I stopped following pro-wrestling around 2005 and only returned to it this past January. What brought me back? It was a combination of things, but I can say for certain, Mattel's new action figures were a big part of it. Let's take a look at my first purchase from the new WWE toylines.
WWE Entrance Greats
Mattel/ 7" Scale
$19.99-21.99 (Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, on-line)
Mattel officially released their WWE product lines on January 1st, 2010 and they've become very successful. They took over the license from longtime WWE toy producer Jakks Pacific. The current main lines are: Basic series, PPV series, Basic 2-packs, Elite Collection and Entrance Greats. This Triple H is from the Entrance Greats series, which recreates Superstars (what WWE calls their male wrestlers, "Divas" for the females) in their most famous entrance attires. Included in the package is a stand that plays the wrestler's theme music specific to that appearance.
Triple H is taken straight from WrestleMania 22 where he rose from below the stage on a huge throne, wearing this barbarian garb. Mattel uses digital scans to sculpt their figures, much like Jakks did with the help of Gentle Giant. Triple H is captured here with a slight grimace, not really menacing, but he's definitely not happy. His hair is separate piece made of a rubbery material that is then glued on to the head. His body is appropriately bulky, as he is a massive dude in real life and the figure displays large bulging muscles. However, they went with a nipple-less design I guess so as not to confuse the kids. All parts on Triple H are molded in the appropriate color while his accessories are molded black, then painted with silver and browns. Logos are added to his gauntlets, belt, trunks, kneepads and boots and all look sharp. I really would have liked to see some airbrushing on the skin, specifically on the face to bring out more detail. The solid skin tone is very plain and unremarkable. Another negative is the solid white used for his kneewraps and wrist tape. I'm sure having them sculpted on wasn't "cost effective," but there is nothing in the paint to make it look like layered athletic tape. It's not a big deal with the kneewraps because they have pads over them, but it looks like he's wearing a cut-up sock on his right hand (perhaps imitating another famous wrestler?).
HHH is packaged with the aforementioned crown and necklace plus a cloth cape with fur, belt/loincloth, and forearm gauntlets all of which are removeable for when it's time to kick ass. Also, his elbow and kneepads are separate pieces and can be removed relatively easily, especially the elbowpads. I've swapped kneepads on some of my other WWE figures and the easiest way is the "boil and pop" method to remove the lower legs at the boot and slide off the pads. These are included on wrestlers across all of Mattel's WWE lines and make it easy to replace one Superstar's pads with another wrestler's. I like this touch as it adds to the authenticity of the in-ring gear and, if you like customizing or modifying your figures like I do, gives you a variety of options.
In the articulation department, Trip gets the Basic series level of movement. His head is attached on a ball joint which is limited by his hair, but I suspect even without the hair, his neck is too thick too allow him to look down. Arm articulation is the same across all WWE lines, swivel-hinge at the shoulder, swivel where the bicep meets the shoulder, hinge elbow and swivel & hinge wrists. Unlike the Elite figures, this one does not have an ab crunch, which is good and bad. Good because it doesn't break up his sculpt when he's on display wearing his belt/loincloth. I tried the belt on my Elite series HHH and it looked weird with the open joint over his stomach. It's bad because he has no other choice than to have a stiff torso, so other poses are out of the question or just look unnatural. That's also due to his limited leg articulation: swivels at the groin, hinged knees, swivel at the boots and hinged ankles. The range of motion on these aren't great either. You can barely get him into a sitting pose and the larger kneepads hinder a lot of the knee motion.
Disclamier time: I'm a big fan of Triple H. He's my favorite pro-wrestler and has been since the mid-90's. This was one of the first of Mattel's WWE figures I saw in-store and I picked him up without hesitation. I enjoy him as a display piece, but if I mess around with him and other WWE figures, he loses points for the minimal aritculation. That's why I bought the Elite series figure and this one is pretty much standing on a shelf. $20 is steep for this figure and I fail to see why Mattel doesn't sell these at the $15 level since the accessories make up for lack of articulation, but it's still only worth $15 and I'd say that's pushing it. Of course, that seems to be what Matty is charging for all their (retail) collector lines, so we're stuck with it.
3B's Opinion: Collector's only