Sunday, July 7, 2019

Catching Up On Retro

It's been over two years since the review of the first Mattel WWE Retro figure series appeared on this blog. At the time, collectors all over were hopeful that we would get at least a few additional series out of the line that continues the legacy of Hasbro's famous WWF collection. Amid poor distribution, rumors of cancellation, and some overall frustration, here we are with Series 8, 9, and 10. The aforementioned distribution issues are one of the reasons why all three of these series are lumped into one review, but it also saves on spreading them out.

Some of both the most wanted and most creative figures of the entire line show up here, with a few that we'll pay particular attention to. Series 8 has The Iron Sheik, Jeff Hardy, Braun Strowman, and Zack Ryder. Series 9 brings us "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Goldust, Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Finally in Series 10 we've got Junkyard Dog, Matt Hardy, Elias, and Diesel. All series are on blue border Hasbro-esque cards that complete the retro feel. Thankfully the distractions that plagued the design in some of the middle series are gone, those being display stands and ads for a digital game that really has no business here. The game ad has been relegated to the back of the cards which bear no resemblance to the Hasbro cards whatsoever. Similarly, the cardboard stock used here is a lot thinner than what Hasbro used. This has been causing it to be quite the chore to find nice examples for carded collectors. This will certainly factor in as the years go by when mint examples are few and far between. Per retailers, the damaged cards have been coming straight from factory cases, furthering frustration.

Series 8 highlights include The Iron Sheik and Braun Strowman. While the character of the Sheik is just out-of-range of the original Hasbro era, Khosrow Vaziri was in the company in 1991 and 1992 as Sgt. Slaughter's aid Colonel Mustafa. Strowman is a sleeper hit as far as I'm concerned, with the figure fitting in with that Hasbro look perfectly. The arm mechanism was a perfect choice and I really appreciate the painted on tanktop. Jeff Hardy is a welcome addition but the figure suffers from the "too real" head syndrome where it looks like a regular Mattel head was plopped onto a Retro figure body.

Series 9 showcases two legends, those being Goldust and Randy Savage. This is the second inclusion of "The Macho Man" in the Retro line, the first being in his nWo attire. This one is a homage to an unreleased prototype of the first Hasbro Savage figure that was shown in advertisements wearing green trunks. It's nice to see a more classic looking Savage in the line. Joe and Orton are solid modern figures for the line. Some have issue with Joe being produced in his shirt, but we must remember that many original Hasbro figures were in shirts and entrance attire as well. The star here is "The Bizarre One," Goldust, in what could prove to be his final figure for some time. Appropriately, he is produced in his early look complete with black-painted ears and removable wig. Should the Hasbro line have carried on another year, Goldust would have at least been in the planning stages.

Finally we have Series 10, starring a man who was planned for the Hasbro line twenty-five years ago. That man is "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel. The former WWF Champion appears as he did in 1994, which is the look that the original figure would've reflected had it been produced. Like Strowman in Series 8, Diesel is a tad taller just as Andre the Giant and Giant Gonzalez were in the Hasbro line. For the second series in a row we get a second legend, that being the Junkyard Dog. JYD is clad in his classic white tights, complete with "THUMP" emblazoned on the back. Matt Hardy's head is more stylized than brother Jeff in Series 8, though I could've pictured both of The Hardy Boyz with the old "jumping" mechanism. Elias hasn't caught on with me, personally, but the figure includes a guitar as the first Retro accessory. This is the same breakaway guitar included with Mattel's figures of The Honky Tonk Man.

Ten series of Retro. This is the first review of the line that, as of press time, has no future announced releases to discuss at the end. While many collectors finally got what they wanted out of the line in Diesel, there's room for more. Of that fabled unreleased final Hasbro series, Mattel could produce Mabel, Jeff Jarrett, and "All-American" Lex Luger. I wouldn't mind seeing Dusty Rhodes (like that's a surprise...), "surfer" Sting, and Nikolai Volkoff added if at possible. Since females and managers weren't part of the Hasbro line I won't say that I'm expecting any, though it's hard to fathom that the new line would end without at least one woman in the era of the women's revolution. How about Elizabeth, Sherri, Ronda, and Becky? At least two Retro-styled women's bodies should be produced to give us an idea of what could have been...and what now still could be.

Kill the distribution issues, Mattel, and bring us ten more series...

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