Friday, March 27, 2015

Toy Review – WWE WrestleMania Heritage Series Undertaker from Mattel

I wanted to close the week out with a Superstar that is not only one of the greatest and most respected of all time, but that is also synonymous with WrestleMania.
Shawn Michaels is often referred to as “Mr. WrestleMania” and he certainly had a knack for nailing those magical WrestleMania Moments, but Undertaker is more than that. He is like one of WrestleMania’s vital organs. I was going to come up with something about how many he’s been at or how many in a row, but when I got to WrestleMania 2000 I saw that Undertaker wasn’t there. Although he has only been absent from two WrestleMania cards since his debut in 1990 – X and 2000. He missed X due to a back injury and missed 2000 because of a groin injury and a torn pectoral muscle.
But that’s still over two decades of WrestleManias.
His opponents have ranged from absurd to demonic to legit competitors and every single time ‘Taker has delivered something that was not only memorable, but that was distinctly WrestleMania. We live in a time where it is easy to name and recognize wrestling legends, but Undertaker has a weight and presence that no other competitor has ever had and likely none ever will. There’s a gravitas to him that transcends the sport. Regardless of the angle he’s involved in or the opponent he is facing, ‘Taker is serious business.
Which brings me to the Big Evil/Bikertaker era.
I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time just how remarkable ‘Taker was with that persona or how great it must have been for him to be able to portray that character. For the first time in a decade he had the opportunity to do something truly different from his normal act and play a more traditional wrestling role. As with any performer that stays with WWE for an extended amount of time, he had great feuds and he got saddled with some real garbage (Nathan Jones), but he gave it one hundred percent all of the time.
This is Undertaker as he appeared at his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania VII, where he faced off against “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka.
First Glance

Undertaker wears a lot of black. This makes him ominous and scary and kind of a dull-looking action figure. That’s not good or bad, it’s just how it is. The figure had to be made like this; it’s not like they could have made him pink and orange or something. 
 
I wish the figure’s face looked exactly like the picture on the package.

Packaging

Because the picture on the package looks an awful lot like a beardless Jim Stacy, owner of the best restaurant in the world, Pallookaville.

This WrestleMania Heritage packaging is something different from the regular Elite boxes. The color scheme is different and while the focus is definitely on the figure, the “WWE” and “WrestleMania” logos are prominent and eye-catching. As a fan or collector of wrestling toys, you will immediately notice these in the aisle amongst the other offerings. They stand out.

Rather than putting a bio on the back or something epxclaining this particular figure’s appearance and storyline, Mattel opted for a boring, lazy, and even inaccurate rectangle of information. ‘Taker’s isn’t as bad as Kane’s was, but it’s still off. Undertaker has never weighed 212 lbs. He didn’t use the Last Ride as a finish until years into his career as his biker persona. And I find it bizarre that there’s no mention that this is his WrestleMania debut.

This is basic stuff easily verified by under a minute of internet searching, Mattel. Stop fucking it up.

Looks

So Undertaker isn’t as visually exciting as the Ultimate Warrior or Brutus Beefcake. But once you get past his limited color scheme, there’s some nice detail going on.

The likeness is spot-on. My only issue with the head is that the beard would look better stippled as opposed to the solid color they used. But they actually sculpted the stubble on his face, so that’s great. The position of his eyes make him look bored of fed-up, but they’re rolled up like that to resemble ‘Taker’s trademark look – head bowed but still looking forward. And yes – that is a thick coat of guyliner around those eyes.

He’s rocking a sweet mullet. There’s just no other way to say that. The important part is that it looks right on its own and the hat fits over it properly.

The shirt looks great. It’s textured to look like fabric and features folds and wrinkles to make it look like a looser-fitting article of ringwear. There’s a pretty ugly seam so that Mattel can re-use the torso with different collars and shoulders. There are stitches rather than buttons, which shows that the sculptors pay better attention than the package designers.

The torso – like Kane’s – is a little on the skinny side, which is weird because unlike Kane’s, ‘Taker’s torso is only going to work for ‘Taker. Nobody else has this shirt.

The tops of the gloves are actually separate pieces that sit over the wrist joints. That’s good, because the left one on my figure was turned around the wrong way. I left it that way so you could see it in the pictures.

Actually I left it that way because I didn’t notice it until after I had already taken the pictures and I didn’t want to retake them.

The sculpt of the glove tops is great and they really work visually. This was a fine alternative to sculpting all-new forearms.

Undertaker’s boot spats look kind of huge, but that’s because they work the same way as the glove tops – they are separate pieces on top of normal boots. They look like they’re supposed to look, but they’re just a bit poofy. I think I would’ve preferred a sculpted calf. Of course, this method is preferable to just painting a boot-top grey, so I’ll take it.

Accessories

Undertaker comes with a hat and a trenchcoat.

The hat has a sculpted interior that keeps it secure on the figure’s head and in the correct position – with the front dipped down extra low. It looks good.

The trenchcoat is another one of Mattel’s weird, solid plastic garments. These things mystify me because they’re not exactly a soft plastic but they aren’t too difficult to get on and off of the figures. It looks like it should look.

I’m not sure how I feel about these things. They are strictly for figures that just stand around. There is no posing you figures once they’re in these things. I’ve got Edge, Goldust, William Regal, and a couple of others that have gear like this and I say they just stand there, but that’s if you’re lucky. You can’t adjust the figures’ articulation under these, so if they don’t stand up in their robes or coats, they are never going to stand up.

Additionally, Mattel released a Ric Flair with a fabric robe. It looks fantastic, but it’s odd next to all of these other guys with their big, plastic coats. I’m torn of soft goods a lot of the time, but I do think that you have to choose one method and stick with it. You can’t be switching things up within a line.

Fun

Okay, after five of these I’m a little tired of describing the same articulation and play value.
These are fun figures. Rather than finding different words to say the same thing, here’s a funny video:


Overall

This is a very good figure of the Undertaker as he appeared at WrestleMania VII But all in all I’d rather have the Elite Series 23 ‘Taker with the purple gloves and boot covers. 
 
Still, this is a good Undertaker and if you’re a collector of all things ‘Taker or maybe – like me – just started collecting again and have an Undertaker-sized hole in your collection, this is a perfectly good starter.

4 out of 5

Mattel has made a ton of Undertaker figures. Now that I’ve started to look into them, there are a number I’d really like to have. Out of all of the Elite figures that have come out in the years that I stopped collecting, the various ‘Takers are the ones I’m most irked about missing. 
 
Well, those and Billy Gunn and Road Dogg. They came out right before I got back in and I actually remember seeing and being tempted by them in stores. Multiple times. Now they’re going for around forty bucks and I’m not doing that.

I haven’t seen Kane and Undertaker in stores since I found mine at Target, but if you’re patient I bet you’ll see them soon. If you’re not patient, go ahead and order them her and help out Needless Things!:

2 comments:

  1. I saw these guys today at TRU for 9.99 on sale, but I passed. Kind of wished I hadn't now.

    They also had the newest WWE elite wave, except for Paige. I really want Paige but I fear she's going to be tough to find and expensive.

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    1. The other day my local store had everyone except for Paige, Rusev, and Doink. I'm wanting the former two. Today we went back and Cena was the only one left, so I'm hoping they might get restocked soon. I'm also keeping an eye on TRU.com and Amazon. I've gotten a lot of good Elite deals on Amazon.

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