Thursday, November 29, 2018

Retro Continues To Be Nowtro: Part II

Picking up where we left off last week, we look at four more new Mattel WWE Retro action figures. As promised, we're also going to dive into some issues that I have with this line as well as some of the others under the Mattel WWE umbrella. That isn't to say that the company has stopped cranking out some amazing product. Quite the contrary with a seeming continuation of these Retro figures as well as the regular sized products. How we're expected to be getting these figures into our collections is the problem.

Again in this series we have three new characters and a repaint. Included are Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Sting. As with last week, the latter is a re-release although this one is striking. We have Sting in his red and black nWo Wolfpac attire. Aside from the obvious economics, I question why classic WCW "surfer" Sting wasn't done in this style. Needless to say, a long-haired "Crow" era Sting Retro figure was already produced, so this is the far easier repaint for Mattel to release. The red and black look admittedly grew on me with the "Elite" figure released in this attire by Mattel several years ago. The style is still striking here with the deep red.

Also repeated are the same issues here with the packaging as last week. The stands aren't too bad with Nakamura's actually looking fairly cool, but I still don't see the use for them. The figures don't benefit much from them and they eliminate an important part of the retro packaging. I'd rather see an accessory included with one or two figure per wave. The photo choices for the packaging are very Hasbro-esque, as well. Mattel does do their homework when it comes to detail like this, but sadly other issues creep up and subsequently the figure line suffers.

Wyatt, Bryan, and Nakamura are all hindered greatly in the facial likenesses. These do not look like Hasbro product at all. Those facial likenesses were cartoony, somewhat exaggerated, yet ultimately left you recognizing who the figure represented. These three look like bad customs with regular Mattel figure heads plopped onto Hasbro style bodies. If you want to see the correct style, take a look at Brock Lesnar from back in the first wave. You could tell it was "The Beast," yet it retained enough of the Hasbro look to fit right in.

The "Real Wrestling Action" continues with another "jolt" move for Wyatt, another "Jannetty" move for Bryan, another new kick for Nakamura, and the "jumping" mechanism for the repainted Sting. I would have liked Bryan to have been given a different mechanism, though I honestly don't know which I would have chosen. Nakamura's arms seem too big for him and would probably match up with those of The Warlord from the Hasbro run. This obviously should not be the case considering the varying physiques of those two men.

The true problem here is distribution. These figures have been out for months, yet these two series reviewed here in the past two weeks as well as a third haven't seen store shelves much at all. If a company doesn't make its product available, how do they expect the lines to continue? Further souring me in the Mattel WWE universe are upcoming Elite releases that will be "chase" figures. This would be fine if it were a special umpteenth release of John Cena or Roman Reigns, but instead these are brand new characters. I'm sure that I will touch upon this again in the future, but it doesn't please me in the slightest. Collecting should be a joy, not more work. Everyone should have equal access to any figure produced without turning a hobby into a chore. Keep in mind, this is a collector of over three decades saying this.

The Retro line is coming along nicely, though the concerns are clear and not limited to my voice on this blog. I wouldn't want to see bad distribution of future Retro figures like Kurt Angle and The Iron Sheik, neither of whom seem to suffer from the "custom head syndrome" mentioned above. It's a proven fact, poor distribution and choices have killed action figure lines dead in their tracks. Let's not see the last shining beacon in modern day wrestling memorabilia go down. Examples like Ric Flair from last week have what it takes to be the best figure release of the year. It would be a shame to see a blast from the past that appeals to all ages end with an unheard whimper.

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