Happy Halloween and welcome to the newest spooky toy review on Needless Things!
In last week’s review of Zombie Paige I explained how I had unloaded most of my wrestling toys but that the strangely appropriate combination of horror and wrestling in the form of the WWE Zombies line had hooked me back in.
It’s a bit odd that Mattel and WWE are going this route with their action figures. Back in the day, JAKKS Pacific tried all kinds of different gimmicks – armored science fiction themes, stretchy figures, and even figures that would sweat (that initially were meant to bleed, but JAKKS wisely removed the red liquid from the equation). But Mattel has, for the most part, been much more conservative with their products; remaining content to simply provide some of the best-looking toys on the market.
Lately that has changed with the addition of their build-a-figure line and now WWE Zombies. What’s so odd is that WWE has been very serious about maintaining a PG-TV image for many years now and this Zombie line is absolutely gruesome. These are some of the goriest action figures I’ve seen at mass market retail outside of McFarlane’s The Walking Dead line, and that’s a whole different animal from the generally kid-friendly WWE section.
WWE has been getting a bit more edgy lately. Wrestlers have been getting color (bleeding) from time to time, up to and including Randy Orton getting his head peeled open by Brock Lesnar’s brutal elbows (and yes – this was planned; if you think Brock was going into business for himself and that WWE didn’t okay it you’re a bigger mark than Marky Wahlberg). Language and humor has been a bit saltier. I don’t think we’ll ever see the ridiculous sexuality and violence of the Attitude Era (at least I hope not), but I do think a bit more grit is good.
If we’re getting gritty, there’s no better gimmick to me than releasing some zombie figures around the Halloween season. These are gross and creepy and awesome and I’m thrilled to see something so different from Mattel.
If you want to hear more about horror and wrestling, check out last year’s Needless Things Podcast about horror gimmicks in wrestling!
Out of the four Zombies that I picked up, Bray is probably the least disgusting. From the waist up he’s just a color variant. But considering how creepy the patriarch of the Wyatt is anyway, it didn’t take much to make him into a disturbing monster.
I actually had a tough time deciding to open these. I knew I wanted to review them – part of my rationalization for buying them was that I’d be able to do one a week for 31 Days of Halloween. But the cardbacks looked nice and the blisters are among the best I’ve ever seen.
Each character has a uniquely designed plastic blister, which blows my mind. Bray has a round blister with a sort of cobblestone design on it. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be stone or just an earthen mound or maybe even smoke, but it’s weird and distinctive.
The back of the card features a brief blurb that made me laugh out loud. “Eater of BRAAAAINS”.
The zombie effect of the upper portion of this figure is mostly achieved through color, but it is done very well. The head sports a great likeness that is turned undead through paint. The ghastly green skin and whited-out eyes create a great look, especially with the expression on Bray’s face. The beard has a great sculpt, as does the hair, which is a separate but permanently attached piece (if Mattel wanted to get really gruesome it could have been removable and had an exposed brain underneath).
Bray’s tattoos are accurately represented, but in all black, which is fine given the nature of the toy. His shirt has sculpted folds and even a pocket, as well as some painted-on grime (blood?). I’m not crazy about the wrapping on the right arm. It’s all paint and no sculpt and brings the figure down a notch.
At first I was disappointed that the only damage was on the figure’s legs, but the sculpting is all so well-executed that I can’t complain. The boots look amazing, with tons of sculpted detail and paint. The right trouser leg is torn off just above the boot, exposing some torn muscle with two shades of paint, not to mention the dirt around the torn leg.
There’s a big hole in the left knee of the trousers, exposing a green zombie knee. There’s a ton of bloody/dirty paint all down the leg. Above that is another tear, but this one reveals a gruesome wound painted glossy red. There are actually sculpted tears and wounds all over the pants, but some are painted and some are not. It’s not terrible, but the ones that are just untouched white are odd.
The figure comes with one of Bray Wyatt’s ring vests. The sculpt is fantastic and I am surprised by the paint wash. These figures are $12.99 – not Basic but also not Elite – and I think Mattel could have gotten away with just brown plastic for this. I’m glad they didn’t.
The vest slides on and off of the figure easily. It has to go on top of the hair, so it sits a little high, but it still looks good.
Mattel has two ranges of standard WWE action figures – Basic and Elite. Elites are super articulated, have detailed paint apps, and cost twenty bucks or more. Basics have much less articulation and paint and cost half as much. I have to say – the ten dollar basic figures are the best deals on the toy market right now.
As a cost-saving measure, Mattel will carry accessories from the Elite line to the Basic line when it makes sense. So a Basic figure might actually end up with some fancy HHH kneepads or something only because it costs Mattel less to do it that way.
This figure has a very good amount of articulation for a Basic figure. The shoulders are ball jointed with bicep swivels, the wrists swivel and pivot, and even the covered left boot has a swivel at the top under the trouser leg. The only significantly limited joints are the hips, which are simple pivoting joints. You can still achieve a wide variety of poses with this figure.
This is my go-to Bray Wyatt action figure. The crazed face creates a story in my mind where Bray has managed to retain his cognizance after being infected and is plotting to take over the undead masses. I love the paint work on this one and the vest is such a nice piece that Mattel could have easily gone cheaper on or even left out entirely.
This is a great figure at a great value, but I do have to knock it down a bit for some of the more glaring cost-cutting. I think I would’ve given up the vest for sculpted arm wrap and paint in all of the wounds.
4 out of 5
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