Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Brick Miser: C3 Construction WWE StackDown Ring with John Cena & The Miz

Hey there! I'm back and ready to continue talking about things I know nothing about! And what better place to start than with the World Wrestling Entertainment-sponsored WWE StackDown Ring from C3 Construction?


Name: WWE StackDown Ring
Distributor: C3 Construction
Model: 21031
Pcs: 349

...I know nothing about wrestling. ...Nor do I really CARE about wrestling. Why do I want to see two overly muscled and showy guys fake-fighting with choreography that would make the Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells tour point and laugh? Especially since I can play any fighting game and have characters I care about use moves that actually connect? At least with other sports like baseball or basketball, they actually score points by getting the ball where it needs to go. Someone doesn't just PRETEND to pitch a ball and everyone else pretends to catch and toss it in a match that was predetermined before it began. ...We get enough of that from presidential elections...

It goes without saying that I'm not the guy to ask when it comes to wrestling or anything related to it. In fact, here's everything I KNOW about wrestling in one paragraph: The Undertaker. John Cena. The Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Mr. T. WWE(formerly the WCW). Half & Full Nelson. Stupid talk shows that take place in a "dungeon." Mucha Lucha. Spoony, Bennett the Sage, & Linkara(since they are people I know who DO know about wrestling). A couple VCR board games I've seen played and reviewed. And the atrocious "Rise of the Firstborn" comic that I unfortunately once read and will forever regret... ...And in most of those cases, they're just words that I somewhat associate with wrestling.

So why do I even OWN a wrestling building brick set if I couldn't care less about the sport? Well, a couple reasons. First: Building brick set. Have to own every one I find. Second: Lesser known manufacturer that I really wanted to know more about. Third: It was being sold at a MAJOR price cut.

Yeah, that price sticker already says it's been reduced from $35 to $31, but the K-Mart I found this set at also had it in clearance, so I grabbed it at about 50% off the already reduced price! ...Which is also where I found a number of other similar sets, so I guess that's an indicator of the popularity of this line to begin with...

This set is part of the C3 Construction line, which has a slightly interesting history as we'll get into.

Looking at their website, C3, which stands for "Create, Construct, Customize", is primarily a producer of sports-themed building brick sets, most notably WWE and the NBA.

There were also apparently plans to produce monster truck sets based on the Monster Jam tour and TV show, but since all I could find were these prototypes from the 2014 Toy Fair, I think it's safe to assume they were canceled.

And this makes it one of only two sports-centric building brick distributors I know of, the other being OYO Sports(and yes, we'll get to a few of their sets in the near future.)

In fact, C3's parent company, The Bridge Direct, recently formed a partnership with OYO to give them the rights to use NBA figures. So if you've ever wanted to collect your favorite NBA stars in Lego form with awkwardly bent arms and hands... now you can!

Now obviously, these companies aren't the first to produce sports-themed sets, since Lego also had their Lego Sports line from 2006, but they're the only companies whose sets are primarily focused around licensed sports.

Though C3 has also started recently producing sets based on the girls collectable series Shopkins, so it's nice to see they're branching out. ...As long as they don't mess up a license as badly as Ionix messed up theirs...

 Despite being a relatively prominent company in mainstream building bricks, neither C3 nor The Bridge Direct have Wikipedia pages, which made getting what information I could a little difficult.

Heck, despite being around since 2009, most of The Bridge Direct's website still appears to be Under Construction, so even going to the source gives me nothing...

Most of what I could find was just news about a recent merger with Tech 4 Kids, but while digging around, I accidentally came across some information about C3 that slightly surprised me. ...But we'll get to that when I start talking about the set's figures.

So the box art gives you a pretty clear idea of what the purpose of the set is: A wrestling ring to use all your other C3 wrestling figures you've bought for half-off to recreate a relatively accurate depiction of a WWE match. ...I think. I watched a few short videos while making the stop motion video, and I had no idea what was going on or who was winning. Heck, some wrestlers just jumped out of the ring instead of fighting the opponent, and I don't know if that was supposed to happen or if they forfeited...

The art is a little misleading, though, since it depicts all these wrestlers, but all you get are the guys in the middle of the ring: John Cena, The Miz, and a referee. The camera guy doesn't even come with this set, despite it having a camera...

I was tempted to call this the "main set", the hub where any and all C3 wrestling minifigures gather to fight, while all the other sets are basically "booster packs" or "expansion sets." ...But after looking through the C3 catalog, I have no idea what the main set IS!

There's also this blatant clone of the set called the "Wrestlemania XXXRing Set", where they just switched out the black and red bricks with purple(is Zorro the Gay Blade a wrestler in this universe?) It even still has John Cena as one of the wrestlers!

But if that's not your style, they also switched around the red and gray brick colors to give us the "Raw Ring Set", again starring John Cena! This man has an ego as big as Jupiter...

Why else would he have agreed to star in the Fred movies? He knew HIS image wouldn't be tarnished...

And if you think that these rings are too small and plain for your wrestling experience, well don't worry, because they've also produced the "Survivor Series DELUXE Ring", complete with lights, sounds, John Cena, an announcers booth, and enough spandex-clad figures to rival the Salt Lake Comic Con!

Which one's the main hub for this series? ...Buy the sets, repeatedly elbow-slam them from the ropes, and whichever one isn't pulverized is your main hub. Unless you pulverize yourself, in which case, just go buy a Lego set...

The back of the box has some stills where they demonstrate the features of the set. Complete with 1960s Batman sound effects!

I especially love this size chart in the lower right-hand corner, where they basically diss Lego by comparing a silhouette of a minifigure to one of their figures, as well as pointing out their "12 Points of Articulation!"

Of course, there is no comparison of the Brick Miser to John Cena...

And this is where I usually point out how the "0-3" warning contrasts with the age recommendation on the front. ...But this doesn't HAVE one! It has the "6+" recommendation on the front(thank you for not telling me I'm too old to own this set), but that's the only age on the box!

I guess the The Miz scared the other one off with his epic chair-pwning sklz...

And before I start building, I'd just like to point out that a few pieces actually come attached to sprue trees. Not just specialized pieces like the chair, but those rods that attach to the poles of the ring and a black piece for the camera! Why everything else is punched out and they just left these on the tree, I have no idea. But this isn't the greatest offender from this company. ...We'll get to that soon enough.

 Alright, the bell has rung! Round 1(of 1). BUILD!


And here it is! A set so large that I needed to take a front and side-view picture to show it to you(and so flimsy I had to keep it on the small building table.) Surprisingly didn't take as long as I thought it would(at least it would have if my avatar didn't decide to mess around in the video.) ...But it also isn't as good a build quality as I thought it would be.

For reasons I haven't fully pinpointed, not all the bricks fit together perfectly, especially on the top of the ring. Studs that fit just fine on one side absolutely REFUSE to join together on the other! I don't know if it's the bricks themselves, if the plastic warped, or if it's just the table I used to put them together, since I've had some trouble with the table's compatibility with other brands. But whatever it is, it made trying to put this together without snapping a brick REALLY frustrating...

Also, notice the dust. ...Shows how long it took to finally getting around to talking about this set...

It's possible this is due to the main baseplate having to connect to NINE different pillars, which in turn are kept up by 4 baseplates on the bottom, which were a LOT of trouble trying to lay them flat on the table. ...So once again, not sure if it's the build quality of the bricks or the compatibility with the generic brick table.

And now I can't put the plate back on. ...Brilliant...

Interestingly, this is the first brick company I've featured on this blog that clearly has not produced their own bricks. I've shown sets before that didn't have a logo on their bricks, but this is the first that uses bricks clearly made by another company. While they may have designed and marketed the set, and possibly the figures and cardboard inserts, the bricks are stamped with an "M38."

 A quick search brought up "Sluban", a Dutch budget brick company that uses it as part of their model serial numbers. So either they produced the bricks for C3, or they buy from the same manufacturer.

Anyway, quality aside, let's talk about the design of the ring itself. ...Well, it's a wrestling ring, so it's not the flashiest thing on the face of the planet, but I am impressed that it is essentially a mini wrestling ring.

For starters, they actually incorporated elastic bands into the ring, as opposed to building railings of thin flat bricks or just leaving it out together. Now wrestlers can launch themselves from the sides of the ring at the opponent!

Or send smaller minifigures that mouthed off to them careening into and bouncing off the ropes like an old pinball game...

The poles also have a little nub on top for placing wrestlers ready to piledrive their opponent!

Again, perfect for smashing a smart alec minifigure. ...Seriously, what did he THINK was going to happen?

I also really like that they were able to plaster the logo on the sides AND they did it without using stickers!

They accomplished this by inserting pegs through these holes in the WWE cards into the socket bricks behind them. Not only does this make much less of a mess and is easier to attach than stickers, but it looks more natural, like something you'd expect put up during a match that can easily be taken back down again. So MAJOR points to C3 for coming up with this cheap alternative to even cheaper, stupid-looking stickers!

Almost makes up for the fact that I now can't put the side back on...

But what really surprises me about this set is that it includes these "corner stairs", which are designed to work perpendicularly to building brick studs. That means they can work at 45° angles with other building bricks, as opposed to having to line up parallel on or next to another brick. ...I've honestly never seen pieces that work this way. They make what is deemed an "Illegal"technique legal! ...Now I just what to see what I can make with these pieces that wouldn't be possible with regular Lego. ...When I find some more, since two pieces aren't going to get me anywhere...

 ...And I was going to give an overall word of praise to the ring and how they took something that could have been a cheap build and instead gave it unique touches no other set has. ...But then it decided the strain of the elastic was too much and caved in on itself. So high points for creativity, low points for quality. ...Next.

Next we have the entrance to the ring. ...Which I have to apologize for the quality of since this is a pretty tall set I could barely get to fit on my camera screen.

This is mostly thanks to these two tall lights, attached to the tallest poles I've seen in a building brick set.

Heck, the lights are so tall, that on the box, they just said "Forget it", and took out the poles. And shortened the pillars. And replaced the blue bulbs with yellow. ...How far in advance does box art need to be created?

And yes, one of the poles was absent during the skit, despite it being present in the construction portion and now. Like the Racer II set, it rolled away for quite a while and I only recently found it again. ...I don't have a joke, I just saw an opportunity to promote an older review.

Even though the slope they use for the wrestlers to enter the ring on makes it look a little majestic, this is actually a section I wish they just used regular bricks for. Or at least had equally-spaced studs on some portions of the slope.

It was hard to pose and position minifigures and the C3 "megafigures" without a lot of poster putty...

 But the fun part of this model is this revolving screen, which depicts real versions of John Cena and The Miz.

These guys look NOTHING like us!

While on the back, it shows John Cena and The Miz in action, pulling off... What I'm guessing are signature moves I don't know the names of. ...But they look cool, so that's all that counts!

Unfortunately, the cardboard inserts are slightly oversized for the slots, so they bulge out quite a bit, leaving them quite bent.

Though alternatively, you can swap out one side for this WWE Stackdown logo, which fits quite well.

But let's be honest, the whole point of this thing is for people to spin it around like they were two-year-olds... Hey, guilty as charged!

Next, we have the camera platform. ...And one of the odder design choices for this set.

On this platform, we have a small brick for a figure to stand on to operate the camera with.

However, they clearly had a smaller minifigure from another company in mind, since that's the only thing that works proportionally. ...But trying to get a minifigure to stand on the brick AND control the camera is impossible, since grabbing onto the camera means having to lift the minifigure into the air slightly...

It makes a little more sense with a C3 macrofigure, since they can grab both camera handles, but the brick makes these already tall figures too tall to position the camera.

But removing the brick doesn't give the figure much ground to stand on...

 Also, if it is meant for C3 figures, using a 2x2 brick isn't very compatible with them, since the legs are so big and spaced out, they need a stud between them in order to actually stand! So in order for this to work, it would have to be a 3x2 brick. Instead, it looks like he drank WAY too much Mountain Dew right before the game started and is praying it's one of those 45 second bouts...

The platform itself is REALLY flimsy. The supports are simply these "railings" stacked 6 high on both sides. If they used this design as opposed to using sturdier and more basic rectangular bricks, I don't know, but as a result of this...

 ...It falls over VERY easily...

As for the camera itself, I LOVE this design!

You've probably seen a Lego camera before, one of those custom jobs that Lego packaged with most of their Lego Studios sets as well as a couple others. Put a brick on the front, insert that flat brick with the film painted on it, and you're ready to roll.

But here, I think they did a really good job creating a camera using standard building bricks. I love the twin handles, the red live/recording light, and the blue bulb attached to the cone brick to serve as the lens.

It's also slightly poseable thanks to a hinged brick, which, when combined with the rotating platform it's on, allows for nearly every angle becoming filmable. ...As long as they don't have to look up...

But again, there's no cameraman with this set, so the WWE is stuck with whomever the temp agency sends over.

...The importance of keeping your cameramen well paid, everyone...

And finally, let's talk about the "macrofigures" with this set. ...And one of the more surprising yet confusing revelations about this line.

Some of you may have noticed that these figures bear a striking resemblance to Art Asylum's "Minimates" line, which is basically the action figure equivalent to Funko Pops in that they're caricature figures of any line the company can get the rights to. I don't have any figures of my own to show you, but as you can see, they share many similarities. There are a few differences, such as the hands being much more claw-like for the Minimates, the chests are flatter and smaller, and the feet are jointed, but otherwise, they're basically the same figures.

Why does this line use near-copyright infringing figures resembling something not associated with building bricks? Because it turns out Minimates were originally made FOR C3! Yes, in 2004, early in the line's run, Art Asylum and Play Along created several sets that combined the Minimates with Lego-esque building bricks, originating the C3 line.

Originally, I thought the C3 line started in 2013, since that's the earliest copyright I could find for these sets and because parent company The Bridge Direct was founded in 2009. So I thought that this was a recent brand that was always intended to have an emphasis on sports-themed building sets.

But nope. Apparently, it started nearly ten years prior with an emphasis on superhero sets. So before Lego picked up the Batman, and eventually DC in general, license, this is where you went to get your Batman and Justice League building set fix.

Some of these sets, at least the smaller ones, were even distributed by Jakks Pacific, which, if you've been following my blog, you know as the guys who create and/or distribute most of the Plug n Play games. So that's THREE game companies so far who have had ties to building brick producers! ...I guess when you're a toy company, you can't afford to NOT team up with other producers, no matter what they make.

Unfortunately, I can't find any information on when The Bridge Direct acquired the rights to the line, nor if there was any compromise or legal troubles with continuing to use Minimates figures in these sets. All I could find were prototype images of the boxes that labeled them as "WWE Construction", with no sign of the C3 logo, so the original idea may have been for The Bridge Direct to exclusively market wrestling sets using the WWE name. However, since I can't find anything to back that up, I'm just speculating.

I also can't find any information on why the first run of C3 flopped to begin with. But, getting back to the figures themselves, it may be because these are some of the most AWKWARD, FRUSTRATING, and POORLY THOUGHT OUT figures to ever be combined with building brick sets!

I can't begin to tell you how frustrating these were to pose and move while animating them. The arm and head joints are REALLY stiff, basically taking the entire figure with it if I tried to even slightly move the arm. Inversely, the leg joints moved if I even BREATHED on them, so getting them to stand straight while moving the other joints was near IMPOSSIBLE. You can really see how fidgety this made everything in the video...

One of the problems is that the sockets on the bottoms of the feet are too big for a regular building brick stud, so they don't fit as snugly as regular Lego feet. This resulted in them falling down all the time, and I mean ALL the time, as I was animating. The slightest tap from another object and the Ref fell backwards, forcing me to start the scene ALL OVER! This is another reason why it took so long for me to get this review out. It added HOURS to making the video!

 And even if you're not a stop-motion animator and just want to play with the toys(*pft*, what loser actually PLAYS with toys?), it would still be nice if the figures actually stayed put while you're trying to reenact one of The Miz's finishing moves against John Cena! ...At least, I assume there are finishing moves in wrestling. ...Do any of them involve tearing your opponent's head and spine out?

 It's like God follows this blog and was insulted by how I said in my first review that Mega Bloks figurines don't belong in building brick sets, so He's continually guiding me to sets with figurines that make even LESS sense to be included! OK! FINE! I take it back! Mega Bloks is God! ...Well, you're God, but... You know what I mean...

Alright, now that I got my bashing out of the way, let's ACTUALLY judge the quality of these figures. And as action figures, they're not bad. They're well painted, they're highly articulated with elbow and knee joints as well as ball joints for the head, arms, and legs, and 360 rotation for the hands and waist, and there is a bit of customization with the figures, as opposed to Lego's mold clones.

Also, the arms, legs, torso, and head are interchangeable, so Frankenstein away!

And give them credit, even if they don't fit in with the building brick world, they can still handle accessories and bricks just as well as a Lego minifigure. The hands can hold cylindrical objects and flat square pieces, so I can give them more credit than Lite Brix or Ionix figures. ...Not that that's too hard to do.

Also just learned that the hands can pop off. ...Not sure they're supposed to though...

 In addition to the sockets on the feet, the figures also have one on each side of the waist and feet and one on the back, allowing you to pose them in awesome wrestling smackdowns! ...Sorry, stackdowns! ...The ones on the torso are a little tricky to keep anything in though. Still, as Minimates, they're just fine. ...It's when they're expected to be taken seriously as minifigures that they fall apart.

First up, we have John Cena, the only guy I knew about before I got this set. ...And he's a wrestler whose reputation and awesomeness factor precedes him, so even if I don't follow wrestling, I bask in his radiant radness!

Though why is he wearing red when his headshot, as well as all appearances I've seen him in, shows him in blue?

I like the detail on this figure, especially with the decals on his shirt, hat, sleeves, and wristbands. It's like the Mega Blok Call of Duty figures I talked about before, where they put a lot of detail into trivial areas, when they could have just as easily just given us generic molds with solid colors that have only the barest shape of what they represent. And while these aren't as detailed as those, you can still tell there was an effort for accuracy here.

However, I'm not sold on the face. John Cena, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Campbell, is the very definition of action hero, with the chiseled square chin, the tree trunk-thick neck, and a glare that would make Chuck Norris back off. ...This looks like an old man. The wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, the oversized, squashed nose, the thick eyebrows, all make him look like Rocky from Rocky Balboa. Old, tired, and with a face half-ground into hamburger. It looks like his dad* more than it does him.

*I'm speaking hypothetically. I've never seen his dad. Maybe he's just as good looking and muscle-bound as his son. Hey, I'm a fat, pale white, suburban manchild who whines about kids' toys for a living. ANYONE could kick my ass!

Also, take off the hat. ...Lobotomy patient...

Next, we have The Miz. ...Which sounds like what a 70s feminist would introduce herself as to show who wears the pants in her household... ...But he has a kickass entrance theme, so who cares?

Since he's a barechested wrestler, there's not as much detail with him, but they did still remember the logos on the back and front of his shorts and shoes, so there's still good attention to it.

Originally, I thought they misprinted the WWE logo since it's upside-down, but a quick search did confirm that he wears his stuff this way. ...Makes sense, I guess, for a wrestler with the persona of "Too cool for school, I don't care what you do to me".

Actually, I think he might have been the favorite of the set designers, if not the company in general. For one, he comes with a chair as a weapon. For two, he has an alt. mode, where you can put on his jacket as well as replace his arms to make it look like he does as he's entering the arena.

For three, he has a better face than Cena! ...It still looks older than he is, with scars that would put a Sin City protagonist to shame, but he looks tough and determined. They even gave him a chin, as opposed to the layers of fat around Cena's mouth!

He even has hair, so he doesn't look like someone sliced off the top of his head.

And for four, they got him to advertise the set! ...I'm thinking favoritism played a large part in deciding the figures for this set...

And finally, we have Referee! Yes! The newest addition to the WWE! Actually named Kevin Rivers, he first acted as a stunt double to Nicholas Cage before appearing in Big Brother, where he wowed the world with his muscular structure. Though the third to be booted, he showed he had enough charisma and muscle power to be picked up by the WWE for the latest season. He chose the name Referee because he puts other wrestlers in their place, and he wears the black and white stripes as a symbol of-

Ok, who am I kidding? It's just a generic WWE referee.

Heck, he's so generic, he's just listed as Referee on the box. I guess they didn't want to pay for a license for an actual WWE referee? ...Guess they weren't counting on kids screaming at each other "Nick Patrick can kick Tommy Young's ass!" "Nuh-uh!"

So yeah, generic referee. Not much to talk about. ...Though his face is oddly disturbing... I don't even want to call them eyes and a mouth, they're just soulless black voids that are being stretched far beyond what the human face can naturally accomplish! It's like he just witnessed Cthulu emerging from the ether between universes!

...Or he spent the last year defending the new Ghostbusters movie and FINALLY got around to seeing it, only to realize what he fought against was telling the truth...

And that's the WWE Stackdown Ring! ...And while I was writing a joke about it giving us SECONDS of unbreakable fun, it beat me to it... WWE wrestlers can only dream of causing this much damage to the ring...


Quality: It's amazing. While the plastic quality is quite high, basically mistakable for Lego, the ring doesn't hold together! I don't know if the bricks are warped, if the studs were designed asymmetrically, if it was a problem with my building table, if there were too many connections for the baseplates to make which resulted in a loose fit, or if the elastic was pulled too tightly and worked the bricks free, but I could make very few solid connections. It was a pain keeping this together during the video, and, as you can see, it finally gave out at the end... The camera also had a very flimsy foundation, while the entrance refused to properly connect to the baseplates of the ring. And yet, the paint and print quality on the cardboard inserts and figures was really high and professional. It's like they put so much focus into making it LOOK good, they gave no thought as to how well it would hold together. ...Sort of like Avatar, come to think of it. Maybe with a lot of patience and a LOT of superglue, you could get this set to solidly connect, but if you're getting it for a kid who expects it to click together no problem.... Don't.

Design: Like I said, the design for most of the stuff is actually really good! I like how the ring actually looks like a ring, complete with elastic ropes. I like the high quality cardboard prints. I like the corner stairs that attach perpendicularly to how building bricks usually stack. I like the entrance and the rotating screen. I like the camera built out of standard bricks. And I like the attention to detail on the wrestlers. However, also like I said, the faces look very little like how the actual wrestlers look, replaced with guys that look old and scarred. And if we're talking about design as relating to how the set is constructed, there were just too many connections for a base plate to have and stay flat, which I'm convinced is one of the reasons why it fell apart. It needed the pillars closer to the center to effectively keep it together.

Creativity: I thought this was a set where they came up with some great gimmicks. The elastic bands were a nice touch, even if they possibly helped tear the set apart. The corner stairs were unexpected and work well to the point I'm wondering what we could do if there were other bricks that worked the same way. The rotating screen was a lot of fun and a great way to kill time just spinning it around. But what REALLY stood out was how they were able to use the cardboard and pegs to give the ring detail, without resorting to cheesy methods like stickers or expensive methods like painting them on custom bricks. Overall, they created a really flashy set that matched the glam and showbiz of actual wrestling.

Readability: I didn't bother showing off the instructions since they worked just fine for what they were. They read like regular Lego instructions and I didn't get confused along the way. Everything is clear, no complaints.

Packaging: The box is nice and sturdy and the pieces came in a large cardboard tray, which a lot of companies that aren't Lego or Mega Bloks include. The pictures are clear and give you a good idea of what you're going to get. The front image, though misleading with how many wrestlers they depict compared to what you actually get, really shows off the excitement and insanity they're trying to market, with something happening everywhere you look. I also like the back of the box and its random sound effects, as well as how it tries to comically overshadow Lego minifigures. And it's a little funny to be prepared with the usual 0-3 joke... only to be suckerpunched by not including it...

Compatibility: The bricks are made up mostly of standard Lego bricks, so there's nothing that keeps them from being used with other similar lines. The "macrofigures" can also work to an extent with other sets, despite missing a head stud. ...But I don't recommend you do. They're a pain to pose and keep standing, especially if you're trying to make a video with them. Just use them with your other 3" action figures and replace them in the set with regular Lego minifigures.


This is a set I WANT to heap praise on. Something that I really wanted to work, and that did impress me in quite a few areas. And, despite its problems, it gave me quite a bit of material for a stop motion skit. But the poor build quality, its constant snapping apart, and the figures barely functioning in their building brick world REALLY bring the score down for this one. If you're a huge fan of the WWE and you're willing to spend a few hours with some superglue, you could probably get something fun out of this, especially with the high poseability of the figures. But if you're just a casual building brick collector who wants something to put together and play with for a while, this is going to cause more frustration than it's worth. ...I'd say that's an apt metaphor for the WWE, but I know nothing about it, so, this one time only, I'll keep my mouth shut.