I’ve been excited about checking out this WWE Ultimate Edition Bret Hart since it was revealed.
During their extended run with the WWE license, Jakks came up with a few innovations during the years. One of them was the Finishing Moves line, which largely ditched scale in favor of better articulation and poseability. Mattel seems to have caught on the standard Elite articulation is OK, but still limited in terms of achieving the best wrestling poses.
While it might not be the end all, be all of ideal wrestling figure articulation, Mattel is using this Ultimate Edition line as a best of all worlds line that incorporates both a ring gear appearance and an in-ring mode. It’s a clever idea and an appreciated one as a way to avoid needless ring gear figures and have an all-in-one version. Let’s see if it’s really ultimate.
Packaging: Mattel has never been afraid of making sweeping changes to packaging to make a new line stand out. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a different line entirely with the white and red and very limited WWE signage on the front.
Using white and red — an underutilized color scheme — was smart and helps the figure stand out. I really like the back, which features the figure as well as a picture of Bret in that respective attire.
The bio and stats portion is also very nicely done and this presentation really offers a top of the line look for this new series.
Likeness: I’ll start with the default ring attire look. One of the biggest issues with Bret Hart figures was the leather jacket not being able to have the same amount of detail as a plastic version. Mattel has gone with both routes in the past.
The Ultimate Edition setup allows for both options. This is the best looking leather jacket we’ve gotten from Mattel yet with zippers, stars and the epaulettes (shoulder ornaments) are fantastically done and the jacket is properly scaled. The sunglasses are a reflective material, but lack the pink shade to really capture Bret’s look like the Jakks shiny sunglasses seen below on my Defining Moments Bret figure.
One odd thing about the figure is the large holes around the sleeves. Presumably, this is to allow for articulation with the jacket and you can maneuver Hitman so it’s not that obvious, but it’s a weird design element.
Bret’s headsculpt features an open mouthed look that fits best for his posing in the ring with his hands out. It’s perfect for that look and I can see this being the default look most collectors use with this figure.
Easily the most controversial aspect of the figure is the torso joint, which like the Finishing Moves line is smaller than the chest piece. This creates a weird visual that is a little funny considering the more realistic take of the Elite line.
Scale: Bret stands at 6 ft, making him shorter than most of his peers like the 6’1” Shawn Michaels, 6’4” Steve Austin and 6’10” Kevin Nash. This figure is slightly taller than the regular Elite Bret Hart figures, but not enough that it’s going to cause major scale issues.
Paint: I think this attire is based off of Bret’s SummerSlam 1994 gear when he faced Owen Hart in the steel cage. Bret also wore this during his acclaimed Monday Night Raw match against the 1-2-3 Kid. This is the paint splatter top torso and open flamed pink tights. It’s nice having a variety of diverse Hitman attires.
Not that I expected it given Mattel’s track record, but the attire paintjob is very strong. I was also impressed with the face printing work on Bret, which captures his subtle unshaven look perfectly. I didn’t have any issues with wonky eyes or misaligned printing, which is a plus with this still developing technique.
That’s just in regard to the paintjob. Once again Mattel reverts to one of its most baffling issues from the past in attempting to paint Bret’s torso flesh tone. It results in a noticeable different tone from the head and the arms and looks really bad. My figure also had what looks to be an issue where the paint hadn’t finished drying resulting in a scarred looking area just above the top. Hopefully this will be the last time Mattel tries this technique.
Articulation: Here’s a pivotal test for the line — the newly engineered articulation. Does it get the job done?
Initially I wasn’t impressed with the torso joint as it doesn’t provide that much more range from the standard Elite figure, but the arms have a better range of movement thanks to double elbow joint articulation. The knees seem to have better clearance as well.
Of note, I was able to pull off a much more convincing middle rope elbow smash and with the clutching hands, I could sink in a far better looking Sharpshooter.
The pegs go in and out without any trouble and the arms stay in tight so there’s no worries about them popping off during play/posing.
Ultimate Edition Bret Hart has:
- ball-jointed shoulders
The hands and head variety was fun to play around with as now I can have Bret “sell” moves differently even for something as simple as using outstretched hands for a plancha or tope.
In the end, I came away very impressed with the enhanced articulation scheme. It’s not a complete overhaul that would make say an abdominal stretch feasible, but it’s a welcome step forward.
Accessories: The accessories are really what makes this an ultimate edition figure. Bret comes with two arms with the smaller appropriate size elbow pads. That’s to allow for the simple transition to a wrestling mode. The arms snap in and out without much trouble. This is the kind of innovation in the line that’s long since been overdue from Mattel.
Additionally, Bret has two alternate hands — one outstretched for his signature “taunt” pose and the other a set of fists. Again, a long time coming since Hasbro has been doing that for years with the Marvel Legends line, but better late than never.
Another key plus are the two alternate head sculpts with very different expressions. One features a smiling expression, which fits the moments when Bret is amused with someone’s comments. The other is a more focused expression that fits his annoyed with the fans era from 1997.
Mattel went with two different hair patterns for the bangs with them swept across the serious face and right in front of the smiling face. The hair is probably a bit too low and the two bangs looks a little odd since Bret usually had more hair in his face.
These go a long way in terms of playability and posing options so now when Hart is in a submission move, I don’t have to have a smiling headsculpt.
Worth it? Ultimate Edition Bret retails for $30. For Bret, I think this price is just about right considering the wildly different display options you’ve got here. That’s not necessarily the case with the rest of the line. The price point gets even trickier if a selected character doesn’t have intricate ring wear. Is it worth $10 more than the regular Elite?
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Even with that terrible torso paint job and odd implementation of the jacket holes this is probably my new favorite Hitman figure. The posing options add so much more to the figure and the ability to have him in ring gear and wrestling attire makes for a tremendous value.
Where to get it? Target has been the only retailer I’ve seen that has the Ultimate Edition line in stock, but I got Hitman from Amazon.com since they already have him in stock.