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WWE Entrance Greats
by yo go re

Look, I'll stop reviewing Goldberg figures when I get one I'm happy with.

Drums thunder. Cymbals crash. Horns blare in gladiatorial synchronicity, as the name of the most destructive force in WCW history rings throughout the arena - "GOLD-BERG! GOLD-BERG!" Like an animal released from its cage, Goldberg marches to the ring expelling intensity like a fire-breathing dragon. He stares to the ring with only one thought on his mind: "Who's next?"

In his first match, Goldberg was presented like a jobber - ie, the guys who are scheduled to lose their match. He was a completely unknown athelete, and he was up against a crowd favorite (Hugh Morris) who had never had anyone kick out of his finishing move. The announcers weren't even talking about him, they were talking about other things that were coming up on the show. That's a recipe for ending up staring at the ceiling lights, but WCW had a plan in mind, and that's where it began.

This is not the first Mattel Goldberg figure, but it is the first to sport his classic WCW look: plain black trunks, short black boots, fingerless black gloves, and black knee- and elbow-pads. (Other releases have come from different points in his career, and thus added varying degrees of white to the trunks.) His chest hair is painted on, and while he does have the tribal tattoo on his shoulder, it seems to have been tampographed just slightly too high. Of course, we'd rather it be a few millimeters high than low enough to be covered by the arm joint, like Jakks' was.

Above the waist, the choice of pieces is good. Sure, the shoulders should probably be a little wider, but they're working with what they have. He's got the right level of muscle definition, and his hands have pads on the back to suggest his MMA gloves. Below the waist, however, things aren't as great. It's the legs: they have the right length (Goldberg is 6'4", and like Conan O'Brien, a lot of it is leg), but the mold is too skinny. Seriously, watch one of his matches - dude had thighs like Chun-Li. Maybe not Street Fighter V Chun-Li, but definitely at least Street Fighter IV Chun-Li. This toy is sized like a normal human, which by Goldberg standards might as well be toothpicks.

The likeness is only so-so. This is supposed to be a late-90s Goldberg, but it shares its head sculpt with the one that was packed with the Elite-scale ring - the one that represented him two decades older. So while the angry look is right, the cheeks are a little too thin. (So's the neck.) If you want his more familiar "roaring" look, there's a figure in Elite Series 74 that has that.

Fans who did not mark out for Goldberg claimed that he only had three moves: punching, spear, Jackhammer. That's complete bunk, of course - even as "The Streak" went on, he was constantly mixing in new technical moves you hadn't seen him pull before. This figure has enough articuation to perform pretty much his entire repertoire... including punches, the Spear, and the Jackhammer. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hine shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and hinged/rocker ankles. A lot of the joints are are stiff as he's alleged to work (Eric Bischoff really wanted to get the storyline going, so Goldberg was rushed through training at the WCW Power Plant, and had learn on the job how to properly pull his punches).

Naturally, Goldberg comes with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship - aka "the Big Gold Belt." Or at least, he has a replica of it: the original Big Gold Belt was designed in 1985, with three golden plates on a brown (later black) leather strap and had faux rubies bordering the plates; it started out with the NWA, but through a series of back-and-foth adventures, eventually ended up belonging to the WWE; in 2003, the WWE added its logo to the top of the belt for trademark reasons, and that's what's seen on this toy. So not only is his belt from the wrong year, it's from the wrong company! That's easy to overlook, though. The rubies on the front panel are picked out in red, but the ones on the sides are left unpainted. In the package, Goldberg has the belt draped over his shoulder, despite the fact he was one of the last guys to actually wear his belt instead of carrying itt around.

Since this figure is part of the Entrance Greats line, it also comes with a small display base designed to suggest an entrance ramp, complete with little floodlights pointing upward. Press the button the side, and you'll hear 28 seconds of Goldberg's entrance theme, "Invasion." The original version, not the soundalike knockoff the WWE used. What he really needs, though, are some sparks shooting all around him. Wonder how one of those Tamashii Nations energy effects would look with him?

There are those who say that Goldberg was nothing special, just a guy with a basic look, no mic skills, and a limited move set, who happened to get hyped by creative. But it wasn't just that the writers wanted people to like him, or Roman Reigns would be the most "over" wrestler in history. It wasn't just that he was a beast who could squash everyone, or anybody would have cared about Ryback. They say he had no defined character? Didn't matter, he had natural charisma. He looked and acted like a damn superhero in the ring, and the smartest thing the WCW did with him was let him be the guy the crowds cheered for, rather than against. This figure has a couple flaws that keep it from being its best, but it's a nice throwback to the man's heyday.

-- 02/05/20

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