We’re gonna do something a bit different today, I bought four WWE Elite figures in one day with some leftover birthday money (oh for a more grown-up name for that), all but one (Undertaker) was discounted and two of them are (fittingly for the characters) a little out of date (they’re from 4 waves ago) so we’re gonna say fuck it and review all four of them in one go, it’s an Elite in each corner, no disqualifications, quick crappy fatal four-way. So are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s get ready to rumble:
Our superstars are… from WWE Elite series 40: Ravishing Rick Rude and Irwin R Shyster, from WWE Elite series 41: Lita and from WWE Elite Wrestlemania 32: The Undertaker. WWE Elite are Mattel’s ‘mid-price’ range of WWE action figures that used to be their top of the line range until they introduced the Defining Moments range. All figures were released in roughly the last six months with Undertaker being the newest and Rude and IRS being the oldest.
First to the ring, because he doesn’t care about ‘ladies first’ when there’s tax evaders to prosecute is Irwin R Shyster, alias IRS. IRS was (and sometimes still is) played by Mike Rotunda, who also wrestled under his real name and is the father of Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt (yeah, IRS fathered those two), when Rotunda came back to the WWF in 1991 after a stint in the NWA promotion (company) he was outfitted with one of the reviled ‘day job gimmicks’ the WWF loved in the early-to-mid 1990s, where instead of a personality a wrestler was given a profession, in this case a tax man. It was pretty silly but IRS got to work with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase as his tag partner and had a feud with Razor Ramon so some good came of it. I personally am not Rotunda’s biggest fan though I enjoy Money Inc. (his and DiBiasse’s tag team) but IRS has become kind of iconic in a way for being an example of crap WWF in the 1990s, not quite as much as Isaac Yankem (DDS) or Repo Man maybe but still a big 'oh god the New Generation sucked' argument, and so I wanted him for my ‘perfect roaster’ but mostly I wanted this figure because I love/loved his Hasbro WWF figure from the early 1990s, which stomped on people and looked really, really, REALLY fucking angry about it. Actually IRS was one of the Hasbro WWF figures I didn’t think was a real wrestler (others included Berzerker, The Mountie and Repo Man – oh yes, that’s an idea, make an Elite Mountie!) for an embarrassingly long time but simply assumed he had been dreamed up for the toyline so he holds an additional significance in my little world, also he looks damn cool, fighting in a shirt and tie, that’s pretty hardcore really – he’s kind of like the WWF version of Colonel Courage (and if you get that reference, you’re as sad as me and I like you).
His Elite figure is a pretty good fit for his character – he looks cool, he stands out, he’s memorable but he’s really nothing special. Though genuine gripes are few and far between – there’s a bit of a big gap at his wrist joints and his double jointed knees look terrible when bent because he’s wearing suit trousers and that always happens when double joints like this are used on baggy clothing but otherwise not much. His belt and braces are an extra overlay piece and can ride up and certainly would during play, making them look weird, but for display this is fine and they push down as easy and they come up and stay there after being given a sharp look and waggling your figure at them. His likeness is decent, my one looks like he’s staring up at the lights (which is fitting) but I think this may be intentional in case you want him looking over or using his glasses, and he has a suitably arrogant and obnoxious facial expression. Like all Elite figures he’s well jointed to where it becomes a detriment to the figure, western toy companies still having not quite figured out how to integrate joints as well as their Japanese counterparts but instead just flinging loads at the toy to give an impression of value – something that usually works and often works on me, fuck you all. He’s the first WWE Elite figure I’ve reviewed with these two-way hip joints replacing ball joints because… I dunno, are they cheaper? Harder to break? Whatever they’re not a good substitute for ball joints at the hips but they do allow for a good range and are excellent if you want your characters to do the splits (and they’re wrestlers, of course you want them to do that), they just don’t allow the figures to articulate the way humans do, buuuuut he’s also boasting what I think are rocker joints at his ankles (they may be a different kind of joint, I can’t quite tell because of the trouser legs and because I get joint names mixed up sometimes, it makes drug taking a messy business) that do actually allow his ankles to work pretty much like a human’s does, they’re very appreciated and work very well. IRS comes with two accessories, which is pretty fucking amazing for WWE Elite (actually he seems to have quite a few new pieces, I’d wager his upper torso is new, plus his head, tie piece, braces and belt piece and probably his glasses too) a briefcase – which I don’t doubt has been used a gazillion times by Mattel already, I’m sure it’s come with every Money in the Bank figure ever made (god I hate the term ‘Money in the Bank’ it’s such a douchebaggy term, did Triple H comes up with it?) but hey, IRS needs a briefcase and it’ll do, I see Mattel’s point. It’s kind of hard to make him look like he’s holding it ‘naturally’, I think the limitations of the wrist joints might be to blame. Also included is his glasses, they are shit, they don’t fit on his head properly, it was very hard to get them out of the packaging without breaking them and they look crap when he wears them. So again, he’s good but nothing special.
Second to the ring is the lovely Lita. I was so excited about Lita getting a figure – Lita, played by Amy Christine Dumas, was/is counter-culture, badass and actually a good wrestler, rarities for women in the 1990s in WWF, she came into the promotion (company) in 1999 (from ECW) and is mostly known for working with the Hardy Boyz, feuding with Trish Stratus and the on-screen and off-screen love triangle she had with Edge and Matt Hardy and best forgotten for that time she did a miscarriage story which WWF has never and will never do well. Lita is awesome and her band is way better than Chris Jericho’s. This hasn’t been the most informative paragraph but I don’t care.
|This isn't the best picture for comparison purposes (it's from later on|
in her career and she doesn't have her red hair any more) but I wanted a
picture where she looked happy rather than sultry and that's surprisingly
hard to find.
Sadly this is a Mattel WWE Divas figure and… they’re not very good at them a lot of the time, their amazing Paige and Miss Elizabeth figures are lofty heights to which they rarely climb and a lot of this is down to their likenesses (and in this case having a HUGE left hand, the fuck?). I think a part of the problem here is that her facial expression just isn’t saucy enough, Lita liked pulling a saucy expression and this toy is just…well…delighted, don’t they scan the faces of the wrestlers? I think I heard that, if that’s the case it might just be more what she looks like now (and it does look quite a lot like how she looked at her Hall of Fame induction), scanned or not it’s also one of those ‘from some angles’ likeness, side-on or at an angle it’s a decent attempt but straight on it’s not so hot, however it’s good enough (if it wasn’t I wouldn’t have bought have). Despite having been released after IRS she’s a step backwards, or perhaps to the side, in articulation below the waist: she has ball joints at the hips and no double joint at the knee, the upside of that though is that it doesn’t look crap when she kneels, the downside is that she can’t do the splits and if I was asked who I thought was more capable of doing such a thing: Mike Rotunda or Lita – I wouldn’t pick the bloke who was IRS. Articulation also shows up in my other complaints – her bicep and thigh joins ruin her design the moment you use them, breaking up her tattoo and the trousers seam, I bring it up only because thigh cuts are pointless when you have ball joints at the hips, oh and you could have achieved the same joint by using a different elbow articulation, but that would have meant more tooling costs and I think her trousers might have been expensive. Her accessories are clothes, because she’s a woman, ok I’m being facetious and I actually like these accessories, I’ve said from the stat of these posts that I want more swappable pieces for the figures and Lita has two so I’m pleased. Out of the package she’s just wearing her… I dunno what I’d call that, her black bikini top top thing, but you can give her her white vest top or her neon yellow see-thru top. The yellow top is fabric so I won’t be using it because I avoid fabric on action figures whenever possible but it attaches via Velcro and goes on ok enough, her white top - which I was delighted to see because It’s what I always think of her wearing when I think of her – is soft plastic and I had to look up online how to get her to wear it, she doesn’t come with instructions because no way are Mattel going to pay for that. HER HEAD DOES NOT COME OFF, I gingerly tried this to see if it did, mine made a sickening crack but happily didn’t break, you have to put the top loop up under the back of her hair, pull it over her head and then tuck it under the front of her hair, her hair’s pretty pliable (though still enough to hamper articulation pretty severely on the neck joint) and the top is pretty stretchy but I’d suggest it’s not something you want to do very often if you want a white shirt that’s not stretched to buggery. On it looks pretty good (the bottom straps do up with a stud the same as the old Playmates Ninja Turtles belts, only a lot better than those belts), maybe a little too big but then you probably couldn’t replicate how tight Lita’s damn tops were without sculpting painting them onto the figure. All in all she’s pretty good but probably the weakest of the four figures here.
Third to make his entrance in the square circle, because with him the lady always comes first, is the man, the legend, the package, the moustache that is Ravishing Rick Rude. Played by, oh my god his name really IS Rick Rude, or rather Richard Rood, played by Richard Rood the character Rick Rude was basically just a very sexy man who would disrobe to thrill the ladies and insult the men, he was part of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan’s heel stable (villainous group) in WWF during his glory days there (’87-’90) where he feuded with my man Jake The Snake. Rood fucked off to WCW for a while where he was part of the Dangerous Alliance before coming back for a very brief stint in WWF in 1997 where he was… Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard after the Montreal Screwjob, bit of a comedown from feuding with Jake Roberts, but he did co-found D-Generation-X (with Micahels, Triple H and Chyna) - there’s a bit of trivia for ya - before fucking off back to WCW (ending up being the only person to be on both WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw on the same night due to the latter being taped before he left, and the former being live after he signed with them – more trivia, yay trivia), Sadly Rood is the only member of our fatal four-way to no longer be with us, having died of heart failure on April 20, 1999, way too soon when you consider that most of his Hulkamania-era contemporaries were still wrestling in WCW at that time.
I love Rick Rude, this figure is great and if I’m right about the scanning thing, absolute proof that Mattel should just sculpt their own likenesses, I’m not sure about the expression – he looks a little bit creeped which is odd because he’s the creep dammit – but it sure as shit looks just like him in all his White-Lionel-Richie-If-He-Was-A-70’s-Porn-Star glory (I thought mine had a paint issue, but it turned out to be Rich Tea Biscuit crumbs, I am a foul and disgusting person), other than his head he’s entirely built from reused parts I think, which is a shame in that it doesn’t allow his trademark physique to be recreated perfectly but I think I might be expecting too much there, they chose the right parts for the Sexiest Man Alive, all my Monster High girls are going to be swarming after this toy. His tights are excellent, not my first choice in terms of pattern but undoubtedly a great choice to represent the character: bright pink and with a woman’s lips on his arse, they’re not the best drawn but then neither were the real man’s tights. Articulation is the only downside again – the arms don’t have the range to put his hands behind his head and his crotch artic (he’s using ball joints there too, though he has double jointed knees like his series-mate IRS) is blocked by the buttocks so he just can’t thrust as much as I’d like, I respect this is not a complaint many will have. His accessory is his robe, because what is a Rick Rude figure if it can’t strip, it’s nice enough – looks a little cheap really, reminds me of the clothes you get with knock-off Barbie dolls you can exchange your tickets for in amusement arcades – but my fabric aversion and my general desire to have the ravishing one at his derobed best prevent me from using it for my shelf, still damn right he should have come with it and thank you Mattel for realising this.
*lights go out* *bell gongs* *dry ice and smoke rises* finally welcome to the ring the Phenom, the Dead Man, the Undertaker! I’m a bit of a fan. The Undertaker, played by Mike Calaway, debuted in WWF in 1991 and hasn’t left since, making him the longest running employee of the company, another cartoony gimmick in an era of them, the Undertaker was a supposedly a, well, an undertaker who may or may not be undead and is impervious to harm (up to a point) but somehow this didn’t fail like all the others, mostly because that’s fucking cool and Calaway has more presence than Christmas. ‘Taker has been both hero and villain, ranging from a hell’s angel to the lord of darkness, and has numerous feuds including those with Mankind, his on-screen brother Kane and Brock Lesnar and has been in some of the most well regarded WWF matches of all time alongside the likes of Shawn Michaels, Edge and the aforementioned Mankind and Lesnar, he’s also a big deal backstage, acting as a kind of unofficially official locker room sheriff. The less said about his ‘American Badass’ phase and that time he wrestled a giant man dressed like a caveman and an Al Qaida terrorist (not at the same time) the better.
This is Undertaker as he appeared at Wrestlemania 31 – despite appearing in a wave called WWE Elite Wrestlemania 32 but, well, boys toys often make no sense, the WWE rarely makes sense, put ‘em together and that sort of shit’s gonna happen. Sadly this means that he has short hair but that’s pretty much my only real complaint about the figure itself and that’s not really a complaint but a personal preference. Ok it’s not my only complaint but those complaints are complaints I make over and over again and I’m sure you’re all sick of them, his double jointed knees make him look awkward when the knees are bent because he’s wearing baggy trousers and he does not in any way need thigh swivels, but at least here it’s not so bad as it doesn’t disrupt the design of his trousers much at all. Other than that he’s pretty damn awesome, he comes out the box wearing his accessories – a leather coat that’s fabric and his trademark hat which is plastic, both have their issues but can navigated – like with Defining Moments Sting the coat is a little unwieldy but it not as bad as that figure’s and personally I don’t think it’s any more unwieldy than Undertaker’s actual jacket looks to be, obviously I’ve never worn his coat because he keeps spotting me before I can get to his wardrobe but y’know, from what I’ve seen on telly it doesn’t look too different, it’s also a lot more poseable than Sting’s is but it still could have done with some bendable wire in there for better control and some awesome posing. His hat is a little loose (and I keep putting it on the wrong way because I’m stupid) which can make putting it down low for maximum moodiness a little more difficult that it should be but it’s hardly worth mentioning, it’s also a much better fit here than on the last Undertaker figure where it made his head look tiny. Speaking of head (what does everyone want?!?...), his head sculpt is fantastic (and actually fits his hat this time) but…I have noticed, at certain angles, if you squint, that it does look a bit like the Big Bossman and as the Udnertaker once hung the Bossman on pay-per-view….well….let’s move on shall we? Under the coat they’ve bothered to give him all of his tattoos – and he has a lot – which could go a long way to explaining why this figure was a higher price than the regular Elite figures – though I think Wrestlemania sub-series figures always are – but I don’t mind paying extra for this level of detail. As I’m apparently keeping tabs on this, ‘Taker also uses the standard ball joints at the hips.
So who’s going to win our Fatal Four-Way? Well after IRS is stretchered out when Lita kicks him in the balls – his fancy leg joints allowing for her to do this perfectly – the Deadman just gets the pin on Rick Rude via the finisher of being able to replicate more iconic poses, specifically the pose I wanted him in on my shelf, when you have two figures at satisfying as these you have to get down to reasons like that to separate the two. All four though are decent, all have great and suitable accessories, though I can’t imagine releasing an Undertaker figure without the urn packed in, even if he had stopped using it by the timeframe the figure is supposed to represent, it just seems unnatural, but then I am talking about a wrestling zombie so…which is a point, for the new WWE Zombies line (I’m buying Paige, I don’t care how pathetic the concept is, I must have undead Paige) they’ve produced a Zombie Undertaker, does that mean he’s a double zombie? Anyway with that said, all I have to do is warn you to beware the Hower Power, cheers all.