Welcome back toy fans! Welcome back wrestling fans! Welcome back good brothers! It’s time again to talk plastic – I’ve finally completed my collection of WWE Mattel Retro Series 4 figures!
If you’re not up to speed, I’ve been reviewing the classic WWF Hasbro figures here on the site since last year. Each article, we dive into a different series and see how the figures stack up.
Because the WWF Hasbro figures are so beloved some 20 years after their run, Mattel released a tribute line last year, known as the WWE Mattel Retros. The line features classic and current WWE superstars in the Hasbro “style”.
Before you read on for Retro Series 4, please go back and check out my other reviews. It’s cool, we’ll wait.
WWF HASBRO MEMORIES ARCHIVE
Alright, let’s get to this!
RETRO SERIES FOUR
Mattel went hard on the new WWE Retro figures in 2017, releasing three different waves with 16 figures total. They didn’t slow down for 2018, either, as three new waves are scheduled to be released before the year’s end.
It’s hard to say exactly when RS4 figures hit stores. I’ve still never seen them out on shelves, but I was seeing pics online as far back as April. I started to think I would never get my hands on them. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.
In September, I got a tip that Retro Series 4 and 5 figs were beginning to show up online at Walmart, K-Mart, Target and GameStop. The catch was that the figures were always in short supply. It took over a month, but I was able to complete both RS4 and RS5, so here we are today.
I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t get to have the experience of chasing the figures in actual stores, but chasing them online had its own charm. I do hope these hit physical pegs at some point. Here it is Thanksgiving and I’ve never seen a RS4 fig in the wild.
RS4 continues very much in the style of RS3. Both series include three current superstars and one classic for a total of four figures. If anything, RS4 seems to be the “NXT” series, as all 3 current guys are former standouts from the yellow brand. RS4 is also packaged on red cards and includes those DAMNABLE bases that started back in RS3.
I won’t go off on another rant about the bases, but they do suck just as bad.
We kick things off with The Demon himself, Finn Bálor. And I am so glad we got the “Demon” variant. Am I the only person who finds Bálor extra boring when he’s not painted up?
Finn’s facepaint is just OK. It kind of looks more like he’s puking on his bare chest than it does a giant, open demon maw. I’m bummed they didn’t go all out and give Bálor his demon dreadlocks (it’s the clean-cut demon apparently). I do like that his arms are all black, though. It completes his “unsettling” vibe.
Finn looks like a handleback, which, if you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know I hate. That’s actually not the case, as The Demon’s back is HANDLE-FREE! Finn’s legs are fused together, but it’s for a reason. Finn has a springloaded shoulder in his right arm that, when you lift, raises and lowers his leg. This is used to perform Finn’s finisher, the Coup de Grace!
I picked up Bálor via Target.com for $12.99. I’m not sure when the price point on these figs went up from $9.99, but they better not be charging me three bucks for the dumb bases.
While some of Finn’s features are a swing and a miss, it’s hard to give him too low of a grade. Decent Hasbro-Style debut for the Demon King!
With Retro Series Four, Kevin Owens becomes the first superstar to get a second WWE Retro figure. I love Kevin Owens, but this one is a little puzzling. KO is not a guy who changes his look that much. In fact, from a visual perspective, the only difference between RS1 Owens and RS4 Owens is the t-shirt slogan, which changed from the duct tape “KO” from Kevin’s NXT days to “Fight Owens Fight”. Both are black t-shirts with silver fonts. Come on Mattel! Owens has a dozen different T-shirt styles. Why did we have to go silver again? Why no “Kevin Owens Show”?
The mechanics of RS4 KO are exactly the same as RS1 as well. Owens has the jointed waste that allows the pull and release torso. Just like the old Hasbro Akeem. Think about that for a second and realize how fat shamed Kevin Owens is in WWE. They basically see him as big as freaking Akeem.
Aside from a coupe of notable exceptions, the old Hasbro figs avoided lazy repaints. I can’t say that about RS4 Kevin Owens – it’s not an even an interesting update to his T-shirt. He’s still the same all black color scheme. The only good thing I can say about this figure is knowing KO will be getting extra residuals while he rehabs his knees.
I also picked up Kevin Owens from Target.com for $12.99, back in September.
I have to admit, when I first saw images of Sami Zayn popping up, I hated the figure. See, I’m a purist, and I could not abide the thought of Mattel just deciding to add poseable legs to this line. It would ruin everything. EVERYTHING!
Well, I’m happy to report that ONLY Sami Zayn has poseable legs in Retro Series Four, and it’s actually for a neat reason. Zayn’s figure’s Authentic Superstar Move is the Helluva Kick, which is a springloaded leg!
Don’t worry – Sami’s leg clicks into place when you don’t want to throw a kick. But it just takes a little nudge to get that thing going. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but it makes me really happy for Sami’s base – he displays really nice with that leg up.
Sami has a great likeness, too. Slightly cartoony, but captures the essence of the Underdog from the Underground. Overall, this is a great figure, and would be my favorite figure of Retro Series Four if not for the next guy.
I bought Sami from Megalopolis.toys and they had a discount code that got me free shipping. I highly suggest that site for when you can’t find your toys in the store.
Back in 1990, Galoob released their first series of WCW figures. One of the marquee figures in that line was “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, sporting a pair of light blue trunks and his signature bleach blonde hair. Unfortunately, the likeness was a little bit off, making the Galoob Flair look more generic than legendary.
In 1993, Hasbro released their own Ric Flair figure as part of WWF Series Six. The results were less than stellar. While I personally prefer most of the Galoob figures to their Hasbro counterparts, the Hasbro Ric Flair is on a whole different level. It just may be the worst WWF figure Hasbro ever created.
25 years later, it’s good to see the 16-time champ and 2-time WWE Hall of Famer get a figure redemption. The Retro Series Four Ric Flair is absolutely awesome.
Flair comes in his light blue trunks with a white “RF”, perhaps a nod to the old Galoob fig. His hair is perfect and his face, while a little cartoony, absolutely captures the coolness of Ric Flair in what looks like mid-Woo.
Slick Ric’s ASM is his famous chop, which is accomplished using the new Mattel clothesline arm paired with an open fist. It’s perfect!
This Ric Flair is easily my favorite figure from RS4 and is in contention for best figure in the entire Retro line. It’s that good! I’m glad to say that, since this RS4 Flair was also very hard to find and I shamelessly had my mom pay a ridiculous price for it as a birthday gift (45 bucks). Hey, a man needs his Retros.
OFFICIAL RETRO RING
While not officially a part of Retro Series Four, I thought I’d add some bonus thoughts on the new Mattel ring, which was released earlier this year around the same time as RS4.
The Retro Ring certainly captures the essence of the original Hasbro ring, but with some notable upgrades. First off, both sets of stairs are removable. This is great for playability as you have instant weapons in any match. The announce and timekeeper tables are also removable, but a little too cumbersome to do anything with.
As for similarities, the ring keeps the same color scheme – all blue with dark blue ring posts and red/white/blue ropes. Speaking of the ropes, the new ropes are very nice – good high tension and the way they’re assembled (they clip on the turnbuckles) keeps you from having those yucky knots showing like in the old Hasbro rings.
You still have the big WWE sticker in the middle of the canvas, but that is sadly all there is sticker-wise. No stickers for the announce table monitors or the championship belt holders. This unfortunately makes the ringside area look fairly cheap.
There are holders for two championship belts, while the original Hasbro ring only had one belt holder. This is pretty cool for holding your own Tag Team Title or Champion vs Champion matches. Of course, the Hasbro ring came with a miniature championship belt – absolutely essential for playing with wrestling figures. It was the greatest accessory of all time.
Sadly, the Retro Ring does NOT include a championship belt. This is puzzling and downright wrong on multiple levels. While the stickers are a toss up, why even bother having the belt holders if there’s no way to get official belts?
Overall, it’s a nice ring with some nice upgrades, but the lack of stickers and a belt really hurt the product. I got mine from Walmart.com for $29.99, which was a really good deal, since I’ve seen it as high as $45 on other sites. I think 30 is a decent price point for this big hunk of blue plastic.
RETRO SERIES FOUR GRADE: B
Overall, RS4 experiences the same highs and lows as its predecessor. The line is right down the middle – there are two REALLY good figures out of the set of four. Then you have Balor, who just doesn’t pop. The real bring-down is the lazy Kevin Owens repaint. At least give the guy a splash of red or blue if you’re going to pick my pocket and make me buy him again.
Bottom line – seek out this Flair figure and don’t sleep on Sami either!
I’ll be back pretty soon with an RS5 review, featuring another legend and one of the greatest teams of all time!