Thursday, February 1, 2018

Big Action, Little Wrestlers

Collectors have long enjoyed figures in a variety of scales. Recently, it seems that smaller is better. Fans enjoy when they can take their favorite character to work and place it on their desk, perhaps set it in their car, or even just throw it in a bag to have wherever they go. The world-famous Funko Pop! vinyl figures, which have taken on just about every license that you can possibly think of, definitely helped in this latest trend. While there are WWE figures under the Pop! banner, with figures of the Young Bucks soon to join, it's even smaller Funko figures that we'll be looking at here, along with a rogue band of grapplers who fit right alongside.

Funko's WWE Mystery Minis combine the mini-figure craze with the trend of selling toys in the "blind box" fashion, meaning that you aren't sure which figure you will receive upon purchase. Although still caricatures, the Mystery Minis look a bit more realistic than the slightly larger Pop! figures. Two series have been released featuring Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, John Cena, Randy Savage, The Bella Twins, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Ultimate Warrior, Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, Kevin Nash, Razor Ramon, Daniel Bryan, The Rock, Ted DiBiase, Bret Hart, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Goldust, The Undertaker, George "The Animal" Steele, Daniel Bryan, The Iron Sheik, Brock Lesnar, Steve Austin, Seth Rollins, Sting, Roman Reigns, and Randy Orton.

The figures are one solid hunk of plastic permanently posed in a signature look. Some of the likenesses are perfect (Piper, Goldust) while others could use work (The Undertaker) and a few have curious choices for design such as Nash (wearing tights) or Hogan and Savage (a mishmash of eras). Regardless, these little guys are fun to collect. A few that were featured in promotional materials, such as Mick Foley, thus far remain unreleased.

Meanwhile, the folks at Pro Wrestling Tees/Pro Wrestling Crate have come up with an "independent" alternative. Utilizing talent that is not signed to WWE, the "Micro Brawlers" line was born. Packaged in baggies with cardboard headers, talent from around the world and a couple of different eras have been included in this ever-expanding line. Already featured are CM Punk, Big Van Vader, Kenny Omega, Colt Cabana, The Young Bucks, Taz, Cody Rhodes, Joey Ryan, Marty Scurll, and Penta el Zero M.

You can tell at first glance that the Micro Brawlers borrow heavily in their cartoonish design from the Mystery Minis. Just look at the heads of the figures right down to their wrestling boots. The figures are very close in scale, however the Brawlers are somewhat thinner. The Mystery Minis are hard plastic, while the Micro Brawlers are an almost bendable rubbery material. While the Brawlers may not be as heavy as the Minis, you still just have to love them. The fact that a small company can produce cool little figures such as these is very impressive. In the same vein, it's interesting that some WWE licensed photos are being used on a few of the packaging headers.

Is it a battle? No way. It's two separate figure utilizing a similar design. The Brawlers are being marketed to their own audience online, while the Minis are targeting the vast WWE Universe. The Brawlers continue to add new stars, while nothing new has been heard on the Mini horizon in quite some time. Ultimately who wins? Those of us who realize that all of these brilliant diminutive wrestling figures compliment each other and combine to form a miniature world of wrestling crossing several eras.

It's a big deal!

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