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Darby Allin

AEW Unmatched
by yo go re

Wow, the "I like turtles" kid has really grown up!

Apparently the All Elite Wrestling license has been successful for Jazwares, because they're expanding their offerings. Until now, all their releases have been part of the Unrivaled Collection, recognizable by its stylish black and gold packaging. But now they've introduced a second line, the Unmatched Collection, in black and silver. The quality of the figures is the same - it's just a chance to have a second SKU on the shelves, getting stores to stock product twice as fast. The Unrivaled and Unmatched lines will alternate months, with Unmatched Series 1 featuring a mix of first-time figures and new versions of popular characters, including Darby Allin.

Darby is one of AEW's breakout stars - that is, someone who had been working in the independent promotions, but didn't have a built-in fanbase from WWE, Ring of Honor, or New Japan. Basically, he was nearly unknown until his first match at Fyter Fest 2019. The announcers had to explain who he was and what his character was about as he walked out to the ring in front of a mostly silent crowd. 20 minutes later he was on his way to being a star.

There was already one Darby Allin figure, in Unrivaled Series 3, but he's so popular that it was easily one of the hardest figures to find. This version uses all the same molds, including the big rubber coat he's wearing. It's actually a jacket worn over a hoodie, but they're molded as a single piece here. We never are fans of coats like this, no matter how often wrestling figures use them; it would be far better to go the swappable arms route, so none of the articulation is lost.

Something of a cross between Jeff Hardy and Sting, Darby typically paints half his face like a skull - the reasoning being that half of him is dead already. The reason he opted to sign with AEW instead of trying to get into the WWE was simply that he knew AEW would let him have more control over his character: he may be dark, but he's not evil, and didn't want to be shown just lurking around boiler rooms and being a creep. In fact, he dropped out of film school to persue his career, and still uses what he learned there to direct and edit his own promos.

According to the back of the box, this figure is based on Darby's appearance at Full Gear 2020. Rather than just his usual skull facepaint, the paint goes all the way down his chest, creating a grove of spooky, baren, black trees against a field of white. That look is definitely from Full Gear - he only does the full-body paint for special occassions, and doesn't tend to repeat designs. That does mean we don't get to see the "Nothing's Over Till [sic] You're Underground" tattoo on his chest, sadly. But then, he's missing the "drug free" knuckle tats and the "Relentless" on the back of his neck, so there's no guarantee we'd see it even without the trees. However, they did remember the full-arm skeletal sleeve, which the last figure didn't get (because it was based on an older look, before he had it done).

As small as he is, you might expect Darby would use the same molds as Jungle Boy - at least for the chest and arms - but nope, this is new. As we said, the Unmatched Collection is just an excuse to release more product, not an attempt at a budget line, so the articulation remains great: swivel/hinge ankles, swivel boot tops, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist and chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a hinged neck, and balljointed head. Darby's strength as an in-ring performer is his utterly wild ability to be someone else's ragdoll - nobody sells a move like he does, making his opponent's every attack look like the most devastating thing to ever happen to a human body. His primary finisher is the Coffin Drop, which is basically a weaponized trust fall: he climbs something tall, then backdrops off it onto his opponent (if they're still there). That was created because he wanted to add a high spot to his repertoire, but didn't think he had the skill for anything flashier.

In addition to the removable coat, Darby's accessories include a chain necklace, a skateboard, and the TNT Championship belt. Allin was a pro skateboarder before becoming a pro wrestler, so he'll often ride his board to the ring, and sometimes even use it in matches. This one is sculpted with cracks and scratches, suggesting heavy use, and has "the face of TNT" painted on the top - in other words, exactly the way it looked at Full Gear 2020. That PPV is also where he defeated Cody Rhodes, becoming the TNT Champ, though this is belt is the one he'd wear later (so far five people have held this title, and every one of them has had a unique belt).

Named after punk icons Darby Crash and GG Allin, Darby Allin exudes Big Nihilism Energy in the ring. He comes out to a heavy themesong, lets a bigger, more conventional wrestler beat the stuffing out of him for a few minutes, then struggles to his feet and keeps fighting. It's no surprise he was the first "homegrown" AEW talent to win a belt, and also no surprise that his previous action figure commanded high prices. So big thanks to Jazwares for creating the Unmatched line and immediately offering a new version for everyone who missed out before.

-- 10/27/21

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