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

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