I may be able to stop collecting Mattel WWE figures now that I finally have him. ‘The face that runs the place.‘ ‘The champ that runs the camp.‘ The man who beat John Cena … but can’t seem to get a win against James Ellsworth. AJ Styles is here, and he’s mine!
Earlier this year I went a little gangbusters on WWE action figures. I enjoy collecting the current roster and Mattel, despite all of their many faults, actually has a pretty competent WWE action figure team. They churn out huge numbers of figures each year. Every time I check back there is a new ‘Basic‘ or ‘Elite‘ series hitting the digital toy shelves of the internet. I’d sit on Amazon while watching RAW or Smackdown and just order a Dean Ambrose here or Seth Rollins there, all because they had a match that night.
It wasn’t a smart thing to do. My shelves quickly filled up, and when I start to feel like I’m drowning in something I get really critical of it. While Mattel’s WWE Elite figures are very articulated, they are still hard to get into any kind of convincing wrestling poses. Sure the articulation choices are part of the problem, but the biggest issue is the hands. Across the board the hands in this line are unbelievably useless. For the male figures, I believe there are only two types of hands: open and fists. I would almost prefer that they just have every wrestler making two fists, that would be an improvement over the open hand. I understand that some characters have accessories they can hold, but any time I’m trying to get a Mattel WWE figure into some kind of pose that open hand sticks out like a sore thumb.
If I were tasked to propose an ideal WWE hand situation I would go with multiple hands that can be swapped. Marvel Legends has moved to this. I think it would be smart for Mattel to do the same at some point. There have probably been about 5,000 John Cena variants made, but not one has an open handed ‘you can’t see me,‘ hand. How does that happen?
Anyways, enough about how much I love-hate Mattel’s WWE action figures, this is about AJ Styles.
The general rule with toys is that it takes nine months from concept to production to put a toy on the shelf. Styles debuted late January 2016 during the Royal Rumble, so Mattel definitely fast tracked him into the line. It’s a good thing they did, though, as he’s one of the most popular heels in the company and currently holds the WWE World Championship belt.
AJ has benefited tremendously from the brand split to Smackdown Live. The more character driven and better written show gave him a more direct path to the world title than he would have ever had prior to the split. Just about every wrestler that he has worked with in the WWE with has come out looking better because of just how great he is in the ring. Could I gush more about the guy? Probably. I’m not one of those people that have followed his entire career either, ever since he’s come to the WWE he’s been a bright spot worth watching. A diamond in the rough, you could say.
His action figure is great once you get past the limitations of the base body that I discussed earlier. It’s a pretty solid likeness, however, it’s also from his WWE debut. So it’s safe to assume we’ll probably get some decent variants down the line. Keep an eye on Amazon if you are looking to score AJ Styles or any of his Elite 47 wave-mates.
Final Verdict: Great figure, but AJ belongs on the NAUGHTY list!