Monday, August 11, 2014

Toy Review – WWE Elite Collection Series 28 – Bray Wyatt from Mattel

I give Mattel a lot of shit. I know this. But I will also give them credit where credit is due and say that Mattel’s WWE line is one of the best toy lines available today. And not just their collector-oriented Elite series. Their standard line features a bit less in the way of articulation and accessories, but seems to be about equal on decos. It uses parts originating with the Elite line but farmed out to the simpler figures, so the likenesses and body types tend to be about on par with the Elite series. The genius of this is that nobody is alienated. You could collect your favorites in the Elite format and fill in the ranks with the basic figures. 
 
Having said all of that, due to my decline in interest in televised wrestling I haven’t been buying a whole lot of Mattel’s figures. I couldn’t help but pick up a few favorites when Mattel first acquired the license. JAKKS Pacific did an admirable job of representing WWE’s roster and alumni over the years. They also tried many different styles of action figure. But I was never totally satisfied with their figures. Especially once they started their Deluxe series. 
 
But then Mattel came along with great likenesses, excellent articulation, and accurate scale. This was the thing that had bothered me most about JAKKS’ figures. There was barely any height difference between Rey Mysterio and Undertaker and that’s just darn silly. JAKKS figures shared a lot more parts than they should’ve, and while I was an avid collector of their product for years, that always bothered me.

I’ve been watching WWE since the beginning of the year. I enjoy more of it than I used to. I think they used Daniel Bryan well, I like Damien Sandow’s current gimmick (or run of gimmicks), Randy Orton is finally acting the way I think Randy Orton should act (as a douchy, kind of chicken-shitty heel rather than any kind of character we’re supposed to take seriously), the women’s division seems stronger than it’s been in a long time, STARDUST AND GOLDUST, the McMahon/Helmsley Era is back, Rousev/Lana versus Swagger/Coulter is great, DCW Hooligan Xavier Woods is on TV every week, and all kinds of other fun wrestling goodness. I’m even watching NXT from time to time, for Hulk’s sake.

But one of my favorite phenomena currently happening is the Wyatt family. They’re weird, they’re excellent at their gimmicks, and every single time they’re on TV they basically do the same thing but it’s still interesting somehow. Only two things bug me about these guys – I don’t like when the crowd cheers them (though I can see a huge babyface turn working under the right circumstances), and Harper and Rowan’s tag team entrance music is lame and generic.

I saw pictures of the Elite Series figures of the Wyatts a couple of months ago and knew I would have trouble resisting them if I saw them at retail. I saw Bray for the first time a few weeks ago at a Target and managed to resist. I don’t need any more wrestling figures. I just don’t. Then I saw him again while we were on vacation in North Carolina. I controlled myself once again. But after we left the store I kept thinking about how cool the figure looked and wondered if I would see one again. I don’t know what distribution is like on WWE figures. We returned to the same store a couple of days later, Wyatt was still there, and I bought him.

And then found Series 29 at Target on the way into work today and bought Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and that new Andre the Giant with the hilarious wig and removable singlet.
DAMN YOU GATEWAY TOYS.
FIRST GLANCE

If this wasn’t Bray Wyatt, I would probably be making fun of the base figure’s outfit. Baggy white pants and a black tank top with a chest pocket – a chest pocket – is not a good look. And then the boots, which I would probably refer to as Cactus Jack knockoffs. But this is Bray Wyatt, so with the tattoos and beardiness and accessories he looks pretty cool.
PACKAGING

The WWE Elite series packaging is nice. It isn’t too overdone and fits the figures nicely without a ton of wasted space. The shape and graphics are eye catching and I like that the graphic depicting the wrestlers is nice and big, it’s on the front of the box in a prominent position, and it doesn’t block any portion of the figure. Bray does look a little tubby, though. I’ve noticed that the pictures on these look sort of like the character select screen pics in the video games.
 
I like the description of Bray’s shirt as “Tropical”. Is “Hawaiian” copyrighted?

I love this bio. This is great stuff compared to what’s on most retail Mattel products. It covers as much as is known about Wyatt’s background, names his finisher, and references feuds. Great stuff.
LOOKS

The head sculpt is fantastic. Not only is there no doubt that this is the sinister head of the Wyatt Family, there are tons of well done little details. The beard and hair have just enough sculpting to look good and have the right textures – the beard is full and the hair looks lank and flat like Wyatt’s always does. The facial likeness is very good, though I feel like those eyebrows make him look a little too jolly. They could stand to be thinner and maybe a little lower or more angled inward. The rest of the paint is great. The eyes are centered and the mouth has distinct lips and teeth with all of the apps staying within their spots.

The body is the right shape – a muscular but round torso. The shirt has a texture to it and the right cut. It isn’t just a generic tank top torso they used because it sort of looked right.

The pants are also very character-specific. They look like the odd cross between track pants and slacks that Wyatt wears. The hip joints are a little ugly, but I’ll take that considering this is a figure that is by its nature more action- and pose-oriented than most.

The boots are just the basic lower portion that’s probably shared by a lot of these figures. The snakeskin design is painted and not sculpted, but I really don’t find that to be a big deal.

The arms are where this figure stands out. The shape of the arms is fine, but the tattoos are incredible. Not just for the number of paint apps involved, but for the way they are worked into the joints. For the most part, posing the arms does not cause awkward breaks or gaps in the designs. I'm shocked at the crucified Christ on Wyatt's left arm. It wouldn't surprise me if future releases had something different. Both sides of the debate could have problems with that image. The deco goes as far into the joints as it possibly can. It’s some impressive work. The tape on Wyatt’s right arm isn’t sculpted, but the paint is flat and is so distinctive from the rest of the arm that it looks okay. I’d still prefer a sculpt, but this isn’t bad. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed the red markings on Bray Wyatt’s taped arm, but they seem too big and specific to be errors.
ACCESSORIES

Bray comes with his trademark “Tropical” shirt and fedora.

The fedora looks very good and fits perfectly on the figure’s head. And it stays there. JAKKS had a lot of trouble with headgear on figures. Mattel has created a hat the looks good, fits the figure, and stays put. Amazing.

The shirt is about as good as you could expect something like this to be. It doesn’t have sleeves or a collar, but once it’s on the figure it looks pretty good. The material has a wonderful print on it and hangs well. That’s usually a problem at this scale.
FUN

The figure is a lot of fun. The articulation is fantastic and unlike other WWE figures is unencumbered by knee or elbow pads that restrict the usefulness of the joints. I played around with Wyatt longer than I have most other retail figures in recent memory.

Since I haven’t reviewed one of these in a long time (if ever – I don’t think I ever got around to the Daniel Bryan I meant to review), I’ll go ahead and list the articulation:

Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps – swivel
Elbows – pivot
Wrists – swivel/pivot
Abdomen – pivot
Waist – swivel
Hips – Ball joint
Thighs – swivel
Knees – double pivot
Ankles – pivot
Foot – pivot

The head is restricted a bit by the beard and long hair, but all of the joints have a satisfying range. The abdomen and elbows bend more deeply than most other figures of this scale.

The foot articulation is hard for me to explain. It’s sort of like the rocker joints Mattel used to put on their DC and Masters of the Universe Classics figures, but it works so much better. The ankle pivots forward and back and the foot pivots side-to-side.

This is a great bunch of articulation and perfectly satisfactory for a wrestler.

If you’re curious, the differences between this and a basic release are the abdominal pivot, ball joint hips, double pivot knees, and rocker feet. I’m pretty sure the basics use ball joint heads since most of the head sculpts end up being shared. I don’t think the basics have as many different body sculpts as the Elite, either, so while Elite CM Punk and Evan Bourne may have different torsos, basics of the same guys might be the same.

I liked Bray so much I had to go and get Daniel Bryan for him to beat up:

OVERALL

What a great and satisfying figure. For under twenty bucks, as well.
I’m not necessarily happy with myself for weakening and buying another wrestling figure when I was finally out, but at least it’s a very, very good figure. Not perfect, but for under twenty bucks darn good. If you’re a fan of Bray Wyatt, I say go find one of these.

4 out of 5

Preferably go and find one on Amazon and help ol’ Phantom pay the bills around this joint:

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