Seeing as Independence Day is this Thursday I thought it would be a great time to take a look at the American Dream!
Dusty Rhodes is one of my favorite wrestlers.
We all know he could talk. Every time you see anything about Dusty he’s got a mic in his hand. I became a Dusty fan thirty years ago when he pulled Sapphire out of the audience and made her his manager. Those two were pure joy. I don’t remember a single Dusty match from that era, but I sure do remember Dusty and Sapphire dancing and Dusty cutting white-hot promos on Randy Savage.
It wasn’t until WWE started releasing their excellent DVDs collecting old AWA/NWA matches that I truly started to appreciate how incredible Dusty was. His work rate was amazing. He didn’t move or work like a big fat guy. He fought as hard and looked as good as any of his opponents, keeping pace with the likes of Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Harley Race, and everyone else.
That was when Dusty became one of my top guys and a part of every wrestling conversation I would have from then on.
In the years before his passing, Dusty cemented his legacy and became one of the most important figures in professional wrestling through his work with the young generation at NXT, WWE’s evolving developmental territory. To this day every wrestler who passed through NXT during Dusty’s time there credits the Dream as being key to their success.
As soon as I finished writing my Mattel WCW post, the first figure I tracked down was the American Dream.
If we’re ever lucky enough to get a Dusty/Sapphire two-pack I will buy that for sure (someone tell Bill that November 25th is the anniversary of Sapphire’s entry into the WWF), but this version is the Dusty I had to have and fits with my sort-of-strict WCW Elite collection.
Is Mattel a hit-maker and a record-breaker or are they in the midst of some hard times? Read on and find out!
Mattel’s WWE Elite window box has evolved nicely over the past decade. The current box style is very simple and straightforward, which gives it an almost classy look. The angled window is nice and the items are arranged in such a way that not only is everything visible, but there’s a certain degree of kinetic interaction with the figure – Dusty is holding the big gold belt rather than just being beside it.
The back of the box features a picture of the Dream, some stats, a brief bio, and pics of the rest of the wave. I love that Mattel includes that last bit, as too many companies seem content to package figures as though they’re single releases without any indication of what else kids/collectors/parents might be able to buy.
It’s a good package. It’s eye-catching in stores and not too big or too small.
Thanks to Mattel’s True FX process this figure has an incredible likeness. Not only that, the expression they went with gives the figure tons of personality, which is a must for Dusty. Normally I prefer more neutral expressions, but Dream just standing there with a blank look on his face would seem wrong.
When you get up close you see that the designers captured every detail, even Dusty’s trademark scarred forehead. Thanks to True FX printing, the days of blotchy, sloppy paint are gone. Every app is placed perfectly and features like this figure’s open mouth have amazing detail.
One thing I’ve loved about Mattel’s Elites from the start is the plastic they use for the skin. The texture and the hue give these figures a realistic appearance that other lines do not have. Sure – they’re covered in joints, but something about the overall look is far superior to other action figure lines. Dusty even has his signature birthmark, though I contend that the absence of nipples on these figures is still weird, especially with Dream’s in clear view on the box.
The combination of parts make for a very accurate mid-80s Dusty. The figure has standard arms with a thick torso and legs – an excellent profile. I’ve never been a fan of painted taping on wrestling figures, but I understand why it isn’t sculpted. It would just reduce the possibilities of sharing parts by too much. So there are taped wrists and a taped right elbow, which is a nice touch with the green elbow pad on top.
Dusty’s trunks have a bit of a texture to them, similar to the skin, that gives them a fabric-like look. The “DR” on the front is placed nicely and is a thick, even white. Putting white over dark colors hasn’t always been the easiest thing for Mattel, but they’ve been nailing the deco on these Elites.
The elbow and knee pads seem very different from when I was collecting these a few years ago. Back then I felt like the elbows and double-jointed knees were practically useless thanks to the stiff pads, but I’ve noticed the ones on the last few figures I’ve bought seem to be made of a much softer and more pliable material. While I was playing with Dusty they barely limited the movement at all. I’m impressed at this improvement.
Finally, Dream’s cowboy boots are tremendous. The red deco on the white boots is top-notch. Mattel shows amazing attention to detail, right down to the “RHODES” on the outside of each boot.
Dusty comes with a shirt, a hat, sunglasses, two alternate hands, and a title belt that is frustratingly inaccurate.
The hat is trucker-style and at first seems too small for Dream’s noggin. But it’s made from a soft plastic that can sort of stretch a bit, so if you spend a little time wiggling it around it can sit just right and look good.
The sunglasses, on the other hand, don’t quite work for me. By themselves they look amazing. The sculpt is fantastic – they look like the kinds of Aviators that were popular in that era. They’re even made of a translucent amber color so that they look just right. But I could not get them to sit on the figure’s face in a way that I thought looked okay. I love ‘em, but they don’t fit.
The shirt does, though. The fabric makes it look more like a jersey than a shirt, but I’s probably more durable as a result. The screen printing is excellent, without the clear border that sometimes makes things at this scale look lousy. There’s a Velcro closure on the back that’s a little tricky if you’ve got big fingers, but is a great method of getting the shirt to fit right and be easily removable.
The hands swap out easily and stay put. I LOVE that Mattel is including fists like this with most Elites now.
Now we get to the title belt, which is the only real problem I have with the figure.
In buying WCW Elites and doing research for that Mattel WCW post, I have discovered that rather than creating actual WCW Championships Mattel has been subbing in WWE equivalents. This World Heavyweight Championship has “WWE” on it, which drives me absolutely bonkers.
They’ve done the same thing with the Cruiserweight Championship.
I hate it. I know I’m probably overreacting a bit, but WWE owns all of that. I suppose there’s some reason I am not aware of why Mattel cannot produce WCW Championships. But Dusty Rhodes coming packed with the WWE belt is like Heath Ledger’s Joker coming with Bob the Goon. It’s ridiculous. In all honesty I would have preferred the figure come with a chair or something.
This is a beautiful American Dream. Championship and sunglasses aside, I don’t think it could be any better.
The only solution I could think of for the shades would have been smaller arms that slide into holes sculpted in the hair, which I’ve seen on other figures. But then you have holes sculpted in the hair.
Now that that figure itch has taken hold I’ll probably buy any dusty I find, but I have a feeling I’ve started with the best and will be working my way down from here. I did own the Legends Dusty from Mattel a few years ago and it was great, but the True FX on this one take it to another level.
Here’s hoping for that Dusty and Sapphire two-pack!
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