The latest release in the FTC Legends of Professional Wrestling is the late New Jersey native himself. For some reason the company has decided to release an "Early Bird Variant" limited to 100. Aside from a sticker on the front of the clamshell case proclaiming it as such, according to the company the later release will not include the three accessories present here. Seeing as that there was a new FTC release in the only other figure genre that I collect (1966 Batman TV series), I decided to put Candido into my cart as well.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Kidding, of course! We've got 1974 to go back to here. If you've already browsed through the photos or own this book yourself, you may notice the resemblance to the 1976 World Wide Wrestling Federation Championship Wrestling Yearbook. That yearbook was also published by the team of Gary Halvorson and Gary Juster and is very similar in feel and format. Juster, of course, is best remembered for his involvement in World Championship Wrestling in the early '90s and was still around the wrestling business within the last few years. Seeing as that the WWWF version was listed as being published in St. Paul, Minnesota, one has to wonder if Vince McMahon or another WWWF promoter saw this AWA work and decided that they wanted to commission one for themselves.
While they don't have the bios that the "home based" AWA talent gets, Andre the Giant and Nikolai Volkoff share a featured page that obviously points out their importance. With Andre it was no secret. Looking through AWA results of the era you can see the many tours that Andre did throughout the Midwest, often competing in a battle royal or helping dispose of the most dastardly AWA heels. Volkoff was likely coming in from the WWWF, as he's pictured with a nice head of hair and "Classy" Freddie Blassie who would not have made the trip, being a WWWF lifer at that point.
While Ron Trongard wasn't in this particular AWA publication, can't you just hear him? "From coast to coast, continent to continent, border to border, it's the A-DOUBLE-YEW-A!"
Thursday, October 1, 2020
As of press time we have just recently mourned the passing of Road Warrior Animal. It's time to look back on a small sampling of the merchandise created in the images of Animal, Hawk, and manager Paul Ellering. While a few items may have seen a slight inflation over their regular market value, I think that you'll notice relative stability seeing as that merchandise of "the boys" is usually in high demand regardless.
Hawk and Animal may be gone physically, but their influence will assuredly always be felt in the world of professional wrestling...and its merchandise. What else is there to say? What a rush!
Thursday, September 24, 2020
In this lineup we've got Io Shirai, Bobby Fish, Big E, Xavier Woods, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns. Elite 79 brings us exactly one "First Time In The Line" figure and another who really hasn't seen a wide release. I'm also a big fan of what I deem "definitive" or "ultimate" versions of a star. No, not the overpriced "Ultimate" line which has seen some nice releases, but rather a regular released figure that usually includes some sort of accessories or maybe even just decor that gives you the feeling that you don't need another release of this star. I'd say that we get three of those here, as well.
Roman Reigns has recently stated that he's going to start wrestling with his shirt off. As with most figures of the Samoan superstar, this is already possible. This figure is no exception, but what I most appreciate is the inclusion of the "smiling" head with pulled back hair. I believe that this is the first time that this head has been used for an Elite figure. It also includes the "Hang Loose" hand sculpt which we've already seen with Samoa Joe and Matt Riddle. For some reason I'm a sucker for it. Look out, Instagram, for a grouping of those three figures on my account.
This is the happiest you'll ever see me with a wave of nearly all re-releases and current stars, but I am. I cannot see myself ever needing another Bryan, Reigns, or Fish. It's questionable that Shirai will ever get another figure, but I'm not sure that I would need it, either. You simply cannot say "never" with The New Day with their variety of looks, but I wouldn't wait on Woods if you're interested in the belt or "Stevie Wonder" head. Another word of caution is that this set will likely be hitting stores just as the Christmas buying season begins. Between that and everything under the sun being wonky this year, I'd either pre-order this bunch or grab them the minute you see them.
Oh yeah. Right. This is Mattel. You have to do either no matter what time of year...
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Recently I came across a deal for another carded Konnan. This example was in much better shape at what I felt was a very reasonable price. Why not buy it and open up the old one? The thought of finally having the particularly colorful figure in a loose mint example complete with stand wasn't something that I felt I could pass up. I did it and here we are today.
Another advantage to opening a Kelian AAA figure is that you're going to get the AAA logo stand included with each figure. It almost never shows up when these figures come up for sale loose and is a surprising inclusion in an era where things like this weren't the norm.
Remember, toys were meant to be played with. Even if you aren't playing, maybe you just want a nice, shiny figure on display instead of a beat up used one. It makes perfect sense and is nothing that any collector should feel guilt over. If you're spending the money it's yours to do with as you please.
Now, if you're thinking of opening that carded LJN Dynamite Kid...
Thursday, September 10, 2020
The box contains two rings, two cages (with six sides instead of eight as this is War Games), as well as two ladders, a table, and a chair. Those unfamiliar with the NXT version of War Games may be asking where the roof is. It has been done away with in the modern incarnation of "The Match Beyond." While I scoffed at this at first, it does lend itself to the current style of pro wrestling. Does it in any way take the roof away from all of the classic War Games matches? No it does not. Case closed. The included accessories have also found their way into the recent War Games matches, which justifies their presence.
As mentioned above there are a few "breakaway" pieces in the cages as well as the door that enable you to toss someone through the fencing. I don't know that it's particularly realistic, but it's something that anyone could have some fun with. I positioned the breakaway pieces towards the back, but these are also the pieces which fold down so that you can reach into the cage for play. On the downside of the design, there are gaps between the cages on the sides. Perhaps my love of this thing is blinding me, but the gaps simply don't even come into play when I'm taking the thing in as a whole.
The cages clip or even slide easily onto the rings. There's nothing stopping you from using the vintage styled rings that Mattel has done instead of the NXT rings. How about a WWF vs WCW War Games match? Mattel has even done an ECW ring that could be used or of course the other various pay-per-view and TV program themed rings. The possibilities are endless.
Enough talk. Choose your teams. Let's play.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
With all of his well-documented health battles, wrestling fans have long been preparing for the death of "The Ugandan Giant" Kamala. That being said, preparedness doesn't make it one bit easier. When word of his death swept the wrestling world, the fear that Kamala caused in fans for over three decades suddenly turned to sadness. In those decades we had all come to learn that he was truly a gentle giant.
Even as a child I never found myself actually scared of anything fictional. There were two exceptions to that in the world of wrestling. Ironically, both of those men were favorites of mine as well. After all, deep down we all enjoy being scared. The two that put fear into me? Harley Race and Kamala. Race, with that grizzled look and just-gargled-with-nails voice, looked like he could take out anyone. As for Kamala with that haunting wail and nightmare-inducing mask? I didn't even want to THINK of what he could do to anyone.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Kamala many times within the last twenty years. I also had the luck of seeing him wrestle live against various opponents including several matches against longtime rival Jerry "The King" Lawler. Kamala always gave his all to the fans both in and out of the ring. That continued even as many of us peeled back the curtain and began to realize that he wasn't the "headhunter" as portrayed on television and was instead a sweet southern gentleman.
I can't even pretend to have the Kamala stories that his peers such as Lawler, Jimmy Hart, and David Isley likely shared in the days following the giant's passing. What I have instead are reflections of someone who is living proof that Kamala did his job damn well. He made me believe that he was a scary savage capable of taking apart anyone who dared step into the ring with him. A wrestler cannot strive to anything higher than drilling undeniable realism into the heads of the fans. That was Kamala and he made it seemed effortless.
But something else came along with the fright factor of Kamala that probably pleased the promoters just as much: utter coolness. The character had an unreal look that will never be duplicated. It barely needs to be said that the look translated perfectly into merchandise like action figures and magazine covers. Who can forget their first glance at that LJN WWF figure in the menacing stance? Do I even need to remind you of the infamous cover of Sports Review Wrestling featuring The Ugandan Headhunter seemingly living up to his moniker...and spearing the head of Hulk Hogan?
The man is gone, but we have yet another body of work and a legacy that will go on as long as people are studying the rich history of the industry. Thank you, Mr. Harris, for being a true credit to hard working people everywhere who put their all into what they do and in turn bring a lot of joy to others.