Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Wrestling Classic Figure Review—Mattel WWE Ultimate Edition Sgt. Slaughter

Ah, the figure that unofficially kicked off “The Coliseum Collection.” Actually, it’s shown on the back of the Hogan/Funk set, so maybe it is considered the first? I think we can best categorize it as “partially” part of that set, just like the figure that inspired it is partially part of the LJN Wrestling Superstars line of yesteryear. Why is it being reviewed now, over two years after the fact? A few reasons, but seeing as that it isn’t brand spankin’ new it definitely works as the latest Wrestling Classic Figure Review.

When it was first released I’d initially planned on having it autographed. It’s a great looking figure with unique packaging and I decided that I didn’t really need to open it as it wasn’t all that much different from various other Slaughter figures. Then a few things changed. It’s actually thirty-five years to the month that I first met The Sarge. Always one of the kindest and most gracious wrestlers to meet, it was a little shocking when I began to hear reports that he was charging upwards of $100 to sign this particular figure. In fact, his prices have skyrocketed for just about anything you could want from him at an appearance.

As I said, the man himself has always been one of the best to meet. I’ve never had a bad experience with Sgt. Slaughter nor have I ever heard anyone else report one. Until now. Price gouging is an issue all around the appearance scene, but whether it’s Slaughter himself or the used car salesman who handles his appearances (and, I suspect, his social media accounts), the real-life G.I. Joe is effectively pricing himself out of the market. After three and a half decades of various meetings I certainly don’t have a shortage of Slaughter autographs, but it’s always nice to add more if there’s a particular item out there. Until things change or he’s in a situation where the pricing is different (part of a prepaid lineup, for example), I’ll be looking at his items just as I would those of a wrestler who is no longer with us: unsignable.

If you’re familiar with the aforementioned Coliseum Collection then you’re already familiar with the packaging here, it’s simply one figure instead of two. This was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive which sold out on Mattel Creations in seconds. Their SDCC release this year, Muhammad Ali, is still sitting available as of press time. The design, just like The Coliseum Collection, is based upon the look of the classic LJN Wrestling Superstars line. The figure itself is based upon the look of the Hasbro G.I. Joe mail away figure release that was designed to interact with the LJN figures. I remember marveling, even as a kid, that LJN figures were actually seen at the feet of the Slaughter figure in the Hasbro mail order brochure. That was the kind of thing that most kids wouldn’t have given a second thought to. Me? I guess I was just different!

The interesting part which coincides with my mini-rant above is something that I actually didn’t discover until I went to open the figure. Unlike The Coliseum Collection and just about every other release from any figure company that I’m familiar with, there’s really nothing stopping you from completely returning this figure to “mint” condition. There are no annoying clear bands or plastic fasteners that require cutting. You can take Slaughter, and the accessories, in and out as much as you want. I’m not saying that I’d get it autographed should I ever have the chance to not pay the All-American $100 Sgt. Slaughter Cobra Corps God Bless America fee, but it’s certainly doable.

Just as with The Coliseum Collection the accessories are stored in a box underneath the figure, resembling where the poster would’ve been in the LJN releases. An extra head, various gloved hands, riding crop, whistle and jacket are all included. A removable belt, sunglasses and hat are already positioned on the figure. I’m a really big fan of the various gloved hands included here. You can recreate a lot of Sarge’s famous poses (“Stop and give me $100, kid!”) and I’m sure that these could even work well on another wrestler if you thought about it enough. The jacket reminds me of the one that he wore on that day back in September of 1988 when I first met him. Ah, the glorious and ungreedy days of yore.

The figure itself is of the “Ultimate Edition” style which means more articulation than ever. My personal jury is sort of out on whether or not the extra shoulder joints really work for Slaughter himself, but they DO help it resemble the Hasbro LJN-esque figure on which it’s based. That figure is, pardon the overused expression, jacked. He looks as he did in the G.I. Joe cartoon, especially, and since that’s what we’re going for here…well…why not? The “pained” expression on the extra head (not the one on the fans walking away from his table with sticker shock) is amusing and I don’t think that it’s been released elsewhere. If you can pop this head on the Iraqi Slaughter figure released by Mattel around the same time, and I’m pretty sure that’s doable, it would look great in a WrestleMania VII recreation.

Overall, it’s a nice figure and while it isn’t officially part of The Coliseum Collection, I think that you really may need it to feel “complete” if that’s your thing. I recall that prices for both versions (a “chase” exists on a black inner card) skyrocketed after the ten seconds in which it was available and I’d venture to doubt that they’ve fallen very much. Still, Mattel never seems to release the SDCC exclusives in quite the same look again (aside from Ali even after the original release didn’t light the world on fire), so it may not ever fall. Just remember to sock away a hundo if you want that baby signed.

Yo Joe, money grubbing maggots!

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