Thursday, September 14, 2023

“Psst, Finkel, that’s King HAKU, pal…”

Sure, over the past decade or so the wrestling world has become enamored with Haku and the stories surrounding him both in and out of the ring. But how many of you, like myself, have been a Haku guy for a lot longer than that? I’m betting a good many of you. No matter where he was or what they were calling him, the man variously known under such names as King Tonga, Haku and even Meng was someone you always wanted to see on the card. That being said, he’s been grossly under represented as far as action figures! You’ve seen his LJN here on the blog and I’m sure that his two Classic Superstars figures have popped up as well. Now, thanks to one of the boutique companies, we get to see him in “Hasbro” style as he always should have been. How does it measure up to the Tongan nightmare himself? Let’s take a look.

This one was a long time coming. A lot if it, I imagine, was due to the original company, Chella Toys, apparently getting out of the business. Though the name is kept on the card back here, that was said to be symbolic. The company will be known as Epic Toys going forward. I steer clear of all of that type of drama, so don’t ask. I imagine that there are plenty of sources where you can find out what happened there. My concern was if the pre-orders, which had been paid for a year prior, would be fulfilled. They obviously were so no complaints there. My other further comment on the company itself is that it does cause concern about the financial liabilities of these boutique companies. They are fast to take the money but what if something happens in the meantime, as did here? With the long waits between pre-ordering and the figures arriving on your doorstep a lot of the financial institutions won’t be helping out if something goes wrong. It’s a major “red flag” as the kids like to say.

I will say that of the boutique retro/Hasbro styled figures that I’ve encountered, this company gets the card backs the closest. I think that we could even toss Mattel in there and Chella/Epic would still win. The thickness and feel of the cardboard is spot on. They do as well as they can with the logos (obviously there’s no WWF here) but all of the fonts, borders and even the drawings on the back fit right in. The bubbles on these throw me a bit, though I’m guessing that’s done to ensure that they won’t fall off. Even without a “Real Wrestling Action” I’d prefer a “mock” description on the back as opposed to a photo of the figure, but that’s still better than another outfit that needlessly puts the design schematics of the figure on the back, touting that they’re designed by someone who had a hand in creating the Hasbro line. If it looks like a Hasbro I really don’t care who designed the thing.

Like Mattel and every other current “retro” figure the photo of the wrestler on the card back is a rendering based on a real photo. I’d imagine that this is done due to the original photo rights. I can’t be objective on whether or not the crown on Haku’s head looks “off” or not. I’m too familiar with the original photo and it dates past his time as “King,” at least in the WWF. To this day he is still billed as “King Haku” in some areas including Japan. For me it looks like it shouldn’t be there, but again, after thirty years of seeing the real photo I can’t really say if it’s out of place or if it’s just me. I will say that there are plenty of photos of Haku actually wearing the crown that could have been used, but I’m sure that there are reasons that this was done instead.

As with all of the current licensed retro figures aside from Mattel’s lineup, there are no “Real Wrestling Actions.” I’ve been ok with that and I continue to be. Even Mattel’s soon-to-be-ended Masters of the Universe line featuring fairly direct re-releases of the vintage figures are produced sans most of their original actions. Again, as long as the figures appear as they are supposed to that’s what matters. Here you are getting King Haku and his crown. I appreciate that the crown is removable. I wouldn’t say that it fits snugly, but it fits…”nicely.” Most of all it looks great when on. When a retro figure has a non-removable head accessory I do understand it as that’s how most of the original Hasbro figures were handled, but I will always prefer removable when given the choice.

Overall this is a nice figure. The likeness is good and not TOO modern to ultimately look unretro, a problem that a lot of the retro boutiques are facing. The arms are posed well for some good Haku-esque stances and the figure stands well. While it fits in, size wise, with Hasbro figures and retros alike, I feel that he’s just a tad not thick enough. I’m thinking that he should be as bulky as the Hacksaw Jim Duggan Hasbro figures. Remember, nine times out of ten the Hasbro sculpts were a bit exaggerated. We needed some of that here. It could also use a bit more shine. The Blue Meanie figure from Chella had a great Hasbro shine. Haku is a tad on the dull side, though there is a bit of shine. I will say that the figure shows a decent shine in my accompanying photography, so the bit of dullness must only be in-hand.

I pre-ordered two of these since Haku is a favorite of mine and I’m hoping to get one signed. Do I regret it? Not one bit. It’s a perfectly acceptable entry to anyone’s Hasbro/retro collection, especially of a star who has been so under produced as an action figure.  Is it perfect? No, but I think we’ve said that for all Hasbro-esque figures including those from Mattel. I like it enough that if it was redone with flowery tights for a later Haku I’d probably pick one of those up, too. I don’t know if King Haku will be available post-pre-order, but if it is I don’t imagine that it will last long. Most of these boutique figures have proven to be hit or miss as far as availability once completed.

Man, do we ever need a Bobby Heenan retro figure…

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