Dean Malenko was pretty much the Arn Anderson of the mid-90s. An incredibly skilled wrestler overshadowed outside the ring by his flashier counterparts, but was involved in some of the best matches of his era whether in ECW, WCW or WWF.
With the Flairs, Stings, Harts, Savages signed, Mattel has now reached the point where they’re tapping into providing collectors more interesting “universe-building” wrestlers. Those main event headliners are essential, but just as important are the guys who battled them and had great matches to kick off those Monday Night War ppvs.
Elite 37 brings us The Iceman, one of my favorites from the 90s. Let’s see if we’ll warm up to this figure.
Packaging: We’ve already seen updated versions of the Battle Pack packaging and the new take on the Elites can’t get here fast enough as I feel like I’m writing the same thing repeatedly.
We get the standard blue and grey packaging here with a nice size portrait on the lower left half and a wide window to show the figure and all its accessories. There was a screw-up at the proofing factory as the front sticker says the figure comes with the US title, but it’s actually the same cruiserweight title we originally got with the Elite 32 Rey Mysterio Jr. [WWE Elite Collection Series #32 – Rey Mysterio]
I appreciate Mattel has Malenko in matching attire from the back picture and reference point for the outfit. As a superior wrestler in his day, Malenko’s title highlight summary is pretty extensive, but it’d be cool to see his ECW TV and tag title reign mentioned as well.
Likeness: When Mattel sculptors are on their A game they can really deliver strong likenesses and Malenko is a prime example. This is one of their best likenesses of the year because it captures the essence of Malenko — stern, focused expression ready to go in and completely outwrestle his opponent.
Body wise, the figure matches up fairly well with Malenko’s appearance for the bulk of his career right down to the little white socks peering out from his boot tops.
The only odd thing is the plastic used for Malenko doesn’t reflect his tan giving him a pale appearance. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it’s an odd mistake considering Mattel has parts with a slightly darker hue.
Scale: Malenko was billed at 5’10” so he should be looking up to most of the other figures in your collection especially the taller guys like The Giant, but still being taller than Rey Mysterio Jr.Paint: Mattel was having some serious issues with trying to get Malenko’s stubble right so instead of releasing it with a terrible paintjob, they just scrapped the stubble altogether.
That’s probably a better idea as people can add their own stubble.
Malenko wasn’t flashy so the paintjob isn’t especially complicated, but his “ice” tight design is faithfully captured and applied cleanly. There’s a faint overspray onto the tights, but since they’re black it’s easily fixed.
Articulation: Malenko sports the typical Elite articulation so Malenko has neck, ball-jointed shoulders, elbow, wrist, torso, waist, hips, thigh swivel, knees and ankle.
There’s some odd placement with the head and neck joint that’s giving Malenko a slight tilt. It’s an odd issue, but one you should be aware of if you’re wondering why he can’t be posed looking straight on.
Accessories: Malenko actually fares pretty well in the accessories department. We get his trademark vest and a WWE cruiserweight title. This is one of the better belts Mattel has released since it first acquired the WWE license featuring clean lettering and a decent amount of paint.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Malenko isn’t the most in-demanded figure in the flashback series, but Mattel does an exceptional job bringing him to figure form. The pale skin-tone and the head tilt are the biggest drawbacks, but those are admittedly small issues. Beyond them, this is one of the best Flashbacks we’ve gotten in 2015.
Worth it? Malenko is one of those guys that if you weren’t watching him at his peak in ECW and WCW and only saw him in the WWE, he’s not going to be someone you claw to track down. For those fortunate enough to witness the smoothness of Malenko in his glory days, this is an easy recommendation for the $20 Elite price.
I wish things hadn’t gone so horrifically bad for Chris Benoit in his final days so we could have a viable option of assembling the final group of Four Horsemen, but we’ll have to be content with the other aspects of Malenko’s career. When Mattel finally gives us a old school mid-90s Chris Jericho this figure is going to be in demand so you’d better get it now before its value skyrockets.
Amazon.com currently has him in stock here: WWE Elite Collection Series #37 -Dean Malenko
Or if you’d prefer just grab The Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2 DVD Now Available at WWEShop.com!