Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mattel Brings Elite Looks At The Past...And Future

The last time that a Mattel figure saw our spotlight was just a few weeks ago. The figure in question, The Bunny, brought up the talking point of depth in wrestling action figure lines. Six years into the run, Mattel should have quite a bit of depth. More and more integration of past stars or Legends into their various lineups greatly helps ensure this. A collector can walk into most stores today and has a chance of finding figures of Paul Orndorff, The Iron Sheik, and The Honky Tonk Man, just to name a few. There's also one "Flashback" figure that comes from the much more recent past. He, along with a more modern figure from the same series, is our focus this time around.

After his untimely death in 2009, most of us were fairly certain that the last Umaga figure had been produced. WWE will acknowledge deaths, but those with a stigma tend to be brushed away. Umaga's young passing was definitely one of the latter. The Samoan Bulldozer had some memorable moments in the company, but ignoring him didn't prove to be difficult. He was not around in a necessarily "Golden Age" for the company, so "erasing" him was not needed nor necessary. In the last twelve months or so, mentions of the agile big man began popping up. The feelings have definitely lightened as is proof with his debut in the Mattel figure line.

Joining Umaga is a man that we're certain to hear more from, Sami Zayn. The NXT standout has finally "graduated" to the main WWE roster. The former "Indy darling" reminds many of Daniel Bryan. Perhaps WWE is looking to fill the void left by the recent retirement of the "Yes!" man. Nevertheless, many fans are looking for Zayn to continue his long-standing rivalry with Kevin Owens. With Zayn's recent appearance on Raw, that seems to be a direction that will be pursued. With Mattel adding both to their lineup, it will at least live on in plastic form.

Both Umaga and Zayn have unique accessories which are a focal point just by looking at the packaging. Umaga comes with his trademark sarong. The wrap is molded in the same rubber/vinyl that Mattel is known for. While the material restricts poses when used for shirts and coats, the use is perfectly fine here. Zayn's figure includes the very first figure-sized release of the NXT Championship belt. I'm not exactly certain as to why, but the design looks a Helluva lot better in figure form than the full-size version.

Both figures are full of fantastic paint detail. Umaga has all of the tribal tattoos that he had at the end of his WWE run. His tights are also very decorated, including a great likeness of his facial appearance down one leg. Sami has tights that really pop with their unique design, and the chest hair that was missing in his first release in the Basic line is painted on here. Both have facial likenesses that should carry no complaints. Umaga does seem a tad tall compared to other figures, but he was a tall man. He is not as tall as a figure of The Big Show, which is usually a good measuring stick.

The Elite tooling style works well for both of these stars known for agility. Umaga's joints are a bit tighter than I would have liked, but anyone looking to pose moves shouldn't have much of a problem. The figure does have issues standing however. It seems to take a bit of patience and maneuvering of the legs and ankles to get Umaga to stand, but eventually he will.

These are two that you will want to grab on sight. I'm not sure that I'd have added Sami to my collection had the belt not been included. The Basic was good enough for me and we'll see many more releases of him down the line. The NXT belt should also see more releases, but who knows when. I could imagine an Elite release of Kevin Owens down the pike possibly including both the Intercontinental and NXT Championships. Umaga is less likely to see additional releases, though I can imagine one that would please Mattel. A release of Umaga early in the run of the character would require much less paint as he had far fewer tattoos. The unique tooling of the head, hair, and sarong could then also be reused. Look at me, just giving away money-saving ideas!

Hey Mattel, any room for a consultant?

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