There had been rumors on websites for months that Mattel was considering resurrecting its defunct Defining Moments line with a long-rumored and highly demanded character: The Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair and it was music to wrestling collectors’ ears.
For most longtime collectors, Flair is every bit as essential to any worthwhile wrestling collection as Hulk Hogan, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Rock, Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. And for NWA/WCW fans, this figure marked the crown jewel of a display that already included Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, the Road Warriors and the Sheepherders/Bushwackers.
Mattel allegedly had this figure in the works before shelving the DM concept after poor sales thanks to questionable attire choices and less than defining moment looks for major stars. And now we all were getting a chance to get our grubby hands on the record-setting world champion. Flair’s figure was not just important because it was a RIC FLAIR figure, but because its success would help determine the future of Mattel’s high-end line. No surprise, but Flair once again delivered as the DM line is back in full swing. Let’s take a look back at the figure that got the ball rolling again.
Packaging: The Defining Moments line hasn’t let me down yet regarding packaging. We get a classy presentation with the black and gold color scheme, a sensible standard pose for the figure and the back window allows you to see most of the back of the figure, which is helpful in case there’s any marks or blemishes on the back. The DM figures offer the best bios going today, but this one is a bit too focused on Flair’s later WWE tenure as opposed to his career prime.
Likeness: This headsculpt is definitely Ric Flair looking like he’s about to climb into the ring against Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors, but the expression is a bit disinterested and hardly the dynamic look of the kiss-stealing, jet-flying, limousine riding sun of a gun. For me the end all, be all Flair likeness is the Deluxe Classics edition from Jakks and I’m not altogether sure if the Jakks Classic Superstar ‘Wooing’ head isn’t better either.
Even if it’s in third place though, it’s a terrific headsculpt and some may prefer this more reserved neutral expression. I’ve seen numerous fix-ups with the ‘Wooo’ head on the Mattel body and it works fine. The Deluxe Classics head is just a bit too big which you’ll really notice when pairing him next to other wrestlers with the normal sized Mattel heads. Flair is another guy who has had strong likenesses to matter who has his figure rights so it’s hard to go wrong.
Paint: Before the Monday Night Wars made practically every star wear black with an accent color, Flair boasted a colorful array or robes and tights. Mattel favors black and reds so giving Flair the ‘Carolina Blue’ tights was a welcome departure from the norm.
My personal favorite was the purple tights and white boot combination and hopefully Mattel could also work in the green tights and yellow boots as well. The eye paint on my figure was solid, the bleached blonde hair is the right amount of shocking white/yellow and the right hand finger tape is lined up almost perfectly.
Scale: Flair stands at 6’1″ the same as Arn Anderson and a couple of inches taller than the 5’10” Tully Blanchard. I’ll assume everyone else wanted to make sure first and foremost that Flair was in scale with his fellow Four Horsemen. Dusty Rhodes was also 6’1″ Road Warriors Hawk was 6’3″ and Animal was 6’2″ while Lex Luger was 6’4″ so Flair fits in just right.
Articulation: Flair has the standard Elite articulation meaning he can easily do his patented figure four, Flair Flop and knee smash. I’d have preferred the left hand to be open as well so we could simulate Flair grabbing the top rope while he’s slapped on the figure four. Course while I’m at it, Flair would be one of the few that would benefit from the addition of multiple hands so we could have a chop hand, finger in the air hand and Four Horsemen sign hand.
Accessories: Flair comes with a cloth(!) robe and WWE version of the NWA title (with ‘WWE’ at the top for license purposes I’m assuming). The cloth robe is a major deal here as too often Mattel has gone the way of rubber robes/jackets to ‘best capture’ the detail and keep costs down so getting a robe that doesn’t require constant pulling and fidgeting like the rubber counterparts definitely helps make this figure seem worthy of the Defining Moments tag.
If I had one nitpick it would be the robe doesn’t match the blue tights and Flair was very conscious of matching his outfits and robes. Mattel made good more or less with the upcoming 4 Horsemen pack, which features a Flair in black tights, but to get a matching blue robe you’ll have to go to Ralph’s Figure Clothing.
Short of giving us a removable suit and sunglasses, there’s not much else by way of accessories the figure needs.
Worth it? Besides Hulk Hogan there was no name as big in the 80s than Flair. Mattel has managed to sneak in several NWA versions of characters and with the promise of Surfer Sting figures, this vintage version of ‘The Nature Boy’ will be even more essential.
While there is another Flair coming out in the Target exclusive Hall of Fame Four Horsemen box set, this version features a better head sculpt and more unique color scheme.
Mattel seems intent on completing the 1990 version Four Horsemen (with Arn Anderson and Barry Windham figures coming out in that era attire) so all that’s left now is Sid.
The figure is thisclose to being perfect. A more expressive face and matching robe are all that’s holding it back, but Flair is definitely going to be another character we’re sure to see many more looks for over the next five years.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Where you can get it? Target.com had the figure for a steal of $12.48, but it just sold out. Your best bet is Toys R Us, which has him for $25
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