Thursday, April 12, 2018

Post-Mania Blues? Look To The Figures!

While it isn't quite 1985 or 1999, wrestling is popular again. There is a lot of variety to choose from in the market. It's that "something for everyone" feeling that opens up a boom period. That being said, with WrestleMania in the books, it's time for the year-long build to start over from the ground up. For regular wrestling fans this is often considered a downtime. If you're a collector, never fear. Mattel is here.

Now eight years into the license, Mattel is stronger than ever with their WWE releases. The vast number of talent available to them, be it WWE and NXT superstars or Legends, is a great help. After what I will always consider to be a shaky start, Mattel truly starting coming into their own once they balanced what they are able to produce with what fans and collectors want. Considering the way that the figures have been flying off of the shelves, many of which gain traction on the secondary market, they seem to have found the right formula.

Mattel has changed the packaging of their lineups nearly every year. The 2018 design is simple and elegant yet catches the eye. The latter is due to Mattel finally allowing the figures themselves take the spotlight, especially in the current Elite packaging. The toy itself should be enough to make a sale. After all, we generally aren't paying for the packaging. A larger ""window" on the box also allows autograph collectors to get a bigger, more satisfying signature.

Store exclusives have allowed the release of many figures that, for whatever reason, the company would not put in their regular lineups. Though the demise of Toys "R" Us will greatly reduce these exclusives, Wal Mart and Target along with online retailers will still see their share. The Target "Hall of Fame" lineups and packaging have been very popular. The "Build-A-Figure" sets as well as those enabling fans to build set pieces seem to be remaining with Wal Mart. The latter two will include the first ever figures of JJ Dillon and Alundra Blayze respectively.

The NXT line, also exclusive to Target, has also introduced many new names into the fray. With the massive amount of talent under contract to WWE, who is to say that some of these names will ever actually get another figure? Things happen. Plus, what's cooler than a rookie figure in unique, eye-catching packaging? It was recently revealed that Paul Ellering will receive a figure in this line. This is the second legend, after Larry Zbyszko last year, to receive only their second figure in their career thanks to Mattel. Both had their first in the Remco AWA back in 1985.

We've seen a lot of great figures this year, and I thought that I'd already had my choice for "Figure of the Year" (Give me a break!). But with all of the product yet to come, I'm just not sure. My five all-time favorite wrestlers will finally be fully represented by Mattel with the release of an amazing looking "King" Harley Race. In addition, Bobby Roode will be getting a "Glorious" third release and the very first figure of "The Leader of The Four Horsemen" will be some tough competition for my first choice. One thing is for sure: collectors are ready. But are their wallets?

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