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UFC Deluxe Series 0 Official Review!

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PdW2kX and MMAFigs.com Present an In-Depth Review of UFC Series 0!

It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last: PdW2kX and MMAFigs.com are both proud to present an exclusive full-length review of the first wave of Jakks Pacific UFC-branded action figures.

“Series 0” features big names of the past and present, from a wide variety of weight classes. From Brock Lesnar to Royce Gracie, from Miguel Torres to Rashad Evans, even Keith Jardine and Houston Alexander all made the debut line of UFC action figures a resounding success. Now that the dust has cleared, I’ll be looking back on what I think helped and hindered this debut line.

I’ll tackle the lesser-known fighters first, as I think the lesser-known fighters that feature impressive attention-to-detail were one of the main reasons Series 0 was and still is a resounding success. Never is this clearer than in the case of the Houston Alexander action figure, which is based off of his attire from UFC 71, the event that saw him burst onto the UFC scene with an incredible highlight-reel thrashing of heavily-favored Keith Jardine, who ironically also has a Series 0 figure. This is most likely the first and only Houston Alexander figure we’ll ever see- after his horrendous fight against Kimbo Slice, UFC President Dana White went on record saying that Alexander would most likely never again call the UFC home. If Houston Alexander has any fans left after the aforementioned bore-fest against Kimbo, they can take solace in the fact that Jakks put a lot of effort into this figure.

The attire itself is very basic: all-black trunks, black ankle tape, and two “Warrior” logos, one on each of Alexander’s thighs. However, this is an interesting example of art imitating life- Alexander’s actual fight trunks at UFC 71 really were that basic and sparsely detailed. So I can’t fault Jakks for keeping things realistic.

The facial authenticity and tattoo work are what makes this figure shine. I’ve said in the past that Jakks has produced several high-quality facial likenesses, and Houston Alexander is one of the best. It looks exactly like him, so much so that it even has the bump in his head! How crazy is that? Jakks made an entirely different head mold just so they could put in the bump in Houston Alexander’s head. That’s a whole lot of effort put into a figure for a lower-tier fighter. Alexander’s tattoos are recreated beautifully: everything looks pretty much photo-realistic, from his arm tats to his shoulder tats to his neck tats, even his back tat! These aren’t simple skulls and crosses either, Houston has some pretty complicated tattoos and they’re all recreated masterfully.

However, the simple fact of the matter is that it’s a figure of Houston Alexander. If you consider yourself a fan of the man, and there can’t be too many of you out there nowadays, this is a definite pickup. If you’re a completionist, there’s really nothing bad about this figure. If you just want to buy or can only afford to buy one UFC figure, though, it’s a wise idea to pass this up. As strange as it sounds, the only thing holding this figure back is the person it’s based off of. If the attention-to-detail wasn’t so good there would be almost no way I could ever justify buying an action figure of Houston Alexander.

Next up is Keith “the Dean of Mean” Jardine, featured in his UFC 89 attire where he won a close Split Decision victory over Brandon “The Truth” Vera. Jardine is in the same boat as Houston Alexander, albeit to a lesser extent. I personally am a fan of Jardine, and I know that there’s a small but vocal minority that appreciates Jardine’s penchant for putting on good fights. Jardine seems to have settled into his role as a gatekeeper with the occasional surprise win, and while this figure hasn’t exactly flown off store shelves, it’s as solid an entry as any in Series 0.

While the Houston Alexander figure benefited from extensive tattoo work, this Jardine figure benefits from textured fight trunks that sport a bevy of logos. The textured trunks have been hit-or-miss when it comes to fan reaction, but I personally like them a lot. The attire is a nearly flawless recreation of the actual attire worn by Jardine at UFC 89, and features a total of seven logos.

The facial scan on this figure is also a big selling point. No one could ever mistake this figure’s hardened stare and bushy goatee as anyone other than Keith Jardine. There are some forehead wrinkles that, at first, I thought made the figure look a bit older than it should. However, upon viewing some UFC 89 photo galleries, almost every in-fight photo I’ve seen does show a considerable amount of forehead wrinkles on Jardine. Like the bump in Alexander’s head, Jakks shows once again that they’re willing to go the extra mile even if the fighter they’re basing a figure off of isn’t in the top tier of the industry.

Up next is Rashad Evans in his UFC 88 attire, the event that saw him cement his place as an upper-tier Light Heavyweight when he brutally knocked out UFC legend Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. While a bigger star than Jardine and certainly a bigger star than Alexander, Rashad is definitely Series 0’s black sheep.

But make no mistake about it; his trunks are as detailed as any in Series 0. He boasts an impressive seven logos, with none of them being repeats. However, it’s the face that holds this figure back. Jakks managed to get his hairstyle right, but other than that the face looks very awkward. Rashad’s eyebrows and facial hair are both far too pronounced. While Rashad does usually have large eyebrows, they aren’t the jet-black Jakks used for this figure. The same holds true for Rashad’s facial hair- his sideburns are normally little more than a 5 o’clock shadow, while his beard/goatee is only a step or two above peach fuzz. This results in the entire face looking off, as if it were Rashad Evans’s cousin or uncle instead of the man himself. 

So, should you buy this figure? You could do a lot worse. But I won’t make any excuses; Rashad Evans is one of the weakest figures that Jakks has produced for their UFC line. With a different head scan, this could have and perhaps should have been an excellent figure. If you can look past the glaring facial inaccuracies, every other detail is pretty much spot-on. However, I know that’s a lot to ask. If you can take that leap, the figure is definitely worth picking up. If you can’t, it may be best for you to avoid this one.

Our first heavy-hitter of UFC Series 0 comes in the form of a Miguel “Angel” Torres figure, based off of his attire at WEC 34, an event that saw him make the first of four successful defenses of his WEC Bantamweight Championship. Not only is Miguel Torres super-detailed, he even comes with a WEC championship belt, the first-ever championship belt in the UFC line. Torres is definitely one of my favorite figures of Series 0.

Unlike the previous three figures, which all sport mostly-black fight trunks, Torres’s WEC 34 attire features a good brown-with-white ensemble that shows the ability of Jakks to do complicated color schemes for their fight attires. There are an impressive nine official logos on Torres’s trunks, one of the highest numbers in the entire lineup of Jakks UFC figures as of this review. Despite two problems with the head, I’m as big a fan of it as I am the trunks. Jakks perfectly recreated Torres’s mullet-hawk, and the face bares a strong resemblance to the actual fighter. At first I thought it didn’t but then I realized why I thought this: this head sculpt features a smirking Torres.

While I was a fan of the UFC Series 1 Forrest Griffin because it did a great job of recapturing Griffin’s post-beatdown smile-smirk, when I picture Miguel Torres I just don’t picture him like that. The face itself is a perfectly acceptable likeness; the only thing that threw me off is the simple fact that I personally can’t remember ever seeing Torres with that type of smirk on his face. The only other thing I have a problem with is Torres’ ears. I know it’s a very nitpicking thing of me to do to criticize the ears of an action figure, but I just don’t like them. If you’ve seen him fight, “Angel” has ears so cauliflowered that they’re basically two small holes on either side of his head. I would’ve liked to have seen that represented in this figure.

But those are my only two problems with this figure, and I’ll admit they mostly boil down to nitpicking. The overall detail on the figure, combined with the included WEC championship belt accessory, is more than enough for me to give a firm recommendation for all MMA fans to go out and add this figure to their MMA collection. While I think Urijah Faber should have been the first-ever WEC figure, I’ll fully admit that Jakks put forth a great effort to make the first WEC figure something special. While I don’t see the WEC mini-line ever becoming popular enough to warrant its own separate line, I do think that the mini-line’s status as “chaser” figures, combined with the quality and detail given the figures, will make the WEC figures a worthy buy time and time again.

Frank Mir is our next figure, and he’s in his attire from UFC 92, where he became the first and only man to ever (T)KO Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Mir is one of the most detailed figures of Series 0, and the attention-to-detail on everything from his tattoos to his hairstyle all makes for a fantastic figure. Mir’s all-white trunks are crammed with logos, eight of them in total. While he’s missing two logos, one of them I can’t make out in the in-fight pictures I’ve seen, so I can’t really comment on it. The other, a Full Tilt Poker logo, has since been banned from the UFC, so I can’t fault Jakks for that either.

Like the Houston Alexander figure, this figure benefits from the plain fact that the fighter he’s based on has several impressive tattoos. I won’t fault figures that don’t have tattoos, since it’s not fair to judge them on sticking to reality and making a figure tattoo-less because the actual fighter it’s based off of has no tattoos. But my point is that tattoos on an action figure can and have been notoriously hard to recreate, especially given Jakks Pacific’s hit-or-miss record with tat work. Since Jakks has done such a good job at faithfully recreating the tattoo work on their line of UFC action figures, I’m more than happy to give praise where praise is due. Mir’s back-of-shoulder tattoo is a bit shrunken, but other than that, everything looks great.

The facial scan is quite good, as well- Mir’s eyebrows are just bushy enough, his face is stern, and Jakks managed to perfectly capture his unique hairstyle that I’ve heard referred to as the “Jonas Brothers” look. I do think his soul patch is a bit too pronounced, judging by fight photos it was little more than stubble. However, this doesn’t detract much from an otherwise great scan.

And that’s the best compliment I can give this figure- there are a few small detractors that realistically only matter if you consider yourself a hardcore collector. The figure isn’t perfect, but then again, what figure is? It’s an incredible first effort and this figure in particular went a long way towards building up my faith in this line when I first scooped it up.

Unfortunately, there was one figure in particular from Series 0 that made me think that Jakks hasn’t made a complete turn-around from some of their more-obvious WWE-related flubs. Ironically, the fighter this figure is based off of was once a WWE superstar. Brock Lesnar is depicted in Series 0 in his UFC 81 attire, where he burst onto the UFC scene only to get tapped out by Frank Mir after a little over a minute of in-ring action. Lesnar would then go on to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion, and thoroughly avenge his loss to Frank Mir with a fantastic performance at the record-setting UFC 100.

Brock is one of the UFC’s biggest stars right now, so there was a lot of hype surrounding this figure. In fact, a Brock Lesnar figure was one of the first prototypes ever shown to the public. So, after several revisions, how does the figure stack up? It may be another solid effort, but it certainly falls flat on several of its expectations.

The trunks are a great mix of black and white, but the detail on them is very lacking. Lesnar has a total of three logos- two Warrior logos and a Death Clutch logo. In a series that saw full-color logos on several of its figures, I can’t fathom why the red borders were left off of the Warrior logos. Also, there are a total of three logos missing, which ultimately makes the top of Lesnar’s trunks (both front and back) and the front portion of his right leg look very barren. Lesnar’s impressive tattoo work could have possibly saved this figure, but it suffers from its fair share of problems.

I’ll start off with what was done right- his shoulder tats, his chest tat, and his two small upper-back tats are all faithfully recreated. However, the thing that makes his chest tattoo look so good is paradoxically why his large back tattoo looks so weird. On his chest, Lesnar’s famous sword tattoo stretches from his neck to his navel, past the point of articulation where the chest bends. Jakks was able to make the tattoo look good despite the fact that painting something over a point of articulation and not having it look awkward is often a very tricky thing to do. So, I commend them for that.

However, this same idea was not applied to Lesnar’s back tattoo, which is by far his most famous. Instead, what we get is a shrunken version of the tattoo that does not stretch beyond the point of articulation near the lower-end of the back. This would be fine had Jakks included Lesnar’s lower-back “Kill ‘Em All” tattoo, but that is also missing. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with the absence of the “Kill ‘Em All” tattoo since it’s rarely seen during Brock’s fights, but in this case, the absence of it combined with the shrinking of the larger back tattoo just screams of a lack of effort.

Overall, when viewed solely on its own merit, this Lesnar figure is a solid purchase. If you look at it in comparison to all the hype surrounding this figure when it was first announced, however, it represents a missed opportunity more than anything else. As I said before, Series 0 isn’t perfect, and I was honestly expecting a few stumbling blocks to arise. This figure is one of them.

However, it’s not so bad that I would recommend avoiding it. Just know what you’re getting into when you plunk down your cash. If you can wait for a better Lesnar, all signs point to the UFC line getting better and better each series. As one of the UFC’s biggest stars, Lesnar is bound to get several repaints and re-releases, with entirely different fight trunks and facial scans. If you can stand the wait, waiting for a better version of this figure may be in your best interest. But if you want a Brock Lesnar figure right now and don’t want to spend a not-insignificant amount of money having a high-quality custom made, this figure is by far your best option. Despite being one of Series 0’s weakest figures, at the end of the day I’m glad it’s a part of my collection. Give it a chance, and I think you’ll feel the same way too.

One figure in Series 0 that needs no introduction is Royce Gracie, the man that practically defines the earliest era of the UFC. A member of the famed Gracie family, Royce shattered the notion that “cage fighting” was a sport best suited for hulking behemoths and barroom brawlers, as he deftly destroyed several fighters that massively outweighed him with his uncanny skills in the art of Brazilian Jui Jitsu, a fighting style derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan Judo that the Gracie family created wholly by themselves. As the first “UFC Legends” figure, this Royce Gracie figure is based off of his appearance at the very first UFC event, and comes with a full cloth gi.

I’ll start by saying something that I’m sure everyone who has this figure already knows: the cloth gi is amazing. It’s as realistic a simulation of a gi as I’ve ever seen on an action figure. It’s form-fitting but hardly restricts movement. It can be pulled and stretched without fear of tearing. For those into posing their figures, the cloth gi doesn’t add any difficulty whatsoever in setting up submissions. It even has Gracie’s black belt sewn into it, with the front portion being able to be tied and untied, as well as the full “Gracie Jui Jitsu” logo on the back. It’s easy to pull off and easy to put back on. Overall, it’s a resounding success.

If you’re a loose collector, just be advised that the cloth does run the risk of becoming stained. Prolonged use, such as in play, as well as having it in an open environment can all result in the cloth taking on a yellowish color in certain trouble-spots. I haven’t tried washing the gi, so I can’t say if that helps restore some of its luster. I’d just like to throw out the word of warning and leave it up to the collectors as individuals to deal with that possible problem. Handle it as you see fit.

Overall, this is a great figure. The head scan looks very similar to the actual Royce Gracie. There’s not a lot to talk about when it comes to what’s under the gi; Royce is sporting a black Speedo and nothing else. But the cloth gi and the chaser status of this figure, combined with the fact that it’s the first-ever UFC Legends figure, makes this an immediate pickup if you can find it. For quite some time this was my favorite figure of all the UFC figures released so far…until I was able to finally complete my UFC Series 0 collection several days ago. Behold: the greatness that is Kendall Grove.

Normally I wouldn’t get this excited over a middle-of-the-road fighter that I’m only a moderate fan of, but Grove is clearly the best representation of the Jakks Pacific UFC formula taken to its absolute best. Not only are his fight trunks some of the most-detailed of any series, he also sports a ridiculous amount of beautifully-rendered tattoos as well as his popular face-mask! Grove is sporting his UFC 69 look, which is arguably the Pay-Per-View that saw Grove reach his highest point of success in the UFC. At UFC 69, Grove garnered considerable attention and a Joe Rogan spastic episode when he used a D’Arce Choke to render Alan Belcher unconscious. Although Grove has had a rough time since UFC 69, having gone 3-3 since the event, none can deny that Joe Rogan’s heightened screams of “D’ARCE CHOKE! D’ARCE CHOKE!” made for some amazing television. And the detail on this figure makes for an amazing addition to anybody’s collection.

Grove sports an incredible, benchmark-setting eleven official logos. Some are plain text, some are stylized text, some have figures and shapes, and all look excellent. His trunks are white with red flames on the trim, an ode to his training partner and mentor Tito Ortiz. He even has white ankle tape. Jakks had a lot of work ahead of them with this line, and this figure proves that it doesn’t take the gaudy attire of WWE wrestlers to create a figure that you can’t take your eyes off of. The facial scan and the removable face-mask accessory are icing on the cake, both are fantastic and perfectly recapture Grove’s UFC 69 performance.

The tattoos on this figure are what make it such an exemplary example of all that Jakks should strive to achieve in future lines. There are tattoos everywhere: left arm, right arm, upper arm, lower arm, back of arm, shoulder, back, back of shoulder, back of neck, front of neck, and side of chest. Also, unlike Brock Lesnar Kendall Grove’s large back tattoo isn’t shrunken, it extends from below the back of the neck (since the back of the neck has another tattoo) to a point slightly below the point of articulation where the chest/back bends. What amazes me about this figure is that the tattoos are far from simple designs: there are shapes, figures, flames, text in different styles, feathers, a red star, and more.

Overall, this figure is too good to pass up no matter what your preferences are. Coupled with the fact that this is one of Series 0’s rarest figures, it’s no wonder I’ve seen this figure go shooting up in price from anywhere to $25 to $45 at certain online websites. If you can find the Kendall Grove UFC action figure in-stores, make a mad dash for him and count your lucky stars that you were able to track it down. Although you may have to deal with some price gouging, I’d suggest buying this figure sooner rather than later, even from online stores that are beginning to charge over double what the figure retails for. I only see this figure going up in price, so those meditating on whether or not to purchase this figure should take the plunge and spend the green to add it to their collection. Whether Mint on Card or loose, this figure will stand the test of time as one of Jakks’ best efforts. Series 0 set an impressive benchmark for the future, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Kendall Grove action figure.

Overall, I don’t regret a single purchase from UFC Series 0. The figures have their flaws, some more than others, but this is one of the strongest debut action figure lines I’ve ever seen. There are flaws to be worked out and more detail to be thrown in, but as a UFC fan and action figure collector I honestly couldn’t have asked for much more than what Jakks gave us in UFC Series 0.

Lower-string fighters are given the same, sometimes even more, detail than the top-of-the-card fighters. Fighters from the WEC and Legends are given special accessories in order to encourage a purchase from fans that may be unfamiliar with them. Some facial scans do need additional work, but others are almost photo-realistic. In a sport where tattoos differ wildly from fighter to fighter, Jakks has made excellent and completely faithful renditions of some of the most-recognizable ink in the business.

Missing logos are and may continue to be a perpetual problem due to licensing issues and the UFC’s banning of sponsors being applied retroactively, but Jakks shoulders only part of the problem for the former and none of it for the latter. Overall the figures deliver far more logos than I could have ever imagined, from Ecko Unlimited to Lahaina Grill, from Warrior and Death Clutch to TapouT and Cage Fighter.

I also think supporting this line sends a strong message that the UFC fans will stay loyal and follow the UFC into whatever consumer products they use to develop their brand. If they prove successful, the Jakks Pacific line of UFC action figures could be a major element in the UFC’s continued mainstream success. It doesn’t get much more mainstream than Wal*Mart and Toys ‘R Us, and if we as consumers support this line, we’re effectively telling some of the biggest retailers across the world that the UFC has arrived and is here to stay. I’m not saying we should buy these figures solely out of loyalty, but it is another reason to consider when and if you decide to take the plunge and start up or look to grow a UFC collection.

For all the reasons listed above, I thoroughly support this line as a whole, and Series 0 in particular. Despite the problems I found in some of the figures, overall I’m happy to have all of them in my collection. This series convinced me of several things. It convinced me that a UFC line of action figures could, should, and more importantly will work. It convinced me that MMA figures can have accurate logos on their trunks and accurate tattoos on their bodies. It convinced me that Jakks Pacific has their sights set on developing this line into one of the best they’ve ever produced. And most importantly, it’s convinced me that the “UFC style”, which takes elements from both WWE Deluxe Aggression and Marvel Legends, is the best style of action figure that I have ever personally come across.

So, was the wait worth it? It was to me. Most definitely.

Fans interested in purchasing the figures found in Series 0, from individual fighters to the complete series, are advised to use the official sponsor of MMAFigs.com, Ringside Collectibles. For a direct link, click here. Remember that fans and readers of MMAFigs.com get to take 10% off of their order when using Ringside Collectibles! Just use the code “MMAFIGS”.

And, as always, remember to stay tuned to MMAFigs.com, your #1 source for UFC and action figure news, views, previews and reviews.

 

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