Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of Hasbro WWF--Part 3

 As we roll on in the month-long 25th anniversary celebration of Hasbro WWF, it's interesting to note two other silver milestones in wrestling for 2015.  WrestleMania VI, my personal favorite edition of the event, will be celebrating the big 2-5 and in November, the character of The Undertaker will have been tombstoning his way through WWF/WWE rings for twenty-five years.  Who could have imagined that the latter, what easily could've been a throwaway character, would be iconic a quarter of a century later?  I have a feeling that "The Phenom" will show up in our Hasbro remembrances eventually, but for now here are the five for this week...

*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.

*Kamala may be beloved now, but in his ring days "The Ugandan Giant" was terrifying.  The mask, paint, spear, and wailing battle cry were enough to scare any young fan and make the big man fascinating at the same time.  From Andre the Giant to Hulk Hogan to The Undertaker, Kamala was a formidable foe for all. Hasbro brought collectors the second action figure of the headhunter, and I can still remember the day that I found it.  A small mob of kids were crowded around the Toys "R" Us Hasbro WWF section, so I knew something good had to be there.  It didn't take me long to notice the yellow borders of the newest figure set. It took even less time for me to decide that Kamala was joining my collection that day.

*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!

*There's no doubt that the One Man Gang would have made a cool looking Hasbro figure, but Akeem was absolutely made to be in the line.  As "The Gang" himself tells it, Vince McMahon wanted a more colorful character than the "OMG," thus Akeem was born.  "The African Dream" hasn't been seen in WWF rings since shortly after the figure was released in 1990 and it's a shame. The One Man Gang has made a few token appearances, but with all of the goofy WWE humor, we need at least one more appearance from the former Twin Tower.  Rumor has always been that Akeem was to have been in the WrestleMania X-7 Gimmick Battle Royal, but that Gang had lost too much weight to fit the costume.  These days, the big man is once again large and in charge.  It's time for Akeem to jive down the aisle, one more time.

*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!

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