I fought it as long as I could! They almost had me with Yao Ming in the first wave, and then Mark Hamill in the second. But then NECA went and put out Bret “The Hitman” Hart in their third assortment and I couldn’t in good concious pass on that. It’s the Hit Man after all! Correct me if I am wrong but I believe he holds the honor of being the only professional wrestler to play himself on the Simpsons.
The episode Bret showed up in was “The Old Man and the Lisa,” episode 21 of season 8. The show aired on April 20, 1997, coincidently the same night of the WWF “In Your House Live” pay-per-view where Bret wrestled Steve Austin for a chance at the World Heavyweight title. Bret unfortunately lost that match, but his cartoon form zinged Mr. Burns and was probably seen by millions more people.
Looking over the card for that WWF pay-per-view is rather interesting. I was finishing out my first year of high school. The “Attitude Era” in wrestling hadn’t hit its stride yet. And The Rock was still using the Rocky Miavia title, had some body fat, and was jobbing to the likes of Savio Vega for the Intercontinental Championship. Times have certainly changed. Bret’s cameo certainly didn’t thrust him into Hulk Hogan levels of super stardom, and now that jobber Rocky Miavia is the biggest action star in the world.
Anyway back to Bret Hart’s appearance on the Simpsons. The episode is based around Mr. Burns losing all his money due to bad investments, foreclosing on the power plant, and selling off his house to Bret Hart. A Bret Hart who mocks the old man smell of the house and then calls Mr. Burns a pitiful pencil-neck geek. The original plan (at least according the Bret) was to have Mr. Hart do the voice for a wrestler made up for the show. Then either the Simpsons people realized his popularity or they were so happy with his work they decided he would become a Simpson character and that’s how he aired. I’ve heard both stories so the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
The NECA figure is as “World of Springfield” as it gets. Unfortunately a few years after the Playmates World of Springfield line ended I sold off most of my figures. I kept a few of my favorites like the B-Sharps and Stonecutter characters, so I wanted to take some pictures to compare the lines. I had no luck finding them in storage. Luckily there have been two prior waves and places like OAFE have already done the comparisons. The figures fit in just fine with the Playmates line if you can get over the plastic look of Playmates compared to the painted look of the NECA figures. The NECA figures definitely fit in better with the later more detailed waves of the Playmates line.
Bret has three confirmed and one questionable point of articulation. The waist and two shoulders have swivels that move fine, but I’m not entirely sure about the neck. There is definitely a cut there. However, I’ve tried my best and that thing will not move. So I’m not positive if it’s a defect in mine or the non-moving neck is intentional. Either way I knew what I was getting into with these Simpsons figures as they mostly come pre-posed, and I am fine with this.
His paint is sharp and there is little to no slop on mine. He also stands without any issue. He’s exactly what I would want in a Simpsons version of Bret Hart … the figure I never knew I needed until it was made. NECA has a nice little line going with some great celebrity guests. I think this third wave is probably the strongest with figures of guests like Bret Hart, Leonard Nimoy, and Stephen King. They also did a glowing Mr. Burns from the X-Files themed episode “The Springfield Files.” Sadly a Mulder and Scully is currently not possible since they were on the show in character. Only actual celebrities are allowed in the 25th line according to the deal with Fox, Gracie, and NECA.
@Preternia_ yes. Rules are the actual celebs only BUT we have wanted to do many others even as con exclusives & been denied. Not our call
— NECA (@NECA_TOYS) September 7, 2014
Oh well maybe if enough of us send emails to the Simpsons people they would reconsider!
Bret can be had for between $10 – $12 and is currently available on Amazon. A small price to pay for the Hitman himself! I don’t collect the entire line, but this Bret Hart figure is great to put on a desk or the console of your space ship.