Thursday, August 23, 2018

Return to the Heartbreak Hotel

Remember the '90s? Some of us would love to forget them. Still, the decade carried a dramatic shift in pro wrestling and saw the business thrive. Right before the "Attitude Era" swung into full effect, the WWF still had a cartoony style about it. The latest WWE Elite Flashback Series, exclusive to Wal Mart, brings to plastic four of that era's stars as well as a well-remembered television segment proving that maybe the '90s weren't all that bad after all. Maybe. We'll see.

I'll again repeat how much I love the 2018 box design. It's simple and to the point, but can be altered to reflect what's inside depending on the individual series. These Elite Flashback boxes have great color, not to mention the "classic interview backdrop" behind the figures. When the design changes I'll be greatly disappointed. I won't hold back the fact that these boxes have propelled me to buy more figures to keep in the box for eventual signing purposes. When the design changes, I can see that dropping off again.

As anyone who has read this blog could have already predicted, I'm going straight for the highlight here. Who would that be? Alundra Blayze. The women's wrestling star of worldwide fame has never before been made into an action figure. Finally, here she is, looking very much like the day that I first met her back in 1995. Included with her is the very championship belt that I saw her lose the night after I met her nearly 23 years before the date of this entry's publication.

In addition to Blayze we have Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Doink the Clown. When you collect, and open, all four figures, you create the set for HBK's interview segment, The Heartbreak Hotel. It's a unique concept that seems to be ending with the next series where a Build-A-Figure will again be included with the Elite Flashbacks.

The Heartbreak Kid is stellar. No detail was spared despite this being a store exclusive set with a "building incentive." These sets which require you to "collect 'em all" in order to build something is one of the only ways that I'll purchase a figure of someone like Michaels. Don't get me wrong, he was one of the greatest. He just isn't in my personal top favorites and he already has an overabundance of available figures.

Ramon seems to reflect his look in his 1992 vignettes and the detail is once again overflowing. The toothpick, the chest hair, and the removable chains and shirt combine for a great design. This is the kind of never-before-made version of a popular character that I love to see. Rounding up the set is the Ray Apollo version of Doink. This is definitely babyface Doinkster, and it would be great to see Dink produced somewhere down the line. It should be noted that unlike the first Mattel Doink release there is only one wig included here and it is not removable.

While many would say that Michaels is the star of this set, let's be real. It's Alundra. She's beyond overdue for a figure. Her popularity in Japan makes it amazing that she doesn't even have a figure there. The inclusion of the 1993-1995 WWF Women's Championship belt does not hurt, either. I also have a feeling that Mattel isn't going to want to lose out on the tooling of either Blayze or her belt. Can't you imagine a street clothes version complete with belt and garbage can somewhere down the line? A Madusa-Rick Rude pack would be pretty cool, too, but I think we can keep that in our dreams.

It would be nice to have a 1993-1995 contemporary of Blayze, as well. Leilani Kai would be my number one pick, seeing as that she is a friend, but she isn't as closely associated with that run despite wrestling Blayze at WrestleMania X. My other top pick would be Bertha Faye, but I just can't see it happening. The most thrilling and maybe somewhat possible choice would be Bull Nakano. She just feels like a name that those at Mattel would be behind and I can only imagine that they would do an amazing job on her striking visage. Still, I have a feeling that we may end up with Luna. Don't get me wrong, I loved Luna and miss running into her at shows. She was a sweetheart and a heckuva talent. It's just that Jakks put out two very cool versions of her already. That being said, I won't turn down a third effort for her if Mattel so chooses.

This is a great set and, like the first Flashback Elite wave, it will go fast. Prices will eventually settle just as they did for those, so don't panic if you can't find them initially. In fact, Mattel has churned out so much product that September is scheduled to be another "Mattel Month" here on the blog. For four weeks in a row we'll be featuring some of the best new figures of the year from Mattel.

Is my preliminary choice for 2018 Figure of the Year, Mean Gene Okerlund, about to be dethroned? Did Alundra Blayze just do that? We shall see!

What's that, Mean Gene?

"Give me a break, pal!"

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