Thursday, July 27, 2017

Two Legendary Powers Make A Retro Return...

Saving the best for last in our 2017 "Mattel Month" here on the blog? Maybe. It depends on whether or not you're one of the mass number of collectors who has been blown away by Mattel's WWE Retro figure line. In case you've been under a rock, earlier this year Mattel released a line of "retro" figures designed to match the beloved Hasbro WWF figure line of the early 1990s. While we've already looked at the first four figures in Series 1, today we're wrapping it up with The Undertaker and The Ultimate Warrior.

These two legends, while part of Series 1, did not ship in the initial cases sent to Wal Mart, the exclusive retailer of the line. After confusion and headaches alike, they're finally here. Hopefully Series 2, consisting of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Kane, Triple H, and Sting will not suffer the same issue. Regardless, all of the figures from both series come packaged on cards strongly resembling the Hasbro packaging that they are a homage to. As with the earlier batch, the cards are just a tad thinner than their vintage counterparts. This makes it somewhat difficult to find nice examples.

Both figures again have "Authentic Superstar Moves" replacing Hasbro's "Real Wrestling Action." The Undertaker has spring loaded arms to perform a slam (think Hasbro's Sid Justice, Ludvig Borga, etc.) while The Ultimate Warrior utilizes a new action that originated with the Retro John Cena figure. The figure's torso springs to the side when pulled back for a similar slam. Although this feature wasn't native to Hasbro, it certainly fits right in.

Speaking of fitting right in, it's interesting to compare these two new figures to the vintage versions. These are the first, and thus far only planned, retro figures by Mattel to have also been included in the original Hasbro line. They are very nice figures and blend perfectly with the originals. Were I making the decisions these two would not have hit the line for quite awhile. There are too many available names who didn't make it into the original line for new versions of these two legends to have crept in so soon. As listed above, Series 2 features six all-new names to the style.

Whoever is designing these has obviously done their homework and likely grew up with the line. Many of the nuances in the sculpting and sheer presence of these figures seem as if the designers were staring at a vintage Hasbro collection during the process. The Undertaker's hat is not removable, nor should it be. The Ultimate Warrior doesn't have quite all of the designs that his real-life gear did. It shouldn't. These are direct reflections of Hasbro. Even with the popularity of the Hasbro line, no one could have imagined a line like this in the year 2017. Yet, here we are.

The distribution of these latter two figures in Series 1 was disappointing. It caused collectors to wonder if they would easily be able to "Collect Them All." That is never a good thing with action figures, especially with a niche line like this. I don't know the specifics of contracts, but I would also think that Mattel would want this line at wide release as soon as possible. The reaction has been incredible and there would be no doubt that it will continue. Ring playsets and other non-figure releases (WrestleMania ring cart, anyone?) would be ideal as well.

"Retro" is indeed alive and well.

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