Thursday, September 27, 2018

Shark Attack!

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the blog, we're wrapping up "Mattel Month." It's been several weeks of interesting newer product from the WWE figure line, and finalizing the lineup is a figure that most of us never thought we would see. Though John Tenta has had many figures going back to 1992, they've always been in his guise as Earthquake. The beloved big man had several other gimmicks and finally one from the bizarre files of World Championship Wrestling has circled and hit store shelves. Meet...The Shark!

I should back up a bit. The figure has had an interesting road to collectors hands and it hasn't always been on physical store shelves. Originally scheduled as a Toys "R" Us exclusive, the figure only made it to the Canadian branch of the chain after their stores in the United States closed. This left distribution in America as a question mark bigger than the one on Frank Gorshin. Would it see the light of day here? Yes. It has become an online exclusive to a retailer popular with every group from soccer moms to geek culture and everyone in between. Have you guessed it yet? Bullseye.

The figure is essentially the Mattel Earthquake figures with a new head, but it's more than just a repaint. This is a new character. To me, that makes a lot of difference. I also think that this is the best  facial likeness of John Tenta to date. The lone accessory is a hand band, and I can't really think of anything else that I would've included. I guess you could consider the very detailed cardboard logo backdrop as an accessory, if only because I couldn't stand to toss it with the rest of the packaging. It fits perfectly with the cheesiness of the character.

Speaking of which, in case you're not familiar, this was Tenta's character in the "Dungeon of Doom" faction. Although many ended up being part of that group, this is one of the few to be produced by Mattel who actually came from the cartoony era when the mission of the faction was to end Hulkamania. As no stranger to being in the ring opposite of the yellow and red as Earthquake, The Shark was a fun, if not necessarily successful, image for the big man from Canada.

I like this figure a lot. I had a bad experience with the retailer while getting it, which is why I'm childishly omitting their name. Needless to say, you all know where you can purchase it. It's a bit overpriced at $25, but not out of the ballpark if it's a figure that you truly desire. As a fan of the late, great, John Tenta, I could not pass it up. Word is that the Red Rooster will be joining The Shark as another online exclusive from the same retailer, so I guess that I best make amends fast.

Thanks for joining us for "Mattel Month!" Figures are the one constant in wrestling memorabilia collecting, so I'm sure that the fun will continue well into our tenth year...

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Missus Miz Goes Elite

She's the missus of The Miz, and she's awesome. Even since her first run, Maryse had something different. For all intents and purposes she could have been just another cookie cutter blonde from an era where, as far as women's wrestling, the company basically threw anything towards the wall just to see what would stick. It may be a bit different now, but Maryse is better than ever. She may no longer be a regular active wrestler, but she found her niche alongside a man who I always found to be an unlikely real-life husband. Considering he found the same perfect role after years of floating around, perhaps they're just that good for each other.

Wrestling relationships aside, we're here to talk about the latest figure of Maryse. It's her first "Elite" figure as part of a series of exclusive female figures available at Walgreens. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were the first releases and, like those figures, Maryse also has a championship belt included. Instead of one that she held herself, however, included is The Miz's Intercontinental Championship. Seeing as that she's mainly a manager now, this works.

At first glance, all I see is Joi Lansing. I hear you all right now. "Who?" Miss Lansing, in my opinion, was the far superior version of Marilyn Monroe. Unlike Miss Monroe, Lansing is sadly lost to time. You may see her in an old "I Love Lucy" or "Beverly Hillbillies" re-run, but her premature death in 1972 pretty much halted any chance of future generations taking note. Since she debuted, Maryse has always reminded me of the late starlet. Go ahead and Google. I'll wait. Actually, please wait until after you finish this entry as once you see the beauty, you may not return here.

The figure does have a great look, though. The outfit, complete with cap, is pure Maryse. For once an accessory to go on the head actually looks correct if you place it on the figure. The facial scan is perfect, though dating back to her figure debut with Jakks I don't recall her ever having a bad one. Even the hand does her signature "talk to the hand" pose. There's also a ring painted onto Maryse's finger. Her bond of matrimony with The Miz, I would imagine. A nice detail that certainly didn't need included, but there it is.

Thus far, you would probably consider this to be the ultimate version of our favorite French Diva. I wish they had done this series in the more recent rectangular packaging, but it's still a fun retail exclusive set. Of the three, this seems to be the most sought-after down at "the corner of Happy and Healthy." Perhaps it's because it's her first "Elite" figure, the association with The Miz, their new reality show, or just's Maryse.

We're swimming in dangerous waters as "Mattel Month" continues next week. In fact, if you join us, you're gonna need a bigger boat.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Player One Selects..."Macho Man" Randy Savage

As "Mattel Month" here on the blog rolls on, we look at one of the more innovative series to come along in awhile. The figures themselves may just be repaints, but the packaging is unlike anything that we've ever seen before. Not only did Mattel think up a novel idea to lure in even non-collectors for a purchase, but they also picked the perfect spot for this line to be a retail exclusive at. But can presentation overshadow the product inside of the box? Get your coins ready, the button mashing is about to begin!

Many of us remember playing the classic WWF arcade games, including WrestleFest. The graphics were, of course, somewhat better than home consoles at the time, and something about the rosters always peaked my interest. Demolition in a game? I was there. In fact, even as the game was long outdated I was still occasionally inserting quarters into the cabinet on Saturday afternoons at the Giant Eagle grocery store. Now, with Mattel's WWE RetroFest figure line, we can sort of "collect the game." Even if none of the figures included in the line thus far were actually stars featured in the game.

"Macho Man" Randy Savage is the first to hit stores, with "Rocker" Shawn Michaels following and both Honky Tonk Man and Hacksaw Jim Duggan planned for the future. The figures are unique in that the packaging resembles an arcade cabinet with graphics similar to the classic WWF game. The back features stats that are designed to look like they are being presented on the old select-your-character screens. The one used here actually reminds me the most of the one from the WWF Royal Rumble game that was released on both Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

The figure is really just another Mattel Randy Savage. That isn't a bad thing. The attire is definitely different and based on a Raw appearance late in Savage's WWF run. It's just that at an initial $29 price point, it's clear that the packaging is the star here. The hat, shirt, and glasses are removable. Savage wore the shirt in-ring at this point and it makes the figure stand out from other figures of the legend anyway. Even at the time, the post-Macho King career of Savage always left me feeling a bit empty. I could never explain it, but I think many would agree that his prime ended there. I appreciate the '92 title run, but even then it felt sort of like a placeholder. I wish it had gone differently, though many would disagree with me as they have every right to.

The packaging is nice and truly the star, though I'm just not sure that it's worth the cost. It also presents a dilemma. You obviously want the very unique box, but due to the window in the front needing to appear like the screen for the arcade cabinet, you can't really see the whole figure unless you open it. With how the box is produced, once you open it you would have a really hard time replacing it again.

On the plus side, we have interesting re-releases with a very cool packaging gimmick. On the other hand, the pricing is high and does anyone really want a "Rocker" Shawn Michaels without Marty Jannetty? The answer is yes, but not me. I also would not have picked up Savage had the figure not dropped to under $20 in a sale. Hopefully Honky and Hacksaw get discounted as well when they hit, as both have attires that intrigue me if produced as planned. HTM is slated to be wearing his blue "Elvis" suit while Hacksaw looks to be a mishmash featuring his '80s t-shirt and his 1993 singlet underneath.

Where will "Mattel Month" go next? Are you asking? Pourquoi?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Removing The Mask of Giant Machine

Mattel has been cranking out so much product that it's become somewhat of a tradition to pause and have a "Mattel Month" here on the blog every so often. For some old school readers it's not as exciting as when we look at an old magazine or classic autographs. But even if figures aren't your thing, you have to admit that they're fun to look at. For this "Mattel Month," I guess we can go back to the old adage of "go big or go home." You don't get any bigger than Andre the Giant...err...Giant Machine.

This is not the first figure of the masked tag team wrestler. He made an appearance in the waning days of the Jakks Classic Superstars line. That figure was disappointing in its execution as it was merely a black one-strap singlet Andre figure with a Machine mask. Personally, I ended up passing on it. Even with the belief that the character would never again be seen in figure form, it just wasn't a final product that I felt like spending money on. Did Mattel change all of that?

The packaging is, as we'll see frequently throughout the month, in the current rectangular box that I'm a huge fan of. While I largely don't purchase modern figures to keep packaged unless there is an autograph opportunity, I could see why someone would with this years offerings. And even though there is a head floating in the package, the Machine just looks cool. There is one drawback to keeping this one boxed which we will address. As usual with the Mattel product, I don't care for the stands/backdrops included so I don't review them.

If you haven't already noticed, this is two figures in one. Remove the tights and masked head, pop the alternate head on, and you have Andre the Giant. It's a cool concept that seems to be something Mattel will be going forward with strongly in the foreseeable future.

The Andre body sculpt has been strong since its first use. Since the release of the "'70s Andre," it's gotten even better with the huge open hands. These hands were also used for the Fan Central figure of The Big Show featured here a number of months ago. They really do look just like the huge "paws" of The Giant and are perfect for "choking out" any of the other figures.

While Giant Machine was Andre's guise for a good chunk of 1986, he also appeared in, and won, the battle royal at WrestleMania 2. The "Andre side" of this figure represents his look there with yellow tights. Figures Toy Company debuted this look in action figure form a number of years ago and it hasn't been revisited since. With Andre rarely changing colored tights, especially in the WWF, it's nice to see a different look visited.

The two problems with the figure actually both revolve around the boots. The issue mentioned above, regarding keeping the figure in the package, is that it's hard to keep the tights from riding up at the top of boots as they are in the packaging. It should go straight from the boot to the tights. The other discrepancy is that yellow boots were worn with the yellow tights. I'm guessing that budgetary reasons kept them from including alternate boots. Honestly, I'd rarely have this figure assembled as Andre, anyway. This is Giant Machine all the way.

It'd be awesome to see a generic Machine figure produced in the future, even if they couldn't say "Big Machine" or "Super Machine." I don't think that it will happen, but Mattel has surprised me before. This is a great entry into the Andre collection, as was the long-awaited "dark blue" Andre that came with the Heenan Family set. There aren't too many versions left to do, aside from Andre in street clothes. The red and green outfits from late in his life in Mexico would be cool, but that won't happen.

"Mattel Month" is off to a big bang. Who's coming up next? Maybe a current talent? Or perhaps this whole month will be a retrofest...?