WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series One

Welcome to a very special edition of WWF Hasbro Memories! Today we’ll be taking a break from the original WWF Hasbro line to check out some new figs that captured all of our hearts just this year – the Mattel WWE Retro figures!

But first, in case you haven’t yet, please go back and check out the first FIVE series reviews for the Hasbro figs. I’ve provided you with these handy links.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series One 

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Two

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Three

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Four

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Five

Let’s get retro!

RETRO SERIES ONE

I’m not sure how you would’ve stumbled across this page if you aren’t familiar with the Hasbro WWF toyline from the early 90’s.  The line – which lasted 11 series and 5 years – gained a devoted following during its original run by providing simple, slightly cartoony figures of the greatest WWF Superstars of the day.  The line was very robust, with everyone from Andre The Giant to Yokozuna being immortalized in 4-inch plastic.

The line wasn’t just popular in its own time, though.  Even today, Hasbro WWF figures are hotly traded and sold on eBay, with some of the rarer figs fetching over 100 bucks for loose versions.

But the Hasbro line’s legacy is not just in the memories of fans.  The line’s success was a jumping off point for dozens of WWF/WWE lines brought to us by Jakks Pacific and Mattel that still continue to this day.

And that brings us to Mattel’s WWE Retro line.  Last year, Mattel (who has owned the WWE figure rights since 2010) announced that they’d be releasing a line of “throwback” figures.  Not much more info was given at the time, but the Hasbros community blew up when the figures were revealed at San Diego Comic Con.  Exclusive to Walmart, the WWE Retro figures would be a “throwback to the early 90’s” and “similarly designed as figures from the past”, basically Mattel & WWE’s way of saying Hasbro without saying Hasbro.

It’s true – the celebrated but long dormant 4-inch figures hit Walmart toy aisles in January of 2017, making a Superman-punch style impact on the wallets of 30-year old toy collectors all over the world.

From a packaging perspective, Mattel really nailed the look and feel of the original Hasbros on card.  The front of the blue cards are nearly identical in format to the Hasbros – all that’s missing is the “F”. The backs of the cards, like their Hasbro counterparts, show all of the figures from the series, plus how to perform the figure’s Real Wrestling Action…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move.

The two big differences for the new cards are 1) the images on the back of the card are photos, not drawings. That kind of bums me out. If you’re gonna go full nostalgia, go full nostalgia.  And 2) there’s no Superstar Bio on the back.  I can understand not wanting to put time into the drawings, but not having the bios just feels like a cheat.  Some people still collect those original Hasbro bios, so they’re going to be sad to see they weren’t included in the reboot. Two minor qualms, but also worth noting.

But enough about the packaging. Let’s take a look at the superstars who make up Retro Series One!

Brock Lesnar

Rating: B+

Making his first ever appearance in the “Hasbro” world is The Beast himself, Brock Lesnar.  Brock is the oldest superstar to make his first appearance in Retro Series One.  Brock made his WWF debut in 2002 – 8 years after the last Hasbro WWF figure hit the shelves.

The thought of having Brock go back and F-5 everyone from Hulk Hogan to Tatanka is enough to have Hasbro fans pulling this guy off the shelf sight unseen.  Luckily, Mattel did pretty right by this Brock figure anyway.

Brock’s body mold is reminiscent of the old Hasbro figures like Series One Hulk Hogan and he looks very strong.  They also got the little details right, including his tattoos and fight trunks.  I’m surprised they didn’t slap on a Jimmy John’s advertisement, but it’s not like I need a reminder to eat there. They’re freaky fast.

Mattel got Brock’s hair right too, but there’s something about the facial expression that gives me pause.  The eyes look great but that smirk just doesn’t befit the man they call the Beast Incarnate.  Back in my original Hasbro reviews, I complained that the Hulk Hogans all have very angry facial expressions, despite the fact that Hulkster was a fan favorite and relatively fun-loving.  I’m feeling the opposite here – when I think of Brock, I don’t think “smirk”.  Unless Mattel is trying to recreate THIS moment:

giphy (2)

Brock’s Real Wrestling…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move is the “F5 Action!” Yes, with the exclamation point. The F5 Action! is the pull and release arms with open palms that we saw in SO many Hasbro figures, dating back to S1 Hulk Hogan and Demolition Ax.  It’s a good action for a power wrestler, but I call foul on naming it the F5.  Sure, you could use his raised arms to perform an F5, but the spring release in them will only work AGAINST performing Brock’s patented finisher.  Either Mattel didn’t bother looking at what an F5 actually is, or they’re just determined to name those RW…excuse me, ASMs after the actual finishers.

I picked up Brock Lesnar for $9.99 at the Walmart by my work, on the same day I found John Cena, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens.  When I’m holding these four guys, 40 bucks seems like a lot for them, but I’m VERY glad to not pay eBay prices!

Roman Reigns

Grade: A-

Like WWE was going to relaunch the toy line and NOT include the Big Dog himself! Roman Reigns – former Leader (?) of The Shield turned Ruler of the Yard – makes his debut in Retro Series One.  If you listen to the Good Brothers Wrestling Podcast (cheap plug), you know that I’m no fan of Roman Reigns.  That said, Mattel has pretty much nailed it with his figure.

Roman is dressed in his solo gear, with a nice flack jacket. Actually, his gear looks a lot like Venom from Spider-Man, but you can’t hate on Mattel just because WWE ganked a logo.  His hair and skin tone are great and, like Brock, the tattoos are on point.  This line has a long tradition of getting tattoos right, going all the way back to Shawn Michaels’ forearm and Bam Bam Bigelow’s head.

Roman’s Real Wrestling…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move is the Superman Punch, which is accomplished via a springloaded arm.  Hasbro fans will recognize this action that dates back to the beloved S1 Jake The Snake figure.  I’m very happy that Mattel called this a Superman Punch instead of trying to convince me it was a Spear.

My only problem is Roman’s expression.  If you’ve read my older Hasbro reviews, you know that I’m not a huge fan of the “open mouth” figures.   It’s not like I hate them (like the handleback figures). I just feel like the open mouth decreases their playability.  Who’s mouth is always open?  I get that this is Roman’s big “OOOOWAAA” look to setup his finish, but his mouth is SO agape.  Braun Strowman could drive an ambulance through that thing.

Undertaker

Rating: C

The Dead Man himself makes his RETURN to 4-inch plastic with Retro Series One!  The Undertaker made three appearances in the original Hasbros line, but they were all paint variations on the same mold.  I’m surprised Mattel didn’t think outside the box a little here, as RS1 Undertaker doesn’t stray far from the look of the original Hasbros.  Taker had a lot of different phases in his 25+ year career, but Mattel has opted to go with the his original gear.

RS1 Taker does get himself a brand new tie, as well as purple gloves and boots, so that’s something.  The big difference is Undertaker’s body mold, which is the wide-stance with pull and release arms.  While this is similar to Brock’s, Undertaker’s hands don’t have the spread fingers, which makes this variation new to the line.

While a retread, it’s nearly as it should be.  Taker’s hat gets an upgrade, as it matches his head size much better than the comically large one from S4.  Then you get to his face. I’m sorry – were there a bunch of Roman Reigns face scans just lying around?  What the heck happened here?  Did Undertaker EVER have a goatee like that?

Undertaker’s Real Wrestling…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move is, of course, The Tombstone.  OK, I’m sure you’re tired of me complaining about the names of these Moves not corresponding with the real life maneuvers.  And in fact, I can see how Taker’s pull and release arms would enable him to perform a tombstone pildedriver.  However, please just take a look at this pictorial evidence so you can full understand why I’m losing my mind.

giphy (3)
Actual Tombstone
ut_asm
RS1 Taker’s Card. (Reveal the Tombstone???)

Bottom line, this Undertaker is boring, his likeness is questionable and the back of his card is filled with, at best, terrible information and, at worst, egregious lies. Good hair though.

My brother got me Undertaker from the Walmart near our house, so he paid $9.99 and I paid zip.

John Cena

Rating: A-

The Face That Runs The Place makes his 4-inch debut in Retro Series One.  Like Brock, Cena has been around long enough to remember when the company was called “WWF”, so getting him in Hasbro form feels like it’s a long time coming.

Overall, I like this figure. I like that he’s smiling because, if any fig should be, it’s Cena.  I’m also a big fan of the green and orange gear.  I love the mold for his shorts, but I don’t understand why they went with black instead of blue jeans.  I know Cena wore black shorts for a while, but look at the rest of this series – Brock: black shorts, Owens: black shorts, Taker: black everything, Roman: black everything.  Those guys are all being faithful to their real life looks, so when you have a character who IS colorful, why put more black in there?

Cena’s Real Wrestling…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move is the Attitude Adjustment, which is Cena’s real life finisher.  Mattel debuts a new action type here, as John’s upper torso can move side to side.  This makes RS1 Cena look like he can actually do an AA! Or look like he’s doing a gay little dance.

Kevin Owens

Rating: B

Of all the figures making their debut in Retro Series One, Kevin Owens had me the most excited.  I’m a huge KO mark and I just couldn’t wait to book that Owens/Dusty Rhodes feud in the MBWF.

Mattel delivers for the most part. Owens is sporting his NXT-era T-shirt and his typical all black fight shorts and…tights? Compression pants? I don’t know what his wardrobe situation is, but they got it down.  Again, though, the face is a letdown.  Kevin Owens doesn’t wear a mask or have any crazy facial scars, but he still has a pretty notable likeness.  This figure does not capture that.

Like Undertaker, it’s like Mattel decided that having a beard made him look enough like the real Kevin Owens that they didn’t have to worry about much else.  The facial expression is bad too – it’s basically blank.  If you removed the “KO” from his t-shirt, this figure could literally be any heavyset guy with a beard.  He looks like literally every wrestling fan.

Owens Real Wrestling…excuse me, Authentic Superstar Move is the “Pop-Up Powerbomb”, which is the seldom used “spring waist joint” that we first saw in S1 Andre The Giant.  The Mattel version of this action is MUCH less cumbersome than the original Hasbro method, so you have to applaud them for that. KO’s upper body doesn’t feel hollow like S2 Dusty or S1 Andre.

Ultimate Warrior

Grade: B-

Rounding out Retro Series One is a man that Hasbro collectors are more than familiar with – the Ultimate Warrior.  Warrior was part of the original Series One and appeared twice more after, each time with a brand new mold.

RS1 Warrior is very reminiscent of S2 Warrior, which is one of my favorite figures of the entire Hasbro line.  However, the devil is in the details, and I think Hasbro got those details a little more correct than Mattel did with this new Warrior fig.

First off, it’s nice that they gave Warrior the pink and green gear.  S1 Warrior, which really sucked thanks to being a handleback, also used the pink and green, so it’s nice to have a more playable Warrior in that color scheme 27 years later. I also love his arm tassels, which are a whole separate piece, so you can twist them around.

Mattel figures with longer hair use a separate piece of plastic attached to their head mold instead of having the hair as part of the overall head. The plastic used for the hair is more bendable, which is a nice touch.  This worked really well for RS1 Undertaker, but I’m not feeling it for Warrior.  I think the hair is a little bit TOO pronounced.  I know Warrior went through his phase of having bad 90’s hair, but this is just way too blown out.  You can say they were trying to be true to Bad 90’s Hair Ultimate Warrior, but with an entire career of looks to choose from, why choose a bad one?

Warrior’s RW…excuse me, ASM is the Gorilla Press Slam, which is performed with the same upper torso joint as RS1 John Cena.  It’s kind of sideways from the way a real gorilla press slam should go, but on the plus side, who do you think taught Cena how to do his gay little dance?

Warrior and Undertaker were released later than the other four figures in this series and I got antsy waiting to find them.  Since I wasn’t seeing any Warriors in my local Walmart (and I checked a LOT), I picked up this Warrior on eBay, MOC, for $11.50.  I did start seeing the figure on shelves later, but hey, how much can you pay for peace of mind?

WRAP-UP

RETRO SERIES ONE GRADE: B

There’s no denying that there was a LOT of excitement over these WWE Retro figs.  With only 6 figures, Series One did a good job drawing from different time periods – 2 Ruthless Aggression Era guys in Brock and Cena, two newer Superstars in KO and Roman, and 2 Legends in Taker and Warrior.

I don’t even mind that Undertaker and Warrior were chosen considering they were such prominent entries in the original Hasbro line.  In a way, I think including Taker and Warrior gives us the link between these Retros to the line they’re paying homage too.

That said, what should have felt like a loving tribute comes across a little more like a retread.  RS1 Taker and Warrior feel TOO MUCH like their Hasbro counterparts, and figures like KO and Lesnar come across more bland than exciting.  Some people will say it’s a reflection of the current WWE product, but I don’t think that’s entirely true.

Take the color pallet, for example.  6 figures with 5 of them in predominantly black gear.  But there were plenty of instances where some color could’ve been added.  Roman’s vest isn’t always just black and white.  Kevin Owens has a lot of different variations on his signature T-shirts.  And Cena – well, we talked about that earlier.

I’m not going to complain too much. It’s still a very GOOD line, and great to have these new figures as part of the “Hasbro” family. I just think this Retro Series One could’ve come out great with just a little more eye for detail.

Thanks for reading my Retro Series One review! I’ve got a full set of Retro Series Two figures looking at me right now, so I’ll be back shortly with them.  And don’t worry Hasbro fans – I’ve got Hasbro Series Six percolating too!

See you soon!

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