Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who says Jim Crockett didn't know marketing?

Ok, so he didn't have Vince McMahon's mind for marketing. Vince knew that Hogan, Andre, and Nikolai's mugs would be gold when plastered all over posters, cartoons, and disposable party plates. Jim Crockett Jr. sold...bandana's. They were very nice bandana's, though, and you can see the Road Warriors version in the pages of this blog.

Near the end of his run as a wrestling promoter, Crockett licensed what may have been his most ambitious product--a set of trading cards. These weren't just any cards, however...these were NWA WRESTLING SUPERCARDS.

Produced by a company called Wonderama International, the 343-card set included all of your favorite late-1987 & early-1988 NWA Wrestling stars. Flair, Rhodes, Babydoll, The Garvin's, Luger, and even Gladiator's #1 AND...gasp...#2 are here in full-color glory.

It's a really nice set...not without it's flaws. Unfortunately, most of the studio shots included are of lower-tier talent. While a lot of nice ring shots of the NWA megastars are included, some of the pictures chosen leave many questions left to be answered. Perhaps Wonderama was desperate for any shot they could find to produce such a massive set? While signing a card shown below, Ole Anderson let out an expletive wondering how such a photo of him was chosen for the card.

Signed Cards From The Set (Top To Bottom/Left To Right): Ric Flair, Baby Doll, Magnum TA, Paul Jones, Bobby Eaton, George South,
JJ Dillon, Tully Blanchard, Baby Doll, Gene Ligon, David Isley, Ole Anderson.

The set's highlights outweigh the "Ole Anderson Dance Party" pictures by a long shot. Many of the sports giants had either their "rookie" card in this set or their only card(s) altogether. Pretty much the entire company was immortalized in a trading card here. From Sting to Jim Ross to The Mighty Wilbur to David Crockett, they're all here. Woman's stars like Misty Blue Simms and Comrade Orga are here, as are ultra-cool logos of the top stars.

A full set can be obtained in a box as shown in the first picture. The set is labeled "1988 Series 1," but aside from a small trial run series released in 1987 and featuring similar photos as the first 49 cards, no other series' were produced. Although the set has an "official" 343 cards, there are a few "extra" cards as well. The Flair card shown in the first photo with the top left corner logo was a card used for the "rack packs" originally sold in stores. There are also four cards which were "replaced" during the run of the set. Cards #68, #74, #99, and #136 became "logo" cards somewhere during production, so both "versions" of these four cards, as well as at least one of the aforementioned Flair "logo" card should be included in a full set. The only easy and affordable way to obtain a full set is to find one for sale. Due to the huge amount of cards in the set and the popularity of certain cards over others makes it near impossible otherwise.

If Ted Turner had not bought the company, would we have seen a Series 2? Would more studio shots have been included? Would Ole have stopped dancing?

The world may never know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Good Cause...

I don't plug too many things here on the blog, but if this entry gets just one more person to this event, it was worth it.

For several years now, Pittsburgh wrestling legend Lord Zoltan has organized an event called Deaf Wrestlefest. It's named as such since it benefits the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, where the event is also held.

The show is always a gathering of Pittsburgh independent talent as well as national stars. This year will feature Mick Foley, Larry Zbyszko, David Sammartino, The Blue Meanie, Shane Douglas, Dominic DeNucci, Pittsburgh Studio Wrestling legend Frank Durso, and much more.

There are usually autograph opportunities at the show for nominal fees and other activities.

If you're in the PA/OH/WV area or are looking for a road trip this coming weekend, I urge you to check it out. For more information, please check out

Thanks, and if you attend the show, say hello!

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...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wrestling MarketWatch: Odds & Ends aka What Treasures Do YOU Have?

In the second of my series of MarketWatch entries, I shall pose the question, "What treasures do YOU have?"

There's the old adage used mostly by folks who've never sold a thing on eBay. You know the one.

"People will buy anything on eBay."

Anyone who's had any bit of experience selling on eBay knows that to be 100% false. That said, any collector with some product knowledge, research, and decent writing skills can come fairly close to living up to that nasty old fairy tale.

For collectors looking to build and build their collections for posteriety, an unknowledgeable seller is a dream come true. A mislisted auction can mean the difference between tens and hundreds of dollars. The point of this entry isn't to highlight the "deals" though, but rather to show what properly described and listed items ARE selling for. The prices that collectors are willing to pay, and thus, what the items are truly worth. As I've said in past entries, the price that a correctly listed eBay auction sells for *IS* the current market price of an item. There is no bigger salesfloor in the entire world than eBay, and almost anyone in the word who wants a particular item can go there and pay as much as they want for it.

Today's highlights are a mishmash of classic wrestling collectibles that have recently sold on eBay. Since price guides are obsolete in the year 2010, I will continue to bring you the results of closed auctions I've had my eye on to give you an idea of what your items could be worth. Maybe you have some of these items tucked away totally forgotten about...

*Starting off with a topic near and dear to my heart, autographs, a signature of the late "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich recently sold for $43. As I've said before, autographs are a hard sell. I felt this was a decent price for the autograph, which any knowledgeable collector could verify was authentic. The autograph was on a plain sheet of paper, which may have hurt the end price just a bit. It was also personalized. When it comes to autographs of the deceased, you simply can't be picky when it comes to personalizations. Kerry had a very nice "sweeping" autograph (a trait passed down to his daughter, Lacey) and he included "Texas" followed by a scribbled funnel cloud, which dates the autograph between 1990 and his death in 1993.

*A figural shampoo bottle of Hulk Hogan dating to 1986 sold for $8.50. I've seen these go for anywhere from a little bit lower than this to around $20. Several different ones were made in the "Hogan era," with the Bret Hart bottle seeming to be more popular in recent years.

*Two of the rarer WrestleMania programs, 11 & 2000, were recently sold for $52 and $42, respectively. A problem has seemingly arisen here with sellers who have the more common earlier WrestleMania programs. While most of the earlier ones can be acquired frequently for $20 or under, many sellers looking to make a quick and large buck have taken to listing these earlier publications for far more than what they are worth. While it doesn't hurt collectors, it's annoying to see these overpriced programs constantly relisted on eBay, sometimes for as much as $100.

These two programs seem to have gone for about the going rate. Infact, the WrestleMania 2000 program has gone down a bit. I myself sold one of these a little over a year ago with a starting bid of $9.99...and an ending bid of nearly $250!

*A favorite of many collectors, and for some time now a great money grabber, are the original Bret Hart shades sold directly from the WWF in the '80s and '90s. Recently, a pair that was in an auction lot along with one of the old foam WWF title belts sold for a whopping $73.

*An October 1967 issue of The Wrestler magazine featuring Buddy Rogers on the cover sold for for $19.50. Wrestling magazines, especially from that era, are some of my favorite wrestling collectibles. They're time capsules, especially from the eras when very little of the filmed footage survived. I plan to do many entries on the various titles from over the years. Luckily for collectors, very few prices have been established for the magazines and histories of many of the titles and their offshoots are foggy at best. I'm committed to changing this in the future and I'll need your help. Stay tuned!

*Finally, in another item near and dear to my heart (since it was my auction), the Legion of Doom WWF promo photo (P-055) recently sold for $21.25. It's really only been a few years since authentic promotional photos (or promos for short) have taken a high place in wrestling collectibles. This is another topic I plan to expand upon in the future.

So there you have it. But do you have these items? That's the question.

Let the spring cleaning commence!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RIP Gene Kiniski

Former NWA Champion "Big Thunder" Gene Kiniski passed away today at the age of 81. For those who follow the older generation of stars, this was not unexpected. Reports of various ailments, most notably cancer, Gene was battling hit the newsletters and Internet earlier this year. But battle is what Kiniski did. He fought till the very end, and while quoted as not being pleased at how he was going out, The Champ was very happy with his life and said, in his last few months, that he'd do it all over again the same way.

May his impact on his industry and on those in his life not be lost on the next generations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Matriarch's of The Ring: Mae & Moolah

When I meet a name in the game I love so dearly, I usually keep the gushing to a minimum. I say hello, ask them to sign my item and/or pose for a photo, say a few words if they ask/tell me something or if I have something to say them, thank them, and I'm on my way. This weekend, I met one that I felt I had to gush over. True ring royalty (She was Queen of the ring at one time...) and great-grandmother figure to today's stars, the one and only, Mae Young.

Mae was scheduled for a rare appearance in New Jersey, so my crew and I had to go. While many other stars were at the signing, and while Exotic Adrian Street and Miss Linda were incredible to meet, Mae Young was my sole reason for being there. I told her that, and while I'm not sure she could hear all of my gushing, she pretended to anyway. She did that with all of the fans, though. Sweet, endearing, and grandmotherly, it was positively awesome to see all of the other wrestlers and fans alike pay homage to the octogenarian ring legend. A few of us crowded around at the time even got to see Mae pop Ox Baker right in the ol' boiler!

While Mae is much more widely known for her antics in the past decade on WWF/WWE television, it's largely forgotten that her ring career spans back to 1939! The woman wrestled on December 7, 1941! Aside from photos and a few magazine articles, her career is largely confined to her crazy skits and bumptaking on Monday Night Raw, but sweet Johnnie Mae seems okay with that.

And if she wasn't, I may not have gotten my kiss picture...

Thanks, Mae!