Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of Hasbro WWF--Part 1

It seems like only yesterday that those memorable commercials starring Jesse "The Body" Ventura burst onto the scene.  All new WWF action figures, complete with "Real Wrestling Action," that were about half of the size of what fans were accustomed to.  Despite having a short, roughly five-year run, the Hasbro WWF line continues to soar in popularity to this day.  2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the line.  Here on the blog, all of January will be dedicated to the line. Each week, I'll be remembering five of my twenty-five favorite items to come from the Hasbro-WWF partnership.  It's going to be a month of plastic, springs, and toys that are "so close to the real thing, it's like bein' in the ring!"

*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.

*Even late in the game, Hasbro was cranking out some impressive looking product.  Adam Bomb made his debut in the infamous final series that was released on green bordered card backs.  A ton of detail was put into the superstar from Three Mile Island, and the figure easily rivals the Adam Bomb Jakks Classic Superstars release over a decade later.  From the flowing hair to the goggles to the "nuclear" design of his gear, the Adam Bomb figure easily eclipses the life of the character itself.

*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. 

*Another reason that Hasbro had such a great window of timing with the WWF license was by capturing some of the all-time greats on their way out.  He may have been in the midst of an ill-planned babyface turn, but Greg "The Hammer" Valentine saw a Hasbro figure released in 1992.  As a former Intercontinental and Tag Team champion, Valentine provided a memorable link to the LJN WWF line.  You could even team him with figures of his former tag team partners such as Brutus Beefcake or The Honky Tonk Man.

*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!

2 comments:

Matt Irrthum said...

Great article! Looking forward to next week's instalment!

J\/\/ said...

Thanks Matt!