Hello again! It’s time to review another batch of 25 year old wrestling figures. Don’t act like you’re not excited!
If you haven’t yet, please go back and check out my reviews for Series One, Series Two and Series Three. Even if you checked out One and Two a while ago, you may want to go back because I’ve added ratings to each figure and series since they were originally published.
The goal of these WWF Hasbro Memories articles is to take an in depth look at all 11 series of the classic WWF Hasbro figures, as well as the new Mattel Retro series (which just released Series Two) and the cousin to those figures, WCW’s Galoob line. Actually the goal of the articles is to seem like I have a reason for completing my collection, but hey, we can have two goals, right?
I don’t know what the heck we’re waiting for!
Series Four was the second wave of WWF figures Hasbro put out in 1992 and marked a shift in how the line was released. While the previous series each had a dozen or more figures, Series Four only included 4 – more of a supplement to the giant 16-figure Series Three.
The change in release method also went along with a change to the entire WWF, and Series Four could not have been more timely. By the end of 1992, the old guard was giving way to the new. The Ultimate Warrior was gone by the end of summer, Hulkamania was winding down (Hulk would stick it out until mid-1993, but even his final title run was specious to say the least) and “Macho Man” Randy Savage was moving out of the ring and behind the announce booth.
It was a rebuilding period for the WWF, and it would give rise to the “New Generation”. Leading the charge was Bret “Hitman” Hart, who would end 1992 as the WWF champion after defeating Ric Flair in shocking fashion at a house show on Canadian Thanksgiving. Also making his way to the main event scene was The Undertaker, who had shaken the entire fed upon his debut in 1990 and won his first WWF Title just a year later.
With these new faces at the top of the company, it was important that the Hasbro line get them pressed to plastic and into kids’ hot little hands ASAP. Because, are you really the world champion if you don’t have your own toy?
BRET “HITMAN” HART
We’ll kick things off with the Hitman, who makes his debut in Series Four. To be honest, I struggled a lot with the grade on this figure. On one hand, he’s SO pink and black. Like, if there were a pink and black hall of fame, this figure would be a first ballot entry thanks to its pink and black vibrancy. And they got Bret Hart’s gear down to the details. He’s got armbands AND wristbands, the little hearts on his tights – it’s all perfect.
I’m also a big fan of Bret’s Real Wrestling Action – the Hart Attack – which is the new kind we saw introduced in Series Three with Mr. Perfect and Hulkaplex Hulk Hogan. Bret’s card makes the Hart Attack look more like a wind-up punch, but we all know those arms are posed for suplexes. Lots and lots of suplexes.
All that said – HIS HEAD. His head looks like it’s melting. His chin is tilted back at an odd angle. His sunglasses are more a giant sunglasses-shaped blob on his face. I can’t even comment on the likeness because his face is all sunglasses. And what’s going on with his mouth? And where is his neck?
It’s a bummer because they nailed the hair. NAILED IT.
When we got the Bret Hart figure originally, I’m fairly certain he won the MBWF title immediately. Bret was on fire in the WWF, coming off of a memorable Intercontinental Title run and unexpectedly winning the WWF Title. We NEEDED this figure. And overall he’s great. If only he’d spent a little less time out under the hot sun.
Unfortunately, our original Bret Hart did not make it to 2017. Even more unfortunately, you don’t get Brets cheap on eBay. I was able to score this one for $19.99, and that’s because his pink heart is not in mint condition. (That heart will be important later).
Note: Some S4 Bret’s have a Purple Heart on their chest instead of a Pink Heart. If you can find one on card, consider yourself lucky.
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, who like Bret Hart broke away from a very successful tag team for singles glory, makes his debut in Series Four. The Bulldog squared off with Bret in the main event of Summerslam ’92 in his home country of England, winning the Intercontinental Title, so he was definitely a hot commodity. Unlike Bret, Davey Boy would be gone from the Fed by the end of the year. So we’re very lucky to have gotten a British Bulldog figure before that happened.
Bulldog’s Real Wrestling Action is the Bulldog Bash, which is the double pull and release arms that the line has been using since S1 Hulk Hogan and Ax. While I found that move a little boring with S1 Hulk, it works really well for the Bulldog. Dave Boy’s real life finisher was a running powerslam, which this sort of helps emulate.
Not only that, but Bulldog is JACKED. Look at that six pack! The dude may be the strongest looking figure in the entire WWF Hasbro line. S2 Warrior looked really ripped, but was also leaner.
I am a big fan of Bulldog’s likeness, too. Like Bret Hart, Hasbro got the hair down pat. I wish they’d gotten his beads in there, but I don’t think Bulldog was wearing those at this point in his career. Sounds like an opportunity to bring back Davey Boy in the new Mattel Retro line!
RICKY “THE DRAGON” STEAMBOAT
Knee jerk reaction is that Ricky Steamboat is easily the stinker of Series Four. Still, I can’t decide if I love or hate this figure. On the one hand, he’s a handleback, which I despise. Not only does it make The Dragon bulky and unable to be properly pinned, it also makes his legs permanently fused together. So you’re not going to win my heart with a handleback figure.
Then you have his – is it a cape? If I go by pictures, there seems to be some confusion within the Hasbro collector community over if this thing goes on downward, like a cape, or upward, making Ricky look sort of like a dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. You know, this guy:
It sounds crazy, but I mean, he IS a dragon.
If you go by Steamer’s packaging, The Dragon came with the piece pointing downward – definitely a cape. You could argue that he was just packaged that way to fit in his plastic bubble, but if you look at the back of the card, the drawing of Ricky doing his Real Wrestling Action (the Steamboat Springer – huh?) clearly shows him wearing the piece as a cape. So cape and cape. #CapeWins.
So here we have a handleback figure with a confusing accessory, yet The Dragon’s likeness is spot on. His entrance gear makes him look half like a Street Fighter crossover figure and half like Mumm-Ra from Thundercats. His pants and – um, halter top? – are even textured to feel like scales. That’s dedication to the cause right there. I gotta give Hasbro props. In the end, the Steamboat figure does suck like a handleback, but it may be the best handleback in the line. He certainly stands out as the weirdest.
We actually were supposed to get all four Series Four figures together as kids. We saw them at Hills (WHERE THE MF’N TOYS ARE) sometime near Christmas and my mom put them on layaway. Come Christmas morning – there was no yuletide Steamboat or Bulldog to be seen. I said, mom, where did those wrestling figures go? She swears she picked them up from layaway, which I tend to doubt. Then again, how cool would it be if one day I ran across 4 Mint-On-Card WWF Hasbro figures in a 25 year old Hills bag?
Oh, and don’t worry, we eventually got all four. This is our original Steamboat. He held up pretty well because, well, we never played with him because he kind of sucks. Maybe he does deserve a C.
So here you have it – the main event of Series Four. The Deadman himself, making his debut in the line.
I can’t tell you how excited we were to get The Undertaker in the MBWF. His presence was so needed that we’d actually taken another figure – a 6″ generic pirate figure with white pants and a rubber head – and dressed him up in black and purple, making ourselves a fake Undertaker before that was even a thing. Needless to say, the real Undertaker won the MBWF Title in his first match. I’m fairly certain he beat Bret Hart.
This Taker figure looks great too. The ripped sleeveless shirt, thick grey gloves, the red hair and hat. They really got it perfect. And even though Taker’s face is decidedly cartoony, they somehow got his eyes exactly right. It’s the whole essence of the Phenom, packed down into four inches of plastic.
Taker’s Action is the “Tombstone Tackle”, which is the ol’ clothesline arm gimmick. It’s kind of a generic move for the big man, but the figure is so awesome that I’d honestly blocked out that this was his move.
Also, in case you’re wondering, when REAL Undertaker debuted in the MBWF, the fake pirate Undertaker was repackaged as The Pirate. He had a good run, feuding with Hulk Hogan and also forming a successful tag team with The Miner (our “regimmicked” S2 Hogan). The ring battles took their toll though. The Pirate suffered from a career-ending pelvic injury (the plastic thing that held his legs on broke off), but not before a classic final match against the Hulkster on a concrete wall.
SERIES FOUR GRADE: A-
With just four figures, Series Four delivers on nearly every level except sheer numbers. All four figures are making their debut in the line, which is great for fresh match-ups. Also, each of the four figures has a different look and Real Wrestling Action. I could’ve gone without a new handleback figure, but overall Series Four is a great supplement to the massive Series Three.
The Undertaker is the champion of Series Four, though Bret Hart’s addition to the line was certainly sought after at the time. British Bulldog is a sleeper favorite, exuding sheer power. The Dragon is certainly last in line, but hey, we were lucky to get a Steamboat figure at all seeing as how he’d left the company before 1992 anyway.
Series Four would be the smallest series in the WWF Hasbro line, though several 6-figure sets would be released over the next few years.
Note: S4 Undertaker would be repackaged on a Red Card for release in India via Funskool in 1994. S4 Taker would also return as a repaint (with brown hair) and a cloak accessory as one of the three WWF Magazine Mailaway Figures in 1993. He would also return with the cloak, slightly darker hair and less scary eyes in Series Eight.
Note: S4 Bret Hart would return (with his Purple Heart) as a WWF Magazine Mailaway Figure in 1993. He would also return as a repaint (with a pink shirt, black pants, silver sunglasses and a tan) in Series Eight.
Thanks for reading about Series Four! I’m currently just waiting on a Skinner to arrive in the mail to complete my Series Five, so that one will be coming up next. Until then!