Toy Review – WWE Ultimate Edition Ronda Rousey from Mattel

I mentioned in my Mattel WCW post that I am only collecting three types of modern wrestling figures at the moment – Retros, the WCW roster, and the Women’s Division. Retros because they’re fun and nostalgic, WCW because that’s my favorite era of wrestling, and the women because they’re more visually interesting than the men and they are providing the highest level of entertainment on WWE TV these days and have been for a while.

Mattel can’t get a Lacey Evans out soon enough.

Ronda Rousey was a big part of the Women’s Division being so superior. Her current status might be inactive and her future might be in  question, but in my opinion she took to the business in a way that no athlete from an outside sport has since Kurt Angle. She had a believable, engaging charism that was unique on the roster and every match she had was at worst very good.

During Rousey’s brief tenure in WWE she was the proverbial Human Highlight Reel, with her every action being notable and a discussion-worthy part of that week’s action. Part of it was a very carefully cultivated program by WWE’s creative team, but even the best-executed writing will fail without a competent Superstar to carry it out on screen. And thanks to whatever magical combination of talent and execution occurred, Ronda Rousey was WWE’s biggest star in 2018-2019.

She might have hit the occasional bump, but this was her first year in the business. I can’t even imagine what she could be capable of if – hopefully when – she returns.

Due to the brevity of Rousey’s tenure and the nature of the action figure business Mattel has only released three Ronda Rousey action figures to date – one Basic, one Elite, and today’s Ultimate Edition. I passed on the Basic, but the Elite was a very good figure for what it was. I’m not the biggest fan of wrestling figures who aren’t in ring gear, but Mattel did such a great job with Rousey’s likeness that I had to grab that one when I saw it.

This Ultimate Edition is an all-new concept from Mattel. Replacing their Entrance Greats line, it is an attempt to deliver everything that wrestling fans might want from an action figure – entrance and in-ring looks, multiple hands, multiple portraits, and ultimate articulation. The first two releases were Rousey and – obviously – Ultimate Warrior. I mean, they had to, right?

Is this Rousey truly the ultimate and a ten dollar step above Mattel’s Elites? Read on and find out!

DSC_0002THE BOX

While almost all of the toy packaging I get ends up in the trash, there’s no denying that an important aspect of making an “ultimate” toy is the presentation – how it’s going to be perceived in the toy aisle. As such, a blister card was not going to be enough for this new line. Even the admittedly nice Elite boxes wouldn’t have gotten the job done. For a thirty dollar price point that was replacing Mattel’s higher-end-looking Entrance Greats, these Ultimate Editions had to look super extra fancy pants.

And they do.

The box has a distinctive shape with clean black, white, and red graphics. There’s no Superstar image on the front, which lets the figure and accessories speak for themselves. To me it shows that they toy is the focus. There is an image of Rousey on the side of the box, which bleeds over just a bit onto the front. It looks cool and creates a flow around the package.

The back of the box features some stats and images of Rousey and the figure – the best of all worlds of cardbacks.

The box opens like a book, revealing the figure tray and some more graphics on the top and bottom; quotes from Rousey. The figure and accessories are easy to remove from the tray and can be replaced just as easily.

This is an outstanding package and it far exceeded my expectations. This box won’t go in the trash. I’ll store it on the shelves with my One:12 boxes. And that’s something I never thought I’d say about a Mattel box.

DSC_0013THE TOY

It’s basically impossible to make a wrestling figure that can do everything you want it to do. There’s simply no way to make an action figure that is aesthetically pleasing while being poseable enough to perform all of the holds, maneuvers, and taunts that modern professional wrestlers employ. It’s something that wrestling fans and collectors have simply had to accept over the years, though Mattel has come as close as anybody has with their Elite line.

Note: It could be argued that the various types of Bend-Ems have come the closest. I’m not making that argument. I’m just saying it could be argued.

Mattel’s Ultimate Edition line is the new king. And queen.

I’ll start with the likeness, since Mattel has been mostly nailing those for a while now thanks to the combination of Real Scan and True FX printing technology.

This figure’s default head features Rousey’s game face. The hair is braided and pulled back, with plenty of sculpted detail in the braids. The face is perfect – Mattel captured that moment when the smile goes away and it’s time to get down to business. The fairly recent introduction of True FX printing results in a perfect application of paint on the eyes, lips, and eyebrows. I think this is basically the same process Hasbro has been using on the Star Wars Black Series and MCU Marvel Legends. At this point there’s no excuse for an action figure based on a real human to look anything less than great.

The figure’s profile is impressive, particularly given the inclusion of double-jointed knees and elbows. It features Rousey’s small but powerful frame and is in scale with my Elites.

That’s a huge deal – often better-articulated figures end up larger due to the real estate needed to execute the joints. That’s not the case here, so your Basics, Elites, and now Ultimates can all share the shelves and look good together.

Since this is the first figure in a new line I’ll run down the articulation:

*Barbell peg at the neck

*Hinged swivels at the shoulders

*Upper bicep swivels

*Double-jointed elbows

*Hinged swivels at the wrists

*Rocker joint at the upper abdomen

*Swivel waist

*Hinged swivel hips

*Thigh swivels

*Double-jointed knees

*Swivels at the boot tops

*Rocker ankles

*Hinged toes

While that’s a tremendous amount of articulation, I do have some issues.

The head joint is lame. In this day and age that barbell peg is sad. Hasbro has been using pegs mounted on hinges for a long time now and there’s no reason that Wolverine should have better head range than Ronda Rousey. I found this very disappointing.

The waist is also a letdown. It’s a cut joint that looks bad if you move it. Other companies have been using rocker joints at the waist for a while and I definitely wish Mattel had done this for this line. Not just for aesthetics, but because it would have given the figure an even greater range of poseability. This waist just feels primitive compared of most of the rest of the figure.

The rest of the articulation, however, is great.

It’s tough to get double joints right, especially on realistic characters and especially on flesh. Obviously these are quite visible, but I think that Mattel did as good of a job as they possibly could have blending them into the profile. They’re also nice and deep and functional and don’t result in the limbs looking freakishly long.

Toe joints are also a risky proposition. Just ask the pile of Terminators that won’t stand up on my NECA shelf. But Mattel nailed it with these. They’re tight enough that the figure can actually stand on them, but the main portion of the foot is large enough that even if they get loose the balance shouldn’t be affected.

The ab rocker is right under Rousey’s top, so is barely noticeable but adds a lot of range to posing.

Hinged wrists are new to female Mattel WWE figures, so that’s great to see.

Everything else blends into the figure as well as solidly functional action figure joints could be expected to.

The figure’s gear is pretty basic, as it was designed before Rousey started wearing shorts and tops with designs on them. The black shorts, black boots, and whatever those things are that are on her hands look good. Easy enough since the shorts and boots are molded black plastic and not painted.

Rousey’s top is white with red trim and the Roddy Piper homage “Rowdy” printed on the front. The printing is to-notch and seems a tad cleaner than some other Mattel releases. The back of the top even has Rousey’s signature venting cuts sculpted in.

DSC_0010THE STUFF

Ronda Rousey comes with two alternate heads, two alternate hands, two jacketed arms, one jacket piece, and a kilt.

The alternate heads are just as well done as the default head. One is basically the same as the game face head, but smiling. The other has the hair down and is also smiling. The heads are a little tough to switch out and I was worried about the barbell they mount onto. It might be a good idea to use a heat gun on them when switching.

The default hands are closed fists and the alternates are opened for gripping. They swap easily out of the bare arms and the jacket arms.

The jacket is made by removing the bare arms, putting the jacket piece on the torso, and plugging then jacketed arms into the shoulder sockets. It’s easy to do and looks mostly good. I say “mostly” because there’s space between the sleeves and the shoulder holes where you can see the torso. It’s not as good as it could be.

Otherwise this is a major improvement over the rubber jackets Mattel has been using or over just releasing a figure in entrance gear like the Elite Ronda. The jacket itself looks great and has all of the textures of Rousey’s actual garment, like the quilted shoulders. And it’s complete with double-jointed elbows.

DSC_0043The skirt is a soft plastic or rubber with a fantastic deco. The plaid is very well done, which is unusual for wrestling figures. Typically the best we can hope for are some black and white lines. The sporran looks great, too. The kilt has a simple but effective tab that holds it closed. It fits perfectly on the figure and looks good despite its necessary thickness. I tend to prefer soft goods for items like this, but in this instance I think Mattel made the right call.

THE VERDICT

Mattel has truly accomplished something special with this action figure. It looks great in entrance gear and in ring gear and includes enough accessory options to justify the thirty dollar price tag. This is truly an ultimate Ronda Rousey.

Having said that, the shoulder openings on the jacket are fairly disappointing. That’s some JAKKS-level stuff right there. I also think the figure should have included the RAW Women’s Championship, but I do understand that it had to come in at a certain cost and they probably would have included it if it were feasible.

If you’re a fan of Ronda Rousey or of wrestling figures, this is a must-have. It’s so good that I turned right around and ordered the other Ultimate Edition Series 1 figure – Ultimate Warrior. Partly due to the quality of this one, but also because I need him for my WCW collection!

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