Thursday, July 14, 2016

Joe's New Figure Is Gonna Kill You

About a month or so ago I actually saved one of the pictures that came in an e-mail from WWE Shop. I'd never done it before, but there was something about this picture that just struck me. It had nothing to do with the merchandise that was being touted. Instead, it was the two wrestlers shown. Those two men? AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. As many times as we've learned to "never say never" as wrestling fans, here are two wrestlers who were always said to not fit into the WWE style. Sure they had some one-off matches with the company years ago, but as they became bonafide stars, full WWE runs just didn't seem to be a possibility. In 2016, the WWE is changing. The company has always been at its best when it "thinks outside the box." That's exactly what it has done with NXT and the signing of stars such as these. Now, just a bit over a year since his debut under the WWE umbrella, a new Samoa Joe figure is here.

Samoa Joe is no stranger to action figures, receiving some in his long TNA run from both ToyBiz/Marvel Toys and Jakks. Those figures very adequately depicted Joe as he appeared then. However, just as his career has changed paths, so have his looks. Mattel has done a very good job capturing Joe's current look and feel. His face is a bit thinner than in the past with slightly different hair. My figure did have a bit of sloppiness with the facial hair paint. It's never a good thing, but something many collectors have learned to live with. For $20 a figure, no one should have to put up with it, but here it is.

If you remember back to May of 2015, you might recall the buzz surrounding the fact that almost immediately following Joe's debut at NXT TakeOver his t-shirt was available on WWE Shop. Later that month, it was said that strong sales of that shirt lead to a "full time" deal being offered to the superstar. Whether or not that is true, a figure-sized version of that shirt is included here. While Mattel may actually have gotten away with just including Joe's signature towel, the shirt is very much appreciated and sets this figure apart from his past representations. I did encounter a bit of resistance when removing the shirt from it's plastic "shield" inside the bubble. It seemed that if one of these figures is opened years from now, some of the lettering may be permanently stuck to the plastic.

I believe that the body sculpt used is new and unique for Joe as it honestly should be. It's not too muscular, but it still captures the toughness of Joe and looks great in one of his signature poses. The shorts, boots, and kneepads look spot-on as well. The torso joint doesn't stick out here, as it really could just be a "fold" in Joe's physique. Joe can kick, punch, chop, and stomp his way through any of the other Mattel figures. And although this is properly branded on the packaging for NXT, you know that any kid lucky enough to have Joe on his or her roster is bringing the Samoan Submission Machine straight to the top.

Of course, I had to pose Joe with the NXT Championship belt. It doesn't fit around his waist, but it does look good with the figure regardless. With a properly scaled Mattel version of Joe, all of the dream matches can be "held" before they ever actually take place in a WWE ring. Joe vs Triple H. Joe vs Brock Lesnar. Joe vs The Undertaker. Or even updated versions of Joe vs Daniel Bryan or John Cena. Now all we need is Kurt Angle to make his long awaited return to the WWE family so that we can recreate one of TNA's greatest feuds...

My verdict? This one definitely goes into the running for Figure of the Year. Would it without the t-shirt accessory? I'm not sure, but we have it. It's a perfect mix of a first time WWE figure, a great likeness, seemingly new sculpts, and accessories. Will we see more? Of course. Samoa Joe will see a nice WWE figure run. There will be Basic versions and I could see another Elite with the NXT Championship included down the line. Why wait? Joe is here with two awesome accessories in an Elite style. Grab him while you can! And if you don't...well...I don't have to say it. They'll chant it right at you.

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