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Sgt. Slaughter

WWE Hall of Fame Series
by yo go re

While we wait for Hasbro to make those 6" "Black Series" GI Joe figures, this will just have to tide us over.

Sgt. Slaughter burst onto the WWF scene back in 1980 clad in military fatigues, sunglasses and a whistle, all signs that this former Marine drill instructor was intent on dominating his foes. Immediately, he requested that the Marine Corps Hymn be played when he entered the ring, the advent of entrance music in WWF. For years a hated rulebreaker, Slaughter's patriotism won over fans when he tired of the ant-American rhetoric of the Iron Sheik, which sparked one of the most heated rivalries in WWF history. In 1990, Slaughter returned to WWF as an Iraqi sympathizer, which enraged the WWF Universe. Despite this, Slaughter defeated Ultimate Warrior to win the WWF Championship at Royal Rumble 1991. After being defeated by a red, white and blue-clad Hulk Hogan and months of soul searching, he plead that "I want my country back." The WWF Universe embraced him again, finishing his epic career as an American hero.

Hey, it's nice of them to reference his second career, even if it's only in the most oblique way possible. After all, it's not like Mattel could just call up Hasbro and say "hey, is it cool if we produce and sell a toy with the phrase 'a real American hero' on it?" Even if they did, and every single person from the GI Joe team on up to the president of the company agreed, the lawyers would probably still say no. So Mattel did the best they could, giving a wink and a nod to the competition. Also, how weird is it that he was still playing the heroic cartoon character while being a heel in live-action? That's some high-grade kayfabe, right there!

The Sarge, here, is part of the WWE Hall of Fame Series, which was a Target exclusive. Mattel had already made a figure of him in the first series of their WWE Legends line, but that one was wearing blue tights and a white tank top - hardly his most iconic costume! This one is more familiar, though, with a camouflage T-shirt under a black tank, black tights, and olive drab boots. His belt is white, and the silver clasp is simply painted on. That's a problem here, because it's painted slightly off-center; and as rare as this figure was, there was never any hope of comparing paint apps. But that's hard to notice, and at least the complex black and two-tone green apps on his shirt are crisp.

The likeness is terrific! The face on Jakks' figure was good, but this one is even better. He's got the huge, powerful jaw jutting out beneath that familiar scowl, and a thin mustache above that. He's also got one of the best "thinning hair" sculpts we've ever seen, even beating Jake "The Snake" Roberts' by virtue of being an actual sculpt, rather than a separate piece.

Sgt. Slaughter comes with three accessories, and thankfully none of them are random junk: he's got his campaign hat, his sunglasses, and a whistle around his neck. The hat is green, with a black band and a golden crest painted on the front. When Jakks made a Sgt. Slaughter, his glasses were on a strap that went all the way around his head, but Mattel's are designed to simply fit over the ears and rest on the nose, like real glasses do. The whistle is silver with a black cord, and makes sense for a former drill sergeant. Shame they didn't include his trademark riding crop, though.

The Hall of Fame Series is basically a continuation of the WWE Legends line, so Slaughter moves just like those figures did: neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, boots and ankles. Well, the ankles are more of a theory than a fact - as is often the case with Mattel's WWE figures, the ankles are stiff to the point of being immobile. They've been using the hell out of these molds for a long time, and more often than not, the ankles just won't move.

Unfortunately, even ignoring the ankles, he doesn't really have enough articulation to perform his finishing move, the Cobra Clutch (not to be confused with the Camel Clutch). The Cobra Clutch was a complicated mix of sleeper hold and submission hold, and the single-hinged elbows just can't provide enough range to wrap around another figure the way they'd have to.

Either Sgt. Slaughter was produced in smaller numbers than the rest of Hall of Fame Series Series 1, or he was just ragingly popular - Steve Austin and the Ultimate Warrior were easy to find (on the verge of being pegwarmers), and even Trish Stratus showed up a few times, but Sgt. Slaughter was blink-and-you'll-miss-it rare. And that sucks, because once you get your Articulated Icons white ninja and decide he's Storm Shadow, who else but the Sarge is going to be ready to fight him?

-- 02/03/16

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