Thursday, June 26, 2014
Starting with the successful mostly-color/all gloss Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine in the '70s and early '80s, Crockett was no stranger to producing quality publications. Many of the company's larger shows and events had beautiful full-color programs. Several attempts at a regular publication to follow up on the MACW Magazine's success were made, but seemed to fizzle out after a few issues. Magazines solely dedicated to the popular Rock 'N Roll Express were produced as well, and no doubt ended up in the hands of many female fans.
If any of these bandanas stand out, it's undoubtedly the one that depicts The Four Horsemen. This isn't just any incarnation of the legendary faction, but rather the original group. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Ole Anderson are in all of their glory. This is quite possibly one of the few pieces of merchandise to feature the original Horsemen that is licensed by Jim Crockett Promotions. By the time that many of the other items were produced, including the popular trading cards by Wonderama, Ole had long since left the group.
How many of any of these bandanas were made? We may never know. I like to call the 1970's the "wild west" years of wrestling. In turn, the 1980's were the equivalent as far as wrestling merchandise. We just don't know what all was made from each promotion and won't until those items surface again. What we do know is that they're fun to collect and part of that enjoyment is making new discoveries of old items. We also know that even three decades later, The Four Horsemen are still the coolest...in the ring and printed onto cloth!
Thursday, June 19, 2014
When a popular character finally debuts as a figure, it immediately becomes a hot item. Bray Wyatt has the distinction of his first two figures being released simultaneously. One is in the Basic Mattel series while the other is an Elite figure. When choosing between the two it isn't always a no-brainer, but it is with Wyatt. The Basic is just as the name says, basic, while the Elite includes two of Wyatt's most recognizable props, his hat and shirt.
I decided to pass up the Basic and go right for the Elite. Why buy an incomplete figure when the "gimmicks" are so important to the presentation? Right away, Wyatt passed my "Mattel packaging test." As I've discussed before, the Mattel WWE figures have occasionally looked as if they're "floating" in the package. Bray does not suffer from this, and it is helped by the shirt packaged in the corner.
Facially, I don't think that they could have come closer. The eyes. The grin. All the creepiness that is present not only during his promos, but in his matches as well. The hat fits on top perfectly, which brings us to the shirt. We've got some soft goods here, and I could not be happier about that. The rubber shirts just don't work as well. I don't think that we've seen the last of the rubber, but I'm glad that it's not a Mattel standard.
Bray certainly has the whole WWE Universe in his hands, and rightly so. It's a great character that has elements of Kevin Sullivan, Waylon Mercy, and even a little bit of Cactus Jack. It's something that is seemingly too edgy for modern day WWE, yet it is exactly what the people want. And if it ever stops working, they can always revert to my idea of a Pawn Stars stable. Just imagine Steve Austin as Rick, Greg Valentine as The Old Man, Bill DeMott as Corey, and Bray Wyatt as Chumlee. Follow The Dollars?
Thursday, June 12, 2014
2013 saw my first pilgrimage to WrestleMania, which of course meant that I would be attending the Hall of Fame. Initial rumors claimed that a certain 90's supergroup would be inducted that year, not particularly thrilling me. Not long after, rumors of Bruno Sammartino finally burying his 25-year-long grudge with WWE also began to surface, including word that "The Living Legend" would finally take his place in the Hall of Fame.
As we all know by now, Sammartino did indeed join Bob Backlund, Booker T, Trish Stratus, Mick Foley, and Celebrity Wing Inductee Donald Trump in filling out the Class of 2013. Held in a Hall of Fame level venue like Madison Square Garden, the atmosphere only enhanced what would have been a magical night no matter the location.
Bruno Sammartino was positioned as the "main event" of the evening, as was appropriate. Tickets to the ceremony did not sell out until after the Sammartino announcement, thus cementing the night as "The Living Legend's" 188th such accomplishment in Madison Square Garden. I know that I am not the only fan who could never have imagined attending a Sammartino-headlined MSG show, but it happened.
The event was also the first of its kind to actually see a bit of merchandising. While a program is produced for every Hall of Fame ceremony and shirts have been marketed for the past few years, 2013 saw a bit more. Mattel designed their Bruno Sammartino figure as a homage to the event, complete with accessories of the podium and a WWE Hall of Fame plaque. In their Best of 2013 set, Topps included trading cards with photos from the event. A few of their autographed insert cards used these photos as well.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
At the very tail end of his in-ring WWF career, Steele needed something new in his act. It was the second half of 1988 and "The Animal" had been playing to the hearts of the fans as the lovable and turnbuckle chewing buffoon for three years. For nearly two decades prior, Steele had been a vicious ring villain who terrorized heroes such as Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales. Although changing the gimmick would have fruitless at this point, adding to it was not out of the question.
As the story goes, Steele was on the road with his wife when Hillbilly Jim showed the couple an item that he had picked up to use in his in-ring act. It was a plush doll of an animal minus the stuffing so that it appeared to be roadkill. Steele loved that the item was easy to fling around the ring and incorporate into the often comedic side of his character. Needless to say, Steele wanted something similar for "The Animal."
The fact is that George Steele was only in WWF rings for a few months at best after Mine debuted. The doll never made a pay-per-view or any other major event. Steele was not even being used at events such as Survivor Series and Royal Rumble where the bottom of the barrel was scraped talent wise. Nonetheless, the replica was produced and made for sale through the merchandise catalog and at live events. Many WWF items that were sold solely through these channels have become desirable and sought after. Mine meets that description in spades.
Mine returned to collectors conscious about a decade ago thanks to Jakks. The prototype of the George Steele figure included in the WWE Classic Superstars line was holding a figure-sized Mine. As much as this thrilled fans, they were equally as disappointed when the final product was released and devoid of any such accessory.
In 2011, figure collectors could finally rejoice. The Mattel WWE Legends figure of Steele included Mine in all of his glory, complete with poseable arms. What was interesting about this interpretation of Mine is that the furry sidekick has feet. While none of the production versions of the actual Mine doll have feet, an early version that Steele carried around did in fact feature them. It should be noted that this early version of Mine also has a much smaller bald spot on his head.
I actually have no childhood memory of Mine being used. I remember watching "The Animal" long before his little friend came along, and vividly recall the green tongue, especially on the LJN figures of Steele. My first recollection of Mine was of someone waving a Mine doll in the audience of the 1995 WWF Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The moment was replayed several times in a televised recap of the event. Shortly after I saw the doll in a merchandise catalog nestled in a WWF Magazine back issue. Although that confirmed that they were planned to be sold, there never seemed to be one available for sale on the secondary market.
Years later, I can include myself in the small, but proud, group of collectors who own a Mine. It's fun to own a replica of an in-ring item from back when those types of collectibles were few and far between. It's also obscure enough to make for a great conversation piece. After all, fans going back and watching wrestling from that era will know nothing of Mine without seeking out the television episodes that Mine appeared, or possibly a taped house show appearance.