Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Toy Review – WWE Elite Series 33 Junkyard Dog from Mattel

My earliest memories of Junkyard Dog are of a bunch of ladies talking about how handsome he was.

I cannot remember the setting. I don’t know if it was at an aunt’s house or a military base or a gas station. I have no idea. But I remember hearing ladies saying things to the effect of , “Oh, my, what a big, handsome man.” And looking up and seeing JYD’s face on the TV screen, then a shot of him dancing on the ring apron. I don’t know that I thought of him as particularly good-looking, but he sure did seem like fun.

I can’t remember any specific feuds or matches from my young days of watching JYD in the WWF, but I remember loving it when he showed up. He’d bring kids in the ring to dance with him and I always wished that my parents would take me to a wrestling event that he’d be at so that I could maybe get in the ring. I didn’t want to dance – I just wanted to be in a wrestling ring.

I also feel like my memories of Junkyard Dog might somehow predate his WWF run because I specifically associate “Another One Bites the Dust” with him and I don’t think he would have ever used that in the WWF. But I don’t know for sure what their music licensing was like back then. I also can’t recall the various programs that exposed me to wrestling. I know I watched WWF’s Superstars of Wrestling, but I know there were some regional compilation shows I watched, as well.

My clearest memories of JYD – like a number of 80s wrestlers – are from Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling, where he was voiced by the mighty James Avery. That was also where I saw this over and over again and loved every single second of it:


The only thing that could make me love that song more would be if Dan Aykroyd were dancing to it.


IMPORTANT TRIVIA: Lewis Arquette voiced “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka in Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling and supporting character Herm in The Great Outdoors. KISMET.

First Glance

It’s nice to see a happy wrestler.

This figure is sporting JYD’s signature grin and the bright primary color scheme lightens it up as well. I mentioned above that my first impression of the Junkyard Dog was that he looked like fun and this figure reflects that.

Packaging

This is the standard Elite packaging in the new color scheme. The bright white stands out on the pegs, which is good. I like that Mattel refreshes the colors every so often. I will say this, though – if I were a mint-in-box collector it might bother me. The variances in box shape and style definitely would.

Stickers on the front point out the accessory and the fact that this is Junkyard Dog’s first appearance in the Elite line. I like that Mattel points that out. It’s good marketing and is of interest to collectors.

The back is a total letdown. These new grids of facts are not interesting to me. I want the old bios back. I do, however, like that they specify what era the ring attire is from. Back when I was collecting the JAKKS figures it would actually bug me sometimes when I couldn’t figure out where a gear design came from.

Looks

For the most part 80s ring attire wasn’t quite as involved as it tends to be today. You had two or three colors and maybe a design or some stars. JYD’s gear is among the fanciest that might be seen in 1986, and yet still pleasingly 80s in its simplicity. The white tights contrasting his dark skin – not something you see as often in the Elite series – makes Junkyard Dog a welcome addition to the shelf.

The likeness is awesome. They nailed it. The beard is sculpted and not just paint. His eyebrows are a little off-kilter and I can’t find any references to that being a standard thing for JYD. It isn’t bad – particularly in person as opposed to a close-up picture – but it is noticeable. Everything else about the head sculpt and paint is great. 
 
The figure has a thicker torso and it looks good. I think this would be appropriate for a lot more figures than Mattel will probably use it for. Unlike JAKKS, Mattel didn’t try to put that larger torso on top of a regular waist. And of course, the ever-present “THUMP” is printed across the back of the tights.

Like all of the Elite figures, JYD’s legs are a bit too long. I usually say that this is because of the double-jointed knees. That’s just speculation. I have other figures with double-jointed knees whose legs aren’t too long. Maybe it’s just Mattel feeling like they can get away with using the same legs for everyone. I don’t really know. These legs have stars om them in all the right spots. They’re clean and placed well.

JYD’s boots have some more stars and a dog. They look good, but I’ve seen a lot of wrestlers with white boots in my day and they are never this clean. But obviously this isn’t a line of ultra-realistic and detailed figures like you would expect from NECA. These are wrestling toys. I bet there’s somebody out there that’s custom painting these things to look more realistic, though.

How I envy people with too much free time.

Accessories

Junkyard Dog comes with a dog collar with a chain attached.

This is a great accessory. The collar is black rubber with sculpted studs painted silver. It snaps closed easily and stays. The chain is made up of individual metal links and makes me angry about Ninjor’s piece of shit nunchucks. 
 
Fun

These are all great figures that can be posed individually and interact with other Elite figures. The articulation is about as good as you could get without screwing up the figures’ profiles. The bottom line is that you can get this figure to do pretty much anything you might have seen JYD doing back in the day.

The collar adds a whole extra dimension thanks to its great design and level of interactivity with the figures. I hope that someday we might get this same accessory with a collar at each end for use in Dog Collar Matches. That would be cool. And Mattel seems to be pretty good about figuring out ways to work accessories in. 
 
Overall

Junkyard Dog was a must-have for me, so I’m glad that Mattel did such a god job with him. I can’t foresee a better JYD in the future, so buying this one is probably a safe bet. 
 
I’m a little torn on the score. Just gauging this figure within the Elite series he’s a 5 out of 5, but after reviewing five of these guys this week (more to come!), the too-long legs are really bothering me. Hulk Hogan and Undertaker are really the only figures that they look okay on. Of course, the problem is exacerbated when the wrestlers don’t wear kneepads. I’ve got a Flair (that I’ll be reviewing down the road) that came with his kneepads on his knees (silly Mattel – that’s not where Flair keeps them). He looked okay until I pushed them down into the right spot. Then he had longleg syndrome, as well.

4 out of 5

Grab them cakes! And when you’re done, grab this figure!:

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