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US/UK Independent Wrestling Event Calendar (8/11-8/21/2016)

Thu, Aug 11 – American Combat Wrestling – Tropical Island Breeze, Gulf View Square Mall, 9409 US Highway 19, New Port Richey, FL – 8 pmfacebook.com/acwpasco
Thu, Aug 11 – WWA4 – WWA4 Wrestling School, 4375 Commerce DR, Atlanta, GA – 8 pmwwa4.com
Thu, Aug 11 – American Wrestling Federation – Stevens County Fair, 177 S County RD 22, P.O. Box 622, Morris, MN – 7 pmfacebook.com/proAWF
Thu, Aug 11 – Fully Loaded Wrestling – The Vegas Motel, 2315 N Broadway, Minot, ND – 9 pmfacebook.com/fullyloadedprowrestling
Thu, Aug 11 – School of Morton – Greene County Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds RD, Greenville, TN –facebook.com/schoolofmorton
Continue reading “US/UK Independent Wrestling Event Calendar (8/11-8/21/2016)”

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Ring of Honor TV Review (8/6/2016)

by Nathan Neumann

 

Hello wrestling fans and welcome to another ROH TV review from yours truly for both http://www.EyesOnTheRing.com and http://www.4CROnline.com.  Nathan here to provide you with your weekly dose of honor as we edge closer to Death Before Dishonor in Las Vegas on August 19th.  This show had some good progression towards that show so without any further ado lets get to it.

 

 

Continue reading “Ring of Honor TV Review (8/6/2016)”

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Wrestling Figures : Six Sides of Suck.

So after some research it turns out that there are approximately one hundred billions different versions of those knock off micro figures I reviewed some time ago. Some even take their fake factor to a whole new level and like a moth drawn to a flame, I found and purchased one more of these nefarious sets but thankfully my conscience can rest easy because even though these are even faker figures than last time, these micro misfits have the decency to bring their very own ring to the party. A six-sided one no less! Let’s lucha!

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Continue reading “Wrestling Figures : Six Sides of Suck.”

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ROH TV Review (7/30/2016)

by Nathan Neumann

 

Hello and welcome to another one of my ROH TV reviews from yours truly for both http://www.EyesOnTheRing.com and http://www.4CROnline.com. Sorry for the lack of reviews the past few weeks I’ve been extremely busy but we are back at it again this week so without further hesitation lets get right into it shall we?

 

 

Continue reading “ROH TV Review (7/30/2016)”

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Woeful Wrestling Figures: Boresome-Bomb.

I think out of everyone in the New Blood era of WCW, Mike Awesome started the strongest and ended up the weakest. Recognised on tv as the ECW as he beat up Kevin Nash on the infamous “reboot Nitro” and helping Billy Kidman to put the one & only Hulk Hogan through a table a few weeks later to becoming “That 70’s Guy” and “The Fat Chick Thriller” in the following months, not the dream career trajectory for a man once revered for his sheer ” ass-kickery”.  Awesome seems to have been given the browner end of the stick in the merchandising department too if this figure is any indication.

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Continue reading “Woeful Wrestling Figures: Boresome-Bomb.”

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Woeful Wrestling Figures:The Macho Man Can-Can Dance.

It isn’t Halloween just yet but I think if I were to review this figure on October the 31st I might bring about some kind of spectral apocalypse upon the world due to its sheer terribleness.

The world and his brother will admit the class that was the Macho Man, even during his late WCW mid-life crisis phase from which this figure comes but as much as I try and look for reasons to call this toy a fitting tribute to an oft-forgotten period of Macho’s past, all I see is a haunted, twisted, mangled form that only brings about the chilling fear of staring at something mankind was never meant to comprehend. Basically, the toy is awful.

The best place to start is the poor, sunken face Macho’s been given here, with the facial expression of someone in the middle of having their soul ripped from their body, which is a situation anyone who sat through the Brawl for All tournament should be more than familiar with.

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Continue reading “Woeful Wrestling Figures:The Macho Man Can-Can Dance.”

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Woeful(?) Wrestling Figures : Choking You Out Hazard.

Bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum, beep, beep, beep, beep, beeeeeeeeep. IT’S TAZ! Yes indeed ladies and gentlemen this time your humble purveyor of plastic grappling takes a turn for the extreme this week with a look at a very early figure of the “human suplex machine”, plucked straight from the original ECW toy line. Now let the pigeons loose!

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Continue reading “Woeful(?) Wrestling Figures : Choking You Out Hazard.”

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Total Nonstop Action Figures 4: Paint it black.

On balance I may have been a little harsh on some of these TNA figures but in my defence, the lows were far lower than the highs were high. Scott Steiner couldn’t stand under his own power thanks to some shoddy leg joints (of which I can sympathise, or should that be “Sympy-thise”),  Brother Devon was pretty good if you can look past the notion that he looked like he was struggling with a painful bowel movement and while “Samoa Joe” was a design marvel, he bared more resemblance to Disco Inferno in the middle of an allergic reaction than he did “The Samoan Submission Machine”. My main point is that apart from the usual knockoffs and trash I have on my slate for review, these TNA toys should have been immune to being ridiculed by a basement-dwelling man-child on the internet but in some way, shape or form, one major flaw drags them down to my level. There is a darkknight in the TNA toy box however that brings its A-game with no debilitating  flaws and a prestigious spot on the desk where I “write”. Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls I present to you for your amusement, my 6-inch Stinger, Toybiz’s TNA Sting!

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Given Toybiz’s history as WCW figure manufacturers, they probably produced approximately 90 gazillion versions of the crow-faced warrior over the years so no one would begrudge them grabbing an old mold from storage to make another version, that isn’t the case however. Sting’s re-emergence in the Impact Zone saw him trim his hair and streamline his little soul patch, all of which is accurately captured in a brand new head sculpt for The Stinger along with that haunting, emotionless glare usually seen on the face of anyone who watched Sharmell versus Jenna Morasca.

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New parts and attention to detail form every part of this figure’s being, cast wearing his signature black duster coat, this Sting toy cuts a dashing silhouette and presence. The coat can’t be removed as the sleeves are moulded into the figure but to be honest, I much prefer the figure with the coat, it doesn’t feel too big and baggy like other examples of coat accessories and doesn’t get in the way of posing him at all.

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On the topic of pose-ability, Sting is bringing the metaphorical thunder as he has all the articulation of his stable-mates, but every joint on my figure works perfectly, no loose joints or stubborn ab crunches here, no-siree-bob. Sting can adopt and maintain any depraved tableaux you can conjure up with consummate professionalism. His head has two joints that allow for an amazing degree of movement. Torso, shoulder and elbow joints all work great and a waist swivel, multi jointed hips, knees and even feet all mean that just like Joe before him, getting Sting to accurately perform his signature Scorpion Deathlock is only a few twists away. Most toys would kill for that kind of  freedom.

As far as accessories go, Sting needs only one to complete the set. No oversized barbels or missile firing trash cans are necessary here, just throw in a black baseball bat & Sting is ready for action and it is here in all its menacing glory, even with some bonus sculpted detail to keep things interesting and in an amazing touch of attention to detail, Sting’s left hand is even sculpted in such a way that the toy can accurately replicate the famous “pointing with the black bat” Sting uses as his signature taunt. Clearly a lot of love and care has been paid to Mr. Borden here.

It’s pretty absurd for a 30-something year old man to spend a few hundred words spouting about how much he loves a toy, but behind every figure is a design and decision-making process to create a finished physical product that I admire and while I’m having great fun hunting down and having a laugh at some examples of when that process churns out some bizarre or downright rubbish toys at the end of it, I do want to celebrate when it all goes right and the essence of a wrestling character I genuinely love is captured in plastic that I can display and brighten up my own space. I have a lot of fun taking the photographs, playing around with the toys like I’m 9 again and coming up with the words that populate these reviews. It’s a process in itself that gives me a sense of pride in the product that arises from it as I attempt to keep the depression that threatened to consume me at bay. So permit me to revel in Sting’s quality this one time but don’t worry, I’ve amassed a real cavalcade of crap takes and blatant fakes to  keep these coming for a long time to come.

 

Thanks for reading

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Woeful Wrestling Figures: Total Nonstop Action….Figures.

Back in 2008, a local discount store took delivery of some clearance stock of TNA action figures, the ones made by ToyBiz before Jakks Pacific nabbed the TNA toy rights and of course I bought one of each figure they had. So while I wait for the postman to deliver my suspect packages, I thought I’d kick off a new mini series by looking over them figure by figure and see if like TNA itself, these figures are also playing catch up to the wwe toys. First up is a craptacular mirror match as two generations of Scott Steiner toys go head to head, one by ToyBiz and one by Jakks I picked up in 2013 to see which one is the true Big Bad Barbie Daddy, and which one only has a 33 & a third chance of being displayed proudly. Welcome to a Tale of Two Steiners!

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At first glance the ToyBiz Steiner looks pretty decent, he’s wonderfully lumpy and bulging with plastic muscles and carries an amazing array of poseable joints, including rare finger and even toe articulation, there isn’t an action pose this Steiner can’t do. Sadly, getting him to stay in those poses is another matter entirely as clearly it is never leg day in ToyBiz Steiner’s world. Not only are his pins awfully thin compared with the rest of him, his left leg joints are incredibly weak, to the point that even standing under his own power is often too much for him even as he was taken out of the packet (which is why I assume he was in the discount bin). Thankfully he brought some accesories to lean up against to keep him upright. Not only did ToyBiz Steiner bring a squishy trash can stolen from a Konnan toy back when ToyBiz were making WCW figures, he also has a comically oversized dumbbell to show off with. This is even made of soft plastic so Steiner can bend it and show off to your collection of Bishojo Sailor Moon statues (or is that just my collection?).

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The other half of this equation is Jakks Steiner and anyone familiar with their latter run of Elite WWE figures will instantly recognize this Steiner’s pedigree. He brings with him a killer headsculpt that accurately resembles a screaming Steiner and his proportions are spot on, Scott Steiner always looked like he leaped out of Masters of the Universe so the roided out, hulking musculature of Jakks’ design is perfect here. He even boasts more detail than his older brother, with acres more detail paid to his tights designs and silly chest tattoo which on the ToyBiz Steiner looks like it has been drawn on with marker pens. Not so on Jakks Steiner who boasts a level of detail that would make any collector proud to show him off. as far as accessories go he has to settle for second place as although he came packeged with a whole other figure (what? that’s a kind of an accessory) all Jakks Steiner can bring to the fight is a chainmail headdress, that’s all booty and no daddy.

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If only ToyBiz Steiner wasn’t so, er, hamstrung by his legs and had a little more attention payed to the finer details he’d be a killer toy for youngins and a great stylised display piece but with like TNA itself, all the good is undercut by many small flaws that sour the product as a whole. These faults leave ToyBiz second place in a two horse race as Jakks Steiner takes the title of “Best TNA era Scott Steiner toy”, which is as prestigious as it sounds.

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Scott Steiner wins. FATALITY!!

Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

 

 

 

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Woeful Wrestling Figures: Unscrupulous Aggression.

Up until now my toy reviews have had an air of joy about them. Nearly every one of those figures may have been terrible and sometimes strayed into the territory of being knock-offs but rarely went the whole hog and thus kept a certain amount of cheeky charm. The Prince of Fear was clearly a Kane-a-like but still had enough kitsch appeal that I couldn’t stay mad at him and his ilk but after another scrounging trip to my local second hand market I emerged with two brazen hucksters, two contemptible con artists, trying to fool the unaware into believing that these are the genuine articles. These clueless cut price con men really do take the cake though & I refuse to give them a pass as I skewer them over the next couple of hundred words or so.

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First up is this awful Not-Batista to show off just how blatant these things are. Instead of original molds press-ganged into copycat gimmicks, Big Dave here is ripped straight from the original Jakks Pacific toys but in the cloning process, Dreck the Destroyed has suffered a staggering number of abnormalities.

I was never a fan of some of the Jakks basic figures but at least they felt solid and had decent articulation. This toy has neither, in true knock off tradition Barista’s plastic in his body and legs feels so light and flimsy that I expect to find a Kinder Surprise in his torso if I dared break him apart. Conversely his arms and head are composed of an entirely different plastic, with a different texture and mismatched skin tone and have very little give which given that he loses the elbow and knee joints of the original toy leaves Dave being very stiff indeed.

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To add insult to infirmity, he has a full compliment of Batista’s signature ink all across him with his huge dragon tattoo on his back (spoiled by the huge screw hole in his spine, that’s gotta hurt) and his bicep tats and even a weeny belly button tattoo he got on a hen party in Tenerife. These decals are actually pretty admirable but poor old Dave’s face gets no such love with slap dash painted eyes giving him the haunted thousand yard stare of a veteran of a dozen wars. I half expect him to start howling about long dead comrades as he stands on my desk. It’s okay Dave, they can’t hurt you anymore.

Okay, I’ll admit that Jared Leto does make for a striking Joker in the Suicide Squad movie but I also know that Chris Jericho would make an equally good clown prince of crime. How do I know this, you ask? Well, it’s because I saw this second fake figure here….

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Look at it, no really, LOOK at it. Have you ever seen a more terrifying visage in your life? That is supposed to be Chris ‘your dad during his mid-life crisis’ Jericho and I only know this because on his hollow legs are some hastily slapped on Y2J logos without which I’d struggle to think just who this harrowing hominid was trying to be. He does remind me of something though, did you ever get to the end of the first Batman Arkham game, Arkham Asylum? The one that end with a lacklustre boss fight against a muscled-out Joker hopped up on super steroids? Yeah slap a little white paint on the face, colour the hair in green and this could pass for a statue of that boss fight. That’s something it could pass for as it’s doing a horrible job passing as a good toy.

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Urgh, I feel dirty for having paid these two so much attention I can only hope that now I’ve got this done and dusted that BaPTSDsta & Jokericho will rot away in the plastic bag I’ll leave them to fester in. One can only hope so.

Thanks for reading and don’t have nightmares.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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UN-Skippable: Deee-Lite, Groove is in the heart.

Dig!

Dee-Lite may be a good candidate for being music’s true “cult of personality”. For a very early 90s dance act based in the US where very little house music was being produced and coming from a background in drag acts there is absolutely no way that Dee-Lite should have had a hit, let alone one that is just this good. Just hearing rough demos was enough for Bootsy Collins to drop everything and fly out to play with them on their album, Maceo Parker played the sax on Groove is in the Heart and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip wanted in as well and you don’t pull that caliber of talent without having something truly special up your sleeve.

Calling it “Special” may actually be doing Groove a disservice, this song is as close to a perfect pop song as it is possible to get and still be crafted by humans and not some musical deity. I don’t know of anyone who has a bad thing to say about this song and I honestly don’t know what I’d say to one if I encountered someone who did. Everything about this song is so tight and laser-focused yet sounds like it’s loose and carefree, it makes me want to dance and I have an entire wardrobe of left feet to overcome. Every single piece of this song works with every other part to keep your heart grooving and extremities moving and it’s all propped up by one of the truly great bass lines of all time, but hey, that’s Bootsy baby. This, some great arrangement, a cacophony of random noises and some bafflingly charming lyrics delivered by the Lady Miss Kier all blend so seamlessly to create this heady mix of sixties influenced funk with modern sensibilities that truly give Groove a timeless quality. And not “timeless” in a way that makes it seem like a throwback no, I mean that I’m confident that Groove is in the heart could be released tomorrow and still be as popular and big and respected as it was way back in 1990 it’s just that good. This is a quality seldom matched in mainstream music except perhaps for Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk that shares many of the qualities I love about this musical masterpiece, but that’s another article.

Sadly Dee-Lite never really followed up on Groove and never had another hit as big and that’s a little sad. It’s easy to look at Groove and wonder why they weren’t the biggest stars of the 90s but alas, the pop gods ordained that it was not to be, but after you debut with the perfect pop song, what else is left to accomplish?

 

Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon ( @BunnySuicida )

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Arcade Imperfect: the curious case of Marvel Vs Capcom EX.

By Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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Not everything is certain in videogames but there is one universal truth that cannot be denied: the Playstation 1 had real trouble with 2D fighting games. History shows that the little grey box of tricks could do amazing 3D graphics and effects with ease but when it came to sprites, it didn’t have the processing grunt to accurately pull off faithful ports of some of the late 90’s biggest and boldest arcade fighting game hits. In most regards this didn’t have too much of an effect on many games, a few missing frames of animation here, some absent background animations or other flourishes there and only when placed side by side with superior ports or the arcade originals would the PSX’s shortcomings be revealed. In three cases this would be much more pronounced however, fundamentally altering the games at their core. I speak of capcom’s VS series, X-Men VS Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes VS Street Fighter and Marvel VS Capcom. This trio of late 90s excess introduced the “crossover battle” system with players able to choose a pair of fighters and swap between them at will during matches and utilize team attacks that cause screens to erupt in a riot of colour and spectacle. Such hyperactivity was beyond most home consoles at the time, indeed Sega’s competitor to the PSX, the Saturn is regarded as a 2D powerhouse machine and even that needed a special cartridge to be plugged into the console, boosting its memory capacity in order to cope with the demands of the games.

No such luxury could be afforded the PSX however, it didn’t have the ability to expand its processing power so like many arcade ports right up until the dawn of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era, difficult compromises had to be made. Upon hearing that Marvel VS Capcom et al were getting ports to the PSX, many wondered how the little grey box could possibly cope with such demanding titles. The answer was, it couldn’t. Capcom knew it couldn’t release the games as was on PSX so opted for a very unusual and at the time controversial step of removing the crossover from the crossover battle, turning the games into one on one ‘EX’ versions to meet the limited memory of the host console. Some crossover elements would survive the change, players still picked a second fighter but this teammate is relegated to a support role, able to leap in with attacks to aid their partner before jumping back to the sidelines. Characters can be swapped, but only between rounds or fights at predetermined points. It seemed that the entire reason for these games existing had been stripped away and thus were regarded by many (me included) as inferior curiousities, especially as a Saturn and later Dreamcast owner, my versions of these games were largely intact.

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So for nearly 20 years I would scoff at the PSX games, laugh at how butchered they were and use them as examples of why my chosen consoles were superior pieces of electronic hardware, and then I played them.

 

It seems time for me to eat a lot of very stale humble pie right now, firing up the PSX version of Marvel VS Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes reveals a game that looks familiar, feels very unfamiliar but is an incredibly enjoyable experience, one I realise that I secretly wanted all this time.

Stripping the game back to a one on one fighter is an inspired choice, it allows individual characters room to breathe and allows players to concentrate on finding one fighter’s strengths and weaknesses without the added pressure of having to do the same for another fighter at the same time. The inclusion of a best of three rounds system also allows for more time as the whole game goes from a frenetic, hyperactive light show to a more measured and balanced game. The actual fighting is still faster than the norm but the chaos feels more controlled and in many ways, more preferable.

All the time I spent on the originals was sometimes tempered with the wish that I could play these games as traditional fighters but now having actually played traditional versions of them I was far too harsh on them for far too long, the PSX versions of these are very different animals to their bigger and brasher brothers but definitely hold their own as enjoyable fighters in their own right and in some ways are even superior to them.

Now can I get some ice cream to go along with all this humble pie, please?

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Woeful Wrestling Figures:Royal Grumble.

So it looks as though I’have in fact exhausted Poundland’s supply of cheap wrestling toys for the foreseeable future but I still have a need to give you the lowdown on some polymer pugilists. Instead of some lousy fakes I’ve taken a step towards respectability in an odyssey to official merchandise and a sextet of WWE Rumblers, tiny titans with real wrestling action! Highly stylised and playfully chunky, I’m about to review some more toys.

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First up is Randy Orton setting a high standard on aesthetics and actions. His sleeve tattoos and Orton pose ™ are all on display and are a perfect miniaturisation of the menace to carry on luggage and this little viper is ready to strike with his special springy surprise. Twist Orton at the waist and let go to unleash a devastating right hand to any toy that stands in his way. Watch out Tickle me Elmo!

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Question. Since when has John Cena looked like The Great Gazoo from the Flintstones? Also, when was he known for his jumping ability? Oh deary me John, you do not suit this design. In fact you look more lumpen and put of proportion than in reality and your push down “jumping” action is woeful. All you manage to accomplish is a passable recreation of the Flair flop and don’t think your ‘I’m a little teapot’ pose helps matters, being ‘short and stout’ is not a good look for you, honey.

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Who’s that jumping out the sky? Why it’s R-E-Y Mysterio and this figure blows! That’s actually a little unfair as little Rey Rey certainly looks the part but he’s been saddled with the same lame jumping action as John Cena that is just a recipe for disaster. These figures also have no mobility in their legs so in Rey’s case that’s more true to life than any other.

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Oh dear Kane. From the neck down you are a fantastic figure. You’ve got an actually decent slamming action and the angular, chunky look of everything really suits a monster character like the big red machine but head north and OH MY GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?! I know the mask is supposed to be frightening but this is ridiculous, this Kane looks like a terrible gargoyle that somehow looks too fat to be Kane. In fact the Prince of Fear’s Picasso features would pass for Kane more than this misshapen lump. So very nearly good.

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Now this is more like it, Rumbler Undertaker is a killer slab of plastic. He may be missing some details like tattoos and any real decals but proportionally this is on point. Taker even borrows Randy Orton’s punchy gimmick but wisely sticks one arm out to deliver a Vader-like (Big Van not Darth) haymaker. 9/10, Phenom af.

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I present to you the best Rumbler I think there ever could be. The mighty Brock Lesnar looks extremely good in this style. Even his pose is spot on to deliver more knock out punches and with the undersized legs and over developed upper body, Little Brock, Arkansas could easily be mistaken to be in scale with the real thing. If only there was a teeny tiny Paul Heyman to complete the set.

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Some of the design choices and sculpting are a bit suspect for official merchandise but Rumblers were a fun little line of compact characters that deserve a place alongside my other figures (the real ones, no way am I putting Lex Legend on any kind of pedestal). With the passing of time these figures can be found quite cheap and of you’ve got a hankering for wrestling toys but not a lot of space, these should see you right.

As ever, thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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John Skyler’s NeXT Chapter in Wrestling

by William Renken

 

Just before we launched the New Blood Rising Podcast in March of 2015, I had the chance to interview Mike Mooneyham, famed wrestling columnist for the Post and Courier who to this day spins many a beautiful tale of recap and nostalgia of today and yesterday. This was a dream interview for me being someone hustling through the new age (or maybe New Era?) of pro wrestling journalism. One of the questions I had circled and marked because it was so important for me to ask Mooneyham about was the first time he remembered seeing Ric Flair. I found this important because as Mooneyham covered Crockett in the Mid-Atlantic during the time of some of the hottest wrestling in the country, this also was the time he would strike up one of his most important personal and professional relationships in seeing Ric Flair ascend to iconic Nature Boy status. Continue reading “John Skyler’s NeXT Chapter in Wrestling”

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Bioshock Infinite & The Business of Art.

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A warning from the author. This post contains spoilers for the plot themes of Bioshock Infinite, you have been warned!

 

The concept of art as a product has fascinated me for years, especially where artistic design or creative endeavours must be compromised or even abandoned in the cause of commercial success. This is a thread that can be followed in almost any form of entertainment and not always to the detriment of either side.  Some great entertainment (or”art” for the purposes of this post) exists purely thanks to the commercial needs or wants of a business where the corporate mandating and efficiency of “the machine” produces a satisfying work that doesn’t (or at last appears to not) sacrifice their creative “soul” in the process. Recently, the movies coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the new Star Wars entries at least appear to strive beyond corporate box ticking within their formula and reveal themselves as works with real art on display. Sometimes however, the creative spirit  behind a project can find itself battered and even broken by the whims of a business side eager to mold it to fit current trends in an effort for greater returns. Many high-profile movies, music and videogames have fallen prey to this situation and have either emerged unscathed, bruised and battered or in some cases never emerged at all and recently I came upon a product that seems to bear its scars clearer than most, 2013’s Bioshock Infinite, developed by Irrational Games and published by Take Two Interactive as part of its 2K label. Continue reading “Bioshock Infinite & The Business of Art.”

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WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures 3: The Chode Warriors

My toy story continues! Those nice folks at Poundland have gotten their mitts on another clutch of plastic wrestling figures of questionable origin. In the next part I’ll have something different in a troupe of miniature figures complete with enough weapons and accessories to make New Jack jealous but before that the heavyweights are back with a triplicate of tragic tusslers eager to get into the ring with their polymer playmates. Continue reading “WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures 3: The Chode Warriors”

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TWx3: How Irish is Larry?

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“And that Geography is all the children need to know!”

 

AWA Superstars 13th of March, 1988.

Like a blogging Scott Bakula, my quantum leaping through the ages brings me back to the AWA this time in the year 1988 to see just what the past has in store for me. This time out is a special St Patrick’s day edition of AWA’s version of Superstars and Larry Nelson is in the mood to celebrate with his co host Kathleen. Instead of the traditional celebrations of copious drinking and sudden views on political union, Kathleen’s idea of tribute is to decorate Larry’s face in shiny Shamrock stickers. The Faith and begora continues as the screen turns green, because Ireland I guess. Anyway during this we learn that today’s show will feature Bad Company in action, the legendary Baron Von Raschke and The Midnight Rockers facing recent arrivals the Nasty Boys in the main event. Continue reading “TWx3: How Irish is Larry?”

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WWE Payback 2016 Recap

by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)

 

Chicago is in for what could be a hell of show tonight! Most of–if not all–of the matches on Payback have been built solidly, at the very least. Intrigue surrounds the main event, we’ve got a lot of new faces on the scene post-WrestleMania and a bit of a fresh feel on the product overall. WWE promises this to be “the first PPV of the new era” so let’s see how Payback delivers!

Continue reading “WWE Payback 2016 Recap”

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TWx3: I HATE YOU LAS VEGAS!

AWA All Star Wrestling 25th January 1987.

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Last time on TWX3 I dropped into the AWA to see the debut of the future Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and the very beginning of his teaming with Marty Jannetty in a hugely enjoyable episode. The next edition of AWA Television is almost a year later so let’s see what has changed in the meantime.

The impressive CGI intro of last time’s ESPN show has been replaced with a slightly less impressive game show style introduction complete with jazzy music as the AWA logo flies through space.

This looks to be a compilation of matches recorded from the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, the same location as last time, strung together with links by Larry Nelson and new to me partner Gary Ryan who proudly announces that “we’ve got the Super Ninja on deck” as well as highlights from a bloody title bout between Curt Hennig and champion Nick Bockwinkel, an appearance by tag champs Doug Summers and Buddy Rose and an unsettling appearance by the controversial Jimmy Snuka. So with the Ninja aboard the first match can begin with that man again, Shawn Michaels facing Frankie Defalco. Continue reading “TWx3: I HATE YOU LAS VEGAS!”

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Tales from Hill Valley: Win One for the Kipper

by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)

 

Entering 1992, World Championship Wrestling found itself in a most tumultuous state. 1991 proved to be an absolutely disastrous year, as they managed to somehow trump their failures of 1990 both financially and creatively. With Dusty Rhodes back as booker after Ole Anderson’s failed stint and with Jim Herd horribly mismanaging the company, 1991 is often looked at as one of the worst periods in the history of not just WCW but of any wrestling promotion at any point. The company’s direction towards the over-the-top gimmicks and departure from emphasizing in-ring action turned the NWA/WCW faithful away in droves. To further exasperate WCW’s woes, long time flag bearer and, at the time, reigning World champion Ric Flair not only leaves the company for the WWF but he takes the belt with him—all due to well-documented issues with Herd.  In January of 1992, three years after becoming executive vice president, Jim Herd resigned and WCW fans simultaneously breathed a massive sigh of relief while wondering who would succeed him. Enter Kip Allen Frye, Continue reading “Tales from Hill Valley: Win One for the Kipper”

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WWE NXT Recap (4/20/2016)

by Billy Carpenter

 

 

Enzo Amore & Big Cass make their way out in what is, I believe, their NXT swan song as the second set of tapings from WWE Axxess gets under way. They challenged American Alpha last week to a non-title affair and Cass proclaims that on this night, they’ll find out if Gable & Jordan are S-A-W-F-T. Enzo & Chad start the match and Gable breaks out a series of moves that wouldve made Les Kellett grin. American Alpha tag in & out while working the arm of Amore until he can finally get a tag to Big Cass. Jordan & Cass face off as we head into our first commercial break… Continue reading “WWE NXT Recap (4/20/2016)”

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WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures.

Written by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida).

Wrestling figures are great aren’t they? From Remco to Hasbro and Jakks Pacific to Mattel, wrestling toys have let the young and young at heart recreate some of Sports Entertainment’s greatest moments as well as craft whole new ones completely from the imagination. Hulk Hogan versus AJ Styles? Easy, The Legion of Doom vs Abyss and The Boogeyman? Alright if you insist, Jim Ross vs Joey Styles in a hardcore Mic on a pole match to crown the greatest announcer of all time, with a run in by Bobby Heenan? Actually that sounds pretty awesome! Toys can be played with like well, toys or displayed like mini statues in honour of our heroes but, and this is a Rikishi sized but, not all figures are created equal. For every über collectable Elite line or knockabout “With Smashing Action!” Basic figure there is a bottom of the barrel knockoff aiming to muscle its way into a collection or toybox and that just won’t do. Continue reading “WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures.”

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TWx3: The Ballad of Bun Boy Barton.

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By Martin Dixon ( @BunnySuicida )

And so a bold new era begins. I leave the cut and thrust of the Monday Night War and delve deeper into the dark recesses of the WWE network for something really old school and find myself beginning a new education in the AWA, the American Wrestling Association. I had always been aware of the AWA and it’s history but only through reference material and retrospectives. Never had I actually sat down and watched any shows from beginning to end so in an effort to refresh my blogging and the wider scope TWx3 affords me, I fired up the Network and dove headfirst into the Vault section to watch the topic of this post, the March 4th, 1986 edition of AWA ESPN Championship Wrestling, from the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas. Continue reading “TWx3: The Ballad of Bun Boy Barton.”

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TWx3: Lucha Underground and me

It’s safe to say that I’m a little bit in love with Lucha Underground. The whole project clicks with me on multiple levels and well, why not write about how and why they do. So lend me your eyes for a few moments and indulge me as I write a gushing love letter to the Temple. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways….

Being a gentleman of considerable carriage I never feel wholly comfortable evaluating in ring efforts because I admire anyone willing to risk life and limb for wrestling. Instead I look at the stories behind the matches, both the content and delivery and it’s here that Lucha Underground basically had me at hello. Continue reading “TWx3: Lucha Underground and me”

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Woeful Wrestling Figures:Changing Faces

Come with me now on a trip back to the heady days of 2005, a time before the credit crunch, before selfie sticks and before Brexit with a quintet of my favourite figures I’ve encountered so far as a connoisseur of craptacular toys and serve as a perfect example of pre-housing crisis toy manufacturing decadence.

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The first time I laid eyes on one of these two-faced titans I was instantly smitten with the design of them. The bulky proportions and harsh, angular sculpting that could be ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon just beg to be picked up and played with and in the hand they feel weighty and solid. This heft and the sheer size of these figures (they are by far the tallest figures in my collection) are in stark contrast to the cost cutting in some toy lines seen today. That’s not a bad thing in itself, belts do need to be tightened after all but it’s great to see something from a time where designs seemingly knew no budget.

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This extravagance extends to the figures’ signature gimmick, the Face Flipping action of their title. Each toy is blessed with two different heads, one passive and one more aggressive to simulate the rigors of a match, one tucked away inside its bulky torso. This action is surprisingly mechanically complex when activated and again shows a level of design that was perhaps unnecessary for a gimmick figure.

Squeezing the toys’ legs together activates the transformation, panels on the front and back swing open and in under a second, the two heads begin to rotate as an extra apature pushes and pulls the heads into position. This extra step means that the torso doesn’t need to be any taller than necessary in order to accommodate the unused noggin and cleverly helps to preserve the figure’s proportions. I applaud that attention to detail.

Across the 5 of these figures I have, it’s a little disappointing to see that they all have identical bodies with only the detailing and heads being different on each. Disappointing, but not a deal breaker for me as when placed side by side, their uniformity makes for a striking line up but I could imagine someone being put off by the one concession to cost saving.

Another minor disappointment comes in the posing potential of these figures, or the lack thereof. The toys’ face changing gimmick and the mechanisms involved is all encompassing and means that sadly there is no movement at all in the head(s) or waist. That is forgivable given the flipping wotsit but it’s when you look at the arms something doesn’t add up. The shoulders are okay with two-way joints and movement but the elbows are just woeful. They are hinged but they barely move and leaves me wondering why bother including them at all but then I remember the sheer opulence of these figures and figured that spending money on unnecessary and impractical extras describes everything I’ve reviewed up until this point so I can’t get too angry at them lest I become an even bigger hypocrite.

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Onto the individual figures themselves, some of which wear their stylized looks better than others. First is Randy Orton who is perhaps the weakest of the figures. The lanky but bulky look of these lot doesn’t really suit Randy and sadly, he comes off looking like his head is far too small, like he’s wearing a muscle suit. While his smug persona does carry through to one of his head sculpts, the other looks like he’s in tremendous pain, and given the plasters [band-aids] on his face that might be the case.

I don’t want to dwell on the Chris Benoit figure too much as it brings up all kinds of awkward feelings that really don’t bear discussing in what is meant to be a light-hearted toy review but I do want to touch on a little detail I really admire, on Benoit’s second head sculpt there are little flecks of paint to simulate hair matting as the sweat pours during a physical contest. That is some good attention to detail that by the end of this line up will descend into hilarity.

John Cena’s plastic avatar looks incredibly good with John’s noggin on top, in fact given the real man’s superhero physique this could be almost to scale. Sadly both of his faces are a little bland, just like the fella himself. Bland, but not terrible. In fact it’s that consistency that means that John is the benchmark for these toys.

Next to last is my first figure and my actual favourite of the bunch, but only really because it’s the Undertaker I’m talking about who is my all time favourite wrestler. Being a giant cartoon character hinself and just like the Maximum Sweat version I reviewed a couple of editions ago, he wears the aesthetic really well. In fact the only fly in the ointment is the incredibly sleepy head sculpt he has on one of his faces. Thankfully, the other classic Taker “eyes rolled, tongue out” expression on his second head more than makes up for the first one.

Lastly is the most successful figure and the most hilarious thing I’ve come across so far, and a great example of the kind of oddness I wanted to dig up doing these reviews. Good old Big Dave Batista, always good for a laugh. With his resting bitch face on, Batista looks amazing, well proportioned and his comic book body building lends itself to this style very well indeed. That is until you trigger his transformation and OH MY GOD! He’s turned into a purple-headed monster! I get the screaming face sculpt, that bit is perfectly fine, but why has he gone bright maroon in colour? He looks like he’s about to burst every blood vessel in his head but given that it spends 50% of his time tucked away inside someone’s chest, it must get awfully stuffy in there, I’d be angry too.

I unashamedly adore these figures. I love their size, their bulk, their sculpting and the fact that they even exist. They only work with themselves scale wise unless you’re planning a scenario where kaiju Superstars invade wwe and try stomping the arena. Are they good figures? Not especially but the sheer lunacy of face changing gimmicks on wrestling toys, the often hilarious faces and the superlative design make for excellent display pieces and I couldn’t be happier with my current haul and am still on the lookout for any more I can find.

Also before I finish you may have noticed some new equipment in some of the photos adorning this article in the shape of a shiny new Mattel WWE Ring playset. this is thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Bryan Barrera, the head honcho of WCWWorldwide.com, the best repository of all things WCW related on the internet. Be sure and visit the site and supporting Bryan and his excellent work. Find WCW Worldwide on twitter here. Thank You Bryan for helping me make Woeful Wrestling Figures even better!

Thanks for reading.
Martin Dixon @BunnySuicida

Woeful Wrestling Figures: An Extra Large Shake.

Throughout the short time I’ve been reviewing wrestling toys I’ve often wondered about the multitude of design decisions that lead up to a figure being put into production and landing on store shelves. Most of the time I can see what someone on the design team saw in an idea, even the Maximum Sweat WWF figures but just hours ago I took delivery of a figure that truly baffles me.

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In 1997, while WCW was riding high atop the wrestling world, someone somewhere in toy makers O.F.S.T. thought to make use of their licence to create WCW action figures to churn out a line so bizarre I honestly don’t feel that I can do it justice here but while I wait for my quintet of face changing figures to arrive for a deluxe sized review, I’d prepare by working up a quick review on this rather curious figure of The Giant.

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Upon first inspection Giant does indeed live up to his name. He’s a pleasantly large and solid figure even if his posing power is laughable being limited to swivelling arms and hips but with no elbow or knee joints, he can only really stand stock still and flex his biceps. That’s okay though, just a few years earlier WCW figures were immovable lumps of plastic courtesy of Galoob so while the posing isn’t up to much compared to WWF toys of the time, it’s far ahead of his little, older brothers.

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BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Left there, O.F.S.T would have produced a mediocre but passable figure and Giant would have avoided a place in this series but the added wrinkle he brings with him passes him and his line mates into infamy.

Just underneath Giant’s left armpit is a curious red growth that looks incredibly out of place. What could this mysterious button do? Does Giant have some extra action feature to offset his woeful movement? Maybe I’ve just hit the jackpot and found a figure that can talk for added hilarity?
If only.

No, none of those, pressing the little red skin tag activates the oddest feature I’ve ever come across in a toy, vibration. Yes, vibration. Really. Giant’s big gimmick is an all over buzzing action feature. I have no earthly idea why or what it is possibly meant to evoke, maybe there was an episode of Nitro where Giant either had shingles or an earthquake struck the arena. This too has it’s faults as the button needs to be held down in order for the vibration to continue meaning there’s no fun to be had watching him shudder and shake across the ring like a motorized American football table top game. It’s insane to think that this was the best thing O.F.S.T could come up with for their figures and insane to think that someone else approved selling a six-inch block of buzzing plastic to people!

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In summary, Giant looks nothing like the source material, barely moves or poses and has an action feature ripped straight from a sex toy. This is as woeful a wrestling figure as it gets.

And I couldn’t be happier than that.

Thanks for reading.
Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

Woeful Wrestling Figures: Gonna Make You Sweat!

I un-ironically love the WWF Maximum Sweat figures now I’ve had a chance to really get to know them. Sure, they may be lumpen and exaggerated but that’s why I love them, they are hyper-real cartoons of a hyper-real cartoon with a little button on the back that makes water run from their foreheads to simulate “sweat”. These figures are probably how wrestlers are seen by the wider world, overly muscled hulks colliding into each other while dripping in oil and sweat. As luck would have it, these figures take that idea to heart and run with it creating some of the more infamous Wrestling toys of the late 90’s and it’s my pleasure now to show off two examples I found while scouring the world’s biggest online auction site.

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Looking at these worrying visions of HHH and The Undertaker it’s hard not to be awestruck by just how large and solid these figures are, they dwarf most other figures of the time to a ridiculous degree. So much so that the only way these figures could possibly coexist with their more standard sized brethren is to concoct an angle in which HHH exposes himself to Gamma radiation in an effort to put on more muscle mass and has turned into The Incredible HHHulk.

Maybe it’s the blind Undertaker fan in me, but the Deadman wears his Gamma workout a little better than Trips. I think it’s down to Taker being a cartoon character to begin with, in this style he looks incredibly like the drawings of him in the Chaos Comics, Undertaker series from around the same time as these figures were released. This figure looks like it could have sprung from the pages of a 90’s comic book and is all the better for it. HHH meanwhile looks like it could be anyone, in fact without the HHH logos on his trunks this really could be anyone, the poor guy doesn’t even have any ears underneath his mane of hair.  Undertaker has such a clearly defined look that it even survives the Roiding process.

So about that “sweating” gimmick then?  Well, open up a petrol filler cap in the back of the figure and pour in your liquid of choice be it water for sweat (or perhaps the “official Federation sweat” they came , ketchup for blood or possibly cola to recreate that time Papa Shango made black goo run down the Ultimate Warrior’s face and you’re good to go. Press the button on their spine and presto! authentic bodily oozings. It sounds stupid as a gimmick and quite frankly, it is but I would expect nothing less from a toy from the decade that gave the world the Boglins and isn’t even the oddest gimmick I’ve seen in a wrestling figure but that’s another figure for another time.

They aren’t perfect but these are a ton of fun even now, chunky and solid, bursting with character and a grotesque charm that perfectly captures the excess of the 1990’s. If Mattel ever brought this line back for 2016 I’d happily shell out cash for a Bray Wyatt in this style.

 

A guy can dream, can’t he?

Thanks for reading

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woeful Wrestling Figures: The Rubber Match.

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It’s safe to say that Vince McMahon has a “type”. He likes his men how he likes his movie popcorn, unfeasibly large and out of all normal proportions. Who can really blame him? After all it was that walking repository of roids Hulk Hogan that brought him mainstream success, tons of cash and a generation of new fans worldwide, me included, so you can see why he loves larger than life specimens.

This love affair with the more extreme male form even extended to the merchandise and perhaps reached its zenith with the figure line I’m scrutinising today, the WWE Flex ‘Em line, and this Booker T figure especially.

The first thing that strikes you is the incredibly swollen muscles and wacky proportions that look totally inhuman but this isn’t without it’s charms. Instead of the usual hard plastic, this Bookerman is made of a soft rubber over a flexible skeleton and can be bent and contorted into all kinds of hilarious poses. It’s actually a lot of fun to mess around with and pose and at the risk of sounding even weirder than normal is really nice just to touch and run your fingers over. The soft, clammy and squishy texture is lovely stuff to hold, even with a head that is pretty standard given the ludicrousness happening from the neck down. Booker’s bonce may be standard plastic but he’s been given a great head sculpt and stern expression that looks really, really funny on top of all that vulcanised muscle, kind of like someone who had a bicycle pump inserted into him as a prank and he’s angrily stomping around trying to find who’s responsible.

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Thinking about it, that scenario is perhaps the perfect made up narrative to justify this figure’s place in any angles with your regular figures as that is perhaps this toy’s great weakness: scale. Booker is absolutely enormous in every way, even in height and that means he stands out in a collection by a clear mile so every other more reasonably sized figure is dwarfed by any of these flexible fighting men, meaning disbelief will have to be suspended over a bottomless pit in order for this to work successfully. That issue is peanuts compared to my other big gripe with this malleable mister however as try as I might, I can’t get Booker to stand under his own power. His feet are made of the same rubbery substance as the rest of him so he has no solid base and well, look at him, “top-heavy” isn’t the word. Those pecs are definitely going to cause him back pain in later life. I blame unrealistic standards of beauty brought on by the toy industry.

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Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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