It's certainly a hot close to summer for Mattel. It feels that there is new product every week, though a trip to the store certainly wouldn't indicate that. If you're wise, you've figured out how to obtain these figures without too much of a drain on your time or your wallet. I will never get the train of thought that "the hunt" is fun. As much as I tell myself that THIS will be the entry where I don't rant about it, each time that I review Mattel product I can't help but go there. It's a crying shame that the hobby is being ruined like this. Nevertheless, here we go with another round of Elite figures.
Mattel WWE Elite 78 is another lineup with a good mix. Unlike in the Elite 77 review, the "Collector's Edition" figure is being included. The reasons for this are that the packaging on this "Collector's Edition" matches the other figures in the case. The other reason is that for me, all seven figures shipped together. I guess an unofficial third reason is how fantastic this "limited" figure is, but we'll get to that in a bit. This time we've got R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Matt Riddle, Naomi, Drake Maverick, Randy Orton, and Superstar Billy Graham. It should be noted that I've never uttered the name "Drake Maverick" in my life. To me you could not get a more unique wrestling name than "Rockstar Spud," therefore that is who he will always be to me.
The packaging is your current very red-and-white standard window box. Nothing offensive about it, but nothing remarkable either. Again, the full rectangle boxes of the last several years were far superior and honestly gave the line a bit of class. These current ones look dollar store-ish to me. They just do. If I were a carded collector (and I only am in autograph situations which are getting fewer and fewer) I would be very bothered by the extra hands and heads floating around. I understand why it's done. You need to see what you're getting. As a loose collector I certainly appreciate anything extra. But it does cheapen the aesthetic when leaving these things in the box.
I'll get to why I purchased (no free review merch on this blog, pal!) the entire set in a bit, but I do want to say that there isn't a weak figure in the bunch. Even characters with endless releases such as Kofi and Orton have much needed updates here. I believe that the plate of pancakes may have been released with some Basic New Day figures, but this would be the first Elite to include the flying breakfast treat. With the matching Big E and Xavier Woods (the latter will be the sleeper hit of the next wave) coming shortly, it's good to have the former WWE Champion here. I haven't purchased a figure of "The Viper" in years. This one seems to be a bit thicker as far as physique, has a great face scan, and some worthwhile accessories such as the entrance vest and signature pose hands.
Naomi is a fan favorite who has long deserved an Elite. Complete with her green-strapped championship belt, there is also a "chase" version of this figure in different "Feel The Glow" attire. I still feel that they're squandering her marketability by using the name "Naomi" instead of her real name Trinity Fatu, but what do I know?
"The Original Bro" was certainly made to be a figure and in this case art imitates life. Just as he resembles "KVE" in person, the first Matt Riddle Elite figure takes me right back to the Elite figure of Kevin Von Erich. Some are complaining about the size of the arms used on this figure, but it isn't really bothering me. I love the inclusion of the "hang loose" hands that we're starting to see used more and more with appropriate characters. Riddle probably takes the title for "most accessories" in this wave with an abundance of hands, soft goods jacket, head band, and flip flops. Altogether they really make this an epic Elite. I prefer the yellow color of the Basic, but make no mistake, this is a great figure, bro.
In a cool move by Mattel, the epic battle over the 24/7 Championship finally comes to the figure world with R-Truth and Drake Maverick. The Spudster at last gets an Elite and a ring gear figure all in one release, while Truth was long overdue for an update. The 24/7 title doesn't have the shiny "vac" look, but it's not bothering me here. The tag title with the Kofi in this set had the same issue and if it were the first release of that particular title I would probably be bothered. Maybe it's because the green strap of rhe 24/7 title just pleases me. In any case, these are two solid additions to the lineup. Spud looks a bit tiny in the package, but he's Spud. He's a small guy.
Finally we get to the Collector's Edition. Unlike with Elite 77 where we had three "Flashback" figures, our only wrestler from the past in Elite 78 is right here. The man of the hour. Too sweet to be sour. He eats T-Bone steaks. He lifts barbell plates. He's sweeter than a German chocolate cake. Ok, I'm done. But seriously, who ever thought that we'd get Superstar Billy Graham in the Mattel lineup? The thought is unreal. What else is unreal? The figure itself. The main event should always go on last and here we are. They could've thrown this into their "Ultimate" line becauae this truly is "The Ultimate" Billy Graham.
Not only do we get classic WWWF Champion Superstar Billy Graham from the '70s, but with the switch of a head we suddenly have '80s "comeback" SBG. Yes, for the record, Graham did wear these particular tights during both runs. An interesting point, however, was brought up to me by longtime friend and collector extraordinaire Mike Girasia. When exactly did Superstar Billy Graham wear a boa? Of course I flashed back to the first Jakks WWE Classic Superstar release that included a soft goods boa. Then I thought that I definitely had a magazine cover with a boa-clad SBG. Upon a few searches, I simply could not find any evidence of Graham wearing a boa. Could this be something thrust upon us by figure manufacturers? The Superstar was certainly flashy enough to wear one, but did it happen?
Another helluva fun lineup from Mattel. I recently came to a realization regarding these figures as collectors get more and more frustrated trying to find them. I've never been one to give free advertisements, but Ringside Collectibles has truly alleviated some of the issues that were turning me away from this hobby. Yes, you may pay a bit more (though Ringside itself pays more to get the figures in advance), to get the best deal you have to buy complete sets (which isn't always ideal with repaints in the lineups), and it isn't the best option for collectors outside of the U.S., but I've truly found peace in my hobby by ordering from this company. While I've been dealing with them for years, due to the terrible distribution of Mattel and the greed of those who seemingly have nothing better to do with their lives than hop from store to store searching, I've settled on simply pre-ordering. I don't know that I'll review every set, but at least I'll know that I'll have the figures that I want delivered to me without some jobless slob running to the store just to make a few bucks on the 'Bay. Keep your overpriced plastic figure, virus, and backwards baseball cap, but clean your Cheeto fingers before you tip your Uber driver.
I've never been one to mince words, and there you have it with both Elite 78 and the state of the hobby in general. I feel as if there may one more Mattel review this month before we go back to a different direction for a bit, but I pity the fool who would miss a single entry.