Thursday, November 29, 2018
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.
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 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.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
It's an amazing time to be a kid from the '70s, '80s, or '90s. Pretty much any toy that you had, even gaming systems, are available again in stores worldwide. Even the action figures that you played with anywhere that you were able to take them can be found on store shelves. From the vintage plastic of Mego action figures in the likenesses of so many pop culture legends to "Kenner" branded Star Wars toys, everything old is new again. Thanks to the Mattel Retro WWE figure line that we've been covering for nearly two years, wrestling isn't left out.
For me, a bit of the shine has worn off since the initial offerings. This actually is starting to ring true for the entire Mattel WWE empire, but we'll get to that in the second half of this two-part review. This week and next will each showcase one of the most recent Retro figure series to be released. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of nice new figures here that we will look at, but that generally isn't where the problems lie. Before we get to broader issues, let's take a look at the new figures individually.
In this set we have Ric Flair, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens. The latter is a repaint of his release from the first series. Like the earlier figures each superstar has an aforementioned "Real Wrestling Action" that either copies or mirrors one from the Hasbro years. Balor's is close to that of the first Marty Jannetty, Owens has the Andre/Akeem/Dusty "jolt," Flair's is an adapted version of the spring-action waist which originated with "Macho King" Randy Savage, and Zayn has a brand-new kick action that easily could have been created nearly thirty years ago. His pose reminds me of the first "Million Dollar Man" figure by Hasbro.
Even though one of the four here is a repaint, this is a nice set. We'll get more detailed next week as we look at a subsequent series and what seems to be going wrong with the line. In the meantime, have you even seen these on store shelves? How about the other newer sets? If the public cannot buy, they will not support. It's as simple as that, and it seems to be creeping into all aspects of Mattel WWE figure collecting.
To be continued...
Thursday, November 15, 2018
The program itself is very much like the other ones that have come along in this era. It's oversized and glossy with thicker-stock pages than a magazine-style program would have. This design first appeared in the very early 2000's. It is also more of a roster guide for the women rather than displaying actual match-ups. Again the pay-per-view lineups change too much for them to be accurately printed too far in advance.
The first page is a shot of the folks who brought you this show, Triple H, Stephanie, and Vince McMahon. Let's all thank them. Then, of course, we get to Ronda Rousey. Obviously she will begin the program being the center of the women's division. So far, she seems to have dedicated herself to the business in a way that many of us wouldn't have imagined. She has largely been a plus for the product, or so it has seemed in the little that I follow the weekly product. All of the larger stars such as The Bella Twins, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch get their own pages, as well.
My favorite portion, of course, is the section featuring the legends. Not only do we get Wendi Richter, Mae Young, and my friend Leilani Kai, but also shown are Cyndi Lauper, Sapphire, Bull Nakano, Rockin' Robin, Mildred Burke, Bertha Faye and Velvet McIntyre just to name a few. The biggest shocker? An inclusion that shouldn't be shocking at all. In fact, she should be front and center. Yes, folks, The Fabulous Moolah is here. Did somebody call Snickers? I think we have a program to burn. Get Twitter on it...
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Dude Love joins several releases of Mankind and Cactus Jack, not to mention a modern day Commissioner Foley figure. He's part of the Elite collection and definitely the highlight of his particular series. I still love the current packaging for the Elite figures. It's basically a showcase for the figure. No more, no less. Let the figures themselves do the selling. A standout figure will have no issues in that department. Dude Love does just that.
Dude Love had several looks and shirts, but the latter portrayed here
definitely has a tinge of blue. Any fan will remember when this shirt was readily available from the company at the height of Dude Love's initial run. Dude's pants are also blue and I don't necessarily recall him wearing any other ones. Who remembers the shot of his boots "strutting" in the back just before his debut? The Summer of Love for the WWF, indeed.
Last but not least, the facial likeness is on point. I believe that it is a completely new one for Foley, and captures Dude Love perfectly. In a year of great figures, we have another challenger for the title of best. I don't know that Mattel will give into temptation and do a Three Faces of Foley set, but I could see more of Dude down the line since he did alter his look a bit as the character went on. Needless to say, the fact that this long-awaited figure finally saw the light of day can be summed up in one word...
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Meet John Cena, children's book author. Random House recently released the first book penned by the champ, entitled "Elbow Grease." Per the back flap, Cena was a big fan of Richard Scarry (as was I) and his beloved line of books for children. The illustrations do remind me a bit of the late author's works, but I don't remember as much dialogue in those. This is a story very reminiscent of Disney's Cars, in looks anyway.
I won't ruin the ending for you, but it is a cute tale with a positive message. You can hear John's voice reading the text in your head. "Elbow Grease" is coffee-table book sized, but otherwise a nice short, children's story in length. The size of the book itself lends to large illustrations, some of which you can lose yourself in while picking out all of the details. Be sure to hunt around in the back of the book for a funny little Easter egg, too.
"Elbow Grease" is a fun little tale. I'm not sure if John has anymore children's stories in him, but the characters introduced here could easily be seen on a cartoon series or even feature. It's easy to imagine John doing the voice of Bo, though I'm not sure that he would have the time. I never got the "hate" for Cena, though I'm not sure that was every really the case, either. Aside from a few instances, I think the crowd booed him because it was the thing to do rather than any real dislike. Again, in my opinion, the only missing ingredient from the career of John Cena was a breakout beyond the squared circle. Now that he's put a little elbow grease into it, the sky may be the limit...