“NEW WWF WRESTLING FIGURES! SO CLOSE TO THE REAL THING…ITS LIKE BEIN’ IN THE RINNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”
I remember that particular WWF Hasbro action figure commercial like it was yesterday; the legendary “Rowdy” Roddy Piper screaming every bit of the script so enthusiastically that I immediately had to drop what I was doing to count up every cent of the money I had saved up in an old popcorn tin I kept hidden underneath my bed. Back then, figures didn’t cost nearly what they do today. $5-$8 dollars apiece being the average price range with better deals often offered in stores like the now defunct “Kay-Bee” Toys chain, offering foreign card Hasbro WWF figures for an incredible deal; usually “3 for $10 dollars” on many occasions. This made them so affordable that even as a kid, I was able to purchase three figures on my very first trip. With a limited selection I was able to purchase a “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Ax (of Demolition) and “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. It is one those rare “fan boy” days I will never forget for as long as live.
It was the only time in my childhood (aside from the Tonka Wrestling Buddies) that I was ever so enamored with a certain toy or figure that I absolutely had to own as many of them as I could. These days, when it comes to “old school” WWF Hasbro figures I have more than most, but still haven’t managed to acquire them all, always on a mission to find them all in “the wild” (rather than paying outrageous prices online), scouring flea markets, toy shows and yard sales hoping to one day have them all. Over the years, I have lovingly looked at my collection, wishing they would make their return, now that I am of an age where I actually earn enough money to acquire them in bulk amounts like I often dreamt of as a child, only to be met with disappointment over and over again. That is until one day, out of nowhere, the good news hit me like an “RKO”.
Over the summer of 2016, it was announced at the San Diego Comic-Con that Mattel would be reproducing some “Retro”” figures and upon first glance at the prototypes, I was filled with excitement as the figures looked every bit as good as the “Hasbro” brand figures from the early 90’s. Announced for the first run were current WWE superstars John Cena, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and retro figures of the Ultimate Warrior and “new generation” era Undertaker, all of which looked phenomenally incredible in design.
About a week ago, I came across an article from “TheStreet.com” stating that many felt these were “too similar” to Hasbro’s former WWE toy line from the 1990’s and all I could think was “Well…Duh” as I skimmed the brief article top to bottom, thinking it would be ignorant for Hasbro to NOT know these were on the shelves after almost 5-6 months of build up before their eventual release. Then the article got me wondering, as two quotes in the article really stuck out to me…
“BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson said he did not know why consumers would call the Mattel action figures “Hasbro figures” as the toy company has been producing the WWE brand since 2012.
“Mattel did not return a request for comment.”
After finishing the article, I felt like I needed to get my hands on them as soon as possible, rather than wait, so I immediately headed over to Wal-Mart to see if I could snag them all up. As I hit the toy aisle and saw them hanging above their “$9.97” place holder I turned into a child all over again. The packaging was the same size and shape, the bubble window, also the exact same. Underneath the figure was the name of the superstar, written almost identically to the originals. The only difference was each figure was minus the superstar signature on the package and the face of each package was “slightly” different enough from the originals that it could be deemed its own thing and not a full on representation of the Hasbro product I know and love.
I couldn’t even wait to check out and get them home. I picked up Kevin Owens and opened it right there in the store, testing the toy out and was surprised to find that these were exactly everything I had hoped for when I had wished for them over the years.As I began to load them all up in the cart, I felt so nostalgic that I just had to look at them all for a minute and smile. Also making it more special was that there were only 3 different figures left; Owens, Reigns and Lesnar, meaning that just like the first time I had purchased WWF Hasbro’s in the 90’s, I was once again picking up their “Hasbro-Like” predecessors in a set of three.
These figures are absolutely amazing and I can’t applaud their existence anymore than I already have. Many sources indicate that Mattel is trying to “rival” Hasbro with their versions and others say it is simply their attempt to clean up the mess left behind from their failed “Slam City” WWE toy campaign. Regardless of the reason, they are here and that is all that is important. Currently, you can pick these figures up exclusively at Wal-Mart, or you can wait for their nationwide release in the coming weeks. I suggest picking them up in store if you can, as online prices are already doubling and tripling in some cases, as fans clamor to pick up the first run. If anyone from Hasbro is reading, I think it’s safe to say Mattel has figured out your recipe.
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