Thursday, June 24, 2021

Have Yourself An "Ultimate" Macho-Flair Affair

Can you think of two flashier wrestlers than "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and "Macho Man" Randy Savage? I can't. Their styles meshed well both in and out of the ring thus leading to fun feuds and matches in both the WWF and WCW. Robes, jackets, sunglasses and plenty of catchphrases between the two. What more do you need? While we've seen countless figures of both Flair and Savage over the past three decades, Mattel has allegedly brought us the "Ultimate" versions of both. Let's see if they live up to the hype.

The two figures are in separate series (Savage released with Edge and Flair with Stone Cold Steve Austin, respectively), but I felt that it would be fun to tackle them both at once. As I said above the two just meshed so well. While both had arguably bigger feuds with Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes and Hulk Hogan, no one has ever forgotten the "Macho-Flair Affair." Each figure is the first entry into the Mattel WWE Ultimate series for both stars, however I can't imagine either being the last. We already know that stars can repeat in the line.

The boxes in the Ultimate line are big, thick and sturdy. It probably contributes to the higher price point and is a bit of a waste. Despite the size and the large "window" room, I doubt that I would ever get an Ultimate figure signed. The figures almost seem secondary to the accessories in how they are packaged and I simply don't feel that such designs lead to something that I personally would want an autograph on. I do appreciate the "figure photography" on the back showing the figures in period-authentic scenes.

Where to begin on what is included? Flair gets his classic pink robe last seen in the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars "WWE 24/7" exclusive figure. It's beautifully done and I love the way that the arms of the robe drape down. Savage's design is from 1992 and is best remembered for being the style used in his fourth Hasbro WWF figure release. The jacket is flawless and I had no trouble putting it on or removing it even with the shoulders of the ring gear underneath. The interchangeable hands are usually a big deal with the Ultimate figures and this is no exception. Brand new "Four Horsemen" hands are included with Flair and it's a shame that these did not arrive to the Mattel line sooner. Quite simply, they're awesome. I also appreciate the ubiquitous taped fingers on the Flair hands. I like the open hands included with Savage, but where are the pointing fingers? Did anyone point more than Savage? Sure they were released with the last Macho King release, but why not with the Ultimate figure? I'm sure it would be chalked up to budget if Mattel were to be asked, but I personally feel it's a large omission.

Both bodies use the new "butterfly" shoulders which are to increase posability. I'm still not sure how I feel about these extra joints. If you're a long time reader you know that it took me forever to warm up to torso joints, too. Speaking of which, these figures continue to have the alternate style torso joint that has become standard in the Ultimate figures. I see both these and the standard torso joints each having their own advantages. The faces on both are good, but I'm not going crazy over them as I've seen others do. Neither are one-hundred percent spot on, though the serve the purpose very well. The "Woooo" face of Flair is great and absolutely needed but I feel that a third match-intense face should be included as well.

I'm still not crazy about the higher price point as I don't feel that the difference is big enough between these and Elites to warrant it. Take away the butterfly shoulders and toe movement and we're good to go with these in the Elite line. Nonetheless, if you're collecting legends in the Mattel line it's going to be hard to pass either of these up. Just do yourself a favor and open them. I will never see the appeal in keeping these boxed and staring at floating accessories.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Should I tell you to "Suck It?"

As distribution problems and other business decisions that can only be described as "wonky" continue to plague the line and frustrate collectors, Mattel has at least continued to crank out product. Occasionally fans can get even get their hands on the figures. Sadly, it's become even a chore to obtain figures that are slated to be online exclusives. One set that we can deem "so far, so good" about is the Amazon exclusive "Fan Takeover," which is now in it's second series.

The concept of "Fan Takeover" is that fan vote allegedly decides which outfits that the figures will be decked out in. I guess we should believe that. From a company noted for being notoriously tight-lipped on such issues as the Harley Race debacle, it's sort of hard to believe that the results would be on the up-and-up. Nonetheless, thus far we've received Ricky Steamboat, Adam Cole, Shayna Baszler and Seth Rollins in Series 1 and Johnny Gargano, Randy Orton, Christian and X-Pac in Series 2. The former 1-2-3 Kid is our subject today.

This version of X-Pac, "as chosen by the fans," is decked out in his 2002 nWo look. It's a look that Jakks produced at the time in the old "TTL" style. The packaging is the standard current shape (said to be changing yet again soon), but the colors are much more vibrant and therefore more attractive, in my opinion. This one looks good boxed and the extra hands aren't floating that manically as sometimes is the case. Amazon isn't known for their great packing in mailings. I must say that this one came boxed and well-protected while Gargano arrived in a bubble mailer. I need say no more.

You get a variety of accessories with X-Pac including a removable nWo t-shirt, bandana, three sets of hands and a Kane mask. I don't particularly remember the angle where X-Pac wore the Kane mask, but I do remember a lot of interaction between the two over the years so I'm sure that it happened. It doesn't fit perfectly but it's still a fun accessory. The hand choices were well done and removable bandanas and headbands should be the rule for every such figure. The nWo t-shirt is always a coveted accessory and allows other figures of a similar size to "join" the New World Order.

In addition to the particular hand choices the facial likeness is great. Coupled with the removable bandana you could honestly label this the "ultimate" X-Pac. For a man such as Sean Waltman who's had plenty of figures down through the years, this is a helluva statement if I do say so myself...and I do.

While the first Fan Takeover series sat available on Amazon for some time, Series 2 has been sporadic at best. If you checked enough you were able to lock in pre-orders on any of them. There could be an upcoming moment where they're all simultaneously available as the first series was, but that has yet to happen. If names for a third series have been unveiled, they have yet to hit my radar. I like the mix of eras in the sets, though as usual I'd prefer a heavier legends presence. If you know me, though, that's my rule. Perhaps we can get the WCW Ricky Steamboat that "didn't win" the Series 1 vote in place of a re-release...