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WWE Defining Moments
by yo go re

In 2010, Mattel celebrated their first year of the WWE license by bringing an exclusive Undertaker figure to SDCC. It sold out quickly both at the show and on their website, but now they've re-released it as part of the Defining Moments line.

For months leading up to Wrestlemania XV, a heated rivalry developed between Undertaker and Mr. McMahon. Undertaker had vowed to destroy McMahon and take over his "Corporation." So it was only appropriate that Undertaker take on McMahon's head of security, Big Boss Man, in the most fitting of all matches - Hell in a Cell. Once these ultimate rivals were locked inside the 20-foot-high roofed cage, there was no escape. Early on, Big Boss Man handcuffed Undertaker to the cage and began striking him with his night stick. But "The Phenom" broke free and performed his signature Tombstone Piledriver on the Boss Man and pinned him for the victory.

Wrestlemania XV took place in 1999, which was the middle of Undertaker's "Ministry of Darkness" phase - originally introduced as an Old West mortician zombie, he first evolved into the gothic-but-modern "Lord of Darkness," and eventually became a mystical cult leader who performed rituals on other wrestlers to bring them under the control of his Higher Power, and commanded an army of vampires. It was all very comicbooky and theatrical, and WrestleMania entrances are generally over-the-top anyway, so 'taker follows suit.

If (fellow 2010 release) HHH was a barbarian king, then Undertaker is the dark wizard he fights. The sides of his head are shaved, but the hair on top is pulled into a top-knot/ponytail. He has a long goatee divided into two prongs. The original SDCC release had blank white eyes, while this one gets irises and pupils - the only substantive difference between the two toys.

Undertaker's entrance gear included a leather vest with large bat-wing shoulder flaps and a long black cape. The cape is softgoods, but it doesn't look as bad as a lot of examples - the material is thin enough that it looks properly in-scale to the 7⅝" figure. The vest has silver clasps in the center, painted studs around the chest, and scales around his midsection. The cape is actually sewn to the shoulders. The (toy) vest has closures on the sides, but to remove it you have to work the neck hole around the figure's hair, which is a bit annoying.

Without the vest and cloak on, Undertaker looks more like a wrestler than a warlord. He's wearing black trunks wit grey patterns on them, and the fact that he's wearing fight gloves and elbow peds becomes more apparent. His torso is a new mold, as are the boots - that may be why Mattel opted to re-release the figure, to recoup some of the cost of those molds. The boots are ornate, with four thick, buckled straps and a raised logo on the shins (possibly an M for Ministry?), while his shirt has a cutout on the chest and his longtime "TX" symbol.

Though it's common now, the Undertaker was one of the first wrestlers to have large tattoos all up and down his arms. "Pantlegs," I believe they're called. In real life, they're a bunch of skulls and skeletons and other fantastic imagery related to his persona - the toy has a lot of details, but it really boils down to just a bunch of meaningless lines. Of course, between the gloves, the elbow pads, and the cape, you can barely see them anyway, so random scribbles work okay.

Undertaker moves as well as the Legends/Elite Collection figures, with a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinged wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel boots, and hinged/rocker ankles. And for once, the ankles can actually move! Since he started out as a zombie, his moveset was all about being slow-moving and implacable, but he's actually very agile for his size and a fan of MMA, so eventually his repertoire expanded - it's not often you'll see a 6'8" man run and dive over the top rope, or even walk along it while holding his opponent in an arm bar. His finishing move, however, is the Tombstone, despite the fact that the WWE has generally banned piledrivers; it's just that 'taker has the size and technical skill to execute the move safely.

Despite his character being "the Reaper of Men, the Chaser of Souls, the Weaver of Nightmares [and] the Heart of Darkness," the real-life guy is apparently incredibly friendly and caring. Backstage, he keeps assholes and egos in check, acts as a mentor to new wrestlers, and demands (and gives) respect all around. He loves his job, and wants everybody else to have as much fun and success as he's had. That's an attitude we should all try to emulate! And even if you don't know squat about the Undertaker or wrestling, this figure can just be an evil wizard for any number of characters to fight.

-- 02/17/16

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