Thursday, April 23, 2015

Take The Damn Money--The Merchandise of Harley Race

When Harley Race spoke, people listened. With a voice and demeanor like his, you didn't have much of a choice. You also knew that you were in for one Hell of a wrestling match. Harley would talk you into an arena and then back it up in the ring. Was he colorful? Not really. He didn't need to be. He made you believe. There was no question about it, Harley was truly destroying his opponent. Yet, many of his fellow all-time wrestling greats list Race as their favorite nemesis. How could that be? Easy. Harley was that good.

By the time that I was getting into wrestling, Harley was in the WWF as "The King." Though this was the beginning of the end of his career, I knew that Harley Race was something special. He may have looked a tad older than the average WWF superstar of the time, but he could take it to Junkyard Dog, Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan without missing a beat. As Harley himself will tell you, he felt "The King" moniker was a very worthy gimmick for a man as accomplished as himself. I would have to agree. Harley wasn't taking the title at this point, but he would instead be honored for his years of championships and accomplishments all the while taking then-champion Hogan to the limit.

Interestingly enough, many stars who began in the '60s and '70s got their first taste of merchandising after aligning with the WWF, the champion of wrestling marketing. Harley Race, though a top star of that era, was a different story. JBL often states that if you could build a "sports entertainer" from the ground up, you'd have Randy Orton. Change "sports entertainer" to "professional wrestler" and you have Harley Race. It was that look and aura that put Race on countless magazine and program covers of the '70s. A champion regally displaying the World Heavyweight Championship? A bloody grappler in the midst of an hour-long spectacle? A wrestler slamming the unliftable Andre the Giant? Harley Race made all of those magazine covers happen.

Whether it be the famous blue and red robe, the royal purple "King" attire, or simply a championship belt, Race made for a great photo or trading card, as well. Thanks to his WWE Legends deal, he is frequently featured in modern day Topps WWE releases alongside fellow Hall of Famers such as Bruno Sammartino and Bret Hart. Classic cards of him include appearances in the Wrestling All-Stars, 1987 Topps WWF, Wrestling Legends, and the 1995 WCW Main Event series. The latter card features Race in another successful facet of his career, managing. Before injuries sustained in an automobile accident forced him to retire, Race was an effective manager to such stars as Big Van Vader and Lex Luger among others.

Being an all-time great with the ultimate tough guy look, Harley Race had to have some action figures. He was actually included among some of the very first wrestling action figures produced by Popy in Japan in the early 1980's. Race also saw both his '70s NWA look and his 1980's WWF "King" image produced by Jakks for their WWE Classic Superstars line. While these are all great items, one of my personal favorite wrestling figures of all-time is the LJN WWF version of Harley Race. Released in 1987, the figure is undoubtedly "The King," but with a possibly unintentional twist. The figure is clad in a jacket that looks like a perfect mashup of his WWF cape and one of his ring jackets from the '70s/'80s. Whether LJN was going for that image or not is anyone's guess, but the figure is pure Harley Race, regardless.

I first met Mr. Race over a decade ago. Although he's an extremely nice man and one of the most gracious wrestlers as far as accommodating fans, the voice still scares me. Now in his seventh decade, Harley is still one of the toughest men on God's green earth. No one will ever convince me otherwise. In the way that many fans today look at Brock Lesnar as "the real deal," Harley Race has held that position in many minds since his debut so many years ago. 1980 Race vs 2015 there's a dream match of tough men, fighters, and all out beasts. My money is still on "The King!"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mattel & Target Deliver Hall Of Fame-Level Stratusfaction

In many ways, Trish Stratus was the modern day pro wrestling success story. Upon her debut, no one expected Trish to be more than a pleasant piece of eye candy who managed a few wrestlers and then faded into obscurity. The Canadian beauty made fools of all of us, and we couldn't be happier about it. Very few questioned it when Trish was announced for the WWE Hall of Fame back in 2013. She had earned and deserved the honor.

This year, Mattel revived their WWE Hall of Fame figure line as a Target exclusive series. Several years ago some Hall of Fame labeled figures were released through K-Mart, but were essentially repackaged Mattel Legends figures. This new series features four WWE Hall of Famers in new outfits and designs. Our lady of the hour, Trish Stratus, joins Sgt. Slaughter, The Ultimate Warrior, and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the first series. Stratus and Slaughter have proven to be the most popular.

To begin with, this is the first (and possibly only) figure of Stratus as a brunette. This is the hair color that she has kept since retiring from wrestling and utilized in her WWE returns and outside ventures. It makes the figure fun and different, while the unique Hall of Fame package design helps in that regard as well. The head is the same as the earlier Elite Flashback figure of Trish with tweaks to the makeup and, of course, the hair coloring. Her hair has had less of the "feathering" in her brunette years, but I'm not complaining. The makeup on the old figure which she has not worn in recent years helped make the face look more like Trish, but you can still tell that it's her without it.

The attire is based on her WrestleMania XXVII appearance. Her presence was one bright point on a rather abysmal show. Sadly, she was also saddled with Snooki. Who? Anyway, if you lift up the back of her long locks, you'll see that Mattel went the extra mile and applied her "Brunette Mafia" logo to the back of her shirt. Shortly after the figure was released, Trish herself commented on Twitter about the "cuteness" of detail on the figure, "especially the butt." Awww, Trish...

Included is the WWE Women's Championship accessory. Trish is the only figure to have included this belt so far, as it debuted with the first Mattel figure of her. It would have been nice had a small plaque been included with this figures as was with Bruno Sammartino, but I understand budgetary measures. Trust me, it's nice to have a Hall of Fame line at all.

The choice of attire makes this Trish figure a bit more flexible than the first. Her initial figure was based upon the almost bellbottom-esque pants that she wore around ten years ago. The more shape-hugging attire here allows Trish to perform the "Chick Kick" and other maneuvers with ease. I really like the gloved hands, as well. Trish looks a lot tougher here while maintaining her trademark sexiness. Look out, Ronda!

This figure takes me back to sitting in the Garden on the night that Trish delivered her speech. I thought that it was one of the best of the night and her use of props, which has since been copied, was a great addition to her career story. I may be in the minority, but I'd love figures based on some of the more unique Hall of Fame looks (Trish in her dress, bald Bruno, tuxedo Hulk), but then I remember that these are action figures and not...induction speech figures.

The Hall of Fame Trish gets a big thumbs up from me, but you may have to take to the secondary market if you haven't already found one. Plenty were produced, but Trish and Slaughter were very popular. Series 2 featuring Hulk Hogan, Eddy Guerrero, Yokozuna, and Tito Santana as well as a Four Horsemen set are on the way. Even though the idea of a "First Time In The Line" Diva figure in a store exclusive set is insanity, I'd love to see Trish's "Team Bestie" pal Lita in a future set. The Hall of Fame line might also be a good way to get some managers like Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan out, not to mention Paul Bearer who has only seen the Mattel light of day overseas.

In the meantime, we now have two different flavors of "Sweet Stratusfaction!"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Endorse This!

Looking for an attention-grabbing celebrity endorsement? Who better than a professional wrestler? Larger-than-life personas and appearances that usually stick out like a sore thumb when up against regular folk. Wrestlers are used to pumping out rhetoric that will make you want to spend your money on what they're promoting, and they often don't need more than one take to get their message out. It's no wonder that wrestlers have been chosen to go outside the squared circle to promote toys, food products, clothing, and more in the past couple of decades. Often, those appearances have created some fun promotional items in their own right.

It's interesting that the biggest promotional crossover of the 1980's involving wrestling took place without the endorsement of the WWF, just as the company was branching out into similar avenues. Indeed, Sgt. Slaughter becoming the face of Hasbro's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line is the stuff that Madison Avenue dreams are made of. Although other real life names such as William "The Refrigerator" Perry and Rowdy Roddy Piper have become G.I. Joe figures since, Sgt. Slaughter is still the icon of the line. Many stories have gone around as to why Slaughter left the WWF as the deal was being done, but the one regarding a conflict of interest does make sense. Hasbro owned G.I. Joe while LJN produced the WWF figure line. Some LJN WWF figures made it into an ad for the mail-away 8 inch Sgt. Slaughter figure, but that was the extent of any crossover.

For not having as much merchandise as the WWF, the NWA held its own as far as promotional deals. My own personal favorite is the Mello Yello tie-in starring "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Although several can collections were produced featuring a variety of stars, Dusty was front and center in the advertising campaign at both the store and television level. When the charismatic star urged you to "Make The Mello Yello Move!," you listened! Dusty was no stranger to endorsements, plugging Stanback Headache Powders earlier in the decade. Life-sized cardboard Dusty's made their way to stores, and it's hard to forget "The Dream" and his "million-dollar smile" in the tv commercial for the promotion.

NWA endorsements didn't end when "The Dream" departed the organization and Ted Turner took over. You may remember Jim Ross endlessly mentioning Roos Shoes on NWA programming, and the company name even appearing on ring posts. Although the shoes may be long out of style, some of the promotional materials are still very cool. Roos obviously took the endorsement of the NWA stars very seriously and got their moneys worth by plastering the likenesses of Ric Flair, Sting, Lex Luger, and The Road Warriors in shoe stores nationwide. A variety of posters and cardboard standees came out of the promotion, featuring a WWF-level of stardom for the NWA wrestling stars.

Of course, no wrestler endorsement discussion is complete without mention of the legendary line, "Snap Into A Slim Jim, Ooooh Yeah!" Made famous by "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the initial commercials actually featured The Ultimate Warrior. Other WWF Superstars such as Bam Bam Bigelow and Diesel would assume the role when Savage left the company, but none could compare. The "Macho Man" eventually carried the endorsement deal over to WCW with him, where his then-girlfriend Stephanie "Gorgeous George" Bellars also got into the action. Tins, coolers, and more plastered with "Mach" and the Slim Jim logo are available from the long running promotion.

With John Cena and Fruity Pebbles and WWE's new partnership with TapouT, these deals continue to fill advertisers pockets, store shelves, and our consciousness today and far into the future. Did you save that very first Cena cereal box? I did. It's a great reminder that the stars and faces of our favorite pastime can continue to place right up there with celebrities of other genres. Who knows what a wrestler will endorse next? In the meantime...wash those Pebbles down with some Mello Yello, slip on your old Roos, snap into a Slim Jim, and tune into an old G.I. Joe cartoon. Maybe Andre the Giant singing about Honey Comb will come on during a commercial break. Then all would be right in the (wrestling) world.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wrestling MarketWatch: Sting

One of the last "Hmmm...I wonder what that would be like?" moments in wrestling has finally happened. Sting has wrestled a match for WWE, at WrestleMania no less. While the result of the match surprised many, I'm sure that it isn't the last of The Stinger in the company. The painted-faced icon proved that he could still provide a quality match, and I just don't see the face of WCW going out in a loss, even under contract to Vince McMahon. The company realizes his value as a WWE Legend, and one or two more matches would only cement that. With the fantastic showing of The Undertaker also at WrestleMania, those who said that the match would never happen are already having second thoughts.

Sting's return has likely garnered many new fans for the legend. Those who are new to the party are scrambling alongside old "Little Stingers" to grab items from the long list of Sting merchandise. WCW, TNA, and now WWE have all produced items featuring the various incarnations of Sting. I would venture to say that, in one of their rare moments of being number one at something, TNA may have produced the most Sting merchandise during his times there. WWE has already integrated him into video games, trading cards, and wearable merchandise such as new masks and shirts. In a few months, the first WWE-produced figure of Sting will be making its debut on store shelves as well as on this very blog. In the meantime, let's take a look at some past Sting items and their recent selling prices.

*While the public awaits the Mattel "Defining Moments" Sting figure, some of the older efforts are selling briskly. Due to not signing with WWE until 2014, Sting was an unfortunate omission from the legendary Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line. When Jakks took over the TNA license, several Sting figures were on tap. My two favorites are in the "Ruthless Aggression" style body that was used for most of the Classic Superstars. While the packaging may have been different, the figures themselves were able to blend right in with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and the various other legends who did make it into Classic Superstars. Both classic "surfer" and later "crow" Sting variations were made. All have remained popular, but one Sting with his black and white paint was in a set exclusive to Walgreens. The figures were dubbed "Ruthless Impact" by collectors, and did not last long on shelves. The Sting from this set recently sold for $40 in package, with loose examples going for well over $20.

*Sting's merchandising really didn't hit its stride until the early 1990s when WCW began to make deals for action figures and other toys. One of his very first cover appearances was on the 1988 Great American Bash program. Like some of the other WCW events of the time, Bash 88 had an in-house program produced as well as one done by The Wrestling News. Sting makes his cover appearance on the latter along with Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and Dusty Rhodes. This program, the harder to find of the two, recently sold at auction for $22.50.

*The early '90s were filled with colorful eye-catching neon, and Sting's look definitely lent itself to this trend. It also stuck out in the crowd at wrestling events, the perfect way for "Little Stingers" to cheer on their favorite star. Foam fingers and hands, still sold at WWE events today, date back to the early 1980's in pro wrestling and probably even longer in other sports ventures. WCW caught onto this around the time of their other merchandising endeavors, and Sting was at the top of the heap. The orange Sting foam finger recently sold for $28.99.

*WCW Magazine went through various changes over its long run, but its initial format was the best. Several special issues were also released at this time, from the infamous 1993 WCW Yearbook to a puzzle magazine. A few focused on the top star of the company, Sting, and his exploits in and out of the ring. From eating whole wheat pancakes and orange juice for breakfast to wrestling Big Van Vader and Ravishing Rick Rude, these editions made a Sting fan feel as if they had followed him around for the day. One of these magazines, "Sting's Guide To WCW," recently went for $28.11.

*8x10 promotional photos are always an interesting collectible as far as monetary value. Some will sell for hundreds, others for pennies. Is it better to be signed or left unmarked? Personally, I feel a promo photo is one item that always looks better signed. Sting has had plenty of promo shots over the years, but one very interesting 8x10 was released by TNA in 2012. This is an "in your face" depiction of Sting's famous painted mug. This promotional photo, with autograph, recently sold at auction for $42.

"The Stinger." "The Man Called Sting." "The Vigilante." No matter what you call him, he's a Hall of Famer in any argument and is indeed the face of WCW. He evolved the character throughout his career and, while many of us prefer the "surfer" look of old, he's proven to be entertaining in-ring from the '80s to the present. May Bo Dallas not be the final victim to feel the Scorpion Death Drop, for Sting still has more of a story to be told.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

From The Musty Yellowed Pages--WrestleMania XI Program

Here we are once again, just days before the annual tradition known as WrestleMania. This year, we're all anxious to see the in-ring WWE/WrestleMania debut of Sting, The Undertaker's first WrestleMania match that will not be part of "The Streak," and just exactly how the WWE will handle a title picture that some fans aren't happy about. You can read my predictions on WrestleMania 31 (or "Play Button") on my other blog here, but for now we're going back twenty years to 1995. It must be long ago, as the champion going in and coming out of that WrestleMania is going into the Hall of Fame this year. Yes, the WWF was running on "Diesel Power."

The WrestleMania XI program is the first one to be over-sized. It was also not sold on newsstands. Technically the program from the year before was not either, although a variation of what was offered did show up. Since it wasn't sold outside of that weekend's events, it's the first of the WrestleMania programs that has seen a rise in demand. A complete version will include a poster stapled in the center. For the record, the poster is just a larger version of the logo/cover design.

Upon opening the program, we are treated to celebrities before we see any actual WWF Superstars. Nick Turturro, Salt-N-Pepa, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas, and Jenny McCarthy all appear. Even twenty years ago, I was very underwhelmed by this grouping. Though I may have raised an eyebrow or two at McCarthy, it wasn't until a few years later that she was singled out on my radar. Regardless, this was a fairly relevant cast of characters for the era, even if I was personally unimpressed.

The biggest celebrity of the evening appears on the next pages with the WWF Championship match. She was, of course, Pamela Anderson. The winner of the 1995 Royal Rumble won the WrestleMania title shot and Pam's accompaniment. I'd have preferred to see Dick Murdoch and Pam together, but we don't always get what we want. Like the celebrities, this main event was a product of the times. The show was "New Generation" through and through.

The last match of the show is next in the program, and certainly garnered the WWF a ton of mainstream attention at a time when the company was failing in that regard. The grudge match between Bam Bam Bigelow and football legend Lawrence Taylor was standard at best, but the angle itself was well-crafted and, as mentioned, gained the company the press that it wanted...then, now, and forever. The poster was placed right here, blocking out Nikolai Volkoff, Steve McMichael, or any of the other teammates of the participants that you might want to see.

Next we have the championship matches for the Intercontinental and Tag Team titles, respectively, with Razor Ramon battling Jeff Jarrett for the former. The tag team champions, The Smoking Gunns, put their titles on the line against Owen Hart and a mystery partner. Just as it was in the television build, the silhouette of Owen's partner is obviously not who it turned out to be, the mighty Yokozuna. Between my love for Yoko and Owen and not caring too much for the Gunns, I do believe that this was the most memorable moment of the night for me.

Our last two pages finish up the event with three more matches. Mr. Bob Backlund battled Bret Hart in an "I, Quit" match, The Undertaker faced King Kong Bundy, and The Allied Powers (Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith) went up against Jacob and Eli Blu. King Kong Bundy receiving another WrestleMania match eight years after his last was yet another highlight for me, a kid always fascinated by monster heels. On the other foot, Luger's final WrestleMania match is as lackluster as his first two. Dutch Mantell makes his WrestleMania debut here managing the Blu twins as Uncle Zebekiah. He would return to the big show eighteen years later as Zeb Colter.

WrestleMania XI is a favorite of very few fans and, aside from Bigelow-Taylor, the event largely plays out like an "In Your House" event, which were first announced at this show. While some events and moments from this era still hold up or contain special memories for fans (SummerSlam 1995 is a personal favorite as I was there), it is easily one of the weakest times in all of wrestling history. The glorious "bright" WWF era of the late '80s and early '90s was trying to mesh with the "edginess" of the rest of pop culture. It didn't work.

In any event, grab yourself a copy of this years program and enjoy WrestleMania XXXI!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sting, Hulk, & NXT Highlight Topps WWE 2015

 With each set that is released, I tell myself "no more." The cards are usually fairly nice, but do I really need another box of glossy WWE cards taking up space? If they were matte finished "retro" styled Heritage cards it would be a different story, but we haven't seen those since 2012. Topps seems to be following a pattern of two regular and one chrome set per year. I am able to resist the latter (the rehashed chrome sets do nothing for me) but I always end up with the other two sets in one form or another.

For WWE 2015 I opted to go with a blaster box. Those are the $20 boxes found in retail stores. Wal Mart is the place to pick these cards up. In each jumbo pack, there is a coupon for $3 off of a blaster box. Wal Mart's jumbo packs and blaster boxes also include exclusive Sting cards and a chance at Sting autograph cards. If you're a fan of "The Vigilante," it's the only way to go.

The base set is, as usual, very basic. This is not one of the years where the design particularly excites me. It isn't bad, but it just doesn't stick out very much either. You get your basic helping of WWE Superstars, Divas, and Legends as well as other on-air talent. Any time that Tony Chimel gets a card is a plus. I will say that it's cool that Topps takes their WWE product just as seriously as their main sports releases by releasing them in the same design as their baseball sets.

The main subset that you'll be seeing the most of in a pack or box is titled "Crowd Chants." There are seventy cards in this subset, with ten cards for each of seven different chants ranging from "One More Match" to "You Still Got It" and yes, the one that makes so many of us cringe, "This Is Awesome." It's a new and different idea that allows cards for a wide array of stars.

NXT is back once again with its own subset. You have to believe that the hottest "brand" in WWE will soon have its stars integrated into the main product. I'd like to see Topps take the risk and release an entirely separate NXT set, but who's to say if that will happen. I think it'd be a great seller, and if they're worried about not having "main roster" talent involved, just throw some NXT Alumni cards into the set. Sadly, this subset is limited to just ten cards, but includes the NXT rookie card of Hideo Itami, formerly known as KENTA.

As always there are relic, autograph, and even "Diva Kiss" subsets (the latter featuring the Topps returns of Lita and Trish Stratus), but the hardest subsets to complete without those "pull" extras are tribute sets for Sting and Hulk Hogan. Both sets feature great vintage photographs of the two legends, and the Sting cards are exclusive to Wal-Mart, as mentioned above. The Sting set is a whopping forty cards, while the Hogan set will ultimately be forty, but just ten are included in this particular set.

The Commemorative Championship Plate cards that debuted in 2014 are back this year. These cards are well-designed and honestly are a bit more attractive to me than most relic cards with a bland shirt or mat swatch. You can argue that Bruno Sammartino shouldn't be on a card with the current design WWE Championship and so on, but Topps simply isn't going to create plates for every design that each championship has gone through, not to mention rights issues in doing so. My blaster box pull was the Nikki Bella Divas Championship Plate card. I don't need to once again go through what a female "pull" means as far as being more desirable, so I'll leave that to you, eBay, and the creepy collectors. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with that, especially after using the $3 coupon for the box itself.

If the Topps WWE sets are your thing, you'll probably enjoy this set. If you're more of a pick-and-choose collector, I could see skipping this set. It might be more interesting to try and complete the Sting set, as so many of those images will never again see the light of day on a trading card. I think that many collectors will be disappointed in that NXT's established talent such as Sami Zayn, Charlotte, and Bayley are nowhere to be found. Maybe an individual set isn't out of the realm of possibility after all. With word of a "high-end" set titled "Undisputed" coming from Topps, the company may just be looking to step outside of the box with WWE. In any event, it's WrestleMania season (which you can read my thoughts on in the latest entry of my other blog, JoshCulture) and these cards will sell.

But if there's one card that we can all agree should be here, it's the gentleman who rounds out the base set with card #100. A legend in every sense of the word, it's hard to say which of his many personas should have been included. Soul Train Jones. Vincent. Shane. Curly Bill, perhaps? Regardless, he is here in all of his glory, and as much crap as he gets from fans, I'll always have a soft spot for the guy. If you do pick up some of these cards and luck upon pulling him from a pack, never leave home without it. You may be at a convention, home show, RV show, subway platform, public library or McDonalds, and there will be standing with a smile, the one and only Virgil...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A "New School" Hope For "Old School" Figures

 Ever since Mattel took over the WWE toy license, collectors have been taken on a roller coaster ride regarding figures of past stars. At first, hopes seemed bright as Mattel would have been crazy to not capitalize on the success of Jakks Classic Superstars line. The company did put out three series of "old school" figures in their Legends line, but then decided to make future releases available through their online shop. When that did not work out as they had hoped, the legends were then relegated to occasional "Flashback" releases in their "Elite" series. I was not the only collector who gave up hope when this last change occurred.

For whatever reason, Mattel has seemingly gotten back into the swing of things regarding legends over the past few months. The "Flashback" Elite figures have increased in number, and even the "Basic" figure series are often peppered with a legend or two. I recently took a look at the return of the legend-based Defining Moments line and the incredible Hulk Hogan figure that recently hit shelves. Even the Wal Mart exclusive Superstar Entrances series now includes Rowdy Roddy Piper.

The most recent Elite series to hit stores as of press time includes one of the most popular stars of the 1980's, the Junkyard Dog. Although the figure greatly resembles the effort by Jakks a decade ago with the same white tights/blue and red stars design, it holds up on its own with fantastic detail and a slightly trimmer waste line. Perhaps this is the pre-WWF version of JYD. The chain is a lot longer than the one included with the Jakks version, and helps recreate images of the Dog where he seemingly had it wrapped all around his massive shoulders.

Also in that series is a Flashback figure of X-Pac. While the Attitude Era isn't necessarily nostalgic for me, I do appreciate this figure. The Jakks version was a disappointment, being way too tall and bulky. If Mattel does one thing right, it nails the smaller wrestlers down perfectly. The same could be said for the Flashback Rey Mysterio Jr. figure from the previous Elite series. Each of those figures included a "classic" belt as well, being the European and Cruiserweight championships respectively.

Perhaps my favorite recent "old school" inclusion by Mattel are their latest representations of two stars who are still popping up on WWE programming, the New Age Outlaws. I was actually not that big of a fan of Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg until their WWE returns a few years ago. Now I find myself rooting for the twosome in both their on-screen stints and their work behind the scenes, as Billy Gunn works as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center while Road Dogg is a WWE producer/road agent.

Although both received the "Elite Flashback" treatment last year, a modern
representation is now one of Mattel's latest "Battle Packs." I particularly like the Road Dogg from this set, complete with short hair and "New Age Outlaws" t-shirt. It was a treat to see the two regain the WWE Tag Team Championship last year live at an otherwise lackluster Royal Rumble. And yes, even though I was not always a fan of the "schticky" duo, I have been known to throw a crotch chop or two in their presence.

Even with all of those figures, Mattel has thrown us the greatest hope for future legends figures with their Target-exclusive WWE Hall of Fame line. The first series debuted earlier this year with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, and Trish Stratus. It was recently revealed that those four will be joined by Hulk Hogan, Eddy Guerrero, Yokozuna, and Tito Santana. A Four Horsemen set including Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Barry Windham will also be released.

Does it get any better than that? It could, but we're a step in the right direction. As I've said time and time again, Jakks Classic Superstars line was the ultimate because it included superstars from all facets of the business. For every figure of Bret Hart and Dusty Rhodes, we got figures of men like Ron Bass and Danny Davis. It was a wide variety covering all levels of the business. Whether it be Mattel or a company such as Figures Toy Co. (who recently expressed interest in producing a new legends line), the "unsung" heroes of the business deserve their figures, too.