Friday, January 7, 2011

WWE Defining Moments, Shawn Michaels - Review

A year into their license Mattel unleashes a brand new deluxe line of WWE action figures. "WWE Defining Moments" replaces the previous deluxe line, "WWE Entrance Greats", featuring the same highly-detailed entrance costumes, but adding Elite/Legends-style articulation. Are these worth the price of admission, or another line you can easily avoid? Let's find out!

Shawn Michaels
WWE Defining Moments Series 1
Mattel/ 7" Scale
Approx $22.99

First up is the brand new packaging for the Defining Moments line. It's the first packaging in Mattel's WWE line that does not feature a photo of the figure itself. Furthermore, unlike the Entrance Greats line, there is no shot of the wrestler in the featured attire (not in the full attire, anyway). The package looks much more majestic than Entrance Greats, designed with gold coloring all around and text presented in gold panels. There's also the Defining Moments logo on the front, featuring a globe encased by a compass. The sides feature an image of Shawn Michaels on the top half and a drawing of two "classic" wrestlers facing off just below (both side panels are identical). The back of the package features some information about the event the figure is based on. This version of the "Heart Break Kid" is taken from his confrontation with the Undertaker at the "25th Anniversary of WrestleMania" (actually WrestleMania 25) back in 2008. If you haven't seen this match, it's a true classic. No gimmicks or special stipulations, just two of the best performers in the history of professional wrestling, showing what a "main event" match SHOULD be.

As a build-up to their epic confrontation, Shawn Michaels mocked the Undertaker by dressing like him, but all in white, as he represented "the good" and 'Taker represented "the evil" in the world (or something). The figure more precisely captures his entrance attire. He features the hat, coat and vest. All removable and each made with different materials. His hat is made of a single, molded piece of plastic that is soft, but retains it's shape, similar to the hat the Elite series 1 Undertaker comes with. The long coat is made of a shiny, vinyl-type material and stitched together. It fits well and is easy to take off and on. The collar is thicker than the rest of the coat, but can be folded under Michael's hair. There's enough space to let it sit on his neck without forcing his head to tilt forward.

The vest is made of a much thinner material and I'm not really sure what it is. It's almost paper thin, but retains a textured quality to it. The vest is also made up of several pieces later stitched together and I thought it was a testament to the level of detail in these figures that Mattel added the individual straps on the sides of the vest. You should definitely handle this item with care because I can see it tearing easily if you're not careful with it, especially at the seams.

The paint work on HBK is phenomenal. Considering how detailed the designs on his pants and vests are, it's amazing how accurate they turned out. Many of the details are painted, but things like the belt and laces on the chaps are sculpted and embellished by the paint.

The figure falls a little short once you look beyond the entrance attire. First up is his face sculpt. It's the same sculpt used on HBK's Elite release, and that's not entirely bad, but they should have introduced a new face scan. I'd prefer a serious expression, like the one featured on the box photo. At the very least they could have just painted on his beard to make the figure look more like Michaels did during the event. They also neglected to add his chest hair, but that's something also missing on other HBK figures by Mattel. They painted chest hair on Jake "The Snake" Roberts and CM Punk's later figures, so I don't know why they haven't done it for Shawn.

The figure is identical to the Elite version, aside from the paint deco. However, this one features improved articulation in the hip joint. The Elite figure couldn't bring his legs together and always ended up with his legs about shoulder-width apart. This HBK figure can bring both legs together and you can pose him that way also. All the other articulation points are standard on Michaels and work well. We still don't have double-hinged elbows, but I'm hoping Mattel will add them before the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

Aside from the attire, HBK is packaged with a gold WWE display stand and a cardboard name tag that fits into a slot in the stand. I'm sad to see the musical stands from the "Greats" line go away because I was really starting to enjoy those. The name tag is very plain with no mention of WrestleMania 25 or even the "Defining Moments" series.

Mattel's WWE Defining Moments may not be the perfect synergy of the Elite Collection and Entrance Greats lines I wanted it to be, but it does offer an exceptional level of detail and authenticity. Considering this line is about $2 more expensive than Entrance Greats, I wish they would have kept the musical display stands going into Defining Moments. However, the added articulation is a welcome addition to the deluxe WWE collector line. A couple of missteps aside, this version of HBK is very nice and I recommend him to any collector or fan of the now classic WrestleMania matchup. Defining Moments has the potential to be a phenomenal line and I hope to review more figures from the series.

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