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Mattel’s 2014 action figure firsts
Even the most hardened WWE Superstars can’t escape the surrealism that comes with holding the first action figure of themselves for the first time. Last year, Dean Ambrose — a man known for shrugging off bodily harm on a daily basis — admitted he was genuinely freaked out when he met his Mattel counterpart, vowing to “pretend that this is a thing that doesn’t exist” before ultimately coming to terms with the idea of being found on toy shelves worldwide. Equal parts exciting and unnerving, an action figure is a tangible indicator that you’ve “made it” as a sports-entertainer.
This year, a wide variety of competitors were rendered in plastic by Mattel designers for the first time, including WWE Legends, a “Total Diva” and one of the most bizarre factions in WWE history. Join WWE.com as we look back at 2014’s action figure firsts, and find out what many of these Superstars had to say about their toy debuts.
Big E (Basic Series 36)
2014 was pretty good to the near-300 pound Big E. He kicked off the year as Intercontinental Champion, he formed The New Day with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, and he has been rendered in plastic many times over by Mattel. Although he now boasts no less than five toy versions of himself, Big E still has fond memories of getting ahold of his Basic Series 36 figure at the beginning of the year.
“I was personally a big fan of the amount of ‘booty meat’ that was back there, and they did my chest some justice as well,” the hulking Superstar told WWE.com.
Having played with action figures like “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Jake “The Snake” Roberts as a child, Big E hopes kids use his toy to stage the types of fantasy matches he’d like to have in real life.
“I recently visited WWE Headquarters in Connecticut and got a couple of the Mattel Elite Flashback figures like Andre the Giant and Lex Luger, and those are great,” Big E said. “I would love to see me pitted against the old-school guys I grew up watching.”
Zeb Colter (Basic Series 37)
The WWE Universe had already gotten a variety of Jack Swagger action figures going into 2014, but it wasn’t until Zeb Colter debuted in Mattel’s Basic Series 37 that collectors could stand up, put their hands over their hearts and in a loud, clear voice proclaim, “We the People!”
The first Zeb action figure is truly a sight to behold, capturing the Real American’s unique fashion sense (check out those pouches!) and the most expertly crafted and dynamic action figure mustache we’ve ever seen. More patriotic than a toy eagle that squawks “The Star Spangled Banner” when you flap its wings, Zeb Colter is perhaps the most coveted manager action figure Mattel has ever released.
Bray Wyatt (Basic Series 39)
The Eater of Worlds made his action figure debut in Mattel’s Basic Series 39, bearing detailed tattoos and the unmistakable far-away gaze of WWE’s most unsettling Superstar. We’re not saying that we’re uncomfortable having Bray Wyatt’s action figure on our desks at the WWE.com offices, but we can never escape the feeling that he’s watching us.
This miniature “Man of 1,000 Truths” was later joined by an even creepier rendition of Wyatt in Elite Series 28, which came complete with the backwoods preacher’s eerie fedora and a tropical shirt that screams “run!” more than “luau!”
El Torito (Basic Series 42)
¡Olé! Your favorite miniature bovine got even smaller in Mattel’s Basic Series 42. This horned competitor charged into many a collection in 2014, bearing sculpted fur, extra articulation in his abs and even a tail!
“El Torito was actually upset that we got action figures before him!” Fernando of Los Matadores told WWE.com. “But when he got his, he was pretty pumped up and excited about it.”
A bull in a toy shop? Now that we’d like to see.
Lex Luger (Elite Series 30)
Although we haven’t gotten an in-scale Lex Express, this Mattel Elite Series 30 action figure has just about everything else you need to recreate the star-spangled summer of 1993, when Lex Luger body-slammed Yokozuna on the deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid before going on to challenge the behemoth for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
Luger comes with red, white and blue ring gear, and a set of silver weights to help prepare him to go up against your Mattel Elite Series 15 Yokozuna. Plus, you can’t go wrong with that awe-inspiring mullet.
Eva Marie (Basic Series 43)
The “All Red Everything” Diva might be a relative newcomer to the WWE ring, but that didn’t stop Mattel from immortalizing the “Total Divas” star as an action figure in 2014’s Basic Series 43.
“I wanted to cry, and then I wanted to scream,” Eva Marie told WWE.com when reminiscing about the moment she held her first action figure — a meeting that was captured by E! cameras on “Total Divas.” “I had no idea my figure would come out as soon as it did. Growing up, my brothers had WWE action figures, and I had action figures, Barbie dolls, you name it. So to have a figure of myself, I couldn’t believe it. The figure’s wearing my first ring gear ever, and Mattel even nailed the way I always wear my hair over my left shoulder. I was shocked at how real it looked.”
Fortunately, since the action figure’s fiery red hair is molded in place, it won’t suffer the same fate as some of Eva’s Mattel toys growing up.
“My mom is a hairdresser, so I would get my Barbies and I would cut their hair because I wanted to be like her,” Eva explained. “But with these action figures, fortunately, you can’t cut their hair. If a little girl gets me, she’s definitely not butchering my head. “
Rikishi (Elite Series 27)
The fun-loving father of Jimmy & Jey Uso got the Mattel treatment as part of the toymaker’s Elite Series 27, complete with neon yellow sunglasses, a removable entrance sarong and a smiling face sculpt that appears as though he’s either going to A) party it up with Too Cool or B) deliver the Stink Face to an unfortunate opponent.
The former Intercontinental Champion has never looked better in action figure form, and this Elite Flashback Rikishi joins such fan-favorite big men as Yokozuna, Vader and Andre the Giant in Mattel’s expansive, history-spanning selection.
Los Matadores (Battle Packs Series 29)
No WWE action figure tag team division is complete without Los Matadores, those high-flying masked warriors from Plaza de Toros. Diego & Fernando’s first Mattel action figures hit shelves as part of Mattel’s Battle Packs Series 29, and came complete with matador hats to help recreate their exciting entrance.
“It was great seeing our figures for the first time, because I knew I had some good Christmas presents to give my nieces and nephews,” Diego told WWE.com.
Fernando — who looks forward to giving the figure two-pack to his newborn son — added that the pair’s favorite color is blue and, coincidentally, that’s the scheme Mattel designers chose for the indomitable tandem’s toy debut.
“Mattel did our gear better than us,” Fernando joked.
Luke Harper & Erick Rowan (Battle Packs Series 28)
Whether The Wyatt Family always creeped you out or you chose to willingly “follow the buzzards,” Luke Harper & Erick Rowan were must-have action figures in 2014. Thankfully, Mattel delivered in a big way when it released the first toy versions of these swamp monsters in Battle Packs Series 28.
Expertly capturing the bizarre and intimidating expressions on Harper & Rowan’s faces — get a close look at Harper’s tongue sticking out of his mouth — the figures also came complete with a rocking chair for your Basic Series 39 Bray Wyatt to menace your other WWE toys.
Xavier Woods (Battle Packs Series 30)
If there’s any Superstar on the current roster who couldn’t wait to be immortalized as an action figure, it’s Xavier Woods, a self-professed geek who carries his love of comic books, video games, toys and all things 1990s on his sleeve.
“My parents are very proud,” Woods told WWE.com about his action figure debut alongside R-Truth in Mattel’s Battle Packs Series 30. “For me to debut in WWE, that was a huge milestone. To get made into an action figure, that was a huge milestone again. And to also be in the video game, that’s three things in the span of a year. I’m set. I feel good about life.”
Although Woods has shed much of his facial hair since he first hit the main WWE roster in late 2013, the New Day member marvels at how Mattel not only captured the intricacies of his old look, but his omnipresent aura of excitement.
“In my first figure, my goatee is very bushy and my face is extremely happy, and I think the figure reflects how I felt getting an action figure for the first time,” Woods said. “Look out for some new facial expressions on future figures, but this one, bellissimo!”
Demolition Crush (Elite Series 28)
Collectors were able to complete Demolition in 2014 with Crush, who arrived in Mattel’s Elite Series 28. The iconic tag team’s third man comes complete with the group’s intimidating black, red and silver face paint, and a full array of entrance gear including a studded vest, gauntlets and mask.
Not only is this a cool figure, but it also opens the door for a future Kona Crush figure to celebrate the Superstar’s Hawaiian surfer persona. Make it happen, Mattel!
Road Dogg (Elite Series 26)
Oh, you didn’t know? Road Dogg got his first Mattel action figure in 2014 — the same year he and fellow New Age Outlaw Billy Gunn became WWE Tag Team Champions 14 years after their last title reign. The Degenerate has gotten his fair share of toys over the years, but his Elite Series 26 figure, complete with bucket hat and two DX shirts, is easily his favorite.
“I’m happier than a pig in poop!” Road Dogg told WWE.com. “And any time I can take my action figure in my Mattel WWE ring and pin Roman Reigns’ action figure, well that’s just magic to the D-O-Double-G. And if you’re not down with that, I’ve got two words for ya: action figure! C’mon, man! What did you think I was gonna say?!”
Billy Gunn (Elite Series 27)
Released one series after Road Dogg, Billy Gunn’s first Mattel action figure helped fans complete their Elite New Age Outlaws with a hyper-articulated version of the 10-time World Tag Team Champion and 1999 King of the Ring.
This Elite Gunn comes loaded with two D-Generation X shirts and a removable headband, perfect for recreating some DX mayhem alongside Triple H, Road Dogg and the forthcoming X-Pac Elite Series 33 action figure.
Fandango (Basic Series 36)
There’s no denying that Mattel’s Fandango action figures are a stunning recreation of the fleet-footed competitor, but that didn’t prevent the vainglorious grappler from finding some fault.
“I was a little disturbed, because they didn’t quite capture the handsomeness of Fandango,” the dancing Superstar hissed when asked about his first Mattel figure. “However, it’s nearly impossible to recreate the pure symmetry of my beautiful face. They tried and did a ‘decent’ job.”
Despite his harsh criticisms, Fandango admitted that there were some attributes about his first figure that impressed him — namely its “chiseled jawbone” and “pectoral region” — and that he sees the action figure as a teaching tool of sorts.
“What I’m hoping,” he said, “is that kids grab my figure, look at themselves in the mirror and dream about someday looking as good as I do.”