Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beauty & The Brain

It's amazing how little managers factor into wrestling these days. Certainly this is another misguided executive decision by the number one sports entertainment company in the world, but the concept is much missed. It would probably be hard for a newer fan to fathom that a non-wrestler could be just as big of a star in the industry as some of the wrestlers themselves, but it's true. Look no further than two favorites from many of our childhoods: Miss Elizabeth and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

With beauty and class, Miss Elizabeth won her way into the hearts of fans both male and female. She rarely spoke, but conveyed the thoughts of her character through her actions at ringside and loyalty to her charges. "The Brain" was the opposite, with his gift for gab among the greatest to ever grace the wrestling business. Two very different individuals who made their biggest marks on the industry in the same position: manager. And both beloved and much missed.

Both of these legends have made their way into the Mattel WWE figure line once before. Now, in two separate retailer exclusive series they see their returns. Elizabeth's newest figure comes in the Wal Mart "Then, Now, Forever" line while Heenan weasels his way back in the "Fan Central" series which was exclusive to Toys "R" Us. Both lines saw difficult distribution. Not all Wal Mart stores seemed to have the latest "Then, Now, Forever" series while the problems for Toys "R" Us hardly need to be repeated here.

My issues with the first two Mattel releases of Heenan and Elizabeth are fixed with these figures. Both of the first figures were done in event-specific attire. Heenan, as released in the Heenan Family WWE Hall of Fame set through Target, only wore the white "waiter jacket" (thank you, Gorilla) at WrestleMania III while Elizabeth wore her white outfit at a famous photo shoot, WrestleMania IV, and possibly in a few other appearances. While it's nice to have these figures, I'm more for attires that are recognizable and common, especially when it comes to managers who may not see that many releases to begin with.

In my opinion this is the first "perfect" Bobby Heenan figure. "The Brain" was released by LJN in his blue sweatshirt followed by a few releases by Jakks that didn't quite exactly match what we mostly remember him wearing. Here, not only does have his "Walk of Fame" jacket, but it's removable. Essentially, Heenan can enter the ring if duty calls. Are customizers already preparing a brown dog handlers outfit for Heenan to deflect the threat of the British Bulldogs, Matilda, Koko B. Ware, and Frankie?

Elizabeth is seen here in a green dress which is boldly announced on the packaging as her accessory, as if putting her in a dress was a favor to us all. Although the same facial sculpt is used, the earrings on the first figure are gone in favor of a necklace. I don't know that her wearing this exact outfit has been pinpointed, but it's exactly what she would have wore on an average night at ringside during the glory days of "Macho Madness." I wouldn't call the facial likeness as spot-on as that of "The Brain," but it's very good.

If I had to choose, I would pick these versions over the first two in a heartbeat. Although I still love the Heenan Family set for giving us the first "Colossal Connection" era figure of Andre the Giant, "The Brain" finally gets his greatest release here. Though the distribution on the "Then, Now, Forever" set with Elizabeth was odd at best, she's showing up on your favorite A to Z online retailer for under the retail price. Heenan will cause you a little more difficulty. They can still be had for just around retail, but this could change with official word that the series will not be re-released due to the closure of Toys "R" Us. I'd like to think that Heenan will see an additional release down the line, possibly in a "Basic" set, but we don't know that. Needless to say, if your Mattel WWE Legends need guidance from the brains behind the brawn, act now!

No comments: