While browsing the Ringside Collectibles website I stumbled upon their "damaged packaging" section. I found this Samoa Joe figure in there and he was priced at only $21.99. Now, sometimes, you can go to a place like Target and find Elite figures for $20.99 and most other places they're $19.99, but I was willing to pay the extra two dollars if it meant that I'd have him sooner (as this series might not be hitting mass retail for a little while still) and more importantly I don't have to drive around to stores (like Walgreens, which proved to be our source of E42) searching for him. Yes, there is some satisfaction in ordering online and waiting for the figures to come to you rather than driving around and only finding those damn Los Matadores Elites at Walgreens (And the same old series everywhere else).
Back when I was collecting WWE Jakks figures I decided I was going to make a custom action figure of Samoa Joe. I remember putting a Tommy Dreamer head on a Eugene body and it was the first custom I ever made. Even though Jakks made Samoa Joe in the TNA line and there were some decent figures of him in the TNA lines by Toy Biz, it just seems like some kind of validation to get Samoa Joe in Mattel form because it not only shows that he is among the best wrestlers in the world today but he is also among the best action figures. If you told me- when Mattel first got the WWE license- that they'd be making figures of Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Austin Aries I likely wouldn't believe you, and that doesn't include that they also made the first ever Daniel Bryan figures as well.
When the prototypes were first shown for this series and the first Mattel Samoa Joe figure I was just ready to order him. Given the collection of wrestlers Mattel has made available to us, there was a point in time where it seemed like Samoa Joe may never leave TNA and as such I was planning on possibly customizing him a Mattel figure using the Brock Lesnar body and a Toy Biz head, so thankfully it didn't come to that (And this figure right here- and the WWE signing of Samoa Joe- has made me hesitant to make any customs since they could potentially sign with WWE one day)
From the standpoint of this Samoa Joe figure without his accessories he is perfect. Kickers, knee pads that are molded on and bend, the shorts right down to the torso and head scan-- this Samoa Joe figure is flawless. I thought about getting the Basic Samoa Joe when it is released but I'm not sure that I will now because I just love this Elite so much and he moves in ways I know that the Basic won't and, yes, that is articulation that Samoa Joe needs.
Samoa Joe comes with his entrance towel and t-shirt. The towel is a sort of plastic and not cloth, which I like. The old Jakks WWE figures used to come with this cloth towel which bothered me after a while and then the Toy Biz Joe figure came with a molded towel but it felt too small where as this one feels just right. If you were going to have a match with Samoa Joe where he bloodied his opponent and then wiped that blood onto his towel you could craft a fabric towel easily enough yourself.
I also enjoy the fact that the shirt is fabric and has velcro in the back. I only have one other shirt like this- Bo Dallas' Bo-Lieve shirt- and it seems like this would be made in the same size and such but yet it fits Samoa Joe rather well so it doesn't seem too large or too small on him but has enough space to not feel tight like it's going to rip. I know we sacrifice the back of the shirt design, but I prefer these shirts over the molded ones for sure and if this Samoa Joe came with a molded shirt it'd probably not be something he wore a lot and just found its way into a tub with other accessories, so kudos to Mattel for this t-shirt choice.
Given the state of WWE right now, it would be rather easy for Samoa Joe as an action figure here to compete against other action figures he has already faced either in his WWE run thus far or before joining WWE. I'm talking names like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and the inevitable AJ Styles and Austin Aries figures. But what's even more fun is that Samoa Joe can now face names like Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, Kalisto, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Matt Hardy and down the line hopefully even more.
As much as I've felt like Mattel is giving us the best WWE action figures of past, present and future- not just in terms of quality but also in terms of the names- I feel like Samoa Joe is just one of those guys that just ties it all together so nicely. I mean, I enjoyed my Jakks collection when I had it, but I'd give away all of those figures all over again if it meant getting the Mattel collection I have now. Guys who haven't been made by Mattel (yet?) dwindle in comparison to the names that Mattel has made that Jakks did not. Samoa Joe is kind of the stand out of all of that, if only for personal reasons to me.