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THE SPECIALISTS
COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Cena has how many Mattel figures?

Mar 29, 2013 - 4:05:46 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist

In Brief: In just a little more than three years, Mattel has made at least 83 John Cena action figures.

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If it seems like there are three or four John Cena figures at your local retail store every time you go, there’s a good reason for that.

Since Mattel began producing WWE toys in January 2010, the company has released at least 83 John Cena action figures. This count only includes basic, Elite, and Flex Force figures; it does not include things like the miniature Rumblers or the stuffed Brawlin’ Buddies.

Jason Vogel has been compiling a complete list of Mattel’s WWE toys since the first line-up was announced in 2009. He is constantly updating the list with variants, exclusives, and other rare figures, so it’s entirely possible that there may be even more than the 83 Cena figures currently listed.

“I know there are two Cenas not on the list … that just came out in exclusive sets, and he easily has the most figures produced by Mattel,” Vogel said.

Mattel has been making WWE toys for three years and three months. If your child is a die-hard Cena fan who had to have every single Cena figure made by Mattel, you would be buying more than two Cena figures a month – or about 25 Cena figures each year.

There’s no doubt that Cena is the face of WWE and the most recognizable pro wrestler in North America. Collectors are more interested in the latest figure of C.M. Punk or the first Mattel toy of Brock Lesnar, but Mattel realizes that the way to sell toys to kids and parents is to always make sure there’s a stockpile of Cena figures at every major retail store.

Rey Mysterio comes in second, with 67 known Mattel toys to date. Mattel has capitalized on Rey’s colorful masks and ring attire to crank out a plethora of toys. One Toys R Us exclusive box set contained six different Rey figures, showing how his look changed from 1995 to 2010. The biggest difference in Cena and Rey toys is that while Rey’s toys are clearly different, about 75 of the 83 Cena figures are indistinguishable from one another.

Fans have been debating Rey’s WWE future over the last few years, given his age and several recent injuries. But, even if Rey Mysterio isn’t a regular on WWE television, will WWE really let him go elsewhere? He is a big part of WWE’s merchandising campaign, and his figures are always prominently featured in Mattel ads that air on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Until WWE finds another masked superhero who fits into the toy aisle with Batman and Spider-Man, it’s hard to believe that WWE would risk losing his merchandise dollars to TNA or AAA.

After Cena and Mysterio, the number of figures per wrestler drops substantially. Randy Orton has 43, Triple H 36, C.M. Punk 31, and The Undertaker 29.

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Orton and Triple H, like Cena, have a lot of figures that look alike. But, Mattel has done some pretty cool things with Triple H, including an Entrance Greats figure in his Conan the Barbarian-like King of Kings entrance gear, a Defining Moments figure in a leather jacket and jeans from his return to Raw in 2002, and a very cool Best of Pay-Per-View Elite figure with his entrance gear from WrestleMania 27.

The number of Punk’s action figures increased with his rise from upper mid-carder to top-tier main-eventer in 2011. He was included in the second series of basic figures in January 2010, and his next basic figure wasn’t released until the 18th series in 2012. He was included in several special sets (WrestleMania Heritage, Over the Limit) in between. By comparison, Rey Mysterio had seven basic figures before Punk had two.

Mattel realizes Punk appeals to collectors, so he has been included in five waves of the more expensive Elite series, beginning with Elite Series 1 in 2010.

Given his legendary status and overall marketability, The Undertaker has a relatively modest 29 Mattel figures. Mattel has produced figures that capture different points from The Undertaker’s career, from an Entrance Greats toy that captures his 1990 Survivor Series debut, to a special Ministry of Darkness Undertaker, to a basic figure with short hair from WrestleMania 28.

Mattel’s WWE action figures have become a staple in most retail stores toy aisle, and take up almost an entire aisle of their own at each Toys R Us store. Given their popularity with kids and collectors alike, they’ll probably be around for quite some time. And it probably won’t be long before the 100th John Cena Mattel action figure hits the stores.

Still Waiting...

While John Cena and Rey Mysterio combined have about 150 different Mattel action figures, some wrestling personalities past and present are still waiting for their first.

CURRENT STARS

- JBL. John Bradshaw Layfield retired before Mattel took over the WWE line, but he has been around quite a bit since then. And Mattel has made Legends and Flashback figures of guys who did less.
Paul Heyman. So far Mattel hasn’t been too keen on producing toys of non-wrestlers. It’s possible that Mattel may offer a Paul Heyman Build-a-Figure series at Toys R Us at some point.

- The Shield. Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose haven’t been around long, so it’s probably only a matter of time.

- Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn and A.J. emerged from the same season of NXT. A.J. figures: 3. Kaitlyn figures: 0.

- Tamina Snuka. The daughter of the “Superfly” debuted with the Usos a few years ago. Mattel has made figures of the Usos, but not one of Tamina.

LEGENDS

- Hulk Hogan. As long as he’s with TNA, WWE fans will have to keep waiting.

- Ric Flair. During his near three-year run with TNA, neither Jakks-Pacific nor Mattel made a toy of him.

- Bruno Sammartino. With the “Living Legend” back in the fold, look for a new Bruno toy soon.

- Magnum T.A. Mattel planned the first Magnum figure for WWE Legends Series 6, but that line was ultimately scrapped.

- Trish Stratus. Trish has made several WWE appearances and competed at WrestleMania 27, but Mattel has yet to give her an action figure.

PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be contacted at michaelmoorewriter@gmail.com .


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