Today I’m covering the big gimmick for Mattel’s WWE Best of Pay Per View 2011 series of action figures, and their first-ever Build-A-Playset, the Build An Interview Set. I previously reviewed the Mark Henry, Rey Mysterio, John Cena and Christian figures from the series as well, and you can find all my reviews in the Toy Reviews Index. When I first heard and saw pictures of the Build-An-Interview Set playset being found at retail I was pretty stunned, as the set went under the radar a bit and that was the first I’d heard of it. I can’t remember there ever being a Build-A-Playset gimmick from any company in the 6″ action figure scale (prove me wrong, readers), so kudos to Mattel for trying something exciting and new like this! Of course, that would all be a moot point if the playset sucked. Lucky for Mattel, it’s a lot of fun…
I love Build-A-What-Not gimmicks in general, and while the gimmick is usually reserved for building figures that are too large or obscure to take up a usual figure slot (ie Michael Cole), I think the idea of building a playset is pretty inspired. Playmates tried to have a Build-An-Enterprise-Bridge playset that never got completed for their Star Trek reboot 4″ line, and Jakks Pacific had build-a-ring for their 4″ figures, but building a playset in the 6″ scale is something I’ve not seen before.The Interview Set is made entirely of all-new tooling, so it likely cost Mattel a fair amount of money to produce it. It was a risky business venture, but I’m really glad Mattel was willing to give this set a chance.
- John Cena– Left Curtain Piece and Spotlight
- Rey Mysterio– Center Curtain Piece and 2 Spotlights
- Christian– Right Curtain Piece and Spotlight
- Mark Henry– Free-Standing TV Monitor and WWE Logo Sign with Clamps
Basic WWE figures are costing $11-$12 in stores these days as it is, so at a $12.99 MSRP per Best of Pay Per View 2011 figure at Toys R Us, the playset pieces only add a dollar or two to the cost of the figures. Considering the playset pieces are quite large and all-new tooling, that’s a pretty spectacular deal and an added value to the figures.
When fully-assembled, the curtain is about 8 inches tall and a foot long. This is perfect, as it’s larger vertically than the tallest figure, and long enough across that you can have several superstars standing around or fighting in the back at any one time without things getting too cramped. The curtain fits together very tightly and is very stable standing up, so it’s unlikely that it will just randomly fall over and next to impossible for it to come detached for no reason.
The WWE Logo Sign is removable and can be clamped on and positioned anywhere on the curtain. It also can (and maybe should) be used as a handheld weapon. In addition, the spotlights can be moved horizontally along the top of the curtain and can also be turned down or upwards depending on how you want to display them. The free-standing TV Monitor has a permanent sticker of John Cena on it, which is a little weird since he’s one of the figures that came in this series, but I guess other wrestlers can be watching him on the monitor before charging off to attack him when he enters the back.
The Build-An-Interview-Set curtain stands very stably, and as a result you can stand figures on top of the curtain and enable them to attack from above if you perch them there carefully. In addition, the spotlights are pretty sturdy, so wrestlers can hang off them to escape or swing off them to attack their foes. These aren’t the sort of things you see happening often in wrestling, but they’re certainly amusing diversions and fun things you can do with this set.
This isn’t really what the interview set looks like that you see on Raw or Smackdown. This is more like a backstage curtain that the wrestlers walk through when going to or from the arena, along with a TV Monitor next to it. When I picture backstage interviews in WWE, I picture rooms and hallways and walls and that sort of thing. That Mattel has given us an Interview set on the other side of the curtain isn’t bad, but it may not be exactly what collectors are used to seeing or expecting. Since the black curtain is a commonly-seen part of a WWE backstage this doesn’t really bother me, but I can understand where some people are disappointed in the locale Mattel picked to replicate as a toy.
Overall: This playset is an exemplary demonstration of what can be done with the Build-A-Whatever concept in the WWE line. Basically, for about $8 extra on top of the four figures that came with the pieces of this set, we now have a large Interview Set with the capacity to accommodate several figures at once, along with a handful of interesting objects that can used for practical purposes or for attack. The free-standing monitor is terrific accessory that can be thrown about and used as a weapon, as can the WWE Logo sign. The spotlights can be moved around slightly and figures can hang off of them or attack. And anyone who says they don’t get a little thrill out of having their Rey Mysterio perched on top of the curtain and ready to Drop the Dime is lying. In essence, this Interview Set is a ton of fun and adds a lot of new play value elements to a WWE figure collection. While this isn’t the commonly-seen backstage interview set on WWE TV, it is a logical set-up and I’m willing to accept it at face value. I wouldn’t have paid $52 for the set, but for the Interview Set and 4 figures for that price, it’s a really good deal and is highly-recommended. I hope that Mattel considers this series a success, because I think it’s a genius expansion of the WWE line and I’d really like to see what else Mattel can come up with.