Thursday, January 29, 2015
*My list was in no real particular order, but if I was forced to pick a favorite, it may very well be the Doinkster. Hasbro went above and beyond with the Clown, complete with newly sculpted parts and, best of all, real rooted hair. This is definitely a "heel " Doink the Clown, based on his well-remembered early days as portrayed by the late Matt Borne. It was always cool when the announcers would tout what a great technical wrestler Doink was despite his clownish appearance. It added another layer to the already sinister character. For the record, Matt Borne is the Doink pictured on the cardback. I'm thankful that I was able to have one signed before his untimely death.
*Cool, cocky, bad, and another great figure from Hasbro. Honky had long passed his days as one of the top heels in the WWF, but his figure was still planned and released. He wouldn't have been the same without his trademark guitar which, coupled with his "Real Wrestling Action," came crashing down on many other wrestlers. Even with other figures of Honky from LJN, Jakks, and Mattel, the Hasbro is probably still my favorite. It even has the jumpsuit belt that other manufacturers "forgot."
*Speaking of those who should be in the WWE Hall of Fame brings us to
my favorite tag team of all-time, Demolition. I still remember being so conflicted about how to purchase Smash. His single figure was fairly plentiful along with Ax, but the same Smash also came in a tag team set with Crush and their pre-match masks. The two-pack became difficult to find, so for awhile Ax had to fend for himself in my Hasbro ring. Perhaps just a lonely Masked Superstar? Eventually, thanks to a lone Demolition set at my local Service Merchandise store, the trio was united and took on the LOD, The Bushwhackers, Doom, The Horsemen, and The Steiner Brothers (thanks to Galoob for the last three). I even remember an epic singles struggle over the Intercontinental Championship between Smash and Marty Jannetty that mysteriously ended when Hasbro released a sneaky fellow known as Repo Man.
Twenty-five items for twenty-five years. A revival of the Hasbro style would be a no-brainer. It would couple the secondary "action feature" lines that are made to appeal to kids with figures that older collectors would snap up in an instant. Why hasn't it happened? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the manufacturers just want to "leave the memories alone..."
Thursday, January 22, 2015
*Macho Madness makes my list twice! Although he was the "Macho King" for less than two years, it was a very cool extension of the Randy Savage character. Coupled with Sensational Queen Sherri, the duo is well-remembered for their feuds with Dusty Rhodes, Sapphire, Miss Elizabeth, The Ultimate Warrior, and Roddy Piper. Despite not being in the title scene of the time, Savage's matches with the aforementioned foes headlined cards around the country. The Hasbro Macho King figure had a regal purple and gold color scheme and came complete with removable crown and a sceptre for bashing opponents ("Ding!"--Jesse Ventura).
*The Hot Rod! Though the Hasbro version of Piper is wearing entrance gear, I.wouldn't have it any other way. Roddy has always been among my favorites in the Hasbro line, and it's actually a version that we haven't seen since. The red elbow pads indicate that Hasbro was trying to capture the look from early in his 1989 return. I have also always appreciated the effort that was taken by combining his "pre-ring" kilt attire with a no-nonsense action pose. And of course, this figure is perfect for recreating his 1992 Saturday Night's Main Event match with The Mountie. You remember. "Shock Proof!"
*Who would've believed, even in 1992 when his first figure hit shelves, that The Undertaker would be one of the longest lasting creations to come from the company? The aura of the character may only be matched by the likes of Andre the Giant. The evolution of the character helped keep "The Deadman" alive for nearly a quarter of a century. The original look and feel of The Undertaker, an old west mortician, was never better captured than in the Hasbro figure. In his second release, it was the inclusion of the cloth overcoat that truly made the figure fresh and unique.
Up next...my final five!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
*For as big as they were, the Von Erich family did not see an action figure until "The Texas Tornado" hit shelves in 1992. A great likeness coupled with a "Real Wrestling Action" that fit his actual finishing move, the Tornado was a great addition to the Hasbro lineup. The sad reality was that the figure was released less than a year before the untimely death of Kerry Von Erich. That being said, Von Erich did several known autograph appearances in that time period and was known to be a gracious signer regardless. Does a signed Texas Tornado Hasbro figure exist? Time will tell should one ever surface, but until then we have a great figure of one of wrestling's most storied and charismatic legends.
*Hasbro was no stranger to Sgt. Slaughter. His deal with Hasbro's bread and butter, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, is legendary and made him a household name and pop culture celebrity. However, this figure was his first to officially be produced under the WWF banner. It has an interesting design, as his attire is patterned after gear wore in a photo shoot and not actually in the ring, but it fits the Hasbro style perfectly. I doubt a more perfect facial likeness of Slaughter will ever be captured. Sgt. Slaughter was the first wrestler that I ever met, was in the first tag team match that I ever saw live, and the first (and only) male wrestler to sit on my lap. At ease!
*Talk about having the "look" of a wrestler, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart fits that bill. The Hasbro figure captured that. Though many of us would have preferred "The Anvil" in original Hart Foundation attire, instead we got him in the baggy pants of The New Foundation. His partner in the latter team, Owen Hart, did not come along until a year later. If ever you could hear an action figure verbalizing his catch phrase, it's this one. The Hasbro "Anvil" is screaming "Yeah Baby!" and cackling just as he performs one of his flattening clotheslines. Hasbro also captured the oft-jiggling paunch of Neidhart as well as they did his facial features.
A tornado, an anvil, a Ugandan headhunter, an African dream, and a real American hero. A battle royal if there ever was one is forming among these Hasbro elite, and next week we add another five to the fray!
Thursday, January 8, 2015
*For some reason, when I began collecting the Hasbro line in 1991 the first tag team set that I wanted was The Bushwhackers. Though they were a pure comedy act for the duration of their stay in the WWF, Luke and Butch obviously "whacked" their way into the hearts of many fans. As far as their figures went, a nearly undecipherable appearance (as far as their verbalizing was concerned) in the first Hasbro "tag team" commercial probably went a long way as far as cementing them into the collections of kids all over. The team from Down Under even saw a repainted re-release on single cards complete with switched heads and "chewed" cap accessories in 1994.
*Few superstars remain as beloved as Randy Savage, but when the Hasbro line was initially designed in 1989, the Macho Man was fast becoming a hated heel. By the time that the second series was planned, Savage was being billed as the "Macho King," but the first series included a figure that appeared much as he had since his WWF arrival in 1985. A headband, sunglasses, and stars on the tights. This is how so many of us will always remember the Macho Man. This first Hasbro figure of Savage provided that simple yet effective look and while he would make more appearances in the line, many collectors consider this the ultimate version.
*There were a few items in the Hasbro line that if you blinked, you missed them. If you were lucky enough to see it on the shelf once and wanted it, you hopefully added it to your collection. The King of the Ring ring was definitely one of those items. Released in 1994, the ring was a reissue of the original Hasbro ring molded in yellow and red and including King of the Ring stickers. It will always be my own personal speculation that this item was designed intended as a Hulk Hogan-themed ring. When his brief 1993 return ended (at the same time that this item would've been planned), the colors were retained but King of the Ring stickers were included instead. There is no shred of evidence to indicate this, but it certainly seems plausible.
It couldn't have been so many years since my Hasbro Dusty was battling the Galoob WCW Arn Anderson or Yokozuna was being slammed in the King of the Ring ring, but it has. Time flies when you're having fun, and Hasbro certainly provided that. Next week, five more in store!
Thursday, January 1, 2015
*What a rush! What better way to kick off the celebration than with Hawk and Animal, The Legion of Doom! The boys had already seen an action figure release in the Remco AWA line, but this was the first set to feature the famous spiked shoulder pads. Though the pads were molded on (a Hasbro trend), the figures remain a favorite of many. The Hawk figure even made an appearance at the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, standing in for the late superstar. Distribution on the pair varied greatly from area to area for a number of reasons, but the Road Warriors remain a favorite of most any Hasbro collector.
*Hasbro had the WWF license at a perfect time. The style of the figures worked impeccably with the wild and colorful characters that populated WWF rings of the time. Papa Shango is a top example of this, with his hat, facepaint, tattoos, and "bone" necklace. The antics of the voodoo priest were largely relegated to the opening matches once the figure saw release, but that didn't stop kids from continuing the crazy occurrences in the Hasbro ring. Charles Wright would go on to portray several other memorable characters of the squared circle, but this Hasbro figure (and some black goo...) is a big reason why Papa Shango is so well remembered.
*Although the first series of the Hasbro line was filled with top stars, one name stands above the rest. Andre the Giant may have been on his way out of the spotlight, but the decision to include him in the line is appreciated to this day. Whether recreating his feud with Hulk Hogan or being able to create a dream collision with the likes of The Undertaker, Hasbro's representation of Andre ended up as a tribute to a man who is a cornerstone of an industry in which he is still beloved.
Happy New Year! Be sure to return next week for more of the Hasbro silver celebration!