Wednesday, April 3, 2013

WWE Elite, Santino Marella (series 3 & 20)

Today I'm reviewing two figures: one is from an early wave of WWE Elite (series 3) while the second is from the latest wave to hit retail stores (series 20), both are Santino Marella. Interestingly these are the only Elite figures Santino has received and they came seventeen waves apart, but more surprising is Mattel's choice to basically reuse the same attire on the newer figure.

There are a few sculptural changes to the E20 figure to get him up-to-date with Santino's current look and the addition of an "iconic" prop of his. Will this latest Marella easily replace the first version? Find out!

Santino Marella
WWE Elite Collection (series 3 & 20)
$14.99 & 16.99 (respectively)

My review of E3 Santino is long overdue. As part of the third wave of Elites, Marella was one of the first Elite figures I owned. I even photographed him way back in 2010, but I just never got around to reviewing him. As such, I felt I owed him a bit and decided his newest figure would be my first series 20 review. Considering the similarities between the two, it made sense to review both versions simultaneously.

First, let's get the basics out of the way. Santino actually features a unique upper body with a sculpted singlet. It may look similar to the Bushwhackers/Hitman torso, but Santino's is slightly smaller and the singlet has a wider, squarer opening across the chest. His legs were later reused for series 4's Finlay, with the sculpted edges of the singlet on the upper thighs.

The series 20 version reuses the same body with two major changes: a new, shaggy-haired, head and new lower legs with shoes instead of boots.

The new head features a smiling Santino and gets rid of the unibrow the E3 figure is sporting. The likenesses are good on both figures, accurately capturing the changes to the Superstar over the past three years.

I'm not sure when he made the change, but Santino eventually stopped using the calf-high boots, opting for more traditional, amateur-wrestling footwear. If the shoes on the figure look familiar it's because they're the same mold seen on all the pre-E17 John Cena Elites. Santino isn't as big Cena and doesn't have molded knee pads, so Mattel created a new lower leg piece for him. The new figure uses the same kind of knee pads as the previous one, but this time they're molded in blue to match his singlet. The pads on the E3 figure are molded red with white lines painted on.

Looking at the paint over both figures each has some advantages over the other. Like I stated before the new figure uses the same attire as the previous figure, the biggest difference is the placement of the logo on the front of his singlet. It sits slightly higher on the E20 figure and avoids being cutoff due to the waist swivel like the E3 version. I'll also note that the application is much better on the new figure.

However, I have a bone to pick with Mattel. I'm very disappointed that they decided to reuse the same attire. That's such a cheap out when Marella has a few different outfits. What's worse is that all his Basic figures use this attire, too!

The other big difference in paint is in the tattoos. Most obvious is the omission of the Conan tattoo on the newer version's chest. I believe this had something to do with copyright issues, which is understandable, afterall CM Punk figures have been plauged by this from the start. It's just a bit strange they did it for the E3 figure and not this one.

The newer figure does however include Santino's latest tattoo inside his left arm. The paint used for the tattoos on the E20 figure is slightly darker than on the previous figure. I can't say it makes a difference either way, all the inkwork looks fine on both figures.

The only other paintwork to talk about is on the wrists and boots. Both figures feature black paint to recreate Santino's wrist tape. The E3 figure utilizes red paint on the laces of his boots. I should note that my figure had some red slop on the heel of his right foot. No such slop is found on the E20's wrestling booties since they're molded in the necessary color.

Elite 3 Santino included a t-shirt and microphone [not pictured]. The t-shirt is made of red cloth with screen-printed logos on the front and left sleeve with a velcro closure on the back. The microphone is the usual WWE mic with logos only on two of it's four sides.

In Elite 20, Marella comes packaged with his trusty "cobra sleeve" which is the modern day Socko. The quality on the sleeve is actually really good. It's made of green, silky material that's been stitched closed. It has a vinyl-type decal across the back to mimic a snake's scaly texture and another one on it's belly. "SANTINO" and "BEWARE THE COBA" have been tampo'd on the top and bottom of the sleeve, respectively. Sliding it into place is a little tricky since his right hand is molded in a grasping position, but overall I think it turned out great and it looks good on display.

I think comparing each figure's accessories gives us an interesting view of 2010 economics versus 2013 economics. Three years ago the Elite series 3 Santino cost me $14.99 at retail and included a cloth t-shirt and a microphone. In March of 2013, the E20 version cost $16.99 at Toys R Us, reuses the same attire and actually cuts some of the paint cost of the previous version by avoiding the painted knee pads and boots AND includes only one accessory.

I know the CM Punk figure from the same wave only comes with a title belt, but I can't help but feel Santino was the "cost-cutting" figure in the wave. I think the new lower legs and amount of tattoos was a contributing factor, but I don't see any reason Mattel couldn't have given us a different attire.

That aside, the figure is great and if you missed Santino the first time around, you should be happy to add this one to your collection. I actually like this version a bit more because it's the Santino I'm more familiar with. By the time I started following WWE again in 2010 he was sporting a look closer to this figure. The fact that the E3 figure has almost the same attire kind of lessens it for me and I'll more than likely look into selling him.

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