Thursday, January 22, 2015
*Macho Madness makes my list twice! Although he was the "Macho King" for less than two years, it was a very cool extension of the Randy Savage character. Coupled with Sensational Queen Sherri, the duo is well-remembered for their feuds with Dusty Rhodes, Sapphire, Miss Elizabeth, The Ultimate Warrior, and Roddy Piper. Despite not being in the title scene of the time, Savage's matches with the aforementioned foes headlined cards around the country. The Hasbro Macho King figure had a regal purple and gold color scheme and came complete with removable crown and a sceptre for bashing opponents ("Ding!"--Jesse Ventura).
*The Hot Rod! Though the Hasbro version of Piper is wearing entrance gear, I.wouldn't have it any other way. Roddy has always been among my favorites in the Hasbro line, and it's actually a version that we haven't seen since. The red elbow pads indicate that Hasbro was trying to capture the look from early in his 1989 return. I have also always appreciated the effort that was taken by combining his "pre-ring" kilt attire with a no-nonsense action pose. And of course, this figure is perfect for recreating his 1992 Saturday Night's Main Event match with The Mountie. You remember. "Shock Proof!"
*Who would've believed, even in 1992 when his first figure hit shelves, that The Undertaker would be one of the longest lasting creations to come from the company? The aura of the character may only be matched by the likes of Andre the Giant. The evolution of the character helped keep "The Deadman" alive for nearly a quarter of a century. The original look and feel of The Undertaker, an old west mortician, was never better captured than in the Hasbro figure. In his second release, it was the inclusion of the cloth overcoat that truly made the figure fresh and unique.
Up next...my final five!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
*For as big as they were, the Von Erich family did not see an action figure until "The Texas Tornado" hit shelves in 1992. A great likeness coupled with a "Real Wrestling Action" that fit his actual finishing move, the Tornado was a great addition to the Hasbro lineup. The sad reality was that the figure was released less than a year before the untimely death of Kerry Von Erich. That being said, Von Erich did several known autograph appearances in that time period and was known to be a gracious signer regardless. Does a signed Texas Tornado Hasbro figure exist? Time will tell should one ever surface, but until then we have a great figure of one of wrestling's most storied and charismatic legends.
*Hasbro was no stranger to Sgt. Slaughter. His deal with Hasbro's bread and butter, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, is legendary and made him a household name and pop culture celebrity. However, this figure was his first to officially be produced under the WWF banner. It has an interesting design, as his attire is patterned after gear wore in a photo shoot and not actually in the ring, but it fits the Hasbro style perfectly. I doubt a more perfect facial likeness of Slaughter will ever be captured. Sgt. Slaughter was the first wrestler that I ever met, was in the first tag team match that I ever saw live, and the first (and only) male wrestler to sit on my lap. At ease!
*Talk about having the "look" of a wrestler, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart fits that bill. The Hasbro figure captured that. Though many of us would have preferred "The Anvil" in original Hart Foundation attire, instead we got him in the baggy pants of The New Foundation. His partner in the latter team, Owen Hart, did not come along until a year later. If ever you could hear an action figure verbalizing his catch phrase, it's this one. The Hasbro "Anvil" is screaming "Yeah Baby!" and cackling just as he performs one of his flattening clotheslines. Hasbro also captured the oft-jiggling paunch of Neidhart as well as they did his facial features.
A tornado, an anvil, a Ugandan headhunter, an African dream, and a real American hero. A battle royal if there ever was one is forming among these Hasbro elite, and next week we add another five to the fray!
Thursday, January 8, 2015
*For some reason, when I began collecting the Hasbro line in 1991 the first tag team set that I wanted was The Bushwhackers. Though they were a pure comedy act for the duration of their stay in the WWF, Luke and Butch obviously "whacked" their way into the hearts of many fans. As far as their figures went, a nearly undecipherable appearance (as far as their verbalizing was concerned) in the first Hasbro "tag team" commercial probably went a long way as far as cementing them into the collections of kids all over. The team from Down Under even saw a repainted re-release on single cards complete with switched heads and "chewed" cap accessories in 1994.
*Few superstars remain as beloved as Randy Savage, but when the Hasbro line was initially designed in 1989, the Macho Man was fast becoming a hated heel. By the time that the second series was planned, Savage was being billed as the "Macho King," but the first series included a figure that appeared much as he had since his WWF arrival in 1985. A headband, sunglasses, and stars on the tights. This is how so many of us will always remember the Macho Man. This first Hasbro figure of Savage provided that simple yet effective look and while he would make more appearances in the line, many collectors consider this the ultimate version.
*There were a few items in the Hasbro line that if you blinked, you missed them. If you were lucky enough to see it on the shelf once and wanted it, you hopefully added it to your collection. The King of the Ring ring was definitely one of those items. Released in 1994, the ring was a reissue of the original Hasbro ring molded in yellow and red and including King of the Ring stickers. It will always be my own personal speculation that this item was designed intended as a Hulk Hogan-themed ring. When his brief 1993 return ended (at the same time that this item would've been planned), the colors were retained but King of the Ring stickers were included instead. There is no shred of evidence to indicate this, but it certainly seems plausible.
It couldn't have been so many years since my Hasbro Dusty was battling the Galoob WCW Arn Anderson or Yokozuna was being slammed in the King of the Ring ring, but it has. Time flies when you're having fun, and Hasbro certainly provided that. Next week, five more in store!
Thursday, January 1, 2015
*What a rush! What better way to kick off the celebration than with Hawk and Animal, The Legion of Doom! The boys had already seen an action figure release in the Remco AWA line, but this was the first set to feature the famous spiked shoulder pads. Though the pads were molded on (a Hasbro trend), the figures remain a favorite of many. The Hawk figure even made an appearance at the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, standing in for the late superstar. Distribution on the pair varied greatly from area to area for a number of reasons, but the Road Warriors remain a favorite of most any Hasbro collector.
*Hasbro had the WWF license at a perfect time. The style of the figures worked impeccably with the wild and colorful characters that populated WWF rings of the time. Papa Shango is a top example of this, with his hat, facepaint, tattoos, and "bone" necklace. The antics of the voodoo priest were largely relegated to the opening matches once the figure saw release, but that didn't stop kids from continuing the crazy occurrences in the Hasbro ring. Charles Wright would go on to portray several other memorable characters of the squared circle, but this Hasbro figure (and some black goo...) is a big reason why Papa Shango is so well remembered.
*Although the first series of the Hasbro line was filled with top stars, one name stands above the rest. Andre the Giant may have been on his way out of the spotlight, but the decision to include him in the line is appreciated to this day. Whether recreating his feud with Hulk Hogan or being able to create a dream collision with the likes of The Undertaker, Hasbro's representation of Andre ended up as a tribute to a man who is a cornerstone of an industry in which he is still beloved.
Happy New Year! Be sure to return next week for more of the Hasbro silver celebration!
Thursday, December 25, 2014
The most famous Christmas wrestling event was undoubtedly the 1982 WCCW Christmas Star Wars event. Ric Flair successfully defended the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Kerry Von Erich in a cage match. Special referee Michael PS Hayes seemed to be calling the match evenly when the unthinkable happened. Just as Von Erich was about to exit the cage, Hayes' Fabulous Freebird "brother" Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy sent the steel door crashing into Von Erich's skull. This event began the legendary Von Erich-Freebirds feud that is credited for making World Class Championship Wrestling one of the hottest promotions of the '80s.
Closer to home, wrestling can be part of your Christmas motif right along with Rudolph, Frosty, and Snoopy. WWE regularly rolls out a full line of Christmas decor featuring all of your favorite WWE Superstars. In the late 1990's WCW produced a line of ornaments featuring the best of WCW and the nWo including "Santa With Muscles" himself, Hulk Hogan. But perhaps my favorite Christmas themed wrestling items are the various publications with grapplers "enjoying" the holidays. Bundy Claus? It happened! And what better holiday gift than Jameson Winger?
From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We'll see you in 2015 where all of January the blog will be celebrating the silver anniversary of a retro wrestling favorite!
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The wrestling deaths of 2014 included Billy Robinson, George Scott, Rodger Kent, Mae Young, The Ultimate Warrior, Nelson "King Mabel/Viscera" Frazier, Lee Marshall, Jerry Kozak, Cowboy Bob Kelly, Sean O'Haire, Bob Geigel, Larry Nelson, Ken Lucas, Ox Baker, Ricki Starr, Bonnie Watson, Jimmy Del Ray/Jimmy Backlund, Dr. Ken Ramey, and Don Chuy.
Nelson Frazier was still very active on the independent scene, and one could almost guarantee that appearances as Mabel, Viscera, and Big Daddy V would have continued for WWE. Struck down by a heart attack at just 42, that would not end up being the case. Due to his massive size, it's hard to believe that Frazier was just in his early twenties for his biggest run in the WWF as King Mabel. His agility and ability to make all of his various characters come to life will always be remembered fondly. Personally, he will always hold a special place in my own fandom as he main evented SummerSlam 1995, the first pay-per-view event that I attended live.
As always, this is just a small listing of some of the more notable wrestling deaths of 2014. For all of its faults, the wrestling community always shows a great amount of respect and dignity when one of the seemingly larger-than-life names has fallen. This final look serves as a last remembrance of their passing, so that we, instead, can continue to remember the greatness of their lives.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
2014 Best Figure
2014 Best Buy (Non-Figure)
2014 Best Product Line
Mattel wins "The Joshie" for 2014 Best Product Line. Longtime readers know that when Mattel first started churning out WWE product, I was less than impressed. Poor lineups, poor distribution, poor creativity, and that God-awful red packaging design. Things have changed for the better and for the third time, Mattel takes home the gold. Although there's always room for improvement (could we get that Magnum TA?), 2015 already looks like a very good year. Come on, we're getting Bayley! What could be better than that? A Bayley hug, perhaps, but the figure will be almost as cool.
2014 Future Holy Grail
Normally our awards end with the "Future Holy Grail." You may have noticed the absence of the "Best Publication" award which usually went to books or magazines. As of 2015, Pro Wrestling Illustrated will be the only remaining U.S. wrestling magazine and although there are some great authors churning out amazing wrestling books, I just do not have the time and resources to be objective and read them all. Thus, "Best Publication" has been retired. However, in the spirit of PWI's year-end "Editors Award," this year we introduce our "Thanks For The Memories" honor. Since this blog celebrates "The Best in Wrestling Memorabilia & Memories" on a weekly basis, this award will focus on the latter. The winner can be a person (living or dead) or concept that somehow made all of us fondly recall wrestling's past in the last twelve months.
2014 Thanks For The Memories Award
And thanks to all of you for once again keeping with the blog throughout the year. I appreciate each and every one of you. Whether you come up and say hi at a show or simply shoot me an e-mail, those are my awards. Those people and moments remind me why I've loved wrestling for all of these years. Thank you!