Thursday, October 9, 2014

For The Love Of Hasbro...

It seems as if the Hasbro WWF figure line creeps up here on the blog at least once a year, and rightly so.  It's hard to believe, but 2015 will mark the 25th anniversary of the beloved line.  If you use the 1989 date on the ring toy, the celebration has already begun.  In that quarter of a century, collectors love for the line has only grown stronger.  Why?  A multitude of reasons that is firmly entrenched in nostalgia for the WWF era that the line represents, as well as the many memorable wrestlers that were produced.

In the first few years of Hasbro's WWF run, heavy marketing was key.  Commercials starring Jesse "The Body" Ventura (who, ironically, did not get a figure in the line) showcased the "Real Wrestling Action" of the figures as well as the features of the toy ring.  Real WWF footage was interspersed with Ventura, some kids, and even some of the WWF Superstars.  Ventura's departure from the WWF in summer 1990 led Rowdy Roddy Piper to take over as "host" of these commercials.  All of the ads starring both men ran well into 1991 and appeared during the commercial breaks of just about every childrens-related show of the time.

Of course, the WWF was ever-changing, and it took about a year from a stars debut for them to appear as an action figure.  As a result, figures such as Ric Flair and Nailz didn't hit store shelves until after they had been gone from the company.  It was no matter, as with figures of legends such as Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, and Kerry Von Erich, there was no shortage of fun to be had.  I know that I wasn't the only child "promoter" that continued to "book" these stars long after their real-life WWF tenures were over. Rhodes-Flair WWF style?  Thanks to Hasbro, it happened!

It's actually interesting to think of all the talent that made it into the line.  In addition to Andre, Flair, Rhodes, and Von Erich, you had the '80s WWF stars of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, and Ted DiBiase.  The 1990s "New Generation" of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Razor Ramon. NWA associated talents such as the Legion of Doom, Lex Luger, and The Steiner Brothers.  Even AWA names such as Rick Martel and Curt Hennig showed up.  The 1990-1994 WWF was a wrestling melting pot.  The Hasbro line truly reflects that.

In 1992 and into the following year, Savage became the commercial spokesperson.  When the television advertising died off, so seemingly did Hasbro's interest in the line.  While more great figures such as Doink the Clown, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Yokozuna were being produced, the line just didn't have the same steam that it once did.  Late 1994 saw the release of the final series, ironically, just when many colorful wrestlers were debuting in the WWF and would have been due for figures.

Although some negatively deem the 90-94 WWF as the height of the company's cartoon era, there are many who would love to see it back.  Skits, segments, and storylines that are presented in today's WWE are often nowhere near as entertaining as what we were shown back then.  WWE Network can be used as evidence in the argument.  Would a Hasbro style line work today?  As a secondary product to the main WWE figure line, there's no doubt in my mind.  We are living in an age where "retro" styled and themed action figure lines are soaring in popularity.

While I'd like to see an unaffiliated "Legends of Wrestling" line come along in the style of the Remco AWA line, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, and Daniel Bryan with "Real Wrestling Action" in a Hasbro style would be just perfect.  I know that we'll once again be revisiting Hasbro here on the blog for the big anniversary next year, and it'd be very nice to be able to discuss a reintroduction of the line.  As I say so often, "make it happen..."

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