In 2010, the WWE license, which had been with Jakks Pacific since 1996, went to perennial screw-ups Mattel. But just because they'd managed to ruin Batman, DC Superheroes, He-Man and every other boys' property they'd ever even brushed against, that didn't mean we here at OAFE were going to write Mattel off without a second glance. They have several different pricepoints in their WWE lineup, including the deluxe Entrance Greats collection, which began with Rey Mysterio and Triple H.
After winning the Road to WrestleMania tournament, Triple H was the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 22. Although he failed to defeat reigning champion John Cena, Triple H's determination to fight until the end earned the respect of both the crowd and his opponent.
Professional wrestling, like comicbooks, is an open-ended serial fiction with no set closing point, so its storylines require a bit of flexibility. Unlike comicbooks, however, there's no such thing as continuity, which is why the Three Month Rule works: say that in January, bad guy Frank Frenzy takes a swing at good guy The Holy Detective, but accidentally hits THD's wife and breaks her jaw; the two feud for a month, with the broken jaw at the center of the storyline, then have their big blow-out at February's pay-per-view, and that's the end of it. In April, Holy Detective turns heel because he thinks he's not getting enough respect. By June, Frank Frenzy and The Holy Detective are teaming up in tag matches, with absolutely no mention at all ever made of Mrs. Detective's injury. That's the Three Month Rule, and that's why some things get swept under the ring and are never mentioned again.
This outfit really is what Triple H wore at
WrestleMania 22: he rose through the floor on a throne as scenes of medieval peasants doing battle (think Army of Darkness, but more low-rent) played on the screen behind him. Oh, and completing the illusion of a barbarian warrior ripped from the mists of time? He had a plastic water bottle with him on the arm of the chair, because heaven forbid you don't spit water before one freaking match. It really was outstandingly ridiculous, and ate up a huge chunk of time that could have been used for better things. But hey, that's pro rasslin' for you!
The first thing you'll notice about Mattel's wrestling figures is how good they look. Really: these are just so! Much! Better!
than anything Jakks did. You can look right through the package and see the huge jump in quality. The body is much more detailed, and though it's not quite realistic, it's cartoony in the right way, creating an augmented reality. Maybe it's just because these are new: after years of recycled Jakks bodies, the excitement of seeing something different may be overwhelming; but right now, these look great. Triple H is pretty ripped, so it's a good thing toys don't have to undergo Talent Wellness Program testing (but then again, neither does the real Triple H).
HHH's likeness is decent, but there's still some room for improvement. The individual parts look right, but overall, they don't quite meld into a perfect whole. Some of it may be the paint - he's got a beard and mustache, but the paint apps don't adequately cover everything, so he's got gaps that end up making him look slightly "puffy," and that just doesn't cut it. He's also got the problem where separately molded hair ends up looking like a bad wig.
Trips is dressed in his full pseudo-Conan
outfit, here: giant, fur-trimmed cape, blocky crown, Iron Cross necklace, leather bracers, thick belt with fur and chainmail loincloths, and matching kneepads. Showing a surprising amount of forethought, all the fancy new clothing is removable, leaving you with just the plain ring gear. His trunks have a crowned skull on the front and an Iron Cross on the back, and his knees, wrists and right hand are all "taped" - just painted white, not sculpted elements.
Articulation shows no real improvement over Jakks' work -
or even Mattel's own. For whatever reason, they still can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that double-hinged knees and elbows are better than single. Of course, the pads he's wearing restrict those joints anyway, so overall we're not losing very much. The figure has hinged ankles, swivel boots, hinged knees, swivel hips (how very 1998!), swivel waist, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged elbows, swivel biceps and swivel/hinge shoulders. Oh, and in a move that's sure to piss off every DC Universe Classics collector, he has a balljointed head... that can actually look up! Seriously, an entire line of characters who can fly, and none of them can stop looking at the ground; but one normal human - a guy who actually spends most of his time looking down at his shorter opponents - and he can look at the sky? Eff you, Mattel. Right in the neck.
Each figure in the Entrance Greats line inludes a grey display stand that plays a clip of their entrance theme. When it's set to "try me" mode (as it is in the store), Triple H's base belts out a guitar chord
and "Behold the King... the King of Kings." Which technically means he should be dressed as Jesus, not Conan, but let's not dwell on that because we don't want to get letters. Anyway, flip the switch on the bottom, and a longer clip plays: a 29-second version that starts the same, then goes onto more music. The song, "King of Kings" was performed by Motörhead, which means you're hearing the embrassingly loud digitized voice of Lemmy Kilmister.
Not many fans today are cognizant of where the name "Triple H" came from - he's The Game, the Cerebral Assassin, the big burly badass
who kicks ass and doesn't care about taking names. He's the wild punk who does what he wants - but "HHH" actually stands for "Hunter Hearst Helmsley," his original "rich snob" persona. Dubbed "the Connecticut Blue Blood" (itself a jab at Vince McMahon's new upscale neighbors, who were none too happy about having such a "low class" family move into their community), "Hunter" was a continuation of the character he'd played in the WCW: Jean-Paul Levesque, the snooty French counterpart of Lord Steven Regal. The persona was quietly dropped by the time he joined D-Generation X, the name was shortened to just its initials, and that's the way it's been ever since - all thanks to the Three Month Rule we talked about before.
Triple H stands 7⅛" tall, meaning he's pretty much in scale with the existing Jakks figures. I admit, I was hoping these would be 6" scale, because wrestlers make perfect bases for superhero customs, but I understand why they went an inch bigger. Mattel has done an excellent job on their first WWE figures, taking as big a step forward from where Jakks had been stalled for the past few years - let's hope they can continue to improve. I don't particularly care about Triple H, but as a big cool barbarian king? Yeah, I'll take that.