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Zombie Set

WWE Create-A-Superstar
by yo go re

There's no explanatory text on the back of the package, so we'll just steal a joke from The Mark Remark:

Buy yourself a bunch of wrestlers and treat them like playthings, forcing them to fight until their parts don't work anymore and you have to stick them on the shelf until people forget you even had them in the first place. Also known as "being Vince McMahon."

Typically "Create-A-Superstar" (since if the WWE called them "wrestlers," they'd have to treat them like atheletes instead of performers, and that would require a much higher level of insurance and intense scrutiny into the way they're treated) refers to the ability to design your own character in the WWE videogames, but in this case, it's a line of Mattel figures with gimmicky pieces and swappable parts. There are two kinds of releases: specific people with pieces to turn them into characters (Goldust as a pharaoh, Ultimate Warrior as an Aztec king, etc.); and larger sets that give us characters with the head of a specific person. This is one of the latter.

This is identified all over the package as the "Zombie Set," so naturally the character inside has all the traditional hallmarks of a pop culture zombie: green skin, big ugly stitches holding his parts together, conspicuous bolts sticking out of his body, and large black boots with chunky soles. Yep, typical zombie, yessiree!

Okay, we kid, but it was probably just easier to call it "Zombie Set" than stir up debates about whether it's okay to call it a "Frankenstein Set." And under Stephen King's three monster archetypes, Frankenstein and a zombie are the same thing anyway. As mentioned, the body is stitched together: there's a Y-incision on his chest, a curving slash by his right armpit, two big cuts across his back, a ring that goes all teh way around the neck (suggesting that this head is a transplant), one across his forehead, wounds on his biceps, forearms and in the web of his right hand. There's a metal band around his left wrist, and his tattered brown pants are held up by a rope. Instead of his neck, the bolts stick out of his shoulders.

The head he's wearing in the package is fairly odd. It has a cleft chin, a substantial underbite with a single snaggletooth sticking out on the left and bit of a grimace on the right. His nose hooks downward, and his cheeks are sunken. The eyes are normal, but his dark green hair is cut into a bit of a fauxhawk. Did that happen before or after he died?

The wrestler head included in this set is the Undertaker, which explains why they're selling it as a Zombie Set - being a zombie is his entire shtick! Well, it was at first. He's been a lot of things over the years. The head is fully human, which looks a little weird on a green body, but it's a very good likeness. It does seem slightly too large, but that just adds to the comedic effect.

The figure's paint is slightly lacking. Other than the gray screws in his shoulders, the torso is solid green - he could really use some apps on the sutures to bring them out. His rope belt is the same color as his pants, and though there are holes in the legs, they're not painted either. Plus, his boots have metal caps over the toes, but they're the same black as the rest. Obviously the WWE Create-A-Wrestler line is for kids to have fun playing with, more than for adult losers to obsess over on their websites, and the part-mixing feature is the actual focus, but more paint would have made things look cooler.

So, that mix-and-match feature. All the toys in the line are built on the same buck, which you'll remember does not mean they all have the same sculpt, but rather that that their joints are all the same size and in the same places. Each of the figures separates at the head, shoulders, waist, hips and shins, and the pieces can be traded around freely among them all. The advantage of these character sets is that they already come with extra alternate bits, so you don't need to buy more than one to begin playing.

In addition to the Undertaker head, the Zombie Set includes skeletal arms and feet, which actually does make him look more zombie-ish than Frankenstonian. He also has a tattered tan coat with a hood that looks nice over any combination of pieces, and the set includes a small tombstone that can break in half. Oh, because his finishing move is the Tombstone Piledriver, I get it!

The toy isn't quite flexible enough to perform a Tombstone, but it moves adequately: balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, balljointed hips, hinged knees, swivel shins and hinged ankles. Separating the bodyparts is easy to do, but they stay in place securely when you attach them.

To really allow you to customize your figure, the set includes a sheet of temporary tattoos. Yes, they're for the toy, not for you. The instructions are very clear about that. What will happen if you try to use them yourself? I don't know, the temporary tattoo police will come get you. Befitting the Undertaker, the tats in this set are all gravestones, skeletons, and other spooky stuff. They might actually be worth putting on the zombie's body.

WWE Create-A-Wrestler is a fun idea for toyline, especially when it brings us silly figures we might never get otherwise, like Samurai Seth Rollins or a man who's half bear. But it would have been even better if the toys had been designed to take advantage of Hasbro's Hero Mashers, with the same size connectors, if not the same cartoony style. If every building block company in the world can figure out how to bite Lego's patents without geting sued into oblivion, surely Mattel could have figured out how to let us put Roman Reigns' head on Groot's body (because they're both wooden and bad at talking).

-- 10/05/16

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