Thursday, March 26, 2015

Toy Review – WWE WrestleMania Heritage Series Kane from Mattel

Let’s talk about Kane.

I have no idea how to talk about Kane.

I have a lot of respect for the guy as a performer. He has taken everything that WWF/E has handed him over the years and made the best of it. He has been terrifying, powerful, tragic, and even at times hilarious. It’s interesting to note that at this point in his career, Kane has spent more time unmasked than masked, though I will always prefer the menacing, masked Big Red Machine over Corporate Kane or any other maskless variations. 
 
Obviously I like masks.

Jim Ross – the greatest voice in the history of professional wrestling – made the classic call of, “Through hellfire and brimstone – it’s Kane!” and it’s that statement more than any other that signaled that things were about to get serious. When this iteration of Kane was headed for the ring, you knew that there was going to be a battle. He was essentially Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees all rolled up into one, and due to the Superstars’ talented portrayal that gimmick has had a much longer shelf life than it should’ve. I say “has had” despite the fact that we’ve got Corporate Kane now because I feel like the audience is always going to be ready for that mask to go back on and for those flames to jump up on the Titan Tron.

And that’s another testament to this performers’ ability – even after so many years and so, so many bad storylines, we still love Kane. We still want to see that ominous shadow emerge from the locker room. 
 
This special WrestleMania Heritage figure depicts Kane as he appeared at WrestleMania 2000. I didn’t even realize it when I first saw him, but this is his gear with inverted colors. When Kane first appeared he was in red with black highlights. This was not the first variation of his gear, but it was the first time the colors were different. I thought it looked awesome and this was the Kane I used in WWF No Mercy, the greatest wrestling video game of all time.

You might be wondering what the big, important match was at WrestleMania 2000 that inspired Kane to switch his colors and Mattel to make this figure. Surely it must have been an epic confrontation with Undertaker or Triple H, or maybe one of Kane’s brawls with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Nope. He teamed up with Rikishi to face X-Pac and Road Dogg. 
 
Side Note: WrestleMania 2000 is my favorite of all the WrestleManias. Not for the content, but for the event. The then-WWF offered a day-long programming package leading up to the pay-per-view that featured specials focusing on each of the past ‘Manias. We had a ton of people over and just watched WWF programming all day. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had. Keep in mind – back in 2000 those past ‘Manias weren’t even readily available on VHS, much less a 24 hour on-demand service where you could watch them any time you want. So it was very special to be looking back at them all day long.

First Glance

Man, I love the original Kane mask. Obviously I empathize with the guy wanting less and less mask over the years, but this one is just so damned scary. Especially with the different red-on-black design.

The key details all seem right, but I’m not sure Kane was this slim in 2000. 
 
Packaging

This is basically the Elite style packaging, but with different graphics to denote the WrestleMania specialness. These definitely stand out on the peg. I had been keeping an eye out for them because I wasn’t sure where they would show up first (as of this writing I still haven’t seen them anywhere but the Target where I bought them, and they’re long gone from there). These ‘Mania-specific collections tend to show up at Toys R Us first for whatever reason, but I still haven’t seen these Elites there. They do have the two-packs and single regular figures, though.

Oh, yeah – packaging.

It looks great. It caught my eye the second I got to the aisle in Target.

I’m disappointed by the back in many ways. You guy know I like a bio and these newest Elite figures have reduced that to a list of stats that often aren’t even relevant. Or close to accurate, in this case. At no point in his career has Kane been 6’1” and 212 lbs. That’s just dumb. He wasn’t called “The Devil’s Favorite Demon” until a couple of years ago, so that shouldn’t be on this Kane (and also I hate that nickname). And why the heck would you list Team Hell No as an affiliation and not Brothers of Destruction or Rikishi, who is actually the guy he tagged with at this pay-per-view?

This is a moronic and just plain wrong collection of trivia and Mattel should really look at hiring a different copy person. One that can verify these things off the top of their head and has actually witnessed many of the milestones that they will be producing toys for over the coming years.

Someone like me.

I would’ve put “Electrocuting Shane McMahon’s Testicles” under Career Highlights.

Looks

The figure is too skinny to be Kane in 2000, but let’s move past that.

It would be kind of hard to screw up Kane’s mask. They nailed all of the seams and even the layering of the mask. The portion covering the mouth actually sits under the rest. His nose is just revealed enough and the paint is clean. There’s even a bit of sculpted and painted beard under the chin. The hair could use some paint, but the sculpt looks great. It resembles the tumble of wet, wavy hair that was always pouting out of Kane’s mask.

Here’s a thing I guess I have to address – the paint apps on Mattel’s Elite figures. They stick with “just enough to get by”. I don’t feel like there are ever parts that are just straight-up unpainted, but Mattel doesn’t do any detailing – washes or highlights. The thing is, it doesn’t bother me. While this is a cost issue masquerading as a style decision, it works. The line has its accurate-but-simplistic style and it works. When more detailed and intense deco is required, they do it. But if it isn’t absolutely necessary – like a wash on Kane’s hair – they don’t bother. I think I’m pretty much okay with it.

I’m impressed with the sculpting on Kane’s upper torso. The high neck of his shirt looks like a shirt and not just a painted neck. The same goes for the sculpted trim of his open left sleeve – the trim and the studs are sculpted and not just painted. Of course, that makes his painted-on studded belt a let-down. Would it really have been that pricey to put a belt on this guy? Aside from making him physically thicker that’s all it would have taken for this to have been a perfect figure. It is a nice touch that they used a glossier paint for the red portions, giving them the appearance of shiny PVC material while the black portions are a flatter, textured plastic.

Kane’s arms look good. The glove and wristband pieces have sculpted studs and stand out nicely. 
 
The boots are tall and glossy, with great sculpted detail on the folds and on the laces and eyelets.

Accessories

Kane comes with a stretcher and a fire extinguisher.

The stretcher is a big hunk of plastic molded out of the most unappealing blue I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty ugly. There’s no paint and it’s just… flat. But you can put a guy on it and have two other guys carry him, so it does what it’s supposed to do.

The fire extinguisher is, at least, more than one color. It looks fine (but could obviously be better with paint) and the figures can hold it as though they were actually fighting a fire. Or conking someone in the head. I like to think that Kane is extremely fire conscious and that this is simply the personal extinguisher he carries everywhere with him.

He also carries the stretcher because he’s Kane and he just walks around all day fucking people up.

Fun

These Elite style figures have great articulation and can do just about anything you would need a wrestling figure to do. The only way to get more poses out of them would be to either make them bendies or just make them lousy with joints, which would make them ugly and I wouldn’t buy them. In my opinion Mattel has hit the perfect balance between articulation and aesthetics.

And playability, for that matter, because these guys are sturdy. They’re going to survive a seven year old wrestling fan. 
 
The accessories may not be pretty, but they add a lot of options. Kane can be the firefighter or paramedic of your collection or he can just go around hitting people with things. Both items interact with the figures in satisfying ways.

Overall

Kane could be better. I really am disappointed about the belt, even more so than his slim physique. Kane 2000 was a Kane that liked cheeseburgers and pie. But I doubt we’ll see this particular costume variation again any time soon – if ever – so if you’re a fan of fully-clothed Kane this is a pretty good one to have. This is still my favorite color scheme for his old gear.

4 out of 5

I’d be delighted if you bought yourself a Kane from Amazon to help the site out, but honestly just keep an eye on that price for a while. You shouldn’t have to pay more than twenty bucks for this guy:

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