Thursday, October 27, 2016


Wrapping up "Mattel Month" here on the blog, it's only fitting that, being so close to Halloween, we finish up with a true monster of the ring. This man, with his flaming costume and head, was more than just a monster. Bam Bam Bigelow was a beast. "The Beast From The East," that is. It's hard to believe that we lost the giant nearly a decade ago, but his amazing agility is still remembered to this day. Did the Bammer live up to his full potential? Many say that he did not. Perhaps had things played out differently, Bam Bam could be remembered as one of the biggest stars that the business ever saw. Regardless, he is still missed for the accomplishments that he did achieve. Now, he's back on the minds of collectors with one more action figure.

Bigelow joins Tyler Breeze, Rusev, and The Rock as part of the Wal Mart exclusive Elite Then, Now, Forever collection. As mentioned in the review of Breeze several weeks ago, you can easily guess which two of the lineup are sitting and which two are selling. Need a hint? Both have now been reviewed on this very blog.

The packaging is in the same shape of the standard 2016 Elite packaging but with a few style changes. The motif is white, likely to match the "Then, Now, Forever" opening on all WWE programming. It's a clean, fresh look and it makes it easy to spot these as soon as you head down the toy aisle of your favorite Wal Mart (oxymoron?). Just like Breeze, Bam Bam does not "float" in the packaging, and by now you should all know how important that is to me. No one wants to spend their hard-earned money to feel like that they're buying packaging. Along with Bam Bam is a cool black breakaway table, a nice nod to his ECW stint.

This is Bam Bam's second time in the Mattel WWE figure line. His debut was in the original WWE Legends line years ago. That figure was based on the 1995 WWF attire that Bam Bam wore as a babyface. It was cartoonish, even for a man covered in flames, and was likely produced because, at the time, Mattel seemed to be producing legends in attires that had never before been done as figures. This time we get a look that Bam Bam wore up until shortly after the 1993 Royal Rumble. The blue had yet to join the attire's flame motif. The back of the packaging compares Bam Bam to Kevin Owens. Big guys who can move. Makes sense.

This is the same Bam Bam facial likeness as used before. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There really hasn't ever been a bad Bam Bam Bigelow likeness on an action figure. Even the LJN and Hasbro figures captured his look well. I think that this is the closest yet to replicating the famous head tattoos. While we're on the subject, the arm tattoos are well done also. All that's really missing as far as the design is chest hair. It's not really a deal breaker with everything else going on, the size of the figure, and the inclusion of a useful and popular accessory.

The body parts are all re-used but well chosen. Since most of Bam Bam's body is covered in his attire, it works. Bam Bam was never really a "fat guy," per se, so it definitely looks like Bam Bam standing there. I like the use of yellow, especially since his legs seem to be molded in the color. It stands out much better than a paint job. Wrist tape was also included, something that Bigelow wore off and on during his career. Personally, I've always felt wrestlers looked better with it for some unknown reason, so I'm glad that it's here. Maybe it's just more believable that a wrestler, no matter how big and bad, would want to wear as much protection as possible?

I like this figure. I don't think that there has ever been a bad Bam Bam Bigelow, but this definitely ranks as one of the best. I passed on the first Mattel offering of Bam Bam, and I'm glad that I picked this one up. Down the line, I could see a re-issue of the original since they already have the tooling for the entrance gear. After the straight reissues of Kamala and Big Boss Man among other legends, anything is possible. In the mean time, grab yourself a Bam Bam and don't fool around. Remember, if you play with fire, you'll get burned...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Who Can Defeat Braun Strowman?

As we continue with what will end up being "Mattel Month" here on the blog, we take a look at a different kind of wrestler. Tyler Breeze and Magnum T.A. who were previously featured could be considered flashy heartthrobs in their respective eras. Now, as we approach Halloween, we look at some stars who scare and intimidate both opponents and audiences. As far as modern day WWE goes, the man featured today may be the biggest monster currently on the roster. A former (?) member of the Wyatt Family, the big man is none other than Braun Strowman.

This is Strowman's first Mattel Elite figure, although he did have a Basic release that is considered his "First Time In The Line." As with the other figures of the Wyatt Family, there are reasons why collectors will absolutely want to go "Elite" with Strowman. I don't always feel the need to purchase the "Elite" version of every single one of the current WWE characters. When it comes to the members of the Wyatt Family, their accessories are almost part of them. It just wouldn't feel complete without the masks, shirts, chairs, and lanterns.

Braun is packaged in the standard 2016 Elite window box. Being such a huge man, the figure is likewise large and hefty. There is absolutely no "floating" going on here. Braun fits well in the window, which is good if you're planning on keeping it in the package. The figure includes the "Black Sheep" mask which, at the time of design, Strowman was still wearing. It's a fun accessory that we'll explore more in a bit. I don't really see the need for any more accessories between the mask and the fact that the figure is so big. If it fills up the box, it's worth the "Elite" price.

The likeness is good. It looks like Strowman and as far as I can tell mostly new parts were used for the body. As mentioned above, the figure is immense. This is one that, as I like to say, you feel you're really getting your money's worth with. He definitely measures up to the other "giants" of the Mattel WWE line, and it's fun to compare them. He's getting his run as a "monster" right now, and it will be fun to see just who will "slay the dragon," so to speak. WWE is doing a good job rebuilding him after he really didn't make much of an impact upon his initial introduction.

The "Black Sheep" mask is indeed here in the Elite release. It's actually just a remold of the previous mask released with Erick Rowan. The indentations inside that allowed it to fit so snugly on Rowan are even still there. Besides the color, the big difference is that it is made of a more pliable material to allow it to stretch over the sides of Strowman's head/hair and fit on. It doesn't fit quite as easily as the one with Rowan, but it works. No complaints.

The figure may be a bit outdated, but if you want to continue building the Wyatt Family, you need it. There likely won't be any further releases with the mask as future Braun figures will probably mirror his current look as the resident monster of Monday Night Raw. The movement of the figure isn't the best due to the massive features, but it's Braun Strowman. You weren't looking for a cruiserweight, were you? Braun is a classic "big man" wrestler who should only improve over time. Honestly, his promos that remind me of a biker side-character in a '70s or '80s action flick are kinda winning me over.

Next week, we go from Braun Strowman to another monster of the mat. This one is a blast from the past, but it won't set the world on fire...or maybe it will. Regardless, this beast is going to be flying all over the place...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Magnum T.A. Arrives

I don't think that I've championed the release of a figure, or any piece of memorabilia for that matter, as much as this one. The man simply deserved it. With all of the regional and territorial stars that received figures in the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line, it was almost a crime that this man did not get the same treatment. Here we are, almost three decades to the day that his career was cut short. After a figure line that should have included his release passed him over, not to mention an announcement and prototype from Mattel years ago, we finally have it in our hands. The Magnum T.A. figure has arrived.

Out of the blue, Mattel decided to release a special "Elite" series of figures that some are calling the "Lost Legends." The other figures in the series are re-releases of past Legends and/or Flashback figures such as The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Kamala, and Chris Jericho. For me, Magnum T.A. is the absolute star of the series. A man who never before saw a figure release. A man who was slated to have a figure in the initial Mattel WWE Legends figure line, only for the release to be cancelled. Why? Various reasons could be blamed. When I asked the legend himself about it, Magnum said that he was indeed paid for it, but would have liked to have seen its release for his young sons to have.

The newly released figure does in fact greatly resemble the prototype that made its way onto the back of packaging years ago. Though it's likely the same, the facial likeness looks better in-hand. The prototype also featured red tights whereas this final version has black. Considering he wore both, it isn't that big of a deal. The packaging blends the original Mattel WWE Legends design with the 2016 Elite style. It's a winning combination. Magnum would have "floated" in the old packaging as many of the other figures did.

Magnum's style definitely has a bit of a dated look to it, so I'm not sure how much, if at all, this figure will appeal to the younger crowd. They may get familiar with him thanks to WWE Network, but the others in the series such as Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker will be much more popular. Magnum's release is a tip of the hat to longtime fans and collectors. Magnum wasn't flashy like HBK or a complete character like Taker. He was just hair, mustache, tights, and cowboy boots. No frills for the 2016 WWE fans, but an absolute legend to those who value the history of the industry.

Magnum's only accessory is a vest. This is the same vest that was included with Barry Windham. You weren't expecting a classic championship belt, were you? The vest works well for the figure, but when it is on the figure can pretty much only look downward. It's a common problem for figures with the combination of long hair and removable attire. The facial likeness is absolutely perfect and the body parts used match Magnum's physique to a T. The cowboy boots are different from those used on the recent Dusty Rhodes release, but are just as nice and detailed.

It's hard to say just how popular this figure will be. If you've attended any of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Fanfests, you know how the fans still react to Magnum T.A. to this day. His star is remembered even after all of these years and shines just as bright. In that region I would imagine that this figure will be flying off of the shelves. Elsewhere, I'm just not sure. Seeing as that this is likely the only release of the figure that we will ever see, he could be snapped everywhere. So far, distribution of the entire series has been odd. One "prime" online retailer now has the figure priced the same as brick and mortar stores, so that may be the route to go.

Regardless of how popular the figure is, this is one collector who is beyond thrilled to have him. A figure lineup of the stars of 1980's Jim Crockett Promotions is that much closer to being complete. While I still hold no hope that we'll ever see figures of the likes of J.J. Dillon and Ole Anderson among others, a man who captivated the fans of the NWA for a brief few years finally sees himself immortalized as an action figure. Mattel hit a legendary home run with this one, no matter how you look at it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Look Everyone, It's Tyler!

There's no doubt about it, Mattel is absolutely cranking out great new WWE product. It's wonderful for collectors, but if you're like me, it's total destruction on the wallet. Nevertheless, to celebrate all of these great figures, here on the blog the entire month of October will be dedicated to these new additions. Not to fear "old school" fans, you ought to know by now that some of these figures will be of stars of the past. Did you have any doubt? To kick it off, we have a WWE Superstar whose figure includes an accessory that wasn't even invented until a few years ago. It's none other than "Prince Pretty" himself, Tyler Breeze.

This is Tyler's first "Elite" figure and is part of a series exclusive to Wal Mart that is branded with the recent WWE motto of "Then, Now, Forever." The retail chain previously had a "Basic" figure series with the same theme, but this Elite set is definitely more varied. Included are The Rock, Rusev, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Breeze. You can probably guess which figures in the series are selling and which are collecting dust. With just a quick look at the packaging you see one cool feature right on the back. The superstar that you're purchasing is shown with a comparable superstar from either "now" or "then." Breeze is compared to Shawn Michaels. Looking at their gimmicks, you can definitely see some influence of "The Heartbreak Kid" on "The Sultan of Selfies."

Speaking of selfies, this is easily the defining figure of Breeze up to this point. While the Basic releases were, as expected, devoid of accessories, this Elite is the total Tyler package. Not only is his vest here, but his color coordinated selfie stick makes its debut as well. No, the phone is not removable, but why would it be? Tyler can hold the selfie stick in several realistic poses. The vest is flexible plastic and is fairly easy to remove and replace. The matching "fur" pieces on his boots are molded separate from the figure in the same color as the vest.

From what I've seen of the Basic Tyler Breeze figures, the same facial likeness is used here. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Tyler is known for pretty much one facial expression and it's perfectly captured. His hair is pulled back into a small ponytail. I could definitely see a future release with the hair down. The manufacturers are always looking for a way to re-release figures, and that seems like a reasonable option for a future Breeze. I like the dark/light blue color scheme, as well. The purple on the Basic release reminded me too much of other character releases. These colors make him stand out from the rest. The painted on belt/buckle doesn't bother me, but it just looks flat with all of the other detail that's going on.

If you're a fan of "Prince Pretty," this is the figure to get. Will he get another Elite figure down the line? It's possible, but with the company overrun with talent and Breeze being greatly underutilized, it may be awhile. I could see a basic two-pack with Fandango coming before a new Elite release. As I hinted above, Breeze and Bigelow are the two most popular of the set. If your local Wal Mart stocks them, you'll likely encounter a bunch of Rusev and The Rock unless you happen on a recently unpacked case. Amazon has them as well, but not at the $19.87 price point of Wal Mart. Right now this is the only way to get Tyler's accessories which are a must if you're going to be displaying the figure loose.

Next week, the Mattel madness continues. I'm not going to announce just which figure will be appearing yet, but if you're a long-time reader, you know that I've been waiting for this one for a long, long time. Did I even beg for it a few times? Yes. Next week, he finally arrives...