First off I have to say that I was so thrilled when Allison from FUNKO said she was sending me this wave of KARATE KID figures. No movie captured my heart and mind the way the original John G. Avildsen directed film did back in '84. And to be fair, it was the last "real" bullying picture that captured the realities of what still goes on today. Except nowadays the internet is ominous making bullying there but not there. But let's not drift off into politics and get into important things like Daniel Larusso moving from Parsippany, NJ to the San Fernando Valley to take on Los Angeles as best he could. The first few days did not go so well setting perennially young Ralph Macchio on a Fall semester of getting the crap beat out of him. In the ROCKY-like story, Daniel trains with an Obi-Wan-like sage named Mr. Miyagi who takes the Jersey Boy on as his pupil. What remains is the feel-good underdog film of the 80's that still gives me chills every damn time I watch it. Even 31 years later, it still gets me.
So when I got word from the good people at FUNKO that they were making some of my favorite characters from the movie in their much-ballyhooed ReACTION format, I was overjoyed. When the package arrived, I signed "Larusso" on the UPS package, I was that psyched. After some missteps with their first waves last year of the ReACTION figures, these new models most definitely felt like a "2.0" version for ReACTION. Now, I know what you're thinking, "where are the Marvel Legends style figures with movie likenesses that the die-hard fans have been waiting for?" Well, they are probably not going to be made, like ever, so I am embracing that this is as good as it gets.
Played by the gorgeous and comely Elisabeth Shue who was one of my first real life "crushes", getting the action figure treatment for the first time. They got her bod right but her face is pretty terrible even for action figure standards. But I forgive FUNKO because they did provide her beach boom box that was the catalyst for the story. Great to finally say I am bringing Elisabeth Shue home!
John Kreese as played by Martin Kove was one scary mother as the Vietnam Veteran turned Cobra Kai sensei. FUNKO does a good job of capturing his scary grimace and you can act out scenes from all three of the REAL Karate Kid movies--that is to say those with Ralph Macchio and those without Jaden Smith. A solid addition to the lineup.
Johnny Lawrence as played by King of the 80's Bully actor William Zabka is at his peak as "King Karate" in the titular classic film. He is the ultimate bully that probably would have done time had he pulled what he did back in '84. No worries though, he is working the convention circuit and making a mint off of his sweeping legs. An awesome figure and a must have in the wave. Now, where are the rest of the Cobra Kai's in the skeleton outfits?
Daniel Larusso is here and he is a staple of the 80's, the ringer tee shirt. Along with his headband given to him by his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, Daniel even comes with a paintbrush and paint bucket. But remember, those were all lessons. Well done indeed and those fences looked great in the end.
Mr. Miyagi is up there with Old Obi-Wan Kenobi as one of the greatest mentors of all time in the pop culture pantheon. Finally, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita gets his due in plastic form and it turns out to be one of the best of the wave. The little guy even comes with a bonus Bonzai tree for added realism. The variant of this figure had Miyagi with his headband on but we at AFJ will have to settle for this version.
Daniel Larusso is the underdog from the same director as ROCKY but somehow, the ending of THE KARATE KID is just that much more winning. Maybe it's the whole 80's vibe I was caught up in when I was eight. Maybe it was the Crane Kick. Maybe it was that he got the girl. Probably a little of all three. But at least FUNKO got this set right never making me wonder if my childhood hero would be minted in plastic.