WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series Two

What’s up? Are you ready for some plastic?

Welcome back to another edition of WWF Hasbro Memories, where we’re taking a close look at some of the most beloved wrestling-related toys of all time – the Hasbro WWF figures from the first half of the 1990’s.

So beloved, in fact, that just this year, toymaker Mattel released a new line of “Retro” figures, which pay tribute to their Hasbro forefathers.  Last time, we checked out Retro Series One, and today we’ll continue that journey with Retro Series Two!

This is all in hopes of Santa bringing me a Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles so we can do Retro Series Three next!

But first, as always, if you’ve missed any of the previous reviews, check them out first. This column isn’t going anywhere until I quit paying for this domain name.

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

WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series One

Now let’s get to this!

RETRO SERIES TWO

Retro Series One hit Walmart shelves before Wrestlemania this year and, despite being a little bland in execution, was a runaway success.  So it’s no surprise that Retro Series Two didn’t follow very far behind.

While the six-figure RS1 featured a mix of legends and current superstars, RS2 is going full Attitude Era.  All six of the figures that make up this series were important in the Monday Night Wars, with 5 of them defining an entire generation in the WWF.

For WWE Retro’s target demo (30 year old dudes collecting toys that remind them of being 10), the Attitude Era-friendly figures hit us right in the sweet spot.  Not only are these legends from the 90’s, but they’re legends who were never immortalized in the original Hasbro WWF run.

The packaging wasn’t altered for the second series, so none of my complaining about the Retros not matching the original Hasbros was quieted.  However, the color pallet has been broadened; Mattel gave the black paint a rest on some of these figures. So how does Retro Series Two stack up? Let’s find out.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Rating: A+

Black boots. Black trunks. Goatee. It’s not too hard to nail ol’ Stone Cold when it comes to the basics, but Mattel really came through with this figure. It may be my favorite of the entire line so far.

Stone Cold’s likeness is dead on, from his bald head to his boots.  I love that Mattel added the black knee brace, which Steve Austin wore for much of his WWF/WWE run.  That’s the type of little detail that I feel Series One was lacking.  I’d love to see a Texas tattoo peeking through there, but we’ll take what we can get.

Austin’s Authentic Superstar Move is, of course, his patented Stone Cold Stunner.  I won’t get into complaining about how the move described on the back of Stone Cold’s card is not an actual Stunner, because the figure is made to so easily execute an ACTUAL STUNNER.  Just look at that right arm – it’s begging to stun some sorry S.O.B.

Stone Cold’s ASM is the clothesline arm, which makes it’s debut in the Mattel line here.  The Mattel version of the clothesline arm has a notable difference though.  For the old Hasbros, a clothesline arm meant you got an elbow joint, but you couldn’t rotate your shoulder.   Mattel has remedied this problem, giving the Texas Rattlesnake FIVE points of articulation!

My brother got Stone Cold (and The Rock) for me as a birthday gift, so I paid $0 for him.  I’m fairly certain he picked him up from RingsideCollectibles.com though, which means he dropped around fifteen bucks each.

The Rock

Rating: B-

You can’t have Stone Cold without The Rock, and Retro Series Two has both of these legends making their Hasbro(-style) debut.  Unfortunately, while Stone Cold excels, Rocky kinda falters.

My biggest complaint with Retro Series One was that the figures were too black and the likenesses were off.  The Rock demonstrates that this is still an issue in RS2.  His gear is all black with “The Rock” and a Brahma bull in gold on his trunks.  Note that this is a 90’s version of The Rock, because he has quite a bit of hair.

Since this seems to represent The People’s Champ in his Nation of Domination phase, I can forgive the monochrome gear, but what I can’t forgive is that face.  Mattel got the People’s Eyebrow cocked perfectly, but the actual likeness is spotty at best.  If you look at him from various angles, he either looks (sort of) like The Rock, or like a Samoan Mr. Spock.  His cheeks are all puffy, too, like he got stung by a bee.

Rocky’s ASM is the Rock Bottom, which is the double pull and release arms with open palms made famous by everyone from S1 Hulk Hogan to RS1 Brock Lesnar.  It’s a boring move, but I can’t deny that you would use such an action to perform the real Rock Bottom.

Like the first Funko POP! Rock, I can’t help but hope we’ll get another, more colorful version of this icon.

As I said above, my brother picked up this figure on Ringside Collectibles’ site.

Sting

Rating: B

Sting is the only man not representing the WWF Attitude Era in this series, but his contributions to the overall Monday Night Wars means he fits right in.

Back in the old MBWF days, the WWF Hasbro figures shared the ring with the WCW Galoob figures, so there were a lot of cross-company dream matches.  The Galoob Sting, though lacking any articulation, was a classic figure, dressed in brilliant blue tights with pink facepaint.

So Sting makes his Hasbro(-style) debut in Retro Series Two with his other iconic look – Crow Sting.  Sting would dawn the “Crow” facepaint during the beginning of WCW’s nWo era and maintain that type of paint for the rest of his career, even in his final matches with WWE.

There is a LOT about this Sting figure that I like.  The hair looks great, taking full advantage of the Mattel rubbery/wavy look.  The facepaint is absolutely on point, and the shirt is perfect.  I had that Sting T-shirt when I was like 17, so it hits me right in the heart strings.

However, this Sting also represents the most hated aspect of the old WWF Hasbros – the handleback figures.  That’s right, after not making ANY handleback figures in Retro Series One, Mattel brings them back in full force in this series.  And it’s so sad.  Sting’s ASM is the Stinger Splash, which at least works with the “jumper’ action, but it still sucks for play.

To their credit, Mattel has developed an innovation for the handleback figures.  Their boots are now made of a softer rubbery material, which means you can “aim” them better when they jump.  That’s a nice addition, actually.  I just wish they’d limited their number of handlebacks (oh yeah, we’re not finished with them), and maybe only used that mold for more high flying superstars (like Rey Mysterio or Neville).

In the end, this Sting is a GOOD figure, but he could’ve been the definitive Sting figure and he’s not.  He lost out to a Sting that couldn’t even move his arms.

Triple H

Rating: D-

Yuck. I HATE this figure.  Everything about it sucks.

Triple H is CERTAINLY a part of the Attitude Era.  Would Shawn Michaels have made more sense here? Maybe, but Shawn already has three figures in the old Hasbro line, so I’m cool with giving his dX second-in-command a spot.  And you know, it would’ve been fine if they’d given us a dX Triple H.  Instead, we get H somewhere in between his “Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Connecticut snob” and “Triple H, deGenerate” phases.

That alone makes this Triple H confusing. He’s wearing very Helmsley-esque gear, but no ponytail, so Mattel no doubt wanted this to be the dX-era Triple H.  His expression is alright, but his chin is way too cartoonish. Does Triple H have that big of a chin? Am I just not noticing it because of his nose?   The hairline is too far back too.  It’s like 2000’s era HHH receding.  How many years are we trying to represent here?

And if that weren’t enough, he’s a <multiple swear words> handlback.  I get that you kind of jump up to perform the Pedigree, but for a power, technical wrestler like Triple H, this mold is all wrong.

This figure is all wrong, too, and maybe the worst in the entire Hasbro/Mattel Retro series.

Kane

Rating: A

Hellfire and brimstone! The Big Red Machine makes his debut in Retro Series Two and what a great figure.  Kane’s gimmick makes him a great choice for the Hasbro “cartoony” style, and Mattel doesn’t disappoint.

Everything about Kane’s gear is perfect and I’m a fan of his stringy hair. I think Mattel made a few fine-tunings to Retro Series Two when it comes to the figures’ hair in general and Kane really benefits.  The mask is a good replica of Kane’s early days, and Mattel even colored in that one wonky eye.  Eye Love It!

Like his Retros Series One brother The Undertaker, Kane’s ASM is the Tombstone.  His actual action is exactly the same as RS1 Taker as well.  Double spring loaded arms are perfect for Kane to call down hellfire, so I’m calling this move-type a good choice.

Retro Series Two hit stores in the UK long before it did in the US, and I was tortured with pics from British collectors online for weeks.  RS2 finally started trickling in to Walmart, but I wasn’t able to find them in any of my local stores.  Eventually, I was able to order Kane (and Mankind, and HHH, and Sting) via Walmart.com and have them shipped to the store for free.  Just $9.99 each – I win again!

Mankind

Rating: A

Rounding out the series is another great figure and another of my all-time favorites. It’s Mrs. Foley’s baby boy – Mankind.

Mankind may be the most detailed of all of the Mattel figures.  He’s got his crazy hair, a shirt and tie (which isn’t just painted on, it’s a separate piece from his body mold), his two-finger glove and, of course, his signature mask.  I totally love this figure and he’s my sentimental RS2 favorite.  He looks like a big dog and his smile may be a little more sincere than insane, but I love him anyway.

Mankind’s Authentic Superstar Move is the Mandible Claw, which is accomplished by a clothesline arm like Stone Cold’s.  I’m not sure why Mattel did only three different types of actions in this series, but the clothesline arm definitely works for both figures.  And I love that Mankind can actually do the mandible claw thanks to his glove!

WRAP-UP

RETRO SERIES TWO GRADE: B+

Retro Series Two is a mixed bag. There are three really awesome figures in Stone Cold, Mankind and Kane, but there is also that terrible Triple H and a double dose of misfires in Sting and The Rock.

It irritates me that the handleback figures have been brought back in full force (and it doesn’t get better in Retro Series Three), and it’s even more disheartening that we finally got a Hasbro-style Sting and he suffers from jumper-itis.

Still, overall, Retro Series Two is a step up from the bland first series.  The highlights are much higher and only the RS2 Rock can be considered boring.  It’s more than enough to have me anticipating another round of these figs.

Thanks for reading my Retro Series Two review! We’ve got a lot of plates spinning right now, so I’m not sure which series will be next.  It could be Retro Series Three (if Santa can find the right Game Stop), it could be the original Series Six.  Or who knows, we could go completely insane and finally do that Galoob WCW review!  Only one way to find out and that’s to keep checking this space.

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