REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS KOFI KINGSTON
After years -- if not decades -- of inexplicably ignoring various companies' offerings of WWE action figures, despite being a longtime fan of the WWE, I finally decided to have a closer look at Mattel's offerings -- even though I've been ignoring that for a couple of years, as well.
To the degree that I can explain why I ignored these figures, I suppose I can only say that despite considerable space devoted to professional wrestling figures in the average toy department -- a testament to the popularity of sports entertainment -- I simply had other action figure priorities. That, and the lines seemed so overwhelming in their content, difficult to keep track of, and frankly, not inexpensive.
However, Mattel has a fairly basic line, called WWE Superstars, that is one of the most affordable action figure lines I've seen, especially for the size of figure you get, and I finally realized that, much as I do with most of the action figure lines I collect, there was no good reason I couldn't simply pick and choose the figures I was interested in. There isn't much that I try to be a completist with these days, so why not just buy the wrestlers I wanted, much as I do with Transformers or almost every other line that has some presence in my collection?
It's been an interesting learning curve. No two stores seem to have entirely the same figures in stock. The Superstars line goes back far enough that some of the ones I want, I may have to eventually secure through the secondary market. And there are those that do get multiple versions. (I think one Rey Mysterio is sufficient, thank you -- I don't need every one of his costume permutations...) And the line is certainly popular enough that in many instances, if you see someone you want and don't get him right then, don't expect him to be there next time. This, as with any action figure line, is quite annoying.
One recent addition to my collection is KOFI KINGSTON, a popular fellow in the WWE who was originally billed as Jamaican -- and still uses rather Jamaican-sounding entrance music, but what the heck, it's a lively enough song and fits his character well -- but who is in fact originally from the African nation of Ghana.
Let's have a look at the history of Kofi Kingston, and then have a look at his action figure.
Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah (born August 14, 1981), is signed to WWE under the ring name Kofi Kingston. Since debuting with WWE, he has won the WWE Intercontinental Championship four times, the United States Championship twice, the World Tag Team Championship once with CM Punk and the WWE Tag Team Championship twice, once with Evan Bourne and once with R-Truth.
Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah was born near the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana on August 14, 1981. His family emigrated to the United States in 1982. Upon graduating from Boston College, Sarkodie-Mensah initially worked in an office before deciding to train as a professional wrestler. He made his official wrestling debut in 2006, when he faced Tony Omega at Chaotic Wrestling on February 24.
He faced Evan Siks on June 4 for the PWF Mayhem Heavyweight Championship. He competed primarily in the New England area, including stints in National Wrestling Alliance – New England, Millennium Wrestling Federation, New England Championship Wrestling, the Eastern Wrestling Alliance, and Chaotic Wrestling.
In September 2006, he signed a developmental contract with WWE and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), a Georgia based developmental federation. He debuted in the company, as Kofi Nahaje Kingston, in a dark match loss to Montel Vontavious Porter on September 21.
For the rest of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, he appeared in DSW, as well as its Kentucky based sister promotion Ohio Valley Wrestling, where he was in a tag team dubbed the "Commonwealth Connection" with Harry Smith. In 2007, he had his first exposure to the main WWE roster, when he worked dark matches on March 5 and 26 before episodes of Raw against Charlie Haas and Trevor Murdoch, respectively.
When he returned to the developmental federations, he shortened his original ring name to "Kofi Kingston" and continued to use both ring names throughout his duration there. He also worked live events, defeating Shelton Benjamin and Val Venis.
When the Florida based developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, opened in June, Kingston was relocated there. Kingston worked there for most of the remainder of the year.
A series of vignettes for Kingston's television debut began airing on the weekly ECW on Syfy television show starting on December 6, 2007. During this introduction phase, his videos, the official website, and commentators all made note that he would be the first Ghanaian-born person to wrestle for the company.
He debuted on the January 22, 2008 episode of ECW as a face (a hero-type) with a win over local wrestler David Owen in Charlottesville Virginia. After wrestling sporadic matches, Kingston was involved in his first major match, a 24-man battle royal during the WrestleMania XXIV pre-show with the winner receiving an ECW Championship match, but was eliminated by Mark Henry.
Kingston remained undefeated in singles competition in ECW for months and was placed into a feud with Shelton Benjamin at the end of April 2008. After two straight losses, Benjamin got a win over Kingston on the May 20 episode of ECW, ending his undefeated streak. On the June 24 episode of ECW, Kingston defeated Benjamin in an Extreme Rules match to end their feud.
As part of the 2008 WWE Supplemental Draft, Kingston was drafted to the Raw brand. In his first match as a member of Raw roster, he defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship at Night of Champions. The win made him the first Ghanaian wrestler to hold a championship in World Wrestling Entertainment and it was also his first championship in his wrestling career. Kingston held the championship until SummerSlam, where he and Women's Champion Mickie James both lost their championships in an intergender "winner take all" tag team match to Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella.
At the Unforgiven pay-per-view, he appeared backstage, coming to the aid of then-World Champion CM Punk, who had been attacked by Manu, Randy Orton, and the World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Soon after coming to his rescue, Punk and Kingston were paired together more often, and on the October 27 episode Raw, the duo won the World Tag Team Championship. He was also involved at Survivor Series in the traditional ten-men elimination tag team match on the side of Team Batista, but was eliminated by Orton. Kingston and Punk lost the World Tag Team Championship to John Morrison and The Miz at a WWE live event on December 13.
At No Way Out in 2009, Kingston won a spot in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber by defeating Kane, but was unable to officially enter the match, as he was ambushed by Edge, who took Kingston's place and eventually won the match.
Kingston defeated Chris Jericho, after interference from Ric Flair, to earn a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXV, but the match was won by CM Punk. After winning a Triple Threat Number One Contender's match the week before, Kingston defeated Montel Vontavious Porter on the June 1 episode of Raw to win the United States Championship.
For the next several months, he went on to defend and retain his title at various PPVs until losing the championship to The Miz on October 5 on Raw, ending his four month reign. On the October 12 episode of Raw, Kingston defeated Evan Bourne to qualify for Team Raw at WWE Bragging Rights.
During WWE Bragging Rights, Kingston and Raw teammate Cody Rhodes argued about Kingston taking the loss in their match. As a result, when Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were interfering on behalf of Randy Orton during his WWE Championship match, Kingston ran out with a chair and chased Rhodes and DiBiase out of the arena. Orton would eventually lose the match.
On the October 26 episode of Raw, Kingston began a feud with Orton, as Orton believed Kingston cost him the WWE Championship. After Kingston defeated Chris Jericho, Orton came from behind and attacked Kingston, ending with Orton throwing Kingston onto the side of the entrance ramp. On the November 30 episode of Raw, Kingston was scheduled to face Orton in a one on one match, only to be assaulted from behind by Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Despite the assault, Kingston still wished to continue, and was quickly defeated by Orton. The following week, Kingston defeated Orton in a rematch. The two would face off again at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. Orton defeated Kingston at the event.
On April 26, as part of the 2010 WWE Draft, Kingston was drafted to the SmackDown brand. In his debut match for the brand, he defeated Chris Jericho. On the following episode of SmackDown, Kingston was entered into a four-man tournament for the vacant Intercontinental Championship after Drew McIntyre had been stripped of the title earlier in the show. He went on to defeat Dolph Ziggler in the first match of the tournament. Christian defeated Cody Rhodes in the second match. As a result, Kingston faced and defeated Christian in the finals of the tournament to seemingly win his second Intercontinental Championship on the May 14 episode of SmackDown. However, moments later, McIntyre came out with a letter, signed by Vince McMahon, saying that Theodore Long was irresponsible and abused his power. The letter also stated that McIntyre was reinstated to the active roster and that Kingston was stripped of the Intercontinental Championship, which returned to McIntyre.
It was later announced that Kingston would face McIntyre for the title at Over the Limit. At the event, Kingston defeated McIntyre to officially win his second Intercontinental Championship.
On June 1, Kingston was announced to mentor Michael McGillicutty on the second season of WWE NXT. On the June 18 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that at Fatal 4 Way, Kofi would defend the Intercontinental Championship against Drew McIntyre. At the event, Kingston defeated McIntyre to retain the title. On July 18 at Money in the Bank, Kingston was unsuccessful as Kane grabbed the briefcase to win the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match. The following SmackDown, Kingston lost to Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match. On the July 30 episode of SmackDown, Kingston faced Ziggler in a rematch but lost via disqualification, resulting in Ziggler earning a title match. On August 6 episode of SmackDown, Ziggler defeated Kingston to win the Intercontinental Championship.
On the December 3 episode of SmackDown, Kingston defeated Jack Swagger to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship but failed to win back the title when Swagger attacked Kofi during the match. On the January 7, 2011 episode of SmackDown, Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler to become the Intercontinental Champion for a third time. Immediately following the match, acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero ordered that Ziggler invoke his rematch clause straight away, but Kingston quickly pinned Ziggler again to retain his championship.
Kingston the moved into a feud with Alberto Del Rio, which culminated in a non-title match at Elimination Chamber which Kingston lost. On March 22 at the tapings of the March 25 episode of SmackDown, Kingston lost the Intercontinental Championship to Wade Barrett. On April 1 episode of SmackDown, Kingston won his rematch against Wade Barrett by disqualification. After Vladimir Kozlov was injured at the hands of The Corre, Kingston was chosen as Kozlov's replacement in an eight-man tag team match involving Kofi, Kane, Big Show and Santino Marella versus The Corre at WrestleMania 27, which Kingston's team won.
On April 26, 2011, Kingston was drafted back to the Raw brand as part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft. On May 1, Kingston defeated Sheamus in a Tables Match at Extreme Rules to win his second United States Championship, in the process returning the title to Raw.
On the August 22 episode of Raw, Kingston won the WWE Tag Team Championship with Evan Bourne when they defeated David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. On the August 29 episode of Raw, the duo was called "Air Boom", and they had their first successful title defense when they defeated Otunga and McGillicutty in a rematch. At Night of Champions Air Boom retained their titles against The Miz & R-Truth by disqualification after Miz attacked a WWE referee. At Hell in a Cell and Vengeance, Air Boom retained their titles twice against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.
On January 15, 2012, Air Boom lost the Tag Team titles to Primo and Epico at a house show. On the January 16 episode of Raw, Air Boom were awarded a rematch but failed to regain the titles.
At the 2012 Royal Rumble event, Kingston participated in the Royal Rumble match and although he did not win, he had a stand-out moment when he saved himself from elimination by walking on his hands to reach the ring steps and re-enter the ring, thus keeping his feet from touching the floor and being eliminated.
Kingston then began teaming with R-Truth, facing the likes of Primo and Epico and Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger which they both won and lost, respectively. On the April 30 edition of Raw, Kingston and Truth defeated Primo and Epico to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
At Over the Limit, Kingston and R-Truth successfully defended the titles against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and then again in a rematch on the May 28 episode of Raw. At SummerSlam, Kingston and Truth defeated Prime Time Players to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. At Night of Champions, Kingston and Truth lost the Tag Team Championship to the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane and failed to regain the titles from the new champions the following night on Raw.
After defeating Michael McGillicutty on the October 10 episode of WWE Main Event, Kingston was confronted and insulted by commentator and Intercontinental Champion The Miz, prompting Kingston to challenge for the title which Miz accepted. The following week on Raw, Kingston defeated Miz in a non-title match. Two days later on WWE Main Event, Kingston defeated Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship for the fourth time in his career. Kingston then defeated Miz in two rematches.
Kingston then began feuding with Wade Barrett when the two were placed on opposing teams in the traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match on November 18 at Survivor Series. Kingston's team, led by Mick Foley, was defeated by Barrett's team, led by Dolph Ziggler, during which he was eliminated by Barrett. The following night on Raw, Kingston was defeated by Barrett in a non-title match. Four days later on SmackDown, Kingston defeated Damien Sandow to retain the Intercontinental Championship whilst Barrett was on commentary.
On the December 31 episode of Raw, Kingston lost the Intercontinental Championship to Wade Barrett. Kingston received his rematch four days later on SmackDown, but was again defeated by Barrett. At the 2013 Royal Rumble event, Kingston had another stand-out moment in the Rumble match. After eliminating Tensai, he was pushed out of the ring but Kingston jumped on Tensai's back, landed on the announce table and used an office chair from JBL to hop to the ring apron.
Obviously, the man is having an impressive career with the WWE, and is certainly a popular Superstar with the company.
So, how's the figure? Also very impressive. I am very pleased to be able to add this high-flying athlete to my action figure collection.
One of my main criteria for bringing a WWE figure into my growing collection is -- how much does the figure look like the actual individual? That is, how accurate is the headsculpt? It helps that there's a photograph of the person right on the package. It makes it easier to make a comparison.
I'm not sure who does the headsculpt for Mattel's WWE line. While Mattel employs perhaps the best design and sculpting studio in the business, the Four Horsemen, I don't think they work on the WWE line. Their work is mostly found on the DC Universe and Masters of the Universe lines, but I could be wrong. Maybe they do WWE, as well.
When Jakks Pacific had the WWE license, they employed a process called RealScan, which took a computerized scan of the actual person's face, and based the sculpt on that. I haven't heard that Mattel is using anything like RealScan, and personally, I doubt that they are. Much as I dislike to say it, I have seen a number of WWE figures that just weren't especially good likenesses of the individuals they were intended to represent.
The figure of Kofi Kingston is a very good likeness. Kofi has fairly large eyes, and usually comes to the ring with a smile on his face, even if the intensity of his match might cost him that smile -- unless he gets to a point where victory is pretty well assured. The headsculpt of the figure gives Kofi his large eyes, his rather high eyebrows, and a bit of a smile.
This raises the issue of my other main criteria for buying a WWE Superstars figure -- facial expression. While some WWE Superstars do have somewhat "trademark" facial expressions, some of which tend to be a bit quirky, they don't usually maintain those expressions for any length of time in the ring or during an interview or whatever, nor do I care to see them on an action figure. Kofi has a pleasant smile on his face, but it's nothing extreme.
Kofi wears his hair in fairly long dreadlocks, some, but not all of which are tied off in the back. This results in a fairly complex hairstyle that I doubt was all that easy for the sculptors to duplicate, but they have done an impressive job. Usually, some of these long-haired characters have hair that's molded as a separate piece and then secured to the rest of the head during assembly. I don't think that's the case with Kofi, however.
Kofi Kingston stands just under 7" in height, and has a well-defined musculature, but he's not one of the massive powerhouses of the WWE. He's just a bit leaner than some. It is to Mattel's credit that they have created a wide array of body types that can be used for their WWE figures, whichever one will result in the most accurate figure. Granted, some individuals, such as Big Show or Mark Henry, require more individual attention. But there are others whose builds are close enough to one another that a certain amount of common parts usage within the action figure line is possible. Still, the figures are much more individual in appearance than, say, DC Universe or Masters of the Universe. In fairness, those lines can get away with it, as they are based on fictional characters, and I honestly appreciate the consistency. But that consistency would not be appropriate for WWE, and here, I appreciate the greater variety, which I feel leads to greater accuracy.
I had another reason for bringing Kofi Kingston into my collection: His ring wardrobe added a bit of color to the growing gathering. A lot of these figures are dressed in black. Black shorts, black leggings, black knee-pads, black shoes, black boots, whatever. Now, this may be accurate to their ring appearances. A lot of these guys do wear black to the ring most if not all of the time. But speaking from an action figure standpoint, it can make for one dull display after a while.
Kofi tends to be one of the more colorfully-attired Superstars, and this is reflected on his action figure. Kofi is wearing light blue shorts, light blue knee pads, and light blue boots, all of which have reddish-purple trim, with a bit of black and yellow.
Kofi's trunks have a bit more leg in them than some of the shorts I've seen on some WWE Superstars, and their action figures, but that just allows for more trim. The blue shorts have vertical red-purple stripes down the sides, bordered in thin black lines. The word "Kofi" appears in red-purple on the front of the shorts. Near the top of the shorts, off to one side on the front, is Kofi's logo, which looks like a skull with dreadlocks. The skull and dreadlocks are yellow, against a black oval background, with a red-purple border. A far larger version of this logo appears on the back of Kofi's shorts.
The logo also appears on his knee pads, which are also light blue. It is to Mattel's credit to attention that the knee pads, fairly large, but molded from a flexible enough plastic so as to not hinder articulation much, are individual. In theory, Mattel could have created one knee pad that would have worked for both legs, but they didn't. Each knee pad is different. That's some impressive attention to detail.
Kofi's boots are also light blue, with black toes and heels, and a red-purple swirl of some sort going up the front of the boots, ending in a point. Overall, it's an impressive, distinctive, and nicely colorful outfit. The markings are well imprinted, as well. Kofi has one tattoo, an ornate curved pattern of some sort, that has been neatly imprinted on his upper left arm. Given how tattooed some of the other WWE Superstars are, I'd say Mattel caught a break with Kofi in the tattoo department.
Articulation of the figure is excellent. Kofi Kingston is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. There are a few limitations. The legs move forward and backward, but not outward. And there is no mid-torso articulation. But one needs to remember that these Superstar figures are pretty much the basic WWE line. If you want more articulation, it can be found in the next level up, in the Elite Collection. But you'll be paying about 1-1/2 times the price for it. The Elite Collection has some fine figures in it, but for myself, I'm content right here.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely glad I've been bringing some of these WWE Superstars into my collection. These figures well sculpted and designed, and I do feel that perhaps this is a collection that I should have really started a while back. I look forward to maintaining -- and reviewing -- it, as new Superstars that I am interested in are added to the lineup.
If you're any sort of WWE fan, and have been a fan of Kofi Kingston, then you'll certainly want to have a look at his WWE Superstars figure, and bring it into your collection. Mattel is really doing an outstanding job with these WWE Superstars!
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of KOFI KINGSTON definitely has my highest recommendation!