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"Mean" Gene Okerlund

WCW Ring Announcers Series
by yo go re

There is no such thing as a solo wrestling star. The greatest in-ring worker will look like crap without a skilled opponent "selling" the moves and making it look like they hurt, and even a guy with legendary mic skills needs someone to talk to.

Don't let the word "Mean" in Mean Gene Okerlund's name fool you. He is actually a very friendly and likeable fellow. However, when you put a microphone in his hand and turn on the TV camera, "Mean" Gene asks some of the hardest questions and conducts some of the toughest interviews you'll ever see. This is why he is referred to as "Mean." It's hard to predict what Gene will ask the stars of the WWF on camera and he quite often catches them off guard. A "Mean" Gene Okerlund interview is always entertaining and quite often controversial, but in his own words, "give me a break!"

That bio is from the back of the 1986 LJN toy, by the way, not this figure - this figure was only available in a WCW three-pack with Kevin Nash and Goldberg, and the back of the box barely even mentioned Gene, so in the words of the man himself, #&¢%* it.

Jakks made a Mean Gene figure in their Classic Superstars line, but it was really, really not good. As always, they used the same basic bodyparts to "mix and match" new characters, which meant that Gene was as tall as all the wrestlers and strained at his suit like Smart Hulk - not at all accurate to the real man. This figure, created back in the days when ToyBiz had the WCW license, blows Jakks' out of the water. It's an entirely original sculpt - no parts were taken from other figures, and no parts were ever used again. He stands about 5¾" tall (the real guy is 5'9", so that's dead-on) and is pleasantly plump. He's wearing a black jacket, red necktie and grey pants, which is a perfectly plain thing for an interviewer to wear.

What's really great, however, is the head. This figure was released in 1999, so if it had been a laser-scanned likeness, there would have been that unignorable "softness" to the face; however, it's so crisp that you know this was done by hand. It really looks stunningly like Mean Gene, too! He's got one eyebrow raised and a look in his eye that conveys how much he doubts what he's hearing. While the Jakks figure relied on the hairline and mustache to let you know who the figure was supposed to be, this one actually looks like the man in question.

The articulation is minimal - but we're willing to overlook that in this case, because he's a guy who stands around talking to people. Often announcers will get roughed up by wrestlers, in order to move along a storyline ("wow, that guy's so bad he's willing to dropkick the commentators!"), but Okerlund suffered a neck injury while working for the WWF and couldn't even do that much. So really, he has all the joints he needs to do his job. He moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows and hips. Everything but the elbows are swivel joints; those are hinges. His head is cocked to the side and his arms are held out away from the body a little bit, so he looks very awkward if he's just standing there. But raise the arms so he's extending his microphone and pointing accusatorially at whomever he's interviewing, and suddenly he looks just fine. The legs don't move far, but you can make him look like he's walking.

His only accessory is a black microphone with the WCW logo. It fits tightly into his (admittedly slightly oversized) hand, and there's really nothing else to say about it. It's the only accessory he needs, so it's good that they included it.

ToyBiz's wrestling figures were done in a 6" scale (which really made them great for customizing superheroes, but that's neither here nor there), so while he'll look very nice interviewing Marvel Legends or DCU Classics, he's really tiny next to modern wrestling toys. Of course, you may consider that a benefit: it makes the wrestlers look larger and more dangerous by comparison, without even having to stand them on a box or shooting from a low angle. This is not an easy figure to find these days, but there's never been a better Mean Gene.

-- 02/29/12

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