Welcome wrestling fans! Welcome toy fans! It’s that time again where we take a couple thousand words or so to scrutinize four inches of plastic. Are you ready?
Very excited today because it’s a first for this column (and this site) as we’re actually reviewing a NEW and CURRENT series!
I started WWF Hasbro Memories back in July of last year, taking a look at the old 90’s Hasbro WWF figures (aka my wrestling men) that fans love so much. That was months after Mattel released the first batch of WWE Retro figs, which paid tribute to the Hasbro line. Since then, we’ve looked at not only the first SIX (!) series of the Hasbro figs, but also the first two series of the Retro figs. THAT’S 75 FIGURES! I think that’s earned us some links!
Now that you’re all caught up, today we’re looking at a series that is ON SHELVES NOW – talking about WWE Retro Series Three. So let’s dive in!
RETRO SERIES THREE
Mattel WWE Retro Series Two, released around mid-2017, was a mixed bag thanks to the return of handleback figures, but it featured more than enough good stuff to be considered both a success and a step up from RS1. Surprisingly, though, Mattel was not done with 2017 Retros. With some Walmarts still waiting to see RS2 figures, rumors of a THIRD series began to circulate.
While RS1 and RS2 were Walmart-exclusive, RS3 started appearing in GameStops at the tail end of 2017. The small, four-figure set was packaged on red cards instead of blue (a nod to the later Hasbro figs, which were printed on different colored cards). But that wasn’t the only difference.
RS3 figures were now packaged with bases. Each figure’s base featured that wrestler’s logo and a single peg to stand the figure on.
I’m just going to say that I straight up hate these bases. For one, the Retro figures have never had any trouble standing on their own. They’re very sturdy. For two, it furthers the line away from the original Hasbros, which erodes the nostalgia. And for three, these bases are LAZY AF! The peg is in the same spot for all four bases, yet the figures themselves all have different stances. For Seth Rollins and Goldberg, you have to turn their bases to almost look like surfboards in order for the figure to stand on them. WHO QUALITY CHECKED THIS??
The bases have QR codes on the bottom, which are supposed to be good to get free downloads in a new WWE mobile game called WWE Mayhem (hence the GameStop connection, I guess). Problem #1 – Mayhem hadn’t even launched in the US when GameStop started stocking RS3. Problem #2 – the WWE Mayhem advertising further bastardizes the Retro packaging, bringing us even further away from the nostalgia of the original Hasbros. Problem #3 – I downloaded Mayhem and I can’t even figure out how to get my free stuff from these QR codes. Granted #3 is a me problem, but I AM NOT STUPID. I play games! This process is not obvious!
I’ll quit my tirade about the bases after this paragraph, but let me offer two solutions that would’ve been better. #1) Mattel could have customized the base pegs to the figure. Yes, I know they have the logos on them, but those are stickers. They could’ve made two base molds so that the bases made sense. #2) NO BASES! Include a piece of paper with the QR code. Or even a trading card – which would be a nod to the Hasbro S1 & S2 SummerSlam promotion!
OK, enough yelling (for like a minute). Let’s look at these figures
The Face That Runs The Place makes his Hasbro-style debut in RS3 and I’m sure wrestling fans could not be happier. AJ Styles has risen to one of WWE’s biggest stars in the last two years, and it only seems fitting for him to join Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens as current wrestlers with a spot in the Retro line.
AJ’s body mold is virtually the same as RS2 Stone Cold, featuring the cool wide stance and the new style clothesline arm. The details on AJ are awesome. He’s got the graphics on his boots, his AJ tattoo on his side and those brilliant blue gloves. He’s also got a little bit of blue border on his belt, which I think really shines.
AJ’s likeness is really good. Actually, it’s a little too good. While the old Hasbro figs and the previous Retro ones seemed to aim for a more “cartoon” look, AJ looks like the result of a scan. It makes for a nice figure, but I still see it as kind of a cheat that gets us further away from the whole point of the Retro line.
The Phenomenal One’s Authentic Superstar Move is the Phenomenal Forearm, which makes sense with the clothesline arm. Actually, the term “Authentic Superstar Move” has been removed from the front of the package (to make room for the base and Mayhem advertising), so I’m just assuming that’s still a thing. The back of the package still explains how the move works, at least.
Styles was the final figure I picked up from RS3. I picked him up at the GameStop by my work for $12.99 after chasing him for a few weeks.
Thank you for making the Retro line. It’s really great. Everyone wanted to see new figures in the old Hasbro style. You know what absolutely no one wanted to see? MORE HANDLEBACK FIGURES!!!
Here’s what I don’t get. Mattel obviously had their finger on the pulse of the wrestling figure collector community to realize that there was money in reviving the Hasbro-style figs. I mean, no one was pining for the old LJN or Jakks molds. So if they did any research, why didn’t they realize how maligned the handleback figures were? And again, I can understand having that mold for the sake of completeness, but 25% of the Retro figures are handlebacks at this point. WHY????
So anyway, the pros of Seth Rollins. I’m really down with his likeness. I like the hair too (though I would’ve preferred the two-tone Shield Seth Rollins hair).
That’s about it. This figure suffers from being boring before you even get to the mold. Black and grey, no logos on his gear. There’s a weird design on his tights that I finally figured out was supposed to be part of a belt, but there’s nothing else to suggest a belt on the figure. That’s just BAD.
If we HAVE to have handleback figures, I guess Seth Rollins is as good as anyone to utilize the mold. It actually doesn’t look too bad on him. His ASM is the pedigree. Interesting synergy since RS2 Triple H also does the pedigree and he’s also a handleback. So there’s that. Although, the back of Seth’s card’s decription on how to perform the pedigree makes my head want to explode:
PUSH DOWN SETH’S TORSO. DELIVER A PEDIGREE!
I picked up Seth Rollins and Goldberg for $12.99 each at the GameStop by the Little Caesars near my house. Dude was nice enough to go in the back and find Goldberg for me, so big ups to them.
And we go from bad to worse. Of the four figures included in RS3, Goldberg is the only throwback superstar. Goldberg ruled WCW in the late 90’s, so, like the RS2 Sting, fans were no doubt dreaming of the day he’d be shrunken to four inches.
Sadly, like RS2 Sting, poor Goldberg never had a chance, as he was saddled with the handleback. To say I hate him just because of his mold is unfair, though. I also hate his gaping mouth. I also hate that we finally get a Goldberg in the Hasbro-style and it’s gray-bearded 2017 Goldberg instead of 90’s Goldberg. I also hate how his butt looks like a pancake with a Goldberg logo on it. I also hate that I’m not eating pancakes right now.
If you’re tired of hearing me complain about the handleback molds, I’m sorry. But the Retro handlebacks are made even worse by their tiny, bent arms with both fists looking like they’re ready to throw hands with a Rock’Em Sock’Em Robot. Seriously, all four Retro handlebacks look that way. We can’t get different arms for these guys?
Goldberg’s ASM is the spear, which I guess makes sense, since he does jump forward. For what it’s worth, I do like the logo on his butt.
Rounding out RS3 is current superstar Dean Ambrose, who also marks the final member of The Shield to be Habro-ized. I’m glad to be ending on a high note, as Dean’s figure is pretty great. Like AJ, his face looks more scanned than cartoony, but Dean saves it with his INSANE EYES.
Dean’s gear is perfect, too, with his wifebeater, wrapped hands and blue jeans. I’m not sure what’s going on with Dean’s jeans though. The bottoms, where the tops of his boots would be, look like they have another point of articulation, but they don’t (because no human has articulation between their knee and ankle). I guess they just modded a John Cena shorts mold? Who knows.
Dean has the pull and release double arms, a la RS2 Kane and Rock. This helps him to perform his ASM, the Dirty Deeds. Dean probably has the most playability of all of the RS3 figures.
My brother got me this Dean Ambrose from the GameStop in the mall. I told him I would get him lunch as payment so I took him to Jersey Mike’s.
RETRO SERIES THREE GRADE: B
While not quite as good as RS2 (which also had it’s flaws), Retro Series 3 suffers from a lot of little problems that add up. The good news is that there are two great figures in AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. The bad news is the Goldberg figure is terrible. Seth Rollins us more of a push since his figure is just kind of boring.
Still, that’s not enough to sink the series. What does alarm me is all of the little moves that seem to move this line further and further away from the old toy line it pays tribute to. Little things like the more realistic facial features and the terrible bases add up fast to kill the goodwill collectors have toward a line.
As a fan, I want to see the WWE Retros keep coming for at least another year, but I’m already seeing the figures in Walmart clearance racks, which is never a good sign for a new line. Let’s hope RS4 (which has leaked online) can turn this ship around!
Until RS4 hits shelves near me, that’ll do it for WWE Mattel Memories. But don’t worry, I’m just a Nailz shy of Hasbro Series Seven right now, and a Butch Reed away from finally doing that WCW Galoob column. Which will come first? Keep checking back!