I’m still trying to maintain a healthy level of hate for Triple H, but he’s made it hard since taking over NXT. One of the main reasons is because Triple understands the value of good tag teams and the great stories that can develop from them. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to the court DIY.
DIY is Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, the two guys who have been responsible for some of the best matches in the last three years. Before their Megapowers’ explode moment, DIY was putting on some banger tag team matches so I had to get their first and likely only tag team figures.
Mattel has been on some pretty crappy distribution schemes lately making in demand figures exclusive to one store. In this case, Gargano and Ciampa were part of the Target-exclusive Hall of Champions line. Distribution on this series was pretty spotty, but it was better than Wal-Mart exclusives. These guys are now horribly overpriced on the secondary market so I’m glad I didn’t wait on a sale when I found them.
Packaging: I really like the Hall of Champions packaging. It’s too bad like a lot of Mattel’s creative package set ups, it got cancelled. It was pretty similar to the Hall of Fame line with this terrific insert with a wall of title belts. Really classy and explains the line with little effort.
The sides feature both guys in the same picture used on the back. At least the fairly comprehensive bios are unique to both guys.
Likeness: Of the two, I like Ciampa a little more because the figure really captures his intensity and his thick beard. Gargano isn’t a slouch, but his expression doesn’t show off much personality. He’s going to be a guy with a ton of figures so I’m not worried about this being the one chance to get the ideal Johnny Wrestling figure. But man, this expression is so unenthused he might as well be called Johnny Napping.
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I’m not a huge fan of the torso choices. In Gargano’s case, Mattel needs to make a slender, ripped torso for him and Finn Balor. He’s got more abs than this figure. He’s got the smaller kneepads, which you can push down to his boots for a more authentic look.
Ciampa has the same slender torso, which is just wrong — he’d look much better with the Cesaro muscular torso and body in general for that matter.
He’s got his elbowpad and kneepads. I love this style of kneepad and the elbowpad also doesn’t hinder any articulation.
Scale: Ugh. In one of the more bone-headed moves we’ve seen from Mattel in a while, Ciampa is shorter than Gargano.
This is an issue as Ciampa is actually significantly taller than Gargano. It kinda misses the point of Ciampa being the team’s heavy hitter if he’s the smaller one.
Gargano’s head seems to sit too high on his neck, which further exacerbates the scaling problem with Ciampa.
Paint: There’s some issues with these guys, but definitely not wait the paint. Mattel really nailed the detailed DIY tight design. The scale won’t be perfect in terms of the design work, but it’s really well done.
Gargano has a bit more with his boots and that came out sharply also. Mattel could have sprinkled in some grey for Ciampa’s beard, but they rarely do two tone for any figure’s hair.
Articulation: With Elites we know what we’re getting now: almost great wrestling articulation that comes up short when really trying to sync in moves particularly submissions. Still, it comes pretty close with these guys, but you’re definitely not going to come close to pulling off a reasonable Gargano lock or Ciampa armbar.
- ball-jointed shoulders
- knees (double-jointed)
Accessories: These guys both come with DIY shirts. But unfortunately, it’s the plastic versions and not cloth so they have the life preserver look instead of something anyone would wear. I remain highly not a fan of them.
Ciampa also has a DIY headband. It seems scaled a bit too big, but I wonder if Ciampa’s head shouldn’t be a tad bigger?
They also both come with the flat matte NXT tag titles. These look solid despite lacking the shine of other title belts.
Worth it? Here’s the thing. I got these guys for standard retail price of $20 each. Even with the desperate need a better body for Ciampa, I’m happy with these guys. At worse case, I’ll swap out some pieces from my parts bin to at least fix the height.
Rating: 7 out of 10
My DIY bias might be showing here. Ciampa has a lot of problems and Gargano’s head looks too disinterested. The terrific attire paint job makes up for some of the issues, but to get a great DIY you’re going to have to do some part swapping.
Where to get it? I’m not gonna lie. These are basically impossible to find anywhere for anything remotely approaching a sensible price. As a Target exclusive tracking these guys down now is gonna cost you even on eBay. It’s more a matter of this being the only Elite figures of either guy. Unless you’re a massive DIY fan, I’d wait for the inevitable solo figures.