Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Story of a Warlord and a Barber...

With each passing year, Mattel gets closer and closer to surpassing previous WWE action figure lines. Not only has quality been excelling, but the depth of the line is coming close to that of Mattel's WWE predecessor Jakks. Helping that depth, especially important to collectors such as myself, is the inclusion of the legends. Early on, Mattel seemed to give up on including the stars of the past. With each review that I do, I become more a champion for the company and who they're choosing to include. With their Elite Series 49 and 50, Mattel finally adds Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and The Warlord.

While neither man is a stranger to action figure collections, it has been almost a decade since they have been immortalized in plastic. "The Barber" is based on his look from 1989 (per the back of the packaging), while The Warlord is featured in the gear that he wore from 1990 to 1992, though the back of the box pinpoints WrestleMania VII where he battled The British Bulldog. Both figures look great in the packaging and fill the "window" well. The annoying sign advertising the cardboard diorama gimmick is present with both. I did not even bother photographing either stand/backdrop, as there is nothing new that I can cover with the "bonus." I still don't care for it, and can't wait until Mattel feels that it has run its course.

Both of these men are wrestlers that I feel have been somewhat underrated in recent years. I often point out that Brutus Beefcake is one of the best-remembered stars by fans of my generation. Even casual fans fondly remember "The Barber," clipping shears and all. He was over with the fans and, while he may not have had the most classic in-ring style, he got the job done as far as WWF devotees were concerned.

When I first saw prototype pictures of Mattel's rendition of Beefcake, I wasn't convinced. In person, I've done a complete 180. This may be the best likeness of Brutus that we've seen to date. The wild look is there, as are the signature flowing locks. Beefcake is surprisingly tall in person and this figure does reflect that. The parts used match up well for "The Barber." I do wish that Mattel had used a different color jacket than Jakks had produced, but it still works. The bow tie is removable and the "titanium blades" look great for "struttin' and cuttin'."

The Warlord has never had a bad figure. From the LJN to the Hasbro (which is the last time that we saw this particular look) all the way to the two Jakks entries (the latter of which, in what had to have been a "happy accident," reflected The Warlord in his indy attire), the former Powers of Pain member just simply makes a great action figure. And though more credit for that tag team often goes to his partner The Barbarian, The Warlord has always been a solid hand. He was a big man with an intense look. Sometimes that's all you need. But if you check out his matches with Davey Boy Smith, such as the aforementioned WrestleMania VII encounter, you see that The Warlord could bring it in the ring.

Never have we seen a figure of the monster with so many accessories. The shoulder pads, belt, and mask are all removable. We also finally see the figure-sized debut of his "W" staff. While I don't recall that accessory ever coming into play during a match, it certainly stuck out while Howard Finkel would make his signature "Introducing...The Warrrrrlorrrrd" announcement. As with "The Barber," the facial likeness is spot-on and the choices for body type could not have been better. He's big. He's powerful. He's The Warlord.

With so many style choices for Beefcake, I can definitely see Mattel producing him again. A basic styled figure in the future seems like a no-brainer. The Warlord is a bit more puzzling. With his inclusion in a recent lawsuit against WWE, I'm surprised that we saw this figure at all. I don't see Mattel going the "Powers of Pain" route, either, though they have surprised me in the past. With a figure of another lawsuit member upcoming in the form of The Berzerker, it's hard to predict what all the future will hold. I'm just going to sit back and watch these great new figures roll in and take their rightful places in collections worldwide.

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