Friday, April 23, 2010

The Saga of Playboy Buddy Rose

"Holy Grail" is a term too loosely used in the world of collecting. I wouldn't deem the AWA action figure of "Playboy" Buddy Rose to be mine, but it is without a doubt one piece that I've always wanted to own.

I always enjoyed Buddy Rose. Even though I had to catch up on a lot of his career through the magic of video tape, he was a good talker, fantastic bumper, and was often associated with one of my favorites who I dearly miss, Sensational Sherri Martel.

Rose knew how to entertain in the ring, and in wrestling, what else is there? I was very saddened by his death last year. Selfishly, because I did not have a chance to meet him, but much more importantly because another great from the golden age was gone way too soon.

Rose was immortalized by an action figure that to many IS a "Holy Grail" of collecting. The figure was produced in 1986 by Remco toys as a part of their final series of AWA action figures. This final series was dubbed "Mat Mania" and included Rose, his partner Doug Somers, The Midnight Rockers, Sheik Adnan, Nord the Barbarian (The Berzerker), Boris Zukhov, and re-releases of several previously released figures. These figures command a HUGE value on the secondary market and have remained that way for the better part of the last two decades.

A major feature of the AWA line was Remco's inclusion of removeable ring gear and accessories for most of the figures. From Precious' hairspray bottle to the Road Warriors' spiked collars to the '80s style shirts and sunglasses of the Midnight Rockers, Remco made up for their lack of body sculpts with an unmatched parade of clothing and foreign objects. The Rose figure included Buddy's signature robe.

While I've owned most of the AWA figure line since childhood, the Mat Mania-exclusive figures have eluded me. Due to interest in other aspects of wrestling memorabilia and the high price of these figures, acquiring them simply wasn't in the cards. Until now.

The Buddy Rose shown in the photos is now in my collection. I acquired him at a steal of a price, and while the sash to keep his robe closed is not there, I really could not be happier about it. Rose was always my favorite of the Mat Mania series, so the chance to own him is a nice little thrill.

On Rose's now-defunct website, The Playboy told a story of how Remco sent him several cases of the figure when it was first released. He went on to give them away as gifts obviously not knowing how dramatic the value would rise shortly after production. Unlike many stars of the industry who did not get to see themselves immortalized in plastic (or were, but posthumously in the Classic Superstars line), we can take comfort that Buddy did indeed enjoy the unique honor.

Well, that and the Blow-Away diet...

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