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The Heenan Family

WWE Hall of Fame Series
by yo go re

Although this set is identified as part of the Target-exclusive Hall of Fame line, you'll notice that there's no "Class of ____" identification anywhere on the box. There's a reason for that: the Heenan Family isn't in the Hall of Fame. Not the way the Four Horsemen are. All the people represented in this set are inductees, but not together as a group.

We begin with Andre the Giant, the sole member of the Class of 1993 and the first person put into the HoF. I already have an Andre figure from Jakks, but Mattel has made a few of him as well, both as exclusives and at mass retail, and as deluxe and basic figures. Basically, there are a lot of Andres available, so this one isn't particularly special.

Andre signed with Heenan in 1987, because he was mad at being overshadowed by his "friend," Hulk Hogan. This figure is painted wearing the blue singlet that he adopted in the late '80s. The reason Andre switched from trunks to a singlet was to hide the fact that as his acromegaly progressed, he needed to wear a back brace to the ring - similarly, the reason those early WrestleManias (WrestleManiae?) brought the competitors down to the ring in motorized carts was because it was too far for Andre to walk. In fact, his tag match at WrestleMania VI broke with tradition by having the challengers come to the ring after the champions, just so the home audience wouldn't see the trouble Andre had even getting into the ring.

Mattel's first Andre had an awful likeness, with a head that was the wrong shape, a bad face, and a weird five-o'clock shadow painted on. This one still doesn't have the right shape of head (acromegaly makes the jaw and brow continue to grow, leading to an almost neanderthal look, while this just looks like a larger-than-average noggin), but the face is better and though he's sculpted with muttonchops that even Zach Oat would appreciate, there's no stubble airbrushed on. The expression on his face is weird, a mix of fear and surprise that would make sense for his time feuding with Jake Roberts, but looks out of place here. And if we're getting picky, his hair should cover his forehead a bit more than it does - that was one of the only things their first figure got right.

Hall of Fame Andre uses the same body molds as the other deluxe Andres, and has the same articulation. He used a couple different finishers over the years, getting simpler as his health deteriorated, but you can get him posed in an double underhook suplex (basically the same thing as Triple H's Pedigree, but instead of slamming them to the mat, you throw them over your shoulder), an elbow drop, or just have have him sit on his opponent.

We skip over now to the Class of 2007's Mr. Perfect. Curt Hennig was the son of Larry "The Axe" Henning, a wrestler in the '60s and '70s who defeated Roddy Piper in the youngster's first match. Curt's 1988 introduction to the WWF was preceded by a series of vignettes showing him playing various sports and games, smugly showing off his skills. Football, baseball, basketball, pool, darts, golf... he could do it all. And he really could: all those performances were real, not tricky editing, though apparently he could only do it if he didn't know the cameras were rolling.

Mattel already made a Mr. Perfect in their WWE Legends line, but it didn't live up to its name - they used the same body designed for Jack Swagger, which makes sense in that Swagger basically just plays the same character as Hennig, but Swagger is taller. So the figure ended up with a too-thin torso and too-tall legs. This one has the same torso, sculpted with the straps of his singlet, but this one appears to be slightly shorter. This time the outfit he's wearing is a very '90s sort of dayglo pink-orange with black on the back, but he's still got the "M R P" boots.

The likeness is decent, but it works better from certain angles than from others. His Aquaman-worthy golden mullet is sculpted nicely, plastered against his forehead and falling onto his shoulders. The lines on his cheeks make it clear that he's smirking at us, but he could really stand to look a bit more "haughty" than he does.

Sadly, the figure does not have any accessories. What could he have? Well, other than all the sports equipment used in his promos, the first figure came with a towel to hang over his shoulder and the Intercontinental belt, which would have been nice to have here. (Hennig ended up getting stuck in the mid-card because he was such a good worker that he made anyone he worked with look better.) His finisher, a bridging fisherman's suplex dubbed the "Perfect-plex," works well enough, as long as the other figure can raise its leg far enough.

Big John Studd was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2004. He wrestled for the WWF through the '80s, but his biggest days were in the early part of the decade, which means he was out of the spotlight by the time wrestling actually broke big. He was around close enough to the glory days that he was one of the villains on the Rock 'n' Wrestling cartoon, though he wasn't really in the ring by that point. Or at least not in the spotlight.

A lot of the time, Medium Mike Lintel's gimmick was that he was feuding with Andre over who was the "true" giant of wrestling (despite the fact that he was only 6'10", thus making the debate kind of easy to settle), so it makes sense that the figure uses a substantial body. He stands more than 7⅜" tall, and is burly in an era-appropriate way - which is to say, thick and strong, but certainly not defined like a superhero. The black stars painted on the legs of his trunks are crisp, though the one that falls directly over the knee hinge on the left leg really needed some more coverage to hide the pin. He also has some lovingly painted chest hair, with a thick mat that looks like he has a wind map being projected on him.

Cementing his look as "your uncle who puts down his beer and insists he can move all the furniture by himself at Thanksgiving," Little Lou Joist is like the Platonic ideal of a late-70s/early-80s wrestler, before they literally turned into cartoons. He's got light shoulder-length hair, and a dark bushy beard, which is how I imagine every man looked in the '70s.

Big wrestlers are very rarely dynamic fighters, but Petite Perry Soffit-bearer gets the same articulation as everyone else in the set, and as almost all the other Mattel wrestlers we bother to review. And yet, he can't really perform his finishing move. As a big guy, his finisher needed to show off power, so he went with a bear hug. Yes, a simple bear hug. He'd hoist somebody up by the waist, like they were lovers who hadn't seen each other in a while and were meeting at the airport. The toy's right hand is open wider than the left, presumably so he can grasp his own wrist, but the range of motion on his arms isn't great enough to allow him to do that. You can fake it okay, but not lock it in. It's just that the chest is too big, and the arms don't move in all that far.

Okay, enough of that. Let's move to the one figure that's actally selling this set, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Debuting in 1965 as "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan, he quickly solidified the kind of character he would play for the next 40 years: a loudmouth who talked trash about anybody he didn't like, but was a total coward whenever confronted. The '80s WWF had no shortage of heel managers, but Heenan was the most hated. And when he wasn't managing, he was one half of what may have been the best commentary team ever, with Gorilla Monsoon. Note: we didn't say "best in wrestling" or "best of their time," but "best." Period.

Like Jimmy Hart, Brain is wearing a tuxedo jacket and cummerbund. In fact, below the waist, this figure seems to use the same molds as Hart - it's once you get above the waist that new bits apear, with a portlier torso and different arms. This outfit comes from WrestleMania III, where Heenan accompanied Andre the Giant to the ring wearing a white tuxedo with golden details. The paint masks on this toy are intricate and clean, and though this wouldn't have been our first choice for The Brain, Mattel did it well.

The likeness is great, too. Jakks made a Heenan when they had the license, but in addition to being way too big (taller than most of the actual wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan), his face was really fat. This one is much better, with wavy blonde hair and a face that's round, but still fairly thin. And of course, a smug, impatient smirk.

Though Heenan did appear in some matches, he wasn't a regular worker, and thus had nothing resembling a finishing move. There's no skimping on the articulation, though. There is a pretty major missed opportunity, however: he has completely normal hands, when they really should have molded new ones. One of his most common gestures was to point a finger at his own head, and another at the audience. It might have looked weird at first, but two pointing hands would have done wonders for this toy.

The Hall of Fame Series Heenan Family is not a four-pack, it's a very expensive solo-packed figure that happens to come with three large, complex accessories. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan could easily have sold by himself - and given the number of different outfits he wore over the years, he still could. Heck, make a deal with the estate of Gorilla Monsoon, and give us these vitriolic best buds in a two-pack! Whatever it takes so that everybody can get The Brain without having to buy three tagalongs.

-- 02/22/17

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