Few wrestling figures would have me stalking Amazon like a crazy person. But when it’s the Phenomenal AJ Styles exceptions can be made in the interest of unleashing him on my collection. Let’s see if the figure was worth my prolonged search.
Packaging: After another wave of the updated packaging, I think I prefer the previous setup. I do like the larger portrait on the back, but sticking the included accessories at the top left portion of the package is odd placement. For a guy like AJ who’s done a lot, but doesn’t have an extensive WWE career like Big Boss Man, the bio and accolades portion looks ridiculously underwhelming.
Likeness: As much as I’m an AJ fan, he’s rocking some seriously terrible hairstyles these days. Mattel actually did a pretty decent job improving it in figure form. I’m glad Mattel resisted the urge to try and add a little personality to the headsculpt. There’s plenty of opportunities for a cockier, Face That Runs the Place expression, but this neutral one is perfect for the debut figure.
Scale: AJ is 5’11” which makes him look up to a lot of the current WWE roster including the 6’1” John Cena and 6’3” Roman Reigns.
I’ve read complaints that AJ is too slight, but I don’t see it. Maybe he could have a larger torso, but it’s not jarringly off either.
Paint: This was a rough outing for Mattel. I’m pretty sure Mattel painted AJ’s head resulting in a slightly off skin tone. It’s far more noticeable in pictures than to the naked eye though. The chest hair is nicely applied and AJ’s tattoos on the side, including his children’s birth dates are solid.
There’s noticeable slop and runoff along the more detailed trim of the kick pads and some paint fading along the leg logos. AJ’s goatee is also lined up incorrectly on the face as it’s off from the sculpted goatee.
Mattel really should have gone the extra mile and painted the inside of AJ’s gloves as well. AJ is going to be a guy with a ton of figures so getting all those smaller details down is important.
Articulation: There’s not a lot of moves that AJ can’t do and more than most wrestling figures, I spent a lot of time trying to test those limits. The basics of every Elite figure were a given, but I was most interested in seeing any trademark moves that weren’t possible. And I was thrilled to see there weren’t a lot of flaws in that regard.
The Calf Killer/Crusher can be executed reasonably well. I toyed around a bit more with fish line to get some mid-air moves like the Phenomenal Forearm.
My biggest satisfaction came with positioning a fairly picture perfect Styles Clash. And the articulation is thisclose to being able to get the Styles Clash pinfall pose down properly as well.
Surprisingly, AJ comes pretty close to being able to show off his inner glove design with the articulation setup. Had Mattel given him outstretched fingers, he could strike the pose pretty well.
- ball-jointed shoulders
- wrist hinge
- knee (double-jointed)
Accessories: Here’s where Mattel dropped the ball big time. AJ comes with his trademark vest, but Mattel opted to make it plastic instead of cloth. Why is that a problem? One of AJ’s big signature gestures is to slam down his hood mid-entrance. Even if Mattel just had to do some funky engineering to include a cloth hood it would have been better than just going the boring, plastic route here.
This goof definitely gives collectors incentive to grab the Figures Toy Company AJ Styles figure. FTC had the correct foresight to include the hood. As well as a far more intricate vest design as well.
As with every figure in this wave, AJ contains a piece to the Build-A-Stage diorama. This is a fun idea in concept, but the piece is a little smaller than I’d like for a diorama. The stand piece also disrupts the visual of one big backdrop.
Worth it? There’s no doubt Mattel doesn’t recognize the gold mine in cranking out a bazillion AJ Styles figures so paying the current hot price of $45 to $74 isn’t a good idea. He can be found with a little patience for the regular $20 price. Eventually we’ll get better versions, but logic doesn’t hold up in this case.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Beware bias review. If this wasn’t one of my favorites, I’d knock him down to a 7 thanks to the weak accessory implementation and sketchy paintwork. I’m going to give Mattel a rushing to get the figure out benefit of the doubt. But I fully expect the next AJ to be truly phenomenal.
Where to get it? Retail is lagging with Elite 45 just starting to have a regular presence. It’s likely going to take a while. If you’re impatient like me, Amazon is the best option to get him at some time before the spring. Just keep a steady eye for when it reaches $20.