Monthly Archives: January 2011

Freddy is back with another new Toy Run! This time his main squeeze Tania is along for the ride as they have an adventure in Walmart. Tania is there to point out some of the inconsistencies in the toy aisles. She gives a special female perspective that’s missing from many folks toy adventures. Enjoy!

When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, for a couple of years I lived right next to a Hardee’s restaurant. Hardee’s back then was a sort of fast food diner chain in the midwest and southern states where you could get really good, horrible, greasy tater tots, “Gee, I Wish I Was Arby’s” roast beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and other food like that. Today they are owned by Carl’s Jr., a fast food chain popular on the west coast. They have a different menu. They’re basically the same as Carl’s Jr. now, with the star logo and everything. This is kind of a loss for children’s junk culture because the kids of today miss out on getting shitty, motionless action figures with their soggy, deep fried artery glue.

The California Raisins began life as an advertisement for the California Raisin Advisory Board and soon abandoned shilling healthy food for the riches of the world of fast food. In addition to the original Claymation Will Vinton Studios’ “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” Marvin Gaye ad, two TV specials, and a memorable appearance at in the Claymation Christmas Special, they made regular appearances as Hardee’s Children’s Meal premiums.

As children, we pleaded and begged for these worthless trinkets in ’87, ’88, ’91, and when they made a comeback in 2000 (looking nothing like they used to), now grown into adulthood, we bought more terrible fast food out of a sense of nostalgic duty! That’s right: duty. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. I know you saw those crappy Michael Bay Transformers movies out of guilt. I certainly did.

I scanned this paper ad from my copy of an issue Totally Kids Magazine, the weird quarterly publication you would be entitled to as a member of the Fox Kids Club. This was a glorified spam mailer, but dammit, this was spam we WANTED. While it was not exactly a comic book, it usually contained short comics among other things, so fuck you, this is a classic comic ad!

The paper ad in question is from ’91 and what always makes me laugh about it is how they’ve updated the raisins from their original ’87 release. See the guy wearing the shades, Benny? He was always my favorite raisin because orange is my favorite color and cool people wear sunglasses. This is also the reason to this day I am constantly running into things. Anyway, Benny was originally known as Ben Indasun, which is a terrible pun. He was naked back then, wearing only a pair of orange Chucks and his trademark orange shades. But by ’91, he had aged 20 years, given up his dream of being a musician, gotten a shitty job as a used car salesman, and joined a bowling league. It’s sad seeing dreams die.

It’s also sad to think that my childhood burning desire for tiny immobile plastic figures of anthropomorphic raisins and skateboarding beach bunnies (no, not sexy beach girls, ACTUAL rabbits) may well lead to heart disease later in life. Maybe by then I will work at a used car lot and enter a bowling tournament.

WWE Legends (Series 4)
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
6.5 Inch Scale
By: Mattel

Today we’re taking a look at Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff. Although many modern wrestling fans barely know the guy, he’s had a long and storied, albeit at times tumultuous career. Paul came from the same sort of wrestling background as Hulk Hogan and the two, coming from similar areas and having similar training and physiques, eventually became famous rivals. Orndorff is remembered for being a core part of that early WWE (then WWF) success. In fact, Hulk Hogan and Orndorff actually drew over 70,000 fans in Canada to see them fight. For a house show (non televised) no less.

Mr. Wonderful even headlined the first Wrestlemania, although most of that has been forgotten these days. Orndorff seems like a bit player in the Hogan/Piper/Mr.T confrontation and by Wrestlemania 2, Orndorff was already moving down pretty quick. His most famous match however, would likely be the infamous steel cage match with Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Orndorff seemingly beat Hogan, as they both escaped the cage at the exact same time. It’s one of the best cage matches in WWE history. Personally I became a fan of Orndorff more for his WCW stint, which was actually quite long. Orndorff had plenty of memorable moments in WCW, including a TV Title run, a feud with Cactus Jack and a pretty good tag team with Paul Roma in “Pretty Wonderful”.

It was also in WCW where he the nickname “Paula” really became over, which allowed fans to really get on the Wonderful one’s case. He had although, had it chanted at him for years prior. Naturally, Paul had a WrestleCrap sort of moment when he met Gary Spivey (“acclaimed” psychic) and was reinvented in WCW as, well, Mr. Wonderful. Let’s just say he lost his smile, but Spivey helped him find it again. It actually led to a good run of success in WCW and gave Mr. Wonderful one of the best themes in wrestling at the time. An awesome over the top opera about how wonderful he was.

Sadly nagging injuries, including one that caused his arm to atrophy and shrink to half it’s size, eventually put Paul Orndorff on the shelf for good. Right as wrestling was starting to get big again and just as Orndorff had started a feud with the Four Horsemen. Had the injuries not put him on the shelf for good, Orndorff likely would have made an impact in the modern era of pro wrestling as the Monday Night Wars were just heating up.

Eventually Mr. Wonderful would make a transition to the WCW Power Plant, where he was responsible for helping train a whole host of wrestlers, including, but not limited to Bill Goldberg. In 2000, Orndorff returned to the ring in great shape in an angle that was to see him teach some of his old students some respect. Unfortunately as Orndorff was dishing out some punishement and giving a few of his patented piledrivers, he suffered a stinger and lay paralyzed in the ring for several minutes as the match continued, before eventually being thrown out due to Paul having to be taken out of the ring. He did however, receive a standing ovation from the fans and went out in the ring… Which is about as good as it gets for pro wrestlers.

In 2006 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame… An honor Orndorff so loved that he left what he called a “$20 plaque” in his hotel room. Paul has always been a rebel and now in 2011, in an era when guys like Orndorff are often long forgotten, Mr. Wonderful gets the star treatment in Mattel’s WWE Legends Seres 4.

The WWE Legends packaging is a standard bubble card with a couple of areas for a paper block logo. It features the WWE Legends Logo in the right hand slot foreground with a picture of the Legend on the left hand background. The picture is an important part because more often than not, Mattel has chose to sculpt the figure’s face to match the photo.

Orndorff’s lips are slightly pursed in the picture and I don’t think that’s translated well to the figure. One of my grievances with having the photos and sculpt mimic one another. More often than not this seems to be the case and I think it hurts Mr. Wonderful a bit. The photo appears to be an early 80’s one, which is appropriate for the attire… Although Orndorff would actually wear this very same attire up into the 90’s in WCW. I’ve seen him in it as late as 1993, even though Paul was a guy who changed tights a lot.

The back of the package shows off the other figures in the series. It also mentions his famous titles, including the NWA Tag Belts. No complaints from me. His “bio” speaks of the aforementioned cage match with Hogan. Clearly, a defining moment in Paul’s career.

Any time a wrestling figure comes along that Jakks has previously produced, there is going to be a comparison. Especially when it comes to Legends, which Jakks cornered the market on. Jakks’ Orndorff sculpts were always good, but Mattel’s definitely seems a smidge better.

The robe is an added touch and again it’s very accurate. As I mentioned above, these tights Orndorff had in his collection, including the boots and robe, for many years. Rather than attempt to duplicate a catch-all version, they’ve nailed a specific one to the T.

The head sculpt is very good, and Orndorff often posed with his mouth slightly agape. I do think Mattel took it just a tad too far, but it’s a very good likeness. Jakks’ Orndorff looked like an old woman from certain angles. Of course, that’s also slightly befitting of “Paula”.

His body sculpt is appropriately buff and he’s good enough to fill in for Hulk Hogan in Commercials, if need be. More than likely though, fans will scoop up Orndorff to use as custom fodder to make Hulkster figures in Mattel scale!

Scale seems to be pretty good, with Macho Man and Orndorff being about the same height. Macho looks a tad bigger from some angles, which isn’t correct, but for the most part they’re the same size. Given that Jakks didn’t do scale at all, this is a big feather in the Mattel Legends figure’s cap.

There isn’t much to say about the sculpt beyond that. It’s good, it fits the character and it’s generic enough to work for other characters. This isn’t Mattel’s finest sculpting hour, but it’s definitely a great figure. The included robe looks perfect as well. I haven’t noticed any bleed from the robe’s fabric onto the skin tone, but I do advise leaving it off the figure as these cloth outfits do stain the toys from time to time.

It’s the scale in combination with the articulation that’s really winning people over to Mattel. Orndorff is another great example of this. I do find that the legs are a bit troublesome at times, and double elbows in addition to double knees would be excellent.

However for the most part, this guy is as good as all the ELITE or LEGENDS are. They have swivels, ball joints and hinges in all the appropriate places. The knees are even double hinged, which really helps with some of the poses.

I can’t exactly explain how the legs work at the hips. They’re not regular ball joints and they’re not like the joints on DCUC figures. They’re similar to old school GI Joe construction in a way, but much harder to work. For what it’s worth, I found Orndorff one of the easier to pose in the legs. At times it feels like these figure’s legs will snap right off.

However he can pass the piledriver test. That alone puts him leagues above Jakks efforts. As I’ve said in the past… Being able to perform basic moves like the piledriver is really one of my prerequisites for wrestling figures. This is doubly impacted on Orndorff who’s finish is a piledriver and also the move that officially ended his career!

Remember in the past when I’ve said that the included stands don’t do anything for me? Well they’ve gotten rid of them in this wave. For the most part, I don’t miss them… But ol’ Paul comes with nothing but his robe.

At $15, he feels pretty empty. I’m guessing the Legends are a bit like DCUC in which one guy in the wave will get shorted on accessories while others will get a lot. The robe is nice, but it’s not much accessory wise. I would have LOVED the handheld mirror that Orndorff used in WCW for the latter part of his run.

Hopefully we get a WCW Orndorff in pink tights with his little coat. Have him include his mirror and it’d be something that Jakks never gave us. I could even dig an Orndorff in orange or maybe his old OP tights. I’m down for a couple of Pauls, so long as they give him some more accessories to work with. Maybe include some flip flops for his eventual encounter with Vader?

Paul Orndorff is a good figure and a great Mr. Wonderful. My concern is that with the lack of accessories and the lack of respect that a guy like Orndorff gets these days, that he may not be a popular seller. The good thing that Paul has going for him though is that he’s great custom fodder. It’s sort of like when Paul worked at the Power Plant… He’s creating new wrestlers… BUT IN A WHOLE NEW WAY!

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Robe
Value – 7
Overall – 8 out of 10

“WONDERFUL… They call him Mr. Wonderful! You know he is so wonderful… WONDERFUL! They call him Mr. Wonderful!”

If you’re an old school fan like me, Mr. Wonderful is a great figure. He fits in several eras. He can be there in the birth of the rock’n’wrestling days or he can be in the early 1990’s era. No matter what era you’re a fan of, this figure is downright, wonderful.

I love that theme…

Here’s something new coming down the pike from Mattel and WWE. It’s a two pack based on the upcoming WWE All Stars video game. That game is based on the concept of the legends of all time in WWF/WWE doing battle with the stars of today. It’s a neat idea and the game looks kind of good (but very arcade like) and I may end up buying it. More importantly, though, is that it’s giving Mattel a chance to pump out more Randy Savage figures.

This is mostly a repaint of the upcoming Legends Savage figure, but it’s definitely another pair of Macho Man’s famous tights. The knee pads are still terrible, but that’s been par for the course. I have no use for the Morrison, but I hope that Mattel explores doing more of these packs. My only fear is price. Both of these figures are elite and it also includes a game code. I’m fearing this one may tread $40 territory.

In a perfect world we’d get a Warrior and a Hogan to go with this. We know the Hogan isn’t happening, but Warrior and other WWE Legends could be possible. We’ll have to wait and see.

Masters of the Universe Classics
Eternian Palace Guards
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel
$40 (plus shipping, around $49 total)

I’m back with another look at Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics! This set was supposed to come out late last year but was pushed back due to… Orko only knows. The Palace Guards have never had an official figure before, they were always in the background of both the Filmation cartoon and the more recent MYP cartoon, so it’s about time MOTU fans got their hands on ‘em.

They were originally included in last years subscription, thanks to whatever crazy crisis pushed them back a lot of people had to brave the evil ordering process at to get a hold of them. Was it worth the peril of my mortal soul Keep reading to find out!

My Eternian Palace Guards came well protected in a brown box from UPS. What’s that? Too much info on the packaging? The usual white mailer is a little smaller than the one Battle Cat came in, but it’s still a pretty good size. The outside says “ETERNIAN PALACE GUARDS”. There’s nothing too interesting going on here.

The ACTUAL packaging is a really good-looking item. It very nicely shows off the guards and the majority of their gear. I’m a little surprised that the 2 extra heads are hidden, to me they are a huge selling point and the reason that a lot of people bought multiples of this pricey 2-pack.

The back of the package shows both guards alongside their bio. The bio is pretty generic but that suits an army builder set. I think “Varies” is probably one of the most normal real names we’ve gotten so far! There’s a nicely laid out assortment of MOTUC figures that reminds me of the vintage card backs as usual.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious that these guys are modeled to look a lot like Man-At-Arms. They have the same orange armor, blue helmet and green bodysuit that Duncan wears….or do they? While the forearm, shoulder and knee armors are the same piece, the chest armor and boots are quite different.

The chest armor is a re-colored Battle Armor He-Man part while the boots are shared with Keldor. The leg armor covers the upper section of the boots and really makes them look like their own part. The Palace Guard helmets are very similar to Man-At-Arms’ helmet, they have a slightly different arrangement of wiring though which is a subtle way of setting them apart.

The 4 heads that come with this set are just flat out wonderfully sculpted. You get two human heads (one is modeled after Toyguru, the brand manager at Mattel, and the other is African-Eternian), a dark-skinned cat man as well as a brand new reptile type of creature. All 4 faces are entirely unique sculpts with very expressive features and great paint jobs all around.

My Toyguru face has a little dark spot under his left eye, it makes him look like he has a prison teardrop tattoo so I don’t mind too much. Big house ink aside, the paint was perfect on mine. As with Vikor, I don’t know if this is typical or if I just got lucky.

The Palace Guards are, unsurprisingly, extremely poseable just like the majority of the figures in this toy line. They can get into all kinds of exciting action poses thanks to the new plastic used on the loincloth part, it doesn’t get in the way like a lot of the older MOTUC figures’ furry undies do.

They also look great posed standing at attention or guarding something important. The ball joint on the head works really well and you can get lots of great emotions out of the different angles it gives you.

My one complaint about their range of movement is caused by the armor on their shoulders and upper arms. The band that comes around the bicep prevents them from bringing their arms fully down by their sides. It isn’t a huge issue but it does bug me a bit when trying to get them to an “at ease” stance.

Within the box you’ll find:

2 Halberds
2 Shields
1 Mace
1 Axe
2 Armor Plates
2 Heads
2 Face Guards
(The arm, forearm and knee armor is all removable also)

This is a lot of extra pieces, although lets be realistic, the extra armor plates are going to be switched out once or twice until you find the setup you like and then tossed into a bin to stay. The process of swapping out the armor plates is a pain in the butt, just like it was on Battle Armor He-Man. I appreciate that Mattel gave us a way to make each of our guards look unique, but I personally would have preferred more weapons.

Speaking of the weapons, they are really nicely done if a little plain. The two halberds are appropriate weapons for guards, reminiscent of the Swiss Army’s famous weapons. They don’t have a lot of detail on them other than sculpted grooves to indicate the hand holds but they look really good either held at attention or pointed threateningly. The axe and mace are both repeats, the axe coming from Buzz-Off and the mace coming from Moss Man(it has been slightly retooled to look less viney though).

We also have two nice little dueling shields. I may be having a mental lapse, but I believe these are new shields. They are a good size and stay clipped onto the guards’ arms very well. The shields are molded all in one color but the simplicity works well for them. The faceguards are a great addition, allowing you to give your guards that faceless, generic trooper look that worked so well for Cobra.

Lastly, the armor pieces on the arms and legs look really great with some well done silver highlights scattered around to resemble the connecting points. While I’m really happy with the look of the armor, I’m not crazy about the way they connect and stay on the guards’ body. Besides blocking some of the movement range, the connectors that hold on the armor do not like to stay closed while you pose the figure. I spent a good portion of my time while writing this review re-closing the connectors or fidgeting with the two sections of the arm armor to keep the pieces in place.

At $49 (including shipping) for the pair of guards I actually believe that this is a decent price. There is a lot of play value here and the fact that I didn’t have to pay shipping twice to get two figures helps quite a bit. Realistically $25 a figure is still very high, the shipping is really the thing that hurts, and I can’t recommend these figures to anyone but a big fan of MOTU.

To put it into perspective though, a DC Universe Classics figure is $15 + tax and they typically come with zero in the way of accessories beyond a Build-A-Figure piece that’s useless on it’s own. Without shipping, a $5 price bump is well worth it for the improved sculpting and extra accessories you get from MOTUC.

I’m a big fan of these figures. I love the different heads, I love the way they aren’t exact clones of Man-At-Arms and I love their variety of weapons. If I had infinite space and infinite money I would absolutely want an army of these figures to march against the inevitable Horde Troopers coming down the line.

Despite all the love I have for the Palace Guards, I can’t in good faith recommend them to the casual He-Fan. After all, these are nameless, faceless characters. Heck, they’re barely even characters at all! At $49 a pair, these guys are very pricey and they’re not for everyone.

However, if you are already collecting MOTU Classics and you just haven’t decided to pick up a set of guards, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. They perfectly capture the essence of the Palace Guards that were always watching Randor’s back. The extra heads bring welcome diversity to both the MOTUC toy line and my Masters of the Universe shelf and they just look flat out awesome.