer it done with fresher characters. The facial likeness is superb and he is shorter than the rest of the figures.

When it comes down to it, Cole isn't a cheap figure at all. The four figures will cost nearly $90 at retail after tax. Fortunately, I found the set while on sale making it a reasonable price for a total of five Elite figures when factoring in Cole. Due to Mattel's continual fight to release non-male wrestler figures in any sort of rational number, I can't see Cole being released in any other manner. If you're a "Cole Miner," this is how you'll have to add him to your collection.

Cole will most certainly be a part of this Sunday's WrestleMania XXVIII, and hopefully much less of a distraction than last year. In any case, enjoy the twenty-eighth edition of "The Greatest Sports Entertainment Spectacular of All-Time."

Super Sunday, indeed.

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