Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Right Ring For A Retro Rumble

Just when you thought you had enough toy rings in your collection, in creeps another one. But this one is a bit different. It's like meeting someone new who is almost identical to an old friend from your past. A blue friend. A friend made of plastic. A friend who spent many hours taking a beating, yet still came back for more. That friend was unbreakable. That friend was your Hasbro WWF ring. Now, to match that classic toy, Mattel has recreated it for their popular WWE Retro line. How does it compare? Let's find out.

Like the figures themselves, the packaging is similar to its counterpart from the past. Also like the cardbacks of the figures, the cardboard used on the ring box is just a tad lighter than that of the original. It's also a bit smaller, but that will be explained shortly. It's actually nice and compact, in case anyone is looking to pick up an extra to keep sealed. Instead of The Ultimate Warrior pounding George South as in the Hasbro version, we get a live action shot of AJ Styles flying through the air. AJ's figure is displayed, as are several from the 4th and 5th series.

The back depicts a total of four upcoming series of retro figures. We've got prototypes of Ric Flair, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, a repaint of Kevin Owens, The New Day, and nWo Macho Man Randy Savage. In Hasbro-like drawings at the bottom of the box we're shown Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sting (Wolfpac), Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho (complete with The Scarf of Jericho), Sheamus, and Kurt Angle. That's quite a lineup to add to the first three series already released!

The ring comes unassembled and the pieces are neatly packed into the underside of the ring. Everything easily slides out of the box, enabling you to slide into the DMs...err...accessories. The first point of order must be the logo sticker. It wouldn't be retro if you apply it neatly, either, so I expect every example of this ring to have the logo just a tad off center. There are things that you purposely just don't do perfectly. This is one of them.

The aforementioned reason as to why the box is smaller than the original is that the ring steps, announcers table, and title display that jut out from the four sides of the ring are removable. They are also very easy to snap in. Though Randy Savage is depicted on the box as using the steps as a weapon, you would have to lift the whole thing up to actually remove them. As with most Mattel rings, the posts come tied together with the ropes. After some maneuvering, they eventually untie.

The ropes feel very much like the original, although they are all permanently connected to the turnbuckles of one post and snap into the other three. It's much easier than the Hasbro tying method. The posts snap in very easily and don't have the large rectangles at the top as the later and more common version of the Hasbro ring did. The bit of movement that the separate turnbuckle pieces had from the original ring is completely gone here. Is it necessary? No, but smashing faces into them back then seemed just a tad more realistic. The ropes are tight enough that balancing AJ on the top took very little effort.

The box shows the WWE Universal Championship being used with the removable title display. This is the accessory included with the large Mattel figures. Since no belts...err...championships have been included with any of the Retro figures, this seems to indicate that we are "officially" supposed to use the already released ones from the regular line. The problem is that these belts do not fit on the display as shown. They can be displayed on a tilt, but that isn't how it's utilized on the box. It's really surprising that they let this happen, unless they plan on releasing some retro figure-specific championships down the line.

The other side of the ring has a small announcers table. The original had a smaller table with a single monitor that showed Hulk Hogan. The yellow King of the Ring version had a blank white sticker, though the instructions showed a picture of Vince McMahon. Here we get nothing. It's designed to look like a modern announcers table, but it's very boring. The lack of stickers could be the biggest negative to this ring. While again not a necessity, over-the-top stickers would have added to the retro fun of it all.

Is this another cool retro toy?Absolutely. It's a great way to display
the retro figures, even if most of them aren't from the "blue ring" era. There are some negatives (title display, lack of stickers...and no flag?), but it's a worthwhile purchase. It might be cool to see it re-released in another look, too, as was done in 1993 with the Hasbro yellow ring. Perhaps remolded in modern colors, since most of the figures are current stars? And speaking of things that could be done, how about finally utilizing that trench that stretches all the way around the apron (just as it did twenty-eight years ago) and finally get a cage match going...

Blue bars, anyone?

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