Thursday, October 31, 2013
*We start with a figure set that we last visited in MarketWatch about one year ago. No doubt countless children (and adults) in the '80s and '90s went "Trick or Treating" dressed as Hawk and Animal, The Road Warriors. The leather, spikes, mohawks, and facepaint of the Legion of Doom was enough to terrorize anyone and has left a lasting imprint on pro wrestling to this day.
Their very first action figure set was produced by Remco for the AWA line in 1985. Although Hawk and Animal were released in a two-pack, their manager Paul Ellering was later included as well. Complete with collars, chaps, belts, and Ellering's shirt, the trio recently sold for $49 out of the package. A year ago, the set in the same condition sold for $100 which even at the time I had noted was rather high. I will forever contend that if you're going to include the Road Warriors in a figure collection, this is the set to have.
As part of a special FYE store exclusive set, the WWE Hell In A Cell DVD collection was packaged with mini busts of either The Undertaker or Kane. The likenesses on these busts were incredible and quite the deal when found on clearance. Recently the set with The Undertaker mini bust sold for $56 in the box. Outside of the package, the bust alone went for $15.
*In the past ten or fifteen years, it seems to be almost fashionable to announce that you're afraid of clowns. I, personally, never understood the fear, but to each his own. The WWF may have been a bit ahead of it's time in late-1992 when they introduced the character of Doink the Clown. Though the character later became a fan favorite, the original Doink was an evil clown played to the hilt by the late Matt Borne.
The first action figure of Doink is also the best. Hasbro went out of their way to make the figure unique and included rooted green hair and a completely new mold. The figure has always been popular, but in my opinion is still undervalued. Recently selling for $25 on the card, the figure is one of the many highlights of the Hasbro WWF collection.
Turner Home Video's WCW releases were always a bit quirky, whether it be having the wrong years printed on the box or odd composite photos of wrestlers. The second Halloween Havoc event is a great example of this. Halloween Havoc 1990 is called "Terror Rules The Ring" on the official video release. The Halloween Havoc title is listed nowhere on the box. Since the tape was, after all, released during the Jim Herd WCW regime, any crazy guess as to why this happened might be accurate. My best theory is that since the actual video was obviously going to be released way outside of the Halloween season, the Turner execs reasoned that sales and rentals would do better without it being labeled "Halloween." Nevertheless, many of the Halloween Havoc videos still command a large secondary market price, with 1990 recently pulling in $50.
*One of wrestling's most beloved "creepy" characters left us earlier this year, but is still with us in spirit. Paul Bearer, forever to be remembered as The Undertaker's macabre manager, passed away this past March. His legacy has already continued in wrestling with a controversial inclusion in the Undertaker-CM Punk feud that culminated at WrestleMania 29. A WWE Hall of Fame induction is set to follow in 2014.
One of Bearer's first action figures was produced in the Jakks WWF Managers two-pack series. Packaged with Mankind and the famous urn, Bearer is as ghoulish as ever with the infamous pale face and jet black hair. These managers sets are still among the more desirable figures in the "Bone Crunching Action" collection, and Mankind and "Uncle Paul" recently sold for $20.
They're creepy, kooky, mysterious, and maybe even spooky, but any wrestling collection just isn't the same without them. In fact, they top any pieces of candy that might fall into your treat bag. Happy Halloween!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
I'd go as far as to say that on the topic of WCCW memorabilia, the fans themselves were as big a part of it as the wrestlers. Endless passages have been written chronicling the Von Erich "fever" that is said to have spread as far as Israel. Many of these fans were girls, usually in the 12-24 age range, who would've followed the boys to the ends of the earth. These fans most likely had shrines to their favorites plastered all over their bedroom walls, as is evident by the abundance of newspaper and magazine clippings that survive today. Those lucky enough to have access to WCCW events (or knew someone who did), may have even had official promotional photos or publications from the promotion. Some of those may have even included autographs.
Most wrestling fans know the reason why autographs of the Von Erich family and many WCCW stars may be a bit harder to obtain than other wrestling stars of the era. It's a sad and somewhat depressing fact when collecting autographs, that death will almost always factor into desirability. With the tragedies surrounding the Von Erich's and other WCCW stars so early in their lives, the window of opportunity was never even open for many collectors.
The Official Von Erich Family World Class Championship Wrestling board game is definitely one of the highs. The well produced, if maybe a bit complicated, game is as nice as any other wrestling company's equivalent. With a full color box featuring the famous WCCW logo and photos of the Von Erich brothers disposing of several foes, the game itself allows you to become Kerry, Kevin, Mike, One Man Gang, Iceman King Parsons, Chris Adams, Gino Hernandez, or Kelly Kiniski.
And then there are the items that are extremely historical, yet almost too difficult to own. The aforementioned Von Erich fans were obviously a dedicated bunch. Some went as far as to clip the obituaries and news coverage of the brothers deaths. Some fans even obtained and saved actual funeral cards. Some collectors might find items such as these just too disturbing to own, but placing them in perspective tells the full story, beginning to end, of the family and promotion.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
The most famous "role playing" toy in the wrestling world is without a doubt the Wrestling Buddy. The "buddy" phenomenon began in 1990 with Tonka Toys picking up the WWF license. These printed pillow people were designed for children to be able to "wrestle" with their favorite World Wrestling Federation heroes and villains. The first series included Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, and Ted DiBiase followed by a second series of Jake Roberts, the Big Boss Man, and the Legion of Doom. WCW and Mexico's CMLL followed suit with Wrestling Buddy-styled toys of their own, but the WWF characters remain the most remembered.
1990 also saw another classic WWF role playing toy produced, although not quite as well remembered as the Wrestling Buddies. A company called PlayTime Products introduced an official WWF Microphone toy. While there have been other WWF and WWE microphone toys produced since, this is still the only one to pattern itself after the classic WWF mic held by Mean Gene Okerlund, Howard Finkel, and so many others in the '80s and '90s. Several wrestling sounds and a voice amplifier can be utilized when a nine-volt battery is attached, but it's the look of this toy that really makes it something special. The box, featuring a classic "Let Me Tell Ya Somethin', Mean Gene!" photo of Okerlund and Hogan, only adds to the fun.
The snake itself was tan with brown spots and didn't really closely resemble any of Jake's snakes. Was it Damien? Perhaps Lucifer? It's any one's guess really, as no specific name is mentioned on the packaging. The item was probably designed roughly around the time of the on-screen "death" of Damien and subsequent debut of Lucifer. The toy didn't last long on shelves, as Jake departed the company shortly after its release.
If the snake didn't creep you out, fast forward to the present day and the most recent role playing items released by WWE. There's no doubt that among the WWE debuts of 2013, no superstars garnered more interest than the Wyatt Family. Led by Bray Wyatt, this band of backwoods brawlers are sure to receive some interesting action figures in the coming year, but their first pieces of merchandise include several role playing items.
Wyatt, the bearded spokesman of the group, is known for his fedora. One of his underlings, Erick Rowan, strikes fear into the hearts of many WWE Universe youngsters with a mask of a sheep's head. Both of these items are now available from WWE and appear to be exact replicas of both. Although the Wyatt Family aren't exactly heroes, it once again proves that merchandise of either heels or faces is desired by fans as long as it's interesting. These two items fit that description perfectly.
Role playing items are fun, but just a small example of some of the great wrestling memorabilia out there. If you're new to the blog, you may not be aware of our Facebook Fanpage. Join the page for frequent updates, hundreds of photos of memorabilia, and much more. It's a great supplement to the blog!
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Dusty appealed to me from the first time that I saw him. If there was ever a living breathing superhero that didn't LOOK like a superhero, it's "The American Dream." It's possible that the look is part of what captivated me. It was easy to see why Hulk Hogan was a hero to millions. He not only had the charisma but he looked the part as well. Dusty admitted in many promos that he didn't look like a star athlete, but it ultimately didn't matter. Even upon his return to the WWF in 1989, a far different place than the WWWF he had left a decade earlier, Dusty was embraced by the fans with open arms. These were the same fans who were used to the Godlike physiques of Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, yet roly poly Dusty was just as believable as a hero to them.
Now that all fans are aware of Dusty's true position within Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980s, it's no surprise that "The Dream" appeared on most of the merchandise put out for the company. T-shirts, trading cards, bandannas, and of course programs all saw the presence of Rhodes, with the highlight possibly being the 1988 Bunkhouse Stampede event program. While the cover is simply a white cowboy hat with the NWA logo (the confusing one that looked more like it said AWA) on it, you know who it is meant to represent.
Seeing as how popular he was during this time, Dusty finally met with the magic of the WWF merchandising machine. Dusty Rhodes post cards, promo photos, folders, and notepads were available as was the famous first action figure of "The American Dream." The figure has always been one of the most sought after from the Hasbro line. It is still popular with collectors, although thanks to Jakks and Mattel we now have many others to choose from.
My all-time favorite Dusty item? Not a magazine cover, photo, card, or action figure. It's a piece that ensures that "The American Dream" will stand tall and proud for generations to come. It has the United States championship belt, the aforementioned ring jacket, and a million dollar smile to boot. It is a larger-than-life cardboard Dusty Rhodes that was used in the 1988 Mello Yello-NWA tie in. Dusty made a live action commercial as part of the promotion as well. An NWA-Mello Yello logo hat was produced, as were several series of Mello Yello cans that featured various NWA stars. Dusty is "holding" a variety of those cans in his cardboard counterpart, and although "The Dream" has told me that he has another piece from the Mello Yello campaign, he did not remember this one at all.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Magazines, programs, and photos are almost a given. You can't go wrong with a classic promotional shot or glorious magazine cover from the days when the publications were a prime source of wrestling action and info for fans. Programs from major events or even pay-per-views can become "projects" of sorts enabling the collector to add as many signatures of individuals involved in the event as possible. The darker solid covers of many of these programs add to the effect.
While many collectors want to have the LJN WWF figures from their childhood signed, they simply don't offer the same benefits that the Classic Superstars do. The colorful cardbacks can make it hard for the wrestler to find a solid place on which to sign. The large "bubbles" holding the figures onto the card can also make it difficult for the wrestler to sign at a decent angle. A nice alternative can be the Hasbro WWF line, which feature a large portrait photo of the star. A recent craze of these figures has driven market prices sky high, making them a little less than ideal to purchase at this time.
One trend that I've found myself partaking in over the past few years are 4x6 photos. Whether purchased or printed yourself, 4x6s are easier to handle and store than 8x10s. Lower quality photos easily found on the Internet can be whipped into easy and attractive custom creations that are often appreciated by the wrestler featured while signing due to the extra effort of the collector. 4x6 reprints of expensive 8x10 official promo photos are also an affordable alternative to scouring the Internet for originals.