Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hockey Is Here...WWF Style!

 As all fans know by now, NHL hockey is back!  The lockout which caused fans to miss a half season worth of action, not to mention the always entertaining Winter Classic, is finally over.  Had it not, the superstars of the 1991 WWF could have easily come to your rescue, sticks in hand, ready for the rink!  And how does the former toy company Remco fit into all of this?

Remco is best known among wrestling fans for their mid-1980's line of AWA action figures.  Famous for a wide variety of characters and their primitive yet charming design, the AWA line is highly collectible to this day.  Although Curt Hennig and Rick Martel were both among the wrestlers featured in the line, both wrestlers as well as ten others would be produced by Remco in 1991.  This time for the WWF.

Before the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era, there were two "boom" periods of WWF merchandise where the company and its characters were seemingly everywhere.  Those times were between 1985 and 1987 and 1990 and 1992.  Both periods were highlighted with popular action figure lines (LJN and Hasbro respectively) and everything from lunch boxes to pencils to bedsheets were produced.  One could argue that the first boom of merchandise is remembered in a better light due to the association with the Rock 'n Wrestling era, but many fans still fondly recall the second largely featuring the neon styles of the Ultimate Warrior and company.  It is the latter era that brought us Remco's WWF Superstars Shoot-Out tabletop hockey game.

Although there were other tabletop hockey games on the market at the time (including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles version also manufactured by Remco and using very similar box art), there was no better toy for a fan of both the WWF and the NHL.  The game was mainly available in 1991 and 1992 with the design planned sometime in late 1990, based upon the characters and gimmicks.

One team consists of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Tugboat while their opponents are Sgt. Slaughter, "Macho King" Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Mr. Perfect, The Model, and Earthquake.  The figures of each are highly detailed and roughly two and a half inches tall.  Their sticks are individualized based upon each wrestler's gimmick.  Some of the sticks, such as Duggan's 2x4, Macho King's scepter, and Hogan's barbell would be the envy of any real hockey player while others such as Warrior's neon tassles, Tugboat's tow rope, and Damien are "stiffened" out to provide an adequate tool.

The 36" by 17" rink really makes it one of the biggest wrestling toys of the time.  The control mechanism is the same as most tabletop hockey games and all of the materials used to make the rink itself seem to have stood the test of time.  The same cannot be said for the many stickers included with the game.  The most often missing are stickers that were applied to the sticks of DiBiase, Perfect, and Earthquake.  The two pucks included also had stickers, those being of the WWF winged eagle championship design.

The game also has the distinction of including the only figure of Tugboat.  While Fred Ottman has appeared in figure form as both Typhoon and Shockmaster, this goalie figure of Tugboat is still the only ever released of the gimmick.  The Tugster was scheduled for release in the Hasbro figure line but was switched to Typhoon following television storylines.  Thankfully for us, Remco kept the original design.

I can recall the puck occasionally getting stuck under a stick and holding up play, but ultimately this toy was a blast.  I can only imagine how popular an item like this would be with today's stars, but I doubt that it would have the quality craftsmanship that went into this between the sturdy construction and character detail.

Examples do show up for sale, but a complete set would be fairly hard to build.  The aforementioned DiBiase, Perfect, and Earthquake stickers are often missing and I can recall the rink stickers occasionally being scuffed up by a particularly rough pass.

A classic era, a bevy of all-time greats, and one of the most entertaining toy concepts of the last century all bundled into one great piece of wrestling memorabilia.  Sounds like the ultimate wrestling hat trick to me!

6 comments:

Borlos said...

I've been looking for one of these for years. Know where I can buy one?

J\/\/ said...

eBay is always the best bet, but it'll take a lot of luck to find one anywhere that's cheap and/or complete.

Joe Jusko said...

I painted the box art for this! Cool!

J\/\/ said...

For this and your awesome work on the Royal Rumble posters that you did, thank you! I'm not the only wrestling fan that grew up staring at those in awe!

Joe Jusko said...

Thanks! Those, and the Wrestlemania VII poster were so much fun! I also did the initial designs for The Undertaker around the same time.

Anonymous said...

The Original art that Joe did is actually available for sale on Graphic Collectibles website - http://www.graphiccollectibles.com/comic-art/world-wrestling-federation-wwf-superstars-shootout-hockey-or/ - if I had the money, I would buy it. Seems like it's a really good deal!