Although both of these legendary characters did in fact receive Ultimate Edition figures this year, for my money neither were quite as good as Elite offerings that we received late in the year. While the Ultimate body style often works well, sometimes the tried and true Elite sculpting and articulation is really all that you need. The choice of style and décor is always a factor as well, and each of these figures brought us a truly unique look that’s never been done before. One is so good that, minus a few of the accessories, it could be looked at as the quintessential version of the wrestler. Yes, we’ve seen countless versions of The Hulkster and The Warrior, but 2022 brought us two of the all-time best.
Hulk includes two accessories that he only briefly used back in 1988. The “war bonnet” helmet and license plate to go around his neck were used virtually only on house shows and in local promos advertising them. What’s nice is that The Hulkster’s standard bandana is also included. Throw that on and you absolutely have the post-Rock n’ Wrestling Hulk figure that we’ve all been waiting for. How many out there grew up on this Hulk look? Honestly, if I were running the game, I’d re-release this guy in 2023 minus the helmet and necklace, throw in a shirt, and plop him into a “Top Picks” series. He’s that iconic and a figure that really every collector should have.
The Ultimate Warrior is a bit more show specific as it’s the exact look from the 1990 Survivor Series. What’s nice about the design is that it’s show specific without LOOKING show specific. The Warrior wore many similar designs and colors in this era. While the WrestleMania VI look is iconic (and overdone as a figure), it’s really locked to that show. He never wore anything else quite like it at any other time. Of course the sky is the limit when it’s your figure. You do as you please. If you want the Mania VI Warrior press slamming Andre the Giant in your latest figure photography post, you do it! Hell, I may just do that after this blog entry. But it’s nice to have a more neutral look here and there. This figure brings that to us. It also utilizes a head sculpt that was only used once before. For a character with as many wild expressions as The Ultimate Warrior, we deserve a variety of faces.
Other runners-up? In my opinion several releases of Randy Savage, The Canadian Earthquake (some of you may have had him in late 2021, to me he’s a 2022 release) and even the “chase” Lex Luger in orange tights all fit the bill. Retro Jimmy Hart should also get a mention for the sheer awesomeness of finally having a Hasbro-styled manager figure. As for 2023, Mattel has already showcased several figures that in my book have FOTY written all over them and one outside company is about to give everyone a run for their money. You thought that the shady performances of “boutique” manufacturers killed the chances for one to make it as FOTY? Not by a long shot. I’m looking at you, PowerTown and Stan Hansen…