Saturday, December 14, 2019

Action Figure Review: Grayskull Mania from Masters of the WWE Universe by Mattel

    While Mattel's Masters of the Universe Origins line doesn't hit retail shelves until next fall, that doesn't mean that you can't get your hands on some of the figures and accessories early, and I'm not talking about the SDCC 2019 exclusive 2-pack of He-Man and Prince Adam, either! To either help get new kids and old fans hyped for that line (and possibly to defray tooling costs as well) Mattel has launched their Masters of the WWE Universe line. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: A WWE influenced Masters of the Universe line. Or a Masters of the Universe influenced WWE line. Take your pick! While I do like wrestling, y'all know that I absolutely love Masters of the Universe, so I'd be picking these up regardless. Some folks hate this concept, though, and see it as yet another installment in WWE's recent trend of crossing over with every property they can, such as Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think this is more than a one time thing, though, and is actually part of a very smart, very planned effort on Mattel's part. I'll share more thoughts on that at the end but, for now, let's check out the Grayskull Mania set from Masters of the WWE Universe. While the single carded figures don't seem to have hit yet, the wrestling by itself has been out for a month or so. This set includes the same ring, I believe, but also includes John Cena and Triple H, giving you some figures to display with it. This line is a Wal-Mart exclusive and Wal-Mart seems to have been fairly consistent in putting these on display end caps where they're easy to find. Let's check out the Grayskull Mania set after the break...

 The Facts: John Cena

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, calve swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, waist swivel, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Harness, arm band, ax, and shield.

 The Facts: Triple H

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, calve swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, waist swivel, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Two elbow pads and two claws.

Non-Scalper Price: $30 dollars for the set of two figures and the ring with four pots and steps.


* I've got John Cena on the left, Triple H on the right, and the MOTU Origins He-Man from SDCC 2019 in the center. As you can see, these guys all use the same basic body with a mixture of new parts to help make the wrestlers more accurate (Cena's jorts, Triple H's boots and trunks). Just like the vintage MOTU line and MOTUC, the shared parts are giving both MOTWWEU and MOTUO more mileage.
 The Positives:

* John Cena looks like John Cena, though rather than a T-Shirt, dogtags, and sweatbands, he's decked out in a He-Man styled harness that says "Never Give Up: Cenation." Just like with He-Man, the harness is removable, although you do have to pull the lower part of it down over the legs of the figure. I definitely like how Cena's wristbands are represented here by longer braces than the standard He-Man figure. That's a cool touch. He's also got a removable sweatband on his upper left shoulder.

 * This is a really strong Cena portrait. It's not as good as the current Elite figure but it's definitely one of the best of the traditionally sculpted and painted Cena headsculpts I've seen. And, yes, the heads are easily removable, just like on the He-Man and Prince Adam 2-pack. These should lend themselves well to some fun customization for sure.

 * Triple H is the villain in this pack although he doesn't really have anything about him that screams "Masters of the Universe" or Skeletor except for his weapons, which I'll get to shortly. This is still a pretty strong Triple H figure. The MOTU Origins body really does work well for WWE figures. The shape of it kind of reminds me of the old Hasbro WWF figures. Triple H is fairly plain, though he does have two removable elbow pads.

 * The headsculpt, like John Cena, is pretty strong here, too. This doesn't look like the current Triple H, though, but one from a few years back with his longer hair. It's very barbarianesque, though, so it fits in well here.

 * Triple H has used lots of barbarian/ fantasy styled imagery in his ring attire and entrance garb and here he's rocking a skull wearing a crown with an iron cross. Triple H definitely uses that imagery, but it also looks completely appropriate for MOTU imagery too, doesn't it?

* Both figures have quite solid articulation. Sure, little things like the knee and elbow pads hinder things a bit but, overall, these figures can move quite well. Not as much as MOTUC, but fairly close (remember, they're smaller). These are good quality figures that kids can legitimately play with and have a ton of fun. They also feel really, really durable.

* John Cena comes with the same two accessories as the SDCC 2019 He-Man, only this time they're cast in translucent blue plastic. I'm still digging the minicomic styled He-Man ax, particularly in blue now. It reminds me of the blue weaponry from the vintage weapons pack. Apparently, according to the package, John Cena can use this to "Adjust Attitudes." Yikes!

* Cena also comes with the translucent shield. It's clear enough so you can see through it, but it's not so clear that you can't see it. I'm trying to come up with a "You can't see me" joke, but I got nothing.

* Triple H comes sporting terror claws, just like Terror Claws Skeletor. In fact, these are actually the same claws that were included with the MOTUC Terror Claws Skeletor.  The only difference is that these are molded in black instead of dark blue and the inner wrist clips may be a bit smaller. I wasn't a huge fan of these in the MOTUC line, but the more simplistic style of the claws does work better with the aesthetic of MOTU Origins.

 * Let's talk about the ring, as it's probably the centerpiece of the set (since the set is called Grayskull Mania). The ring is available by itself for $20 dollars, but for only $10 bucks more you get two figures with it. Definitely hold out for the Grayskull Mania set, kids! The ring is pretty cool with a Castle Grayskull inspired green stone "ring apron" and blue elastic "energy-ropes." The ring overall is about 13 inches x 13 inches.

 * The ring mat is plastic and is adorned with a Masters of the WWE Universe logo with a red and blue sword crossed (perhaps representing Smackdown and Raw?). It's also "springy" meaning that you can make it bounce up and down a bit, kind of like a real wrestling ring.

* The ring posts are pretty cool as they're adorned with helmeted skulls. One of the posts has the "energy-ropes" permanently attached while the other three have simple hooks to hold the ropes on with.

* How do you get into the ring? By climbing up these primitive looking wooden steps, of course? I'm not sure what the clips on the sides are for (maybe holding weapons at some point?) but I do like the look of these. They have tabs on them and they'll fit at the right corner of any side of the ring.
 The Negatives:

* I do have some problems here, the first being that the calve swivel on John Cena looks terrible. Yikes! Seriously, he looks like a mutant or something!

* Secondly, I think Cena's head is too big. No, seriously. It actually looks very oversized for the line. It looks scaled for a 6-7 inch figure, not a 5.5 inch figure like this.

* This shield is really difficult to place in Cena's hands. Arrrghh!! Seriously, it's frustrating. This is the best I could do and I've been playing with action figures for going on 34 years. The wrist hinge just keeps swinging back and forth, making things very difficult.

* Oddly enough, the ring ropes are even. On two ends of the rope they go all the way to the edge (as they should) but on the other two ends they only go to they're about an inch and a 1/2 away from the edge. That's due to a poor design of how the ropes attach to the posts, really.
   While I do have some complaints to point out about this set, I'm also going to label this as one heck of a deal. You're getting two fully articulated 5.5 inch figures and a wrestling ring for $30 bucks. By itself the ring retails for $20 dollars and the figures sell for $15 each. $30 for the set is a great deal. This is a seriously cool toy and while I know not everyone will love it,I think it's easily worthy of a Great rating. There's a lot of play value here. This thing would make one heck of a Toys for Tots/ Angel Tree/ local toy drive gift for a kid who likes wrestling, for sure.

I think combining Masters of the Universe and WWE right now is a brilliant idea. It's helping Mattel get more mileage out of expensive tooling (and they're probably spreading the cost over different budgets), but it's also a great way to bring in kids. We hear over and over that kids aren't interested in action figures as much these days but WWE seems to still have a very health amount of toys aimed at kids. For any larger MOTU effort (movie, retail toyline, etc.) to be a success, it's gotta attract kids. Which kids are going to be more predisposed to digging the dramatic world of Masters of the Universe, where oddly themed and under-clothed warriors duke it out on a daily basis? Kids who like wrestling, where oddly themed and under-clothed sports entertainers duke it out on a near daily basis. The kids who like wrestling may be far more receptive to new MOTU stuff than other demographics, and that's a good thing. It'll probably also bring in some older fans who might still watch wrestling and who have fond memories of MOTU Hopefully WWE advertises this project well. Maybe we'll even get some WWE talent involved in the upcoming movie (say what you want, but there are some folks on the WWE roster who could kill it in a MOTU movie.

Looking for more Cena? I've reviewed is the Elite Series John Cena from Series 40 and the WWE Mutants John Cena.

 If you're looking for more of Triple H, I've reviewed the Series 35 Elite figure and the WWE Zombies Triple H. 


  1. I actually think Cena's head is to scale. HHH's head is undersized. So is the single card release of HHH, despite being a different sculpt.

    1. Huh. Maybe? In hand, Cena's stands out to me more as feeling off for some reason.

  2. The ropes are uneven cause you put it together wrong, turn the ring posts to a 45 degree angle and its perfect.

    1. You definitely are right! Of course, I just went to try to adjust things and realized that the posts seem to be a one-time assembly thing, so I couldn't get them to budge. I may have to buy the individual ring now. It's a different shade of green, right?


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