Thursday, 26 January 2017

Post-Christmas Quick Crappy Reviewapalooza 2017: WWE Elite Legends Magnum T.A .and Kamala*

Welcome to the last of the Post-Christmas Quick Crappy Reviewapalooza posts! I got all of them out before February 1st! Woo! I did it on my own! I'm a winner! I'm a blackheart! ...*ehem* sorry these reviews just cause spontaneous outbursts of wrestling references.  I’ve wanted both of these figures since they were revealed (SDCC 2016? Probably) but since they’ve been around in stores I’ve been a) really busy b) really depressed and c) not affluent enough to waste £20 on fucking Kamala but then came Christmas. I was still busy but often busy in places that sell action figures (I have a lot of childish friends, it’s great), I was emotionally buoyed by the season and I could spend other people’s money on bizarre wrestlers who once fought Jake the Snake. Mum ended up buying me Kamala and I got Magnum TA in the post-Christmas sales.  

Both figures are from 2016’s WWE Elite Legends wave, Mattel seem to release these Flashback/Legends waves every so often but not often enough for Ringside Collectibles to bother numbering them. This Legends wave is pretty sweet, though Shawn Michaels looks nothing like him, and I ended up with three of the six and three of the four characters I didn’t already own a figure of, I’d be four for four if I’d ever actually seen a Chris Jericho in-store. Anyway WWE Elite is Mattel’s mid-price range that used to be their top-of-the-line range until they released the extra-posh Defining Moments line; they have extra flourishes like double-jointed knees and ab crunch articulation.

Let’s start with Magnum T.A. and “who the blue fuck is Magnum TA!?!” you’d shout if you existed. Fucking modern young millennial with your fucking Brock Cenas and you Caesar-o’s… well alright he’s not that well known anymore and I was under the impression that not only did the Magnum T.A. character never actually appear on a WWF/WWE programme but nor did the man playing it, Terry Allen, his only connection to Vince McMahon’s baby being solely through their ownership of Mid-South Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW where Magnum T.A. did ply his trade first as an in-ring talent and then as a commentator. Or so I thought, turns out he turned up on the Vengeance: Night of Champions 2007 pay-per-view, Wikipedia is occasionally useful. The name’s a play on Magnum P.I. in case you needed telling and was invented by Andre the fucking Giant. Magnum was a bloody good wrestler and wrestled at both the inaugural Starrcade and the inaugural Great American Bash and was set to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a belt with a long history and prestige that’s been held by everyone from Rick Flair, Blue Demon Jr and Shane Douglas to um, X-Pac and Chris Candido. Then tragedy struck, Allen lost control of his car due to poor weather conditions and crashed into a telephone pole only a few miles from home, smashing vertebrae and paralysing him (it was thought to be permanent at the time). He later became a commentator on WCW which is where I met him, as it were, but Magnum’s very much one of American Professional Wrestling’s biggest Could Have Beens, which is a shame, because he was awesome.

To the figure! There’s a cruelness with this figure and that long introductory paragraph was me putting things off and trying to find a better way to phrase it but I couldn’t so let’s just do this: from the waist up this figure is fine, I can’t believe I just said that about a man who couldn’t walk. I’m not doing this as some kind of tasteless ‘edgy’ joke: from pants to blow wave his upper body is pretty much perfect, the buck pieces chosen to replicate his torso and arms are perfect (seriously his arms are boarding on identical and they’re not new pieces), they’ve painted on his chest hair – and they should because Magnum T.A. is the height of fucking manliness – and continued the paint ups up and under his chest piece so the chest hair effect isn’t spoilt by the ab crunch at all. His head is superb, not quite as spot on as Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair or the Ringside Collectibles Shawn Michaels but a very good approximation though the ball joint at the neck is so limited by the solid block of blonde (which is unusually hard plastic) it may as well not exist. Then there’s his legs (god this is so wrong) which are just lazy and ill chosen, he has ginormous fucking thigh pieces, ginormous knee pads (where’d Mattel rob these from, The Big Show?) and then they’ve just painted part of his legs to make it look like his regular knee pads, so fucking lazy. The GIANT knee pads are so thick he has virtually no knee articulation (so wrong) and then there’s his boots. Magnum T.A. - being the manliest person ever - had a set of trademark cowboy boots, the paint is sharp and does a good job of replicating their design, but they’re not cowboy boots, Mattel have clearly just used a different type of boot and painted it up in the hope that it’ll fool you – it doesn’t work, because they look nothing like cowboy boots, they’re baggy with tassels, they’re probably old Ultimate Warrior or Randy Savage parts. If they are some kind of cowboy boots I just don’t recognise then they still fail because they look nothing like cowboy boots and look nothing like Magnum T.A.’s cowboy boots – I never thought I’d write that much about types of shoes. Magnum does come with an accessory – actually this wave’s pretty good for accessories – his vest, he’s not packaged wearing it so I count it. it’s a really lovely vest, that may sound ridiculous but it is (and I’ve just spent 124 words on cowboy boots so ridiculous is VERY relative today), it even feels like it should with just this slight leathery texture, it’s really nice, it fits him perfectly, he’ll be wearing it on my shelf and I kind of wish I had one of my own.

So when Magnum T.A. wrestled the very first Great American Bash supercard his opponent was…Kamala! I would say that Kamala is easily one of the most memorably wrestlers from his era, I’m not saying he was good I’m just saying that when you see a giant black man painted up like that and trying to eat Hulk Hogan you don’t really forget it. Played by Jim Harris, who is not from Uganda but from Mississippi, the character was developed by himself and two very white men from the south, Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawyer, I’m not even touching on the racist implications of this or the character, I’m bringing it up solely because it explains why Harris was able to use the character in Mid-South Wrestling, Memphis Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling and more importantly both the WWF and WCW without changing a thing, something very few could do. He turned up a few times at the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/Triple H-Land: in ’84 he feuded with Andre the fucking Giant, in ’86 he got to feud with Hulk Hogan and Jake the Snake and in 1992 he was in the first ever televised Casket Match the Undertaker wrestled, he never really stuck around for more than a year but he managed to get two action figures including one with a very rare (and very expensive) variant in Hasbro’s WWF line. Sadly the man lost his legs to diabetes a few years ago, I didn’t know this until just now and I’m actually quite sad. Also he released an album, a music album, called The Best of Kamala Vol 1 and you need to own it.

Damn is Kamala toyetic and Mattel do a pretty good job with him, especially as the only unique thing on him’s his head, a cartoony but nicely accurate head sculpt pulling that ‘ooh’ face that Harris used to do, it’s not very intimidating but it’s what I associate with the character so I’m satisfied. I’d question using some of the more muscular parts for his arms but this man is terrifying and alive so I can understand why the team might want to err on the side of flattery. You could argue that it’s not too hard to make Kamala look good, use the fat man parts and don’t fuck up the face paint, but so what? He does look good and his face paint is pretty damn complex so everyone involves deserves a high five regardless. He’s not perfect, fat legs really don’t suit this style of articulation, they look really broken up when you make him say, bend his knees, and there’s large arse gaps at the ankle articulation (mine had really stiff ankle joints, I was worried I was going to snap one of his feet off, which I would have felt even worse about now I know that the man himself now has no legs) and I’m not down with real fabric on toys, I’ve mentioned this before surely? I just don’t like mixed media on figures and his loincloth just hangs, if you’re going to use real fabric put some fucking bendy wire in it so I can make it look a bit dramatic – oh and yes he does have pants on underneath, even cannibals know it’s inappropriate to go commando when they’re being sold in Toys ‘R’ Us.

Kamala is armoured up; he comes packaged wearing just his loincloth and silly facial expression but comes with his necklace, shield and mask – yeah that’s right, three accessories, on a WWE figure from Mattel, the same company that tried to tell us that the Legion of Doom’s armour was accessories. The necklace just doesn’t sit well, in fact I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got it on the right way, I think I have, it won’t lay flat and looks a little odd but I just can’t imagine him without it (Hasbro’s fault again) so it’s staying, it also looks like American breakfast cereal, that I don’t mind.  The other two though are sweet, the mask is not the best painted thing in the world, some of applications are so far off it looks a bit like a 3D image when you haven’t got the glasses on but it still looks damn good despite that so it must be pretty decent right? It also fits on perfectly and stays on nicely, hell his eyes line up with the eye holes, eye holes weren’t even necessary for this mask, top notch. He won’t be wearing it on my shelf because I want to see his actual face and because it might be give me nightmares (really, it’s kind of comical but also kind of scary) but he will be wielding his shield, the shield itself is great and puts me in mind of the accessories for things like Best of the West and Big Jim and that association makes me like it more, it’s also pretty fun to see good paint application techniques used to try and replicate bad painting, if you wanted it to look rough Mattel you could have just got Playmates to do it for you. A but’s coming isn’t it? No that’s Rikishi. SORRY! Terrible joke, but a but is coming: BUT I’m not sure how he’s supposed to hold it, at the moment I have it hooked over his left arm and hand, it works well and sits flush and the bar at the back is very thick, which is what lead me to take this course of action – however his left hand, his canonical shield hand (what the fuck am I saying?) is open and theoretically you could squish the bar in there, I don’t want to do this because I’m worried about damaging the hand but it looks possible.

"guys that's, that's not me"
"we know, but he's the best tragic wrestler we've got, it's him or Virgil"
"Never mind, then"
I have no good segue for the conclusion paragraph (so what else is new?) so…yeah… the link here wasn’t supposed to be ‘both of these men fought each other and both ended up crippled’ (I didn’t know either of these things until I started writing this review) and it’s really uncomfortable that my conclusion is pretty much ‘both are great figures let down slightly by their legs’ so…um…go buy Kamala Speaks and this figure and get Jim Harris some money, the man’s on nightly dialysis (or was), the least you can do is buy his action figure, especially when it’s this acceptable.

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