REVIEW: WWE GLOBAL SUPERSTARS SHEAMUS
I've been a longtime fan of the WWE -- long enough to remember when Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage were still the main draws of the company. I remember the "Attitude" Era, the "Monday Night Wars" against WCW, when The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were the main names, and much more. And I still enjoy watching RAW and SmackDown on a weekly basis.
What I haven't been in the practice of doing, for whatever reason, is collecting the action figures, and there's certainly been no shortage of them over the years. I can't really explain why. I suppose it was just that I had other priorities. Perhaps I simply preferred to bring in super-heroes, G.I. Joes, Transformers, and droids instead of wrestlers.
Certainly there's been plenty of WWE action figures over the years, and I've had a few here and there. Hasbro crafted a rather amusing line of rather exaggerated figures for a time. Later, Jakks Pacific had a very lengthy run. Some of their initial product was pretty horrible, but over the years, it improved substantially. And more recently, Mattel has been the primary licensee for the WWE. Even so, about the only professional wrestler in my collection was Sgt. Slaughter, and that was just because he was a member of G.I. Joe.
I decided to have a closer look at Mattel's product, recently. Certainly, their merchandise has a significant spot in any toy department. I'd picked up a couple of their "Elite" figures a while back -- the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels -- but these figures also came with a fairly elite price tag, and it wasn't something that I could make a habit of, although I was certainly pleased to own figures of these legendary WWE Superstars, and was impressed with the product.
But somewhat more recently, Mattel created a more basic line. Carded figures, on a card that was primarily white with red trim, with a photograph of the individual on it, and a much more reasonable price tag. I'm not entirely sure this is the official name of this particular line, but I tend to refer to it as the "Superstars" line. Just about any currently active WWE Superstar is a contender for it, even as Mattel maintains the "Elite" line as well as some other collectible series, and a number of figures with various action features.
For the most part, I liked what I saw with the "Superstars" line -- including the price tag. The worst thing I could say about any of the figures is that some of them didn't have the best likenesses in the world, or for whatever reason, were given rather quirky facial expressions. It's one thing for a WWE Superstar to look determined or angry. It's another thing for him to look like he's constipated or has some sort of ailment that has subjected him to strange facial contortions.
One of the more impressive figures, part of a new series called "Global Superstars", which consists of WWE Superstars that originate outside of the United States, was an increasingly prominent member of the current WWE line-up, a large and powerful Irishman by the name of SHEAMUS.
I've enjoyed watching his exploits on the WWE shows, and he's certainly a distinctive individual, so I decided to bring the Sheamus figure home and into my collection, and review him now for you.
Let's consider some of the history of the real-life WWE Superstar Sheamus, and then have a look at his action figure.
Sheamus, real name Stephen Farrelly (Irish: Stíofán Ó Fearghaile) -- born January 28, 1978 -- is an Irish professional wrestler and occasional actor, currently signed with WWE.
Prior to joining WWE, Farrelly was also a two-time International Heavyweight Champion during his tenure in Irish Whip Wrestling. He is a three-time World Champion, having held the WWE Championship on two occasions and World Heavyweight Champion once. He also won the King of the Ring in 2010 and the Royal Rumble in 2012, as well as the WWE United States Championship once.
Farrelly was born in Cabra, Dublin and was raised within the city. His father, Martin, was an amateur bodybuilder. Farrelly speaks fluent Irish, having attended Scoil Caoimhin Primary and Coláiste Mhuire Secondary School, a Gaelscoil. He played Gaelic football for the Erin's Isle team where once he was declared sports star of the month. He also played rugby for the National College of Ireland, where he gained a National Diploma. Farrelly is a former IT technician.
Farrelly's inspiration into a professional wrestling career came from watching both British wrestling from ITV's World of Sport and American wrestling from the World Wrestling Federation on Sky One. On the advice of Bret Hart, Farrelly began training in Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory wrestling school in April 2002. Six weeks later he officially debuted as a fan favorite under the name Sheamus O'Shaunessy. He soon suffered a serious neck injury after botching a hip toss which sidetracked his career for two years.
Farrelly soon developed his wrestling character by drawing on Celtic mythology. Wanting to move away from limiting Irish stereotypes of lucky charms, leprechauns and alcoholism, he instead wanted to portray an Irish warrior. Going to a Gaelscoil, Farelly grew up aware of the four cycles of Irish mythology and, inspired by the artwork of Jim Fitzpatrick, incorporated the sword and axe-wielding imagery. This included the design of his own pendant, the crossos, which combines the Celtic cross with a Celtic War sword to illustrate his character's "indigenous origins with a hybrid of warrior strength matched with a strong ethical centre."
In November 2006, Sheamus appeared on WWE RAW Manchester Evening News Arena in England as part of the security team ejecting D-Generation X from ringside only to later receive a Pedigree from Triple H. The following day he had a try out match, and the following April he received another set of try out matches in Milan and London. This led to an offer and signing of a developmental contract with WWE, at which point he relocated to the United States.
After spending some time in Florida Championship Wrestling, the WWE's developmental territory at the time, on the June 30, 2009 episode of ECW, Farrelly made his unannounced debut as a villain under the ring name of Sheamus, quickly defeating a local competitor. Sheamus soon entered into a critically well-received rivalry with Goldust after defeating him on July 29th, 2009. After exchanging victories in the following weeks the two appeared on the Abraham Washington Show talk segment leading to a No Disqualification match on September 1 which was won by Sheamus. Sheamus then began a feud with Shelton Benjamin which led into a deciding match on October 27 which Sheamus won.
His rivalry with Benjamin ended prematurely because Sheamus had already been moved to the Raw brand. He made his Raw debut by defeating Jamie Noble in late October. In the following weeks, he continued to attack Noble causing him to retire, and, in lieu of competition, assaulted the timekeeper and commentator Jerry Lawler on 16 November at Madison Square Garden. The following week Sheamus appeared on his first WWE pay-per-view event, Survivor Series. Sheamus appeared as part of The Miz's team in a traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match. He eliminated fellow Irishman Finlay and made the final pinfall to eliminate the opposing captain John Morrison and survive along with The Miz and longtime former rival Drew McIntyre.
The following night on Raw, Sheamus won a "break-through" battle royal for wrestlers who had never won a world championship, to become the number one contender to John Cena's WWE Championship. At the contract signing immediately afterwards, Sheamus put Cena through the table as the Raw guest host Jesse Ventura announced it would be a Table match. On 13 December at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view, Sheamus defeated Cena to win the WWE Championship, his first championship in WWE, making him the first Irish-born WWE Champion. The following night on Raw, Sheamus was awarded the 2009 Breakout Superstar of the Year Slammy Award.
On June 20 at Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, Sheamus won a four-way match, following interference from The Nexus that allowed him to pin John Cena, thus winning the WWE Championship, and beginning his second WWE Championship reign. He went on to defeat Cena a third time in a steel cage match to retain the championship at the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and against Randy Orton at SummerSlam, which ended in disqualification, meaning that Sheamus retained his title. At Night of Champions, Sheamus lost the WWE Championship to Randy Orton in a Six-Pack Elimination Challenge, which also included Chris Jericho, Edge, John Cena, and Wade Barrett.
He bounced back on November 29, with wins over Kofi Kingston and John Morrison to become King of the Ring. As King Sheamus, he faced Morrison again at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs event for a future WWE Championship match, but lost the match. Going into 2011, he continued to lose to Morrison in a mixture of singles and tag team matches.
Triple H returned on February 28 and took revenge for his scripted ten month injury by putting him through the announcer table. Right after that, Sheamus was defeated by Evan Bourne who returned to Raw after a four month injury. On March 7, after losing a match against Daniel Bryan, Sheamus challenged him to a rematch with his WWE career on the line against Bryan's United States Championship. He won his match, winning his first United States Title.
Later in 2011, Sheamus was drafted to the SmackDown show. Sheamus made his SmackDown debut on the April 29 episode, attacking Kofi Kingston. Although he took the United States Championship with him, he lost it back to the Raw brand at Extreme Rules when Kingston defeated him in a Table match.
On the June 3 episode of SmackDown, Sheamus lost a World Heavyweight Championship match to Randy Orton due to biased refereeing from Christian, beginning a turn from a villainous character to a fan favorite over the following weeks. Two weeks later, he was put in a match against Christian with a stipulation that if Sheamus won, he would be able to compete in the World Heavyweight Championship match at WWE Capitol Punishment. However he was unsuccessful in the match, and he was punted by Randy Orton after the match.
Sheamus' face turn culminated in him attacking Mark Henry for being a bully, though he lost to him by count-out at SummerSlam. After this loss, Sheamus went on a fourteen-match winning streak that ended after outside interference from Christian, with whom he had been feuding. During this time, Sheamus defeated Christian in three consecutive matches at Hell in a Cell, Vengeance, and on Smackdown. He then went on a twelve-match winning streak building towards winning the 2012 Royal Rumble. He entered the match and won by last eliminating Chris Jericho to earn a main event championship match at WrestleMania XXVIII.
At WrestleMania XXVIII, Sheamus defeated Bryan in a record eighteen seconds to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. On the following episode of Smackdown, Sheamus was defeated by Alberto Del Rio via disqualification, thus earning Del Rio a future title match.
Sheamus would subsequently enter feuds with Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, and others, successfully retaining his title until he was ultimately targeted by the Big Show.
On October 28, 2012, at the Hell in a Cell event, Sheamus lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Big Show, ending his reign at 210 days. Sheamus faced Show for the World Title on November 18 at Survivor Series, where he defeated Show via disqualification and thus did not win the title. This led to a Chairs match on December 16 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, where Sheamus failed again to regain the World Heavyweight Championship, after Show brought out a metal folding chair easily twice the size of a normal chair.
And I really do wonder where the WWE had that thing fabricated. I mean, really, it was almost too big even for the Big Show -- and that's saying something.
Presently, Sheamus is one of the most popular Superstars in the WWE, and certainly one of its most distinctive individuals. Word has it that he received Triple H's approval quite early on, which could explain part of his meteoric rise to prominence, but you don't get to where Sheamus is in the WWE without having the talent, skill, and personality to back it up, and Sheamus certainly has these in abundance.
So, how's the figure? Superb, really.
I suspect that one of the greatest challenges of the WWE line is designing a reasonable likeness of the individual. For a time, Jakks Pacific used a computerized process called "Real Scan", which was able to take a three-dimensional scan of the actual individual's face, and transform it into a sculpt for the toy. This was really very effective. I have no idea if Mattel uses the same procedure.
Mattel does have the Four Horsemen, a team of astoundingly talented designers and sculptors, but I really don't know if they work on the WWE line. I don't believe they do. They seem to work mostly on more fiction-based lines, such as Masters of the Universe and DC Universe. And I'm certainly not saying there aren't other highly-talented sculptors in the toy business. Certainly there are.
But the challenge with the WWE line, especially, is coming up with an effective likeness of a real person, one not too far removed from how that person really looks. Now, the same can be said, to a certain degree, of some movie based lines. But if an actor is playing a character, there's a little bit of leeway there. If a figure of Qui-Gon Jinn doesn't look 100% like Liam Neeson, well, it can still be Qui-Gon. A figure of Indiana Jones had better come pretty close to Harrison Ford, but there can still be a little leeway granted with the costuming and such. Some of the figures from The Hobbit don't necessarily need to match the actors from the movie (although generally speaking they do so superbly well), because for the most part, these actors are wearing extensive makeup.
But the WWE Superstars, for the most part, are as you see them, and they turn up on television several times a week, and are hugely popular individuals who have their photographic images regularly appearing on clothing, magazines, and all over the Internet. If you're going to sculpt an action figure of one of these guys, you'd better get it right.
Mattel certainly got Sheamus right. Of course, Sheamus is rather distinctive-looking individual to begin with.
Sheamus has red hair, and as is often the case with redheads, very pale skin. When he was still playing the part of a villain, he used to get teased about it pretty seriously by the other WWE Superstars. In fact, when Mattel acquired the license to produce WWE action figures, they said they were going to have to invent a new color of particularly pale flesh-tone plastic in order to add Sheamus to their line-up.
Was this the truth? For Mattel, it might have been. I look around at some of my other Mattel action figures from Masters of the Universe, DC Universe, and so forth, and although there's some variance in the flesh tone here and there, none of them are quite as pale as Sheamus.
But if you turn to Hasbro, it's another matter. Many of their G.I. Joe figures have relatively pale skin. I take a look at the special Dreadnoks seven-pack I acquired a while back. I put Road Pig next to Sheamus, and apart from thinking that these two would have an interesting match in the ring if they were to scale with each other, Road Pig had exactly the same skin color as Sheamus. So the color has been out there, just perhaps not with Mattel before now.
Redheads are not all that common these days, for whatever reason. I recall that on the recent 10th Anniversary of the WWE's superb "Tribute to the Troops" program, which is put on for military personnel and their families, during a point at the end of the show where various Superstars were making their way through the crowd, greeting them, Sheamus found a small boy with exactly the same skin and hair color as himself. It was notable enough to put it on camera. Sheamus seemed pleased to have met the boy, and certainly the boy was pleased to have met Sheamus.
At any rate, Sheamus manages to stand out even among the rather unusual crowd of WWE Superstars.
Sheamus is a fairly large individual, something you don't really take note of unless he's standing next to someone of more average height, since most of the WWE Superstars are larger than average, and Sheamus isn't in the category of the super-large such as Big Show. According to statistics, Sheamus stands 6 ft, 4 inches in height, and weighs around 267 pounds -- which anyone who sees him would readily admit he keeps in excellent condition.
His action figure stands slightly over 7-1/8" in height. One thing that I have noticed with these WWE figures, both just on the store shelves and among the few that I have, is that Mattel does their best to keep the heights accurate to scale. Thus Sheamus is likely to be a bit taller than some of the others.
At this height, one might ask, how well does Sheamus fit in with some of Mattel's other similarly-scaled lines. Well, really, not too badly, if you allow for the fact that he is supposed to be somewhat taller than average. He's honestly not a bad fit in either the DC Universe or Masters of the Universe, assuming for some reason you want Sheamus to punch out Deadshot or Skeletor or somebody.
Sheamus' facial likeness is excellent. My only very minor criticism is that the eyes don't seem quite big enough. Sheamus tends to have this rather bug-eyed look when you see him in action in the ring. Now, on a small action figure, this might have looked too exaggerated, so Mattel might have toned it down just a bit. The headsculpt still looks very much like Sheamus. The expression gives Sheamus a sort of half-smile, half-snarl, which he is certainly capable of, and thankfully isn't as extreme as some of the facial expressions I've seen on some of the other figures.
Sheamus tends to wear his relatively short hair brushed up in spikes. Think of a real-life version of Guile from Street Fighter and you're not too far off. The sculpt on the action figure is really amazing in this respect. Many dozens of tiny little spikes comprise the top of Sheamus' head, and I honestly can't even begin to think what it must have taken to sculpt the figure's head with this sort of detail.
Sheamus has a mustache, which extends downward into a narrow beard that sweeps backward up into his sideburns. He also has a small patch underneath his lower lip. These are present and accounted for as well, and along with his somewhat prominent eyebrows, have all been painted very precisely.
Sheamus has a muscular physique, but it's obviously not exaggerated to super-heroic or Eternian proportions. I'm impressed by what I've seen in the WWE line, admittedly with limited experience, in that I haven't so far seen a lot of reuse of body parts. Certainly there must be some, but not so much that the figures don't look like their real-life counterparts to an agreeable degree. Obviously, Sheamus is tall as well as muscular, and his overall physique is well-detailed on his action figure.
The Sheamus figure is wearing black trunks, boots, wristbands, and knee pads. The knee pads are actually molded separately and attached to the figure during assembly. They might be removable, but I also think they'd be rather difficult to slide past the boots, so I don't intend to try.
The boots in particular are extremely well detailed, right down to the laces. The wrist bands are just painted on, which is what makes me think there's likely some multiple use of parts in this line, so that other types of wristbands, or none at all, can be accommodated.
The various designs that Sheamus' ring gear is known for have been neatly imprinted on the figure. The imprinting process, while I don't understand how it works, although I know it when I see it, certainly serves the WWE line very well. It not only allows for the neat application of clothing decorations, but also tattoos, for those WWE Superstars that have such features, and there's no shortage of them that do. Sheamus is not one of these.
There are several narrow white lines on his trunks and boots which have been very neatly imprinted -- no easy trick across the leg and ankle articulation. The center of his trunks, and the fronts of his knee pads, have a circular emblem on them which at first looks like a stylized letter "O", but closer inspection reveals it to be a snake biting its own tail.
There are additional letters on the front of Sheamus' trunks, on either side of this emblem. If we take the emblem to also be a letter "O", then it spells the word "Laoch". If we leave the emblem out, then it's either "Lach" or two distinctive sets of letters "LA" and "CH". Unfortunately, I don't really know what these might mean. However, they've certainly been neatly imprinted on the figure.
A stylized cross, with a circle intersecting it, can be seen on the back of Sheamus' trunks, the backs of his boots, and on his wristbands. All of these imprintings are white on the black clothing.
The figure feels very sturdily made, and I am quite sure would withstand a generous amount of in-ring action in a play setting, and there are playsets available for these WWE figures.
Let's consider the figure's articulation. It's excellent, really. Sheamus is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The only slight downside to the articulation is that the legs move forward and backward, but not outward, and there is no upper leg swivel. This, as much as anything, is evidence of the somewhat "basic" level of these figures. If you want the higher level of leg articulation, plus a mid-torso articulation, that's where the "Elite Collection" comes in.
However, I have to say that I don't personally expect these figures to see extensive play usage, and I don't really feel like paying a significantly higher price tag for the sake of three articulation points. I've got no real complaints here whatsoever.
So, what's my final word? I'm impressed. Mattel seems to have a good lock on 6"-7" scale action figures, much as Hasbro does with the 4" world. DC Universe, Masters of the Universe, and the WWE are all excellent product lines of highly-detailed, accurate and precise action figures. And the WWE line is certainly popular, and maintains a healthy presence in the toy aisles even as some lines which one would think would be similarly popular seem to be struggling these days.
I maintain that the WWE line is probably a bit more difficult to craft than some, since the individuals involved don't leave as much room for interpretation as others. It's got to look like the individual, and the individual is a real person who, in most cases, doesn't look all that different outside of the ring than inside, wrestling gear notwithstanding. With Sheamus, Mattel has done a superb job.
If you're a WWE fan, and a great many people are, then have a look at this "Superstars" line. The prices are reasonable, the lineup is extensive, and you're bound to find some of your current favorites within it. One of mine is Sheamus, and I was very pleased to add him to my collection. I'm certain you will be, too.
The WWE GLOBAL SUPERSTARS figure of SHEAMUS definitely has my highest recommendation!