Okay, I admit it: this is what I thought would be my first Mattel double-dip.
With 93,173 screaming fans inside the
Pontiac Silverdome - a world indoor attendance record at the time - the main event of WrestleMania 3 was one for the ages. WWF Champion Hulk Hogan faced off against his one-time friend, the "Eighth Wonder of the World," Andre the Giant, undefeated in his 15-year career. Andre dominated the early minutes, but after an Irish whip sent Hogan into the ropes, the champion responded with a clothesline that dropped the Giant to the canvas. The 7-foot-4 Andre rose up, but Hogan shocked the world just moments later, bodyslamming the massive 520-pound Giant. One leg drop later, the "Hulkster" got the history-making pin.
Jakks' Classic Superstars Hulk Hogan was good, by Jakks standards, but now is the time for Mattel - and there's no question that Mattel is making the superior toys (I know, I know, it sounds weird to me when I say it, too, but it's a fact).
Hulk is part of the WWE Defining Moments line, which is
basically the same as all the other figures, just in fancy packaging so they can charge more for them. They might as well charge us more for "premium twist ties," for all the value the packaging adds - it still ends up as exotic garbage. Well, "exotic recycling"; OAFE cares about the planet.
The packaging is patterned like a championship belt: it looks like black leather with golden plates riveted to it. Rather than a plain box, the sides are cut so that they bend inward, making a more presentational shape. To make this packaging specific to Hulk Hogan, the back panel is designed to look like a torn T-shirt. But still, what matters is the toy inside.
As per the bio on the back, this figure is based
on the main event of WrestleMania III, so Hogan has a very specific look. He's wearing yellow boots, red kneepads, and yellow trunks, but that was pretty much immutable for the better part of the decade. He has a sleeveless yellow Hulkamania shirt, and a golden cross necklace below that, but those were a pretty standard part of the pre-match attire, too. The one thing that unquestionably marks this as a WM3 Hulkster is the Hulkamania headband - not that he never wore one any other time, but the lopsided way it's falling down his forehead is just the way it was when he stormed through the crowd in the Superdome. Sorry, Silverdome.
There isn't a single picture anywhere online of this figure without the headband on, so I was afraid it was a permanent part of the sculpt,
but don't worry: it's the same soft PVC as his shirt, and comes right off (it plugs into holes under his hair). The likeness is spectacular, especially since there was no way it could be laser-scanned, short of some kind of time machine technology. Does Mattel have a functioning time machine? Of course not. If they did, they could have created a hoverboard that wasn't a huge disappointment to everyone. Both the jowls and the comb-over are more realistic than the Jakks version.
As you know, Hulk Hogan's signature
look is blond Chinese hair and the skin of a hot dog. With that in mind, his skintone could use a little more orange in it. The body Mattel has used for this figure is a fair representation of Hogan's physique at the time: steroid-big, but not superhero-defined. His shirt splits down the front so you can remove it, and both hands are "gripping" style, so you can pretend he's ripping it off.
His articulation is what we've come to expect from Mattel WWE toys: neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, boots and ankles. His ankles are nearly as stiff as Ryback works,
but at least (unlike Hawk) I was able to get them to move with some considerable effort. And it's not like he uses his ankles a lot: he was trained by Hiro Matsuda, who taught him a very technical style; but because of his size, promoters only ever wanted him to be a heavy brute (American ones, at least - whenever he toured Japan, he'd bust out the more complex moves). His US finishing move is a simple legdrop, but he's done it for so many years that he's had to have spinal fusion surgery and is now several inches shorter than he used to be.
Going into WrestleMania III, Gorilla Monsoon commented that win, lose or draw, this would be the last time Hogan would wear that particular belt - a larger version that would fit around Andre the Giant had been made, and that was to be the new belt - but after the show,
Hogan continued wearing the one he'd been using since 1985 (while the Andre belt was used in No Holds Barred and was eventually given to Planet Hollywood). This belt (the first to feature the familiar WWF logo) has a large central plate with a squashed globe, and four plates on the sides with two flags apiece: Canada and Japan, the US and Mexico, the UK and Australia, and Russia and Italy. The belt closes with four pegs fitting into your choice of holes, so it will fit either over his shirt or his bare chest.
This is just the first Hulk Hogan figure Mattel is making, not the only one. But none of the ones they've announced so far are anywhere near as iconic as this, so if you want the best, brother, this is the only one there is.