Thursday, July 15, 2010
Mattel: Legendary or Listless? You Decide!
When Mattel first picked up the WWE license, it was agreed upon by fans everywhere that the famous toy company would be insane not to start a "Legends" line. After all, it's the Classic Superstars line that truly put Jakks over the top with their WWE products. While Jakks is continuing their venture into producing figures of the stars of yesteryear, Mattel has the exclusive rights to do figures of any retro star associated or under contract with WWE.
The first series in Mattel's "WWE Legends" collection consists of Steve Austin, The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Sgt. Slaughter. It's the latter three that piqued my interest, thus those are the three that are highlighted in this entry.
Where are Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino? I did in fact promise that they would be in the "next" entry. In order to make that entry even more special, I decided to go in-depth on my coverage of the particular memorabilia I planned on documenting. Never fear, as that entry is very much alive and well. It's a special work-in-progress that I think everyone will enjoy.
Now...onto The Dream, The Dragon, & The Sarge!
While I'm going to compare these three figures to previous incarnations, I'll leave it up to you to decide on which is the best over all representation of each legend. After all, between production limitations from when older figures were made and even one's own nostalgic love for a particular piece, it isn't quite fair for me to say one is better than another. I'm just here to point out the differences and give a good read in the process.
Completely destroying everything I said in the last paragraph, I will say that the older figures had one undeniable advantage--their price tags. These Mattel WWE Legend figures have a price point of around $14.99 a pop at brick and mortar retail while averaging a bit more online.
The packaging is impressive but almost seems to overshadow the figures themselves. Each figure is posed in a character-unique action stance and mounted in a bubble in front of great card art based on popular photos of the stars. Each figure includes a WWE peg-stand with a small cardboard name tag as seen in the above photo of Dusty Rhodes.
In my estimation, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat will be the most popular figure in this first series. Steamboat is the only figure in the series not to have been produced in the Jakks Classic Superstars line. Collectors have long clamored for a new representation of The Dragon and Mattel seems to have taken note. Steamboat comes complete with removable red gi and komodo dragon that he used to "battle" Jake Roberts and Damien in 1986. Ricky's headband is part of the head sculpt and not removable. The Dragon is a very nice figure and is a great companion piece to the recently released dvd set documenting Steamboat's legendary career. A 2009 version of Steamboat is set to hit stores soon in a two-pack along with nemesis Chris Jericho.
There's no denying that the countless versions of Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin are probably the most popular wrestling figures of all-time. Due to his inclusion in the nearly thirty-year-old G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line, Sgt. Slaughter would undoubtedly rank right up there with "The Immortal" and "Stone Cold." The Mattel Slaughter is based on a design never before seen on a figure of the Sarge. It's based upon Slaughter's early '80s attire, so you could really either call it a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling or '84ish WWF Slaughter. The living Joe himself comes complete with removable hat, glasses, whistle, and elbow pads. It's very refreshing to long-time collectors for Mattel to seemingly try and produce never-before-made looks for some of these figures.
Last but certainly not least is the newest figure of the all-time favorite wrestler of yours truly, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. For reasons that shall never be known, a perfect action figure likeness of Dusty is seemingly unobtainable. While Hasbro, Jakks, and now Mattel have all made great efforts, the blue-eyed soul of Dusty always seems just a bit...off. Nevertheless, he is a common man who has some very colorful representations. Mattel went with the look that would be most familiar to WWE fans, that being Dusty's 1989-1991 polka dot attire.
Mattel finally did get the polka dots right. Dusty almost always had large polka dots on the shirt and small polka dots on the tights. This is indeed the case with this figure. The shirt is easily removable as are also the head band, elbow pad, and knee pads. Top it all off with The Dream's signature cowboy boots and this little Dream is ready to boogie down with your invisible Sapphire figure all night long...if you will.
Mattel has done a very nice job with their first leap into the Legends realm. Hopefully the pictures of past Dreams, Dragons, and Drill Sergeants combined with memories of those great old items will let you judge whether Mattel stacks up to the rest. Make your decision? Let us know!
And THAT'S...an order!
This entry is dedicated to Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. As I'm sure many of you know, Mr. Steamboat recently suffered some health setbacks and has been hospitalized. As of the latest word, The Dragon is doing better and making one of his famous recoveries as he did in so many of his great bouts. He is a great man who truly cares about his fans and deserves any thought or prayer sent his way.