Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Four Horsemen Get Their Leader

This is one entry that I've been waiting to write for a long time. Too long. When the Jakks Classic Superstars line ended, I had pretty much given up hope that a JJ Dillon action figure would ever see the light of day. While there really wasn't an ideal time for it to happen during his career, that line gave hope to so many legends who never saw an action figure. When that door closed, it appeared that the plastic miniature Four Horsemen would never see their leader. Per Dillon himself, it was Vince McMahon who did not want a figure of his former behind-the-scenes cohort released. Somewhere along the lines that changed as in 2018 we finally have James J. Dillon to add to our collections.

JJ is the latest Build-A-Figure, an unsurprising but satisfying way for Mattel to release the legend. In the second "Basic" style WWE Flashback series exclusive to Wal Mart, we get JJ and four figures that coincide with a World Championship Wrestling theme. To build Dillon you have to buy Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting, and Booker T. While it would have been cool to have all Horsemen members from the Dillon era of the group rounding out the set, it's still a suitable lineup. We can't forget that JJ was back with the company when Booker T and this particular representation of Sting were current.

This is the first Mattel Ric Flair figure to feature The Nature Boy, in his prime, in his suit. All of the Horsemen in suits would have been ideal here, but I cannot see Mattel ever doing that. Included are sunglasses that fit into holes embedded into his flowing locks. I could have imagined this figure being done as a Build-A-Figure on its own, but I'm glad it's the "star" here instead, in my opinion. Luger is the other Horsemen from the Dillon era to be featured here. This is the first time that Mattel has brought us a plain black trunks figure of "Flexy Lexy," and it does the job well.

Although Sting was briefly a Horsemen, it was after JJ had departed for the WWF. This Sting is also well after his time in the elite faction as far as design. This is the second Sting figure to reflect his time right before he completely changed to the "Crow" look that many fans still covet today. The orange and black are striking and conjure up thoughts of Halloween Havoc, though I'm not sure that he wore this particular style there. Booker T is a very nice figure, though fairly close to the Harlem Heat "Elite" figure released not long ago. Putting him into the black tights would've been something different, but as usual with a set this fun, I'm not complaining.

How does JJ measure up to all the years of anticipation? As my father used to say, "The wait was worth the while." To begin, the facial likeness is absolutely incredible. You can almost hear him cutting a promo on WTBS while looking at it. It's that good. And yes, it does look a lot like the Jakks Buddy Jack Roberts facial sculpt. I'm not the only one who has speculated over the years that that particular facial design was originally intended as Dillon, though I've never seen it confirmed. It definitely looks like JJ and nothing like Buddy Roberts, but that's neither here nor there now that we do have Dillon.

The body used is standard for many of these Build-A-Figures and, like with the Mean Gene Okerlund figure which was originally released as such, I've had issues with the left arm staying attached. Tinted glasses are also included, though he works without them as well since he didn't constantly wear them back then. Could we have asked for more with this figure? I really don't think so.

For us fans of the legends, we finally have JJ. He'll fit in with the Mattel releases of the Horsemen or even Jakks figures such as the pre-ring Horsemen, Ron Bass, Abdullah the Butcher, or anyone else that he managed. Who else is going to have the upcoming Dusty Rhodes Elite figure drop the Bionic Elbow onto JJ? That leads me to think that someone will be obtaining an extra JJ head to make a custom ring gear version. In any case, this is one that I cannot fathom being re-released. Go out and buy the set now. It's worth it to complete the Horsemen and celebrate not only a tremendous talent, but a great guy as well.

Have I mentioned over the years that he also authored my favorite wrestling book...?

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