Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Quick Crappy Review: WWE Elite Junkyard Dog and The Legion of Doom

It’s J-Y-D and the L-O-D and that ain’t no L-I-E.

 So not long ago I bought the greatest Rick Flair figure, and with it a great Sting figure because it was discounted but also really cool and that *sigh* that completely broke the seal and now I’m working on my own personal ‘dream roster’ in 6” figure form, to help me out Mattel released IRS, Rick Rude, Yokozuna, Sycho Sid and British Bulldog - because you better believe that my dream roster is mostly informed by which characters Hasbro released no matter how shitty they were - but I’m not reviewing any of them today because, well firstly Bulldog is sold out everywhere because I live in England, I’m not sold on Rick Rude’s outfit, Yokozuna proves that Mattel price their figures by the pound but mostly because I sold a monkey suit. See I almost broke the seal when the Road Warriors, alias the Legion of Doom, got an Elite figure buuut I didn’t and I regretted that because now you can’t get them for less than £50 and as their Hasbro figures are some of my favourite toys ever they’re utterly essential, then I sold a genuinely gorilla suit on eBay and it allowed me to get both of them and Junkyard Dog for £15 and the seller threw in a Road Warriors DVD as well. Sweet (I’ll get Yokozuna next month)

Right then, Hawk and Animal (alias the Road Warriors alias the Legion of Doom) were both released in WWE Elite Series 30 and Junkyard Dog was released in in WWE Elite series 33, WWE Elite being the ‘mid-price’ series of figures in Mattel’s WWE range, both came out last year so they’re nowhere near recent but they all received a standard retail release and Hawk and Animal were also made available as a two-pack. All three of them rank as some of my absolute favourite wrestlers and their inclusion in such a prestigious list is totally based on me having had toys of them when I was small.

Junkyard Dog was portrayed by Sylvester Ritter, the name and gimmick being created by Cowboy Bill Watts while Ritter was wrestling for Mid-South Wrestling, he was for a good while the top face (hero) in the company, feuding with the likes of the Fabulous Freebirds, Ted DiBiase and King Kong Bundy and is very much considered  "the first black wrestler to be made the undisputed top star of his promotion", ironic as the man who created the character would later be sacked by the WCW for being a racist prick. Ritter then when over to the WWF and became a household name, including being one of the main heroes in the cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling, until leaving in ’88 to have a stint in WCW. Sadly Ritter died in 1998 after falling asleep at the wheel. The Junkyard Dog was active in the WCW when I watched it but really my fondness for him comes from having had the Wrestling Superstars Bendies version of him from LJN for as long as I can remember. I have absolutely zero idea why I had him, especially as I grew up in a somewhat racist household but that Bendy has worked with everyone from the Dragonflyz to the Care Bears and I’m very attached to it.

This isn’t that version of Junkyard Dog, that version wore his red tights rather than the white 1980s soda cup things he’s wearing here, there used to be a small fast food restaurant in our local bowling alley (The Roller-Bowl) and the cups for their fizzy drinks looked just like those trousers. Normally that would put me off but I was so impressed with his likeness that thought ‘sod it’, that head sculpt is great, maybe a little pudgy around the cheeks, but good enough to sell me the figure although as my only figural representation of him as been a rubber bendy for the last 28 years perhaps my standards are a bit lower? No, no that’s a good likeness regardless. He looks fine on the shelf but if you look for two long you sort of notice he’s just a little bit off and here’s what I reckon causes it: I think that how Mattel make these figures is they look at the wrestler and then match the parts they have to their physique and while they’ve matched things correctly with JYD this kit-bash style of part reuse doesn’t gel overall because you have parts coming from various different body types to make a new one rather than the new pieces required to transition from say, a fatter body to thinner arms (as the man did have). On the upside I love the thigh pieces, the low muscle definition and the areas where the fabric is pulling, it’s exactly the sort of style and sculpt I wish Mattel and Hasbro would give their superhero figures, these would look great on Daredevil, Superman or Green Lantern, if they didn’t have fucking thigh cuts anyway. The paint’s mostly fine on mine except for a complete fuck up on the right leg’s ‘D’ of ‘Dog’, it’s all smudged to hell (I also think the ‘THUMP’ is a little big but then these 80’s wrestlers changed their tights every week so I’m sure it’s correct to one iteration of this look). Articulation is fittingly mid-way between the WWE (Basic) Rick Flair and Defining Moments Sting I already reviewed, he’s only one joint at the elbows and the hinge/swivel combo join at the wrists but boasts an ab-crunch, thigh swivel and those great double-joined knees, you can get sweet a range, these figures are more poseable than any of the three men ever were, and JYD’s legging design avoids the problems caused by thigh swivels.      

Despite that paragraph full of nitpicks I do like the figure, he doesn’t quite gel yes but he looks good enough for you to look at him and go ‘holy shit, that so looks like him!’, my only issue is one I knew I had and one that is VERY specific to me, I need to get it out of my system but it doesn’t apply to anyone else in the known world so just skip on to the Legion’s first paragraph if you want. It’s the chain, I HATE mixed media on toys, I hate metal things on plastic things and plastic things on fabric things, it makes me feel sick, I also hate little metal chains (and most jewellery when it’s not being worn by someone) they make me feel sick too. I don’t know why this is, I have some sensory problems it might be related to but really I think it’s just because I’m weird. Junkyard Dog’s big gimmick though was his collar and chain, it’s a removal accessory but no sane person is going to display JYD without it, so I’m stuck with it, if it’d been plastic I’d been ok (if it’d been red I’d’ve been delighted but that’s a reference you don’t need to care about) but I think every other customer who doesn’t have this weird problem would’ve been pissed if they bought a figure with ‘elite’ in its title and it came with shitty plastic chains. The collar as an accessory is fine though, and the chain’s actually pretty good in terms of scale and though it does limit the head’s articulation I don’t doubt that the real one did as well.  

The Legion of Doom came to the WWF in 1990, two years after the Junkyard Dog had left for the company they’d just come from – WCW, previously at both the WCW and the AWA they’d performed as the Road Warriors but were renamed when they came to New York, though the packaging doesn’t name them either way they’re in their early 90’s Legion of Doom costumes here so that’s what I’m calling them. It’s the best choice for a lot of reasons but mostly because it was the outfits they wore when they were turned into Hasbro WWF figures and I played with those for so many hours back in simpler times when short stubby five-inch wrestlers could easily take on giant Street Sharks and tiny Action Force. The team were Hawk and Animal, played Michael Hegstrand & Joe Laurinaitis and are considered one of the greatest tag teams of all time, having wrestled with Georgia Championship Wrestling, the AWA, WCW and WFF as well as having big careers in Japan, if all you remember of them is ‘that time Hawk fell off the Titantron’ please go and watch their 80’s and early 90’s matches, pleeeease. Hawk is no longer with us, having died of a sudden heart attack in 2003 but Animal’s still around, I met him this year in fact. 

yeah...those are actually different costumes aren't they?
Oh well, use them to compare the likenesses...
The figures are just great, there is so many places where you could easily and sometimes even forgivably fuck up on these designs and Mattel’s sculptors, designers and especially whichever underpaid Chinese woman painted these in the factories deserve so much praise for not bollixing up, all of the paint on mine are nice, clean and crisp, one of the spider legs on Animal (the one with the Mohawk) is a little out of place (there’s a little gap) but that’s it, and given how complicated the face paint and legging designs are? That’s pretty fucking good there, though their nice trousers do perfectly prove my point about thigh cuts, I HATE thigh cuts, firstly I hate them because they don’t make any sense as humans can no swivel their legs at their thighs and secondly (though related to the first point) using it will ruin any design on the legs in a way that would never happen in real life, and as thigh swivels are often used instead of or to make up for ball jointed legs you often have to use them to get certain poses. Anyway likenesses are fantastic if not a little idealised for Hawk, I know he’s dead but he was never this handsome and his head was never this slim (and he never looked that much like Robert Duvall), though the sculptors get a bit of an easier time due to the benefits of facepaint I guess, I don’t want to take too much away from them by saying that, there’s a whole bunch of things that doesn’t let you off with so they’re good likenesses, especially Animal.

The box has the cheek to call their amour accessories so fine, I’ll play along. Each figure comes with three pieces of removable armour – two gauntlets and their shoulder pads-chest amour combo; this isn’t the first time this has been done I’m sure but it’s a great idea, it allows you give the characters two looks, in-ring and entrance, something that the nostalgic buyer who these are mostly aimed at couldn’t have when they were kids and this great benefit actually makes making the figures cheaper. Well done Mattel for making us appreciate you being cheap bastards who love part reuse, and any bulkiness caused by them being removable just makes them look more lifelike! That part reuse doesn’t serve Hawk as well as Animal, though he was always the slimmer of the two he can look a little scrawny from certain angles, the armour covers for it nicely if he’s got it on though. Both of my figures do have the same issue and because of this I’m going to assume it’s an issue with all of them, their right gauntlet is very loose and will fall off if worn too far around the arm, they’ve fallen off a good few times each just while writing this and taking the pictures (including one that fell down the loft hatch, thanks for the extra exercise there, very in-keeping with the toy) and I am really getting to hate their existence.

And that’s your lot, in conclusion the LOD are awesome figures, probably the best a fan could hope for when it comes to the line, JYD isn’t quite so perfect but he’s certainly somewhere in the good-to-great area. I wish they’d drop the thigh cut and give us some alternate heads and hands to better fit such an ‘Elite’ line but they’re never going to do that so I’m not going to mention it again, all I have left to say is don’t rush to pay eBay prices because you just never know when you’re going to sell a monkey suit.     

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