Thursday, January 14, 2016

Five "Forgotten" Mattel WWE Figures

It's hard to believe that it's been six years since the Mattel WWE figure line began to hit stores and collectors hands. Some welcomed the change. Others, like myself, were bold and determined to try and ignore the line, holding on to our Jakks favorites ever so tightly. Over half a decade later, Mattel has taken their line of figures and toys and turned out some memorable and cherished product. It didn't necessarily start out that way.

Like with most figure lines, there were bumps and hurdles along the way. In an effort to correctly scale the vastly different WWE superstars, likenesses greatly suffered. I can remember an early Jack Swagger that nearly completely turned me against the line. In 2016, we've seen major improvements in likenesses as well as something that's important to me: depth. Because we are now in the sixth year of the line, we do have stars who, long gone from WWE, only received one or two Mattel figures. Highlighted here are five of those "lost" superstars. It's some of these early names that finally, years later, give us the natural depth that long-lasting lines achieve.

Kicking it off is one of my favorite people in the wrestling business: Tommy Dreamer. He is also the one on this list most likely to return to the Mattel line in the future. Although he seems to flawlessly float back and forth between organizations, Dreamer's recent WWE run was seemingly well-received. With the rapidly shrinking WWE roster due to injuries, Tommy may very well find himself bringing his brand of hardcore wrestling to the WWE Universe in the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, Mattel already has a great Dreamer figure that was released in 2010 in a two-pack with Christian. Like many of these early "one and done" figures, Dreamer has seen a large spike in value on the secondary market. That value will take a hit should he see a new release, but there has been no word of a new figure at this time.

Although he had plenty of releases through Jakks, Shane Helms only saw one Mattel figure. In his guise as The Hurricane, the green and black outfit was hard to miss on store shelves. For being an early Mattel figure, extensive detail was put into the likeness, especially surrounding the characters mask. This is also the only figure of The Hurricane to date in his later look with the stringy shoulder-length hair. Since it was only a Basic figure release, no accessories were including. For those who have to see the Mattel Hurricane "soar" into the ring, the various Jakks Hurri-capes work perfectly.

Speaking of hair, the one and only Carlito made two appearances early in the Mattel run. When the line first debuted, I decided to only collect those who had never been made into a figure before. To get Primo, you had to purchase a two-pack with his brother Carlito. The set was released twice with a slightly more heelish look for both the second time around. While Primo has remained in WWE since, Carlito departed not long after the figures were released. Rumors of a WWE return for Carlito have swirled as recently as late last year. In my opinion, the Puerto Rican star would fit like a glove in NXT where he would likely be motivated to finally live up to his full potential.

Another star frequently rumored to be on the WWE return trail is Shelton Benjamin. "The Gold Standard" also had an early Mattel entry, and the likeness was dead on. Benjamin always reminded me of "The Natural" Butch Reed in this gimmick and I don't feel that he went as far as he could have no matter the persona. Another great candidate for an NXT rejuvenation, Benjamin would likely be a great addition to the coaching area, as well. With the current rumored influx of talent to the WWE, there may be no stopping Shelton from joining the pack.

The only superstar out of our five featured to receive both a Basic and an Elite figure is Chavo Guerrero Jr. The high-flyer was still involved in many angles when Mattel began their line, but his Basic figure came along as a reminder of one of the worst. For whatever reason, Chavo found himself in a feud with Hornswoggle. The two-pack of figures reflects this epic struggle that many of us would prefer to forget, but at least a great looking Chavo figure came out of it. An Elite Chavito came complete with pancho and bandana.

I like to limit most "list" entries to five (quality over quantity), but there are others who had good and relatively forgotten early Mattel figures as well. Mike Knox and Luke Gallows spring to mind as further examples. As mentioned with Dreamer, the secondary prices on many of these figures have gone up, but you never know when a lapsed fan from a few years ago will be looking to liquidate their collection for the price paid or even cheaper.

Next week, the January figure trend continues with a look at a new "First Time In The Line" figure from Mattel...who actually made a cameo this week!

No comments: