Monthly Archives: November 2011


WWE Elite – Series 9
Zack Ryder
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel
$15.99

If I was to ask you who the most popular superstar in the WWE at this very moment is, I’d likely get a lot of different answers… John Cena, Randy Orton, The Rock, but none of those would be correct. The current most popular guy in the WWE universe is none other than Zack Ryder. One need only to look at this past month’s Survivor Series pay-per-view to see Ryder receiving chants OVER the Rock, during the Rock’s big comeback (his first time in a wrestling match in 7 years) as a clear indication that right now the momentum is with Ryder.

Of course if you’re a casual fan, you’re probably wondering who the hell Ryder even is. He appeared on the scene this past year for the most part, although he has been around for a while. Ryder was originally part of a unknown jobber tag team called the Major Brothers, who then became the Edgeheads (who to WWE only severed a purpose because they bared a passing resemblance to Edge), once again mostly serving as fodder.

After that, both men were given different gimmicks and were relegated to B and C shows, presumably to finish out their tenure and be forgotten like so many others. Ryder was lucky in that his gimmick was a more colorful one where he sort of parodied the Jersey Shore attitude, but not in the usual ham fisted way that WWE operates. It’s clear that from the beginning the WWE brass had no interest in doing anything with Ryder or his character, but he worked hard to get noticed. Whether it was his mannerisms or his over the top outfits (including this one with ohalf long/half short trunks a la “The Sweet Music Man” Billy Joe Travis) or what little promo time he received.

Still it seemed that the deck was stacked against Ryder, until he started to use social media to his advantage through a series of hilarious YouTube videos, labeled the Z True Long Island Story. The WWE could care less, so Ryder began to basically parody his own WWE career and along the way played with Mattel WWE and Ghostbuster action figures, all the while plugging his little merchandise. His plan worked, not only did he become an internet darling, but his merchandise became a top seller.


Slowly but surely, WWE began to give him more TV time, although it certainly seemed at first that they were doing so only to exploit but not truly embrace his newfound overness. As of this writing at least, Ryder is starting to receive a real push and as mentioned at the top he’s arguably the most over man in the locker room. Of course only time will tell how long this will sustain as Ryder grew to popularity on his own merit and he is for the most part a “comedy” character. We’ve seen similar acts such as Eugene, who was also briefly the most over man in the locker room at a point, be crushed and de-pushed to ensure they don’t become a household name.

It also remains to be seen how long the fans will stay behind him. It was just a few years ago that John Cena was an edgy character that fans chose to cheer, despite the fact that WWE wanted little to do with him. By the time the WWE embraced Cena, fans were quick to turn on him. In this day and age, something is only cool for as long as it’s not mainstream and then once it is, everyone hates it. Ryder could become a victim of his own popularity, especially now that the WWE does seem to be behind him, but only time will tell.

Packaging:
The packaging is the standard Elite style with a double sided window box. Mattel is changing this in the Elite Series 12, but this is how the first 11 series looked. It’s a nice package, if not a bit on the overly large side. It seems like there should be a LOT in this package, but it’s mostly air.


The back of the package has the usual rest of the figures in the series and tells a bit about Ryder. It mostly just talks about his ability to look like Edge, which uh, sort of shows that this figure was planned before Ryder really had much going for him.

Sculpt/Paint:
Ryder was just starting to become a “star” when this figure hit, making it one of the absolute hardest to find at retail. Unlike John Cena or Randy Orton, who seem to be packed 8 to a case, Ryder was only 1 per case. The head sculpt is the same as his Basic figure.


Yes I realize I just went through a long spiel about how Ryder worked his way to the top and now I’m telling you that he’s already had two figures. That’s largely irrelevant, as Mattel has made lots of wrestlers who weren’t popular or in demand. Kozlov had three figures!


What really makes this figure stand out is the outfit and the work Mattel put into the tights. Ryder at the time was wearing his one legged tights and there were a ton of bright, colorful details on it. You need only look at his outfit to see just how hard he was trying to stand out. The best part is that Mattel has replicated it here quite nicely.


This also means that Zack Ryder stands out nicely on your toy shelf. I can appreciate that. Mattel did a really nice figure here, but I’m not a huge fan of the “leg sleeve” knee pads here… Even though Ryder did wear ones similar. The attention to detail here is quite nice.


“Staining on my shoulder… Are you serious bro?!”

Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as Mattel once again packaged this figure with his shirt on. That means you’re playing the staining game and just like with my Rick Martel and countless others… He has stains that can not be removed. Fortunately for Ryder, the way his shirt is, the stain almost just looks like one of those barbwire tattoos. My Ryder has ink, dawg!


Other than that, there isn’t much to complain about here. It’s a really nice figure and I’m glad that Mattel put it out. Ryder has since started wearing normal tights and I’m quite glad we got this version before the change.

Articulation:
The Elites pack in extra articulation, particularly in the chest joint and the legs/thighs, so it’s awesome to have figures that can actually MOVE in the wrestling toy lines.


Ryder isn’t a super high flyer or anything, but he is a pretty mobile guy and his finisher the Rough Ryder is a unique move. Thankfully the Elite hips and thighs allow you to perform the move with the action figure. When it comes to wrestling figures, being able to do the finisher is very important, IMO.


You should be able to put Ryder in any reasonable position without too much effort. The Mattel Elites can be a bit tricky at times as some seem to move better than others, but Ryder fares pretty well in that category.

Accessories:
One of the big selling points of the Elite figures is not only their improved articulation, but also the accessories. They used to come with stands, but Mattel removed them to save costs and because they were largely pointless.


Ryder comes with two real accessories, his mesh coat and a pair of sunglasses. Mattel has made a half dozen or so different molds for sunglasses in the WWE line. It’s kind of strange, really.


The coat is really cool and similar to the ones that Zack Ryder has really worn. It’s a shame that he had to be packed wearing it and receive the stain.

Value:
These dudes are expensive at around $16 in most stores. You’ll pay even more than that sometimes and in the case of Ryder, you’re likely forced to go to the secondary market where he may be 2X as expensive. I’d guess another Ryder will be coming down the pike in the next year or so, assuming he maintains his popularity, but this figure is so unique that it might be worth tracking down.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 9
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Mesh Coat, Sunglasses
Value – 8
Overall – 8.5 out of 10


“Dancing with Akeem! WOO WOO WOO! YOU KNOW IT!”

Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you’d probably enjoy Zack Ryder Z True Long Island Story videos. He’s an action figure collector at heart and a true fan who’s living out his lifelong dream. Mattel has done him and all of us a great service in making such a unique, eye catching, colorful figure. Who knows if anyone will remember Zack Ryder in 5 years, but for now, it’s your time Zack! Pump that fist broski!

And remember to take care and spike your hair.


I don’t usually ask for questions unless I’m short on ideas and that’s definitely the case this time around. It’s been a busy few weeks and I’m short on ideas to ask the house of Matty. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Mattel for the December 15th Q&A respond below or drop me a line via email.

The questions can be about MOTUC, DCUC, Ghostbusters, WWE or the MattyCollector site in general. This is your chance to be heard, particularly if you’re someone who doesn’t get your questions asked at other sites. No reasonable question will be refused.

I can’t promise good answers, but I can promise to ask the tough questions.


WWE Basics – Series 2
Vladimir Kozlov
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel
$10.99

Haiku for Kozlov:

Vladimir Kozlov
Russian Monster Wrestler, Yeah!
Basic Head Sculpt Best

I don’t believe any other website has ever even reviewed a single Vladimir Kozlov and this is now my SECOND Kozlov Review. Why the hell would I buy two figures of this guy? I’m not sure. Mostly because the Elite body sculpt is nice, but the Basic had the only good head sculpt. Actually there were two Basics, each with their own unique head sculpts. I prefer this one, even though it’s a bit soft, it reminds me of how Kozlov typically looks.

Or should I say looked? Kozlov received three figures from Mattel, all with unique head sculpts but he’s since been canned. I believe he went to NJPW, where they’ll likely appreciate his big lumbering style a bit more. Anyway, I did buy this guy, I might as well review him.

Packaging:
Vlad comes in the standard Mattel WWE Basics card. It’s not bad, but Mattel must have gotten bored with it, because the newest series come on a brighter white card. Anyway, these aren’t too bad and the stylized picture of Kozlov is actually kind of nice.


The back shows off the rest of the figures in the series. Mark Henry and CM Punk are the only two on the back who are currently doing anything, but it’s not a big deal.

Sculpt/Paint:
This sculpt is actually quite good, given that Kozlov is a big guy in plain white trunks (or at least he was at this era) and Mattel didn’t have to go too far outside of their wheelhouse to perfect a guy like this. For a Basic he actually comes with a bit more than most, with two kneepads and elbow pads. Sometimes Basics seem to get screwed on their proper number of pads.


I like the idea of a big strong Russian monster. It’s a shame that the WWE could never figure out a way to push him and make it compelling. I think he needed a manager, or something… The body choice is appropriately large and since Mattel doesn’t use this body much (as opposed to the Cena “buff” body which every other figure gets) he looks almost “fresh” by comparison.


With a figure like this, it’s all about the head sculpt. Kozlov’s sculpt is a little soft, but as I mentioned before, it’s the best of the three sculpts available for this character. It’s 900 million times better than the Elite Kozlov, who’s face looks like an anime Muppet. That’s probably Mattel’s worst WWE sculpt to date, and while this one won’t win any rewards, it serves it’s purpose.


His head is a bit of a bean shape on top, which I don’t think is horribly inaccurate as his dome does sort of look like this in real life. It’s probably just a little over the top here.


“We are two WILD and CRA-zy guys!”

The body itself is slightly smaller than the Elite counterpart, but I think that’s more to do with the giant melon on the Elite screaming scan, than anything else.


There’s nothing in the sculpt that should make you run out and get this guy, but if you want one Kozlov, this is the one to get. Even though he’s a bit boring. His plain white trunks look like underwear, but his boots actually have a neater star logo on them than the Elite version.

Articulation:
WWE Basics don’t have the greatest range of motion, but there are a few good points.


His arms can stretch out enough to do his bear hug. It’s a minor thing, but it really emphasizes how much more movement you can get out of the shoulders, elbows and wrists, than the old Jakks WWE figures.


The legs still don’t move all the way forward like they should. This was one of the main complaints I had with the Jakks RA style figures, so it’s a shame that Mattel doesn’t have this issue licked yet. Sometimes a figure can lift his leg all the way forward and sometimes he can’t. It just depends on the sculpt.


The range of motion going backwards is much better, though.

Accessories:
Bupkis! Unless you count the elbow pads and as I mentioned above, sometimes that’s not always accurate on the basics, so this is a “bonus” in that sense.

I really don’t know why Mattel can’t cost out some accessories for the basics, especially since 90% of the figures use recycled parts, but whatever.

Value:
These guys are overpriced at nearly $11 a pop. It’s just the cold hard truth. If you can find them for $9 and under, don’t be afraid to pick them up. Last year around Christmas time, Target had them for closer to $7 and I’d like to see Mattel’s WWE Basics return to that pricing year round. It won’t happen, though.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 7
Articulation – 7
Accessories – NOTHING
Value – 6
Overall – 7 out of 10

Nobody should have to own two Kozlov figures. I do… I’m not sure why as I never really cared for the guy, but once I bought the Elite for cheap, I needed a better head. I think I found this guy on sale (I don’t remember I bought him 6-7 months ago) so it likely lessened the blow. Mattel is doing good things with the WWE line and even the Basics aren’t bad, but tend to be fairly overpriced for what you get.

If you need another figure to add to your Kozlov collection, this is one.



The Muppets

Sweetums

5 Inch Scale

By: Palisades

$40 (price varies now)


With the Muppets making their big screen return this week, i thought it might be fitting to take a look at some of the old Palisades Muppets figures. Today we’re looking at one of my personal favorites, Sweetums. He originally made his debut as a monstrous giant in a Muppet Show play on Jack and the Beanstalk, but it was the 1979 Muppet Movie that really made me love poor Sweetums. In the film, he serves as a “jack” at Mad Man Mooney’s car lot. When the Muppets offer to take him to Hollywood, he runs off to get his bags, but the gang mistakes that for disinterest and leave ol’ Sweetums behind, presumably to continue working slave labor for Milton Berle.



I actually know a guy who looks a lot like Sweetums. I think the less that’s said about that, the better.

This figure was a Oh My God, Cheap New Figures Online exclusive back in the day, with a very limited run of about 10,000 or so. OMGCNFO.com is out of business today and so is Palisades, so I guess this didn’t work out too well for either party. At least we got a pretty fantastic figure out of the deal, although he’s not without some problems.



Packaging:

Sweetums comes in a big window box that’s typical of the Palisades Muppets gear. It has all the familiar logos alongside a marking that lets you know it was a OMGCNFO exclusive.



The back has a nice little bio, including the line from the Muppets Movie about Jack not being his name, but rather, his job. There’s also a ton of cross-sell on here, showing off the incredible Palisades Muppets line. Oh how I would love to have all these figures.

Sculpt/Paint:

As far as Muppets go, Sweetums has a pretty complex design. It would make for a hard figure to create, especially for a cheaper company that would take shortcuts. Thankfully, Palisades was never that company and the level of detail here is pretty impeccable.



The likeness is really good, with huge sculpted tuffs of hair giving him that appropriately monster-like look. However he appears to be made out of a very rubbery material that still to this day does not feel “dry”. It’s a bit annoying and it can also lead to damage. Joints can get stuck and in my case, I actually gouged part of his moveable eyelids with my thumbnail… Something that wouldn’t happen if this was a harder plastic.



That said, it’s hard to complain too much. This isn’t some cheap rotocast figure. This guy is HEAVY! He’s solid. If you threw this at your kid sister, you’d knock her out. Palisades spared no expense in making sure that all the details were there and that makes this guy quite appropriately hefty.



I do have a problem with his size, however. He’s just too damn big. At nearly 11 inches tall, he’s a tad out of scale with the rest of the Muppets line. It’s excusable in the sense that Sweetums is supposed to be a hulking giant, but he probably should have been 7-8 inches in height, not 10+.



“It’s true, it does cause hairy palms!”


There is a ton of detail throughout and the paint applications are just as nice as the sculpting. Palisades had a tough task in making figures of Muppets actually look like, well, Muppets. Somehow they managed to do it and the little things like the stippled texture on the face make him look like he’s made out of foam and not plastic. The tattered clothes and rope belt, also look more like real material than rubber.



Still the complete package is pretty impressive and it’s hard to complain about too much. He’s huge, he’s detailed and he’s surprisingly well put together. He didn’t like, fall apart or anything… And hey, I’ve seen it happen.

Articulation:

For a figure this big, some companies would make him rotocast and say that they couldn’t include much articulation… And because it’s limited run, we would just accept it. Not Palisades! They went the distance here and included a ton of articulation, although not all of it works great.



The eyebrows and jaw are both on hinges and you can get his mouth almost completely shut and his eyes almost completely closed. This allows you a great range for expressions.



He has a DCUC-like set of hips and legs which give him a ton of movement in the lower region. He also has swivels on the feet, but they don’t move much. In fact one of my feet is stuck and it’s not worth breaking free, because the other foot moves so little. He has a small torso joint and swivel-hinge ball knees.



You get a nice ball jointed neck and swivel-hinge ball shoulders and elbows. The elbows don’t work as well, because the sculpt of the shirt gets in the way. His wrists are also simple peg swivels. Still, you can move him around pretty good.

Accessories:

Bupkis!

Value:

These were $40 originally and you can find them for around that price or cheaper today. I think I paid like $10 for mine a few years ago when Big Bad Toy Store had them on clearance. Shop around if you want this guy, but remember that he’s not without a few minor issues here or there.



Score Recap:

Packaging – 8

Sculpting – 8

Paint – 8

Articulation – 8

Accessories – NOTHING

Value – 7

Overall – 8 out of 10

Sweetums is a great little big figure. He’s not perfect, but few toys are. For an obscure character like this, to have a plastic incarnation this good, is pretty amazing. All credit goes to Palisades who put so much love, heart and attention to detail in their Muppets line. Hopefully we’ll someday see a Muppets return to the toy aisle, but with previous offerings like this… It’ll be hard to beat.


The Muppets
Sweetums
5 Inch Scale
By: Palisades
$40 (price varies now)

With the Muppets making their big screen return this week, I thought it might be fitting to take a look at some of the old Palisades Muppets figures. Today we’re looking at one of my personal favorites, Sweetums. He originally made his debut as a monstrous giant in a Muppet Show play on Jack and the Beanstalk, but it was the 1979 Muppet Movie that really made me love poor Sweetums. In the film, he serves as a “jack” at Mad Man Mooney’s car lot. When the Muppets offer to take him to Hollywood, he runs off to get his bags, but the gang mistake that for disinterest and leave ol’ Sweetums behind, presumably to continue working slave labor for Milton Berle.


I actually know a guy who looks a lot like Sweetums. I think the less that’s said about that, the better.

This figure was a Oh My God, Cheap New Figures Online exclusive back in the day, with a very limited run of about 10,000 or so. OMGCNFO.com is out of business today and so is Palisades, so I guess this didn’t work out too well for either party. At least we got a pretty fantastic figure out of the deal, although he’s not without some problems.

Packaging:
Sweetums comes in a big window box that’s typical of the Palisades Muppets gear. It has all the familiar logos alongside a marking that lets you know it was a OMGCNFO exclusive.


The back has a nice little bio, including the line from the Muppets Movie about Jack not being his name, but rather, his job. There’s also a ton of cross-sell on here, showing off the incredible Palisades Muppets line. Oh how I would love to have all these figures.

Sculpt/Paint:
As far as Muppets go, Sweetums has a pretty complex design. It would make for a hard figure to create, especially for a cheaper company that would take shortcuts. Thankfully, Palisades was never that company and the level of detail here is pretty impeccable.


The likeness is really good, with huge sculpted tuffs of hair giving him that appropriately monster-like look. However he appears to be made out of a very rubbery material that still to this day does not feel “dry”. It’s a bit annoying and it can also lead to damage. Joints can get stuck and in my case, I actually gouged part of his moveable eyelids with my thumbnail… Something that wouldn’t happen if this was a harder plastic.


That said, it’s hard to complain too much. This isn’t some cheap rotocast figure. This guy is HEAVY! He’s solid. If you threw this at your kid sister, you’d knock her out. Palisades spared no expense in making sure that all the details were there and that makes this guy quite appropriately hefty.


I do have a problem with his size, however. He’s just too damn big. At nearly 11 inches tall, he’s a tad out of scale with the rest of the Muppets line. It’s excusable in the sense that Sweetums is supposed to be a hulking giant, but he probably should have been 7-8 inches in height, not 10+.


“It’s true, it does cause hairy palms!”

There is a ton of detail throughout and the paint applications are just as nice as the sculpting. Palisades had a tough task in making figures of Muppets actually look like, well, Muppets. Somehow they managed to do it and the little things like the stippled texture on the face make him look like he’s made out of foam and not plastic. The tattered clothes and rope belt, also look more like real material than rubber.


Overall, the complete package is pretty impressive and it’s hard to complain about too much. He’s huge, he’s detailed and he’s surprisingly well put together. He didn’t like, fall apart or anything… And hey, I’ve seen it happen.

Articulation:
For a figure this big, some companies would make him rotocast and say that they couldn’t include much articulation… And because it’s limited run, we would just accept it. Not Palisades! They went the distance here and included a ton of articulation, although not all of it works great.


The eyebrows and jaw are both on hinges and you can get his mouth almost completely shut and his eyes almost completely closed. This allows you a great range for expressions.


He has a DCUC-like set of hips and legs which give him a ton of movement in the lower region. He also has swivels on the feet, but they don’t move much. In fact one of my feet is stuck and it’s not worth breaking free, because the other foot moves so little. He has a small torso joint and swivel-hinge ball knees.


You get a nice ball jointed neck and swivel-hinge ball shoulders and elbows. The elbows don’t work as well, because the sculpt of the shirt gets in the way. His wrists are also simple peg swivels. Still, you can move him around pretty good.

Accessories:
Bupkis!

Value:
These were $40 originally and you can find them for around that price or cheaper today. I think I paid like $10 for mine a few years ago when Big Bad Toy Store had them on clearance. Shop around if you want this guy, but remember that he’s not without a few minor issues here or there.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – NOTHING
Value – 7
Overall – 8 out of 10

Sweetums is a great little big figure. He’s not perfect, but few toys are. For an obscure character like this, to have a plastic incarnation this good, is pretty amazing. All credit goes to Palisades who put so much love, heart and attention to detail in their Muppets line. Hopefully we’ll someday see a Muppets return to the toy aisle, but with previous offerings like this… The standard is set pretty high.