Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tensai & Sandow Hit Elite Status

After several weeks of old school here on the blog, it's time to take a look at some brand new items.  Fittingly with the recent topics here, the figures highlighted this week are of two men who easily could have fit in during the days of classic wrestling.  One is an underrated monster who, despite being wasted in his current role, will hopefully be remembered for a terrifying look and a move set to back it up.  The other has classic heel mic skills and seems to know exactly how to push the buttons of the "WWE Universe" via the art of the promo.  The superstars in question?  Tensai and Damien Sandow.

Mattel's WWE Elite figures are at a slightly higher price point than their "basic" counterparts, usually include one or two accessories, and come in the popular "window" packaging.  A higher number of articulated points are built into the figures which is done for greater poseability (for the collector) and greater playability (for the kids).  Each series contains six different characters including "Flashback" figures of current superstars in past looks and/or Legends.  In addition to Tensai and Sandow, the 22nd Elite series includes The Rock (with the new design of the WWE Championship), The Big Show, Kane, and a Flashback figure of The Giant.

Both Tensai and Sandow saw basic figure releases just a few months ago.  I held out on picking up the basic Sandow figure since I knew that this Elite figure, complete with his entrance robe, was coming up on the horizon.  Initially I had also planned on skipping the basic Tensai, but simply could not pass it up in the long run.  The figure received rave reviews from me in the blog entry covering it.  Will the Elite version of Tensai measure up?

Tensai is quite impressive in the package.  An already massive figure is made bigger with the simple addition of the entrance attire.  Both the mask and robe are molded.  I often have mixed feelings on the rubberized clothing.  It doesn't always look natural and is often hard to remove and replace.  Going by those two issues, we have both a hit and a miss with Tensai.  The robe is somewhat hard to put back onto to the figure once it is removed, but as was evident while the figure was still in the package, it looks great. 

While the figure is still in the entrance attire, it's one of those items where you absolutely feel that you got your money's worth.  Outside of the robe and mask, it's a different story.  Compared to the basic Tensai, the Elite version just seems a bit...deflated.  The barrel chest of the basic figure was perfect.  Due to the torso joint of the Elite figures that bothers me so, the same cannot be said here.  If I could create the perfect Tensai, it would have the head and right "claw" hand of the Elite swapped onto the rest of the basic parts.  For what it's worth, the entrance attire does fit onto the basic figure but seems even harder to remove.

Although I can't truly compare the basic Sandow to the Elite version, the basic seems very boring in the packaging without the robe.  The face sculpt used on both is amazing and captures the arrogance of Sandow perfectly.  In the packaging, I was concerned that Mattel had not included the towel that Sandow wears around his neck.  It was in fact there, but the thin material used caused it to hide under the robe.  I would bet that this will be the same towel included with the upcoming Elite JBL figure.  It would be interesting to see how one of the old Jakks terrycloth towels would work here.  The robe is also made from a thin material but serves its purpose. 

Beyond the robe, Sandow is a solid figure.  For a taller and somewhat thinner wrestler such as Sandow, the extra articulation works.  I'm even going to say that I'll accept the torso joint in this case.  If it helps the figure capture his look, I'll give it a pass.  My biggest problem is something that the often creative Mattel team really should've thought of.  A special right hand should have been created so that Sandow could hold the microphone like a brandy snifter as he does in WWE rings.  It wouldn't have taken much effort and can obviously be done considering that Tensai received a special right hand.  Adding to my disappointment of the hands omission is the fact that the Sandow figure includes a microphone.

"Brandy snifter hand" notwithstanding, these two are nice additions to the Elite collection.  If you have no interest in entrance gear, the basic figures would be more than adequate to represent these two WWE Superstars in your lineup.  The basic Tensai is one of the best figures that Mattel has done to date.  The entrance gear of the Elite Tensai are some of the nicest accessory pieces that Mattel has done to date.  Why oh why couldn't they have been combined?  Oh well.  The Elite collection is the avenue that Mattel has given us in order to acquire such accessories as entrance gear.  The company has done a decent job of it, even without "Brandy Snifter Hands" for "The Intellectual Savior of the Masses."

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