Toy Review – WWE Elite Walmart Exclusive The Rock from Mattel

There have been some changes to my collecting habits since I reviewed Mattel’s Ultimate Edition Ultimate Warrior.

I’m pretty sure you collectors will be able to identify with this.

I was doing my best to just collect Mattel’s Retros, female Elites, and Mattel WCW figures, with the occasional clearance or markdown figure here and there – just figures I could get for ten bucks or less. Despite some pretty big temptations I have been sticking to that.

Of course, the tremendous Major Wrestling Figure Podcast has not helped my resolve to minimize my wrestling figure collection. But overall I’ve been strong.

Then this Walmart (ugh) exclusive figure of the Jabroni-beatin’, pie-eatin’, most electrifying Superstar in the history of sports entertainment came along and it looked so damn good that I couldn’t help but start looking for it.

This Rock was released alongside a set of WWE/Ghostbusters crossover figures that, aside from their hilariously tiny proton packs are pretty good but not for me. The Ghostbusters seemed timed to coincide with Halloween, while the SmackDown-branded Rock might have been conveniently aligned with the brand’s debut on the FOX network.

Whatever the case, the things aren’t showing up in Georgia. In the frequent and relatively wide-ranging toy hunting I do I have found them exactly once. There were two Rock figures and three of the four Ghostbusters and that was the only time I have seen them. If I had to bet, I’d put money on these figures showing up in massive quantities at discount stores like Ollie’s and Big Lots, possibly before the end of the year but definitely by February.

The best part is that the Ghostbusters/Rock combo wave is shipping in its own display that mounts on the side of an endcap. The ones I found were just on the pegs and I have never even seen one of the endcap displays in person. Not even an empty one.

Fortunately, though, I got my Rock. I hate Walmart exclusives because they are the absolute worst retailer on the planet and put zero effort into featuring or emphasizing any exclusives they might get. And because they are by default the biggest toy retailer in America toy manufacturers are all too eager to cut exclusive deals with them because they then have a guaranteed purchase in massive numbers. Once the deal is done it doesn’t matter what Walmart does with the product.

Pardon my cynicism, but I’ve been playing this game for decades and my stomach drops every time an exclusive I want is announced for Walmart.

So was this Rock worth the hunt or should I have just waited for this one to FINALLY… show up… in TJ Maxx? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – WWE Elite Walmart Exclusive The Rock from Mattel”

Toy Review – Friday the 13th 2009 Jason Voorhees Action Figure from NECA

Last week I got some flak for stating that nobody likes Alien Resurrection, so I will amend that today by saying that four people like Alien Resurrection.

Honestly I thought the whole vagina thing would be more controversial.

This week I definitely don’t want to alienate anyone (see what I did there?), so I don’t want to say that nobody likes the 2009 Friday the 13th remake.

Fortunately I don’t have to say that because the 2009 Friday the 13th remake is pretty darn good and definitely far better than Alien Resurrection.

The remake incorporates elements of the first three films and streamlines the mythology in a pretty logical way. It basically takes Marvel’s Ultimate approach to Jason and in my opinion does it very well. It doesn’t replace any of the originals, but to me it stands as a worthy update to the franchise.

Jason himself is, of course, updated as well. Lots of extremely dumb things could have been done with Jason’s design. Heck, some of them have happened in past movies. But this design gets back to basics, in a way, while bringing his signature look into modern times. Let’s face it – the khakis and olive button-down are classic, but not very visually interesting.

This time around the Crystal Lake Killer is wearing a strangely unique jacket over a ripped up t-shirt and some old, beat-up trousers. His face is more Wrong Turn mutant than the Madball we saw in a few of the original films. And both the head sack and hockey mask are used.

Jason was played by the 6’5” Derek Mears, making him one of the taller actors to take the role. The movie emphasizes and even enhances his size, making Jason seem bigger and more powerful than ever before.

Okay, maybe not more powerful. This Jason doesn’t turn doors into clouds of splinters. But his raw strength is almost supernatural.

This is not the first action figure of the 2009 Jason by a long shot. In what is a very unusual occurrence, both NECA and Mezco released figures back when the movie came out. Mezco’s was part of their slightly exaggerated, almost caricature-ish Cinema of Fear line while NECA’s was part of its more realistic Reel Toys range.

Looking at them now I’m surprised by the fact that I prefer the Mezco release. The NECA one is fine, but not totally accurate and kind of dull. Mezco’s at least has some personality.

Now, of course, we have this new Ultimate release from NECA. Is it truly “Ultimate” or even necessary? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – Friday the 13th 2009 Jason Voorhees Action Figure from NECA”

Toy Review – Alien Resurrection Deluxe Newborn Action Figure from NECA

Nobody seems to like Alien Resurrection.

I don’t like Alien Resurrection.

Joss Whedon, who wrote Alien Resurrection does not like Alien Resurrection. Here are some of his thoughts:

“In all seriousness, Alien: Resurrection was, I thought, the lowest I could ever feel.”

“You don’t ever get over it. When you are making a movie you are making something that is going to last forever, especially now with the internet. So there is always going to be a shitty Alien movie out there. A shitty Alien movie with my name on it.”

You can read the full interview here if you like. I’ll wait.

As much as I might think Alien Resurrection is a very bad movie, as with most shitty genre movies there are things to like.

Sigourney Weaver enjoying being weird as the Ripley clone is great.

Winona Ryder bringing her own personal style of weirdness to the android, Call, is something interesting and different for the franchise. I’d love to see NECA produce a Call figure.

Honestly, the whole cast is pretty enjoyable, given what they have to work with. I do still watch this movie from time to time, knowing that the story and tone are garbage but the performances are tons of fun.

The creature designs are also very good. The new warrior aliens are a solid variation without straying too far from the iconic original designs. They’re more cunning, gooier, and have neat fins on their tails for undersea action.

And then there’s today’s subject – the Newborn. I still can’t quite explain it, but it’s the result of the Alien Queen that was harvested from clone Ripley giving birth the human way rather than via eggs. Everything about the Newborn is the height of horror, from its violent, disturbing birth to its appearance as a human/xenomorph crossbreed.

It doesn’t do much before getting sucked out of a viewport, but for my money the hybrid is one of the most disturbing creature designs I have ever seen. The moment it appears you want it off the screen as soon as possible. Such a thing simply should not exist.

Kenner had the overall Aliens license when the movie was released and took the opportunity to deviate from the traditional design of their toys and try to mimic the style of McFarlane Toys’ products, which were red hot at the time. While their Ripley and Call figures left something to be desired, the creatures were pretty cool. Even the Newborn, which was missing one major, disturbing detail that the NECA version is not. More on that later.

Naturally, as soon as I saw that NECA was producing a figure I knew I had to have it on my shelves.

Did the maestros at NECA successfully recreate the horror of the Newborn or would it have been better left unmade? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – Alien Resurrection Deluxe Newborn Action Figure from NECA”

Toy Review – Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning Ultimate Roy Burns from NECA

Who would’ve imagined the phrase “Ultimate Roy Burns” would ever be used, let alone the cause for so much excitement among Friday the 13th fandom?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ve been a fan of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning from the start. First of all, I didn’t even see the movie until long after it was released. I was later on the game on Friday the 13th than I was A Nightmare on Elm Street, I think because I found Jason scarier than Freddy. I’ll have to sit down and think about it someday, but I remember a very real apprehension about watching the Friday the 13th movies.

I did not like Part V the first time I saw it. Or the second or third, probably. It was only a couple of years ago that I finally was able to put aside the fact that ***SPOILER*** Jason isn’t really in the movie. This was a very dumb thing to get hung up on, especially for someone who likes Jason Goes to Hell as much as I do.

A couple of years ago I picked up the Blu-ray set of the eight Paramount Fridays and had a little marathon. I ended up liking all of them a little more than I remembered (except for Part VIII, which I still think is trash), and finally came around to the fact that A New Beginning is pretty darn good, despite having the least likeable cast of all of the movies.

Replacing Jason Voorhees with Roy Burns was not a bad idea. Within the context of the insane Friday the 13th universe and timeline it’s actually one of the less ridiculous things that has happened.

The movie has great kills, Tommy Jarvis’ continuing story is pretty good, Reggie is fun (they should have brought him back at some point), and Violet’s dance scene is one of my favorite things in the whole franchise.

The funniest thing about Roy is that he’s so obviously not Jason, but for some reason his likeness and mask have been used on a lot of merchandise over the years, so a lot of people don’t even realize he isn’t Jason. I have a Friday the 13th shirt that is clearly meant to sort of represent the franchise as a whole, but the image on it is Roy.

So now NECA, one of the best toy companies on the planet, has released an action figure immortalizing the Jason-who-wasn’t, Roy Burns.

Will it take years to appreciate NECA’s Roy or is he a hit right out of the box? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning Ultimate Roy Burns from NECA”

Toy Review – Universal Studios Monsters Creature from the Black Lagoon Bend-Em from Sunny Days Entertainment

Bend-Ems have been a staple of the toy industry for billions of years now. The concept of putting a rubber form over a wire armature and calling it an action figure is cheap, visually acceptable, and easy to sell.

With a Bend-Em there are no questions about action features, articulation, or deco. What you see is what you get and what you get can range in quality from an amorphous blob that’s supposed to resemble Darth Vader to a startlingly detailed Batman that might look better than some actual action figures.

Bend-Ems can be slapped on the simplest blister cards imaginable and sold anywhere. Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Piggly Wiggly, airport convenience stores and basically anywhere that sells any kind of non-food items probably has a peg full of Bend-Ems somewhere on the sales floor. Continue reading “Toy Review – Universal Studios Monsters Creature from the Black Lagoon Bend-Em from Sunny Days Entertainment”

Toy Review – Halloween II Ultimate Michael Myers from NECA

What better way to kick off the spooky season than with the godfather of slash himself, Michael Myers?

Slashers as action figures are a funny proposition.

Due to their iconic nature, their looks typically do not change a whole heck of a lot from movie to movie. Back in the olden days toy manufacturers could get away with releasing a sort of generic amalgamation of a character’s appearances across several films. Take McFarlane’s early efforts, which are ostensibly based on specific entries in their respective franchises but do not precisely represent any versions of Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, or whomever.

We ate it up because it was the best we had at the time. And while those figures still have their charms, in this day and age of intense detail and strict screen-accuracy, we as consumers demand more. And have sort of shot ourselves in the foot as a result.

Thanks to our demand for accuracy, we now have approximately fifty-eight Freddy Kruegers that are barely different.

Michael Myers might seem to be the least changing of the slashers, but of course we insane-o fans know that there are more variations to his mask than there are actual movies in the franchise. So while his blue coveralls barely change from film to film, there are plenty of changes to be made to that iconic, but eminently variable, mask.

Fortunately for us a few years ago NECA saw fit to launch their “Ultimate” line of action figures. Each release in this range includes basically all of the parts needed to represent multiple looks from a single film. Today’s review subject includes three different heads, whereas previously we would have had to buy three separate figures to represent these looks.

Of course, the clever part is that NECA charges between twenty-five and thirty bucks for these, so if you want to display all three looks you’re actually paying more per figure than you used to. Granted, you’re getting tons of accessories, but I feel pretty sure NECA is reaping some benefits here. Which is fine by me. They’re a pretty great toy company.

As far as this Michael Myers figure goes, it represents various scenes from 1981’s Halloween II.

I’m a huge fan of this sequel and will almost always watch it immediately following the original. They’re inseparable to me. This isn’t the place to get into how the most recent Halloween affects the legacy of that film, but to me it doesn’t change things.

Back when NECA revealed this figure I was most excited for the Ben Tramer mask that’s included. It’s only in the movie for a couple of minutes, but to me it’s a crucial piece of Halloween lore. Tramer is a victim of Loomis’ obsession. It’s important to remember that Halloween II takes place on the same night as the prior movie, so it’s not like Tramer is knowingly wearing a costume that is lethally similar to a serial killer’s. He’s simply a victim of tragic circumstance, which is something I would love to see explored in the forthcoming films.

Michael’s mask from the finale of Halloween II is also included in this set, complete with the striking “bloody tears”. It’s a look that is absolutely essential, though I honestly hadn’t planned to display the figure that way; this was going to be Tramer on my shelf.

Is this figure an essential addition or an extravagance? And who won out for my shelf space – Myers or Tramer? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – Halloween II Ultimate Michael Myers from NECA”

Toy Review – WWE Ultimate Edition Ultimate Warrior from Mattel

In the time that has passed since I reviewed the other figure in this case pack, Ultimate Ronda Rousey, I have been unable to resist expanding my collection of wrestling figures.

For a long time I was just collecting Mattel’s Retros and female figures. The Retros were charming throwbacks to Hasbro’s WWF figures and for the most part I find WWE’s female performers more interesting both in the ring and visually than the males. Objectively, females tend to be more toyetic.

Now, however, I have ended up collecting Mattel WCW figures as well as a few odds and ends here and there – mostly stuff I find on clearance. How could you possibly pass up Big Strong Boi Tyler Bate with the NXT UK Championship for twelve bucks? Or Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa, or (Mustafa) Ali for seven bucks each (due to a nationwide screw up on the part of Walmart)?

The bottom line is that Mattel is making some of the best action figures on the market, but only if you’re into wrestling toys. I’m resisting going all-in, but as a lifelong fan of action figures and wrestling, some of these releases really give me the itch. Especially these Ultimates.

The first wave of these consisted of Rousey and this Warrior, the next – which should be hitting stores soon – includes Shinsuke Nakamura and Bret Hart. I’m not sure yet if I’ll end up getting those, but Rousey and Warrior both fit into what I’m already collecting, though I didn’t realize the latter did at first.

I’ve never been much of an Ultimate Warrior fan. Body guys never did much for me. Don’t get me wrong – I admire their dedication to what I think must be a very difficult lifestyle. But I like guys who can work and who look like they’re built for ass-kicking, not for wearing a G-string and flexing on a stage. Warrior had charisma for sure, but he was the shits in the ring. He’s not a guy I’m going to collect.

But then I found out from the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast that this look is based on his time in WCW and that was a very interesting run.

Not good, but interesting.

Between my love for wrestlecrap and the fact that I am actively collecting WCW figures, I knew I had to get this guy.

Is it truly the Ultimate Warrior? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Toy Review – WWE Ultimate Edition Ultimate Warrior from Mattel”