Thursday, October 15, 2015

Can Mattel Elite Figures Actually Be Posed In 1,000 Holds?

The Iceman. The Shooter. The Man of 1,000 Holds. Dean Malenko certainly had a wide variety of nicknames, including some humorous ones that I've neglected to list, but did he really have one thousand different holds? His career was based on his being a technical master in the ring, probably a decade or so later than he really would have thrived. Make no mistake, Malenko is well-remembered for what he did accomplish, but one has to wonder just how much better he may have fared had he come up in the business during the era of his father, Professor Boris Malenko. The same can be wondered about many stars, but nevertheless Dean Malenko has become a legend in the eyes of many.

Since his retirement in 2001, Malenko has been passing his knowledge on to the next generation in his role as a WWE "producer" or "road agent." That affiliation with the world's largest wrestling promotion has gained Malenko continual merchandise including action figures and trading cards. In Mattel's WWE Elite Series 37, Malenko is the latest addition to the "Flashback" figures, showcasing stars of past eras.

Malenko is packaged in the familiar (and soon to be changed) Elite window box complete with his trademark vest and the Cruiserweight Championship belt. Thanks to the accessories, there's no hint of figure "float" that the Elite's sometimes suffer from, but it is here that we see a mistake in the packaging. The label on the box proclaims that the figure includes the "United States Championship Title." While Malenko did indeed hold that championship during his WCW run, the belt included is the Cruiserweight title which had previously been released with last year's Rey Mysterio Jr. Flashback figure.

As far as likeness is concerned, this is indeed Dean Malenko. The head reminds me a lot of the ToyBiz Malenko figure that was part of the WCW Four Horsemen boxed set. Jakks had a very good Malenko likeness as well in their Classic Superstars line, but in my opinion this one is just a bit better than both. The stone-faced likeness is just what we need out of a figure of "The Iceman." The familiar hairstyle is captured perfectly, too.

The body is reused, but works well here. "1,000" is emblazoned on the back of his tights, and that's about the extent of the flashiness that you're going to get from Malenko. "The Shooter" let his in-ring work speak for itself and flamboyance was never a part of his act. Those kind of wrestlers don't often make for the most exciting action figures, but there is still a lot of appeal here. Malenko was cold and calculating in his approach to opponents, and that comes across here. I only wish that the arms could be manipulated for his famous wrist-wringing walk to the ring, but there are limits to joints made of plastic.

I think that the figure looks best with both the vest and belt on. He goes well with the other WCW names that have been released, and of course the Four Horsemen Hall of Fame set. I wouldn't say that Malenko is a vital figure to every collection, but fans of "The Shooter" will want him. I can't see him getting more releases anytime soon, so this might be your one and only shot if you intend to grab one. And no, before you wonder about it, the packaging error won't be fixed.

Mattel has a lot of new "first time" figures coming soon, as well as the aforementioned packaging change. In what now seems to be an annual event, the design and style of Mattel's WWE figure cardbacks and boxes will be changing again. A red tone, similar to the look at the beginning of Mattel's run, is returning with the lower left corner cutting off at an angle. I'll reserve my opinions on the packaging until I see it in person, but I've always thought that the bluish combinations of the past few years were much more appealing.

No matter what the packaging looks like, Mattel continues to provide a lot of interesting and fun figures on the inside. Recent showings at public events have shown that a lot more are coming, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one who wants the first, and probably only, figure of...The Bunny!

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