Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WrestleMania Week: WWE Elite Edge & CM Punk by Mattel

I stopped collecting WWE toys a couple of years ago when a combination of wrestling burnout, rising prices and just being sick of JAKKS farmed parts got to me. I didn’t want to be excited when it was announced Mattel got the WWE license. I was done with wrestling toys and it was saving me a lot of money. Besides, wrestling just wasn’t all that good lately in TV or video game form. The whole sport was losing its luster a bit.

But then the Mattel product hit stores on January 1st, and it all looked really good. I was sorely tempted to buy the CM Punk Elite figure. I resisted. One day I saw a Kofi Kingston with the Limited Edition “First 1000” title belt (Mattel is packing in a special die-cast title belt with the first 1000 standard figures of each new Superstar they release) and was tempted. Again, I resisted. But then they got me. Every once in a while, in a price-reducing frenzy, Walmart will mistakenly mark down something they shouldn’t. I got an entire series of just-released Star Wars figures for $1.79 apiece a few years ago this way. So when I saw Edge and Punk for seven bucks each I just couldn’t help myself. I knew there was a good chance they would end up being gateway toys, causing me to buy future releases at full price. Oh, well. Let’s see if they’re any good.

First Glance: Edge and Punk are two of my favorite active wrestlers, so as soon as I saw the quality on these Elite figures I pretty much wanted them. They look really slick in the packaging and create a very strong “Buy Me!” message.

Sculpt: Both figures are designed with Mattel’s “Our 6-inch articulation kicks the shit out of your 6-inch articulation” articulation, but in a different way than the DCUC figures. The shoulder joints are done in a way that allows for deco (tattoos) and the hip joints are slightly less effective than the DC ones. These still easily qualify as super-articulated, though.

Edge’s head sculpt is dead-on – far superior to any we have seen previously. He sports his signature sneer, not quite as appropriate now as it was when the toy was designed, but I prefer it. He has what I would call a medium torso with light definition. No super-sculpted abs a la JAKKS.

CM Punk’s head sculpt doesn’t look quite as good as Edge’s, but is still the best Punk likeness we’ve gotten. His torso is different than Edge’s, which is impressive. I would’ve said you could get away with the same one for these two. I do wish there had been some sculpting for his taped hands rather than just a paint app. I had this complaint about JAKKS Punk figures, too.

Design: Edge is sporting his old “Rated-R Superstar” tights, logical given when the figure was designed. Every tattoo he has is present on the figure, and they look amazing. Mattel clearly used some sort of scanning technology to capture the designs and apply them.
CM Punk has even more tattoos than Edgeward and they are almost all here. I understand the trademark issues that prevent Mattel from giving Punk figures the Pepsi and Cobra logos, but couldn’t they at least put something similar on the shoulders rather than leave them blank. Other than that all of the deco and paint apps look great.

Accessories: Both figures include a stand with a cheap cardboard nameplate. I don’t really care, but it seems odd to make the nameplate out of such a flimsy substance.
Edge has elbow pads and his trenchcoat. They are both made out of some kind of semi-soft plastic and look really nice. I’m okay with the coat being a little tricky to put on as long as it isn’t soft goods. I really don’t like fabric on anything less than 1/6th scale because it just doesn’t ever look right. You can’t get fabrics to drape properly in that small a scale. The elbow pads are another issue and I’ll address that one in a minute.

Punk comes with knee pads and a t-shirt. The knee pads look good and the shirt is about as acceptable as the aforementioned soft goods could get. It is a light material and has a Velcro closure on the back, so it pretty much looks okay when you put it on the figure. The knee pads have the same issue as Edge’s albow pads, which is this:

Why the fuck do you bother giving these figures such great articulation when you’re going to put a big piece of plastic over the joints that will render them essentially immobile? JAKKS started this trend and I think it is one of the stupidest fucking things I have ever seen in a toy. Toy Biz had the right idea in that they usually made the pads part of the sculpt. I don’t understand for the life of me why pads need to be separate pieces. It’s not like Punk ever wrestles with bare knees. Do elbow fetishists need to see the Edge figure’s nude arm joints that badly? Somebody please explain this to me!

Packaging: Mattel has been responsible for some of the finest toy packaging I have seen and the WWE Elite series is some of the best of that. There are windows on each panel of the package that allow a 360 degree view of the figure. It really is a clever design. It just adds to the overall appeal of the toys, which is exactly what good packaging should do.

Overall: As much as the whole pad thing confuses me, I really love these figures. If I did more than pose them and leave them on the shelf I might be more irritated, but I guess they move as much as they need to for my purposes. Mattel has done a fantastic job of making collector-friendly wrestlers and, judging from the empty pegs in stores, I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m not going to collect like I used to, but I am going to have to pick up my favorites as they come out.

4 out of 5
(Damn those pads)



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