Thursday, May 28, 2015
Figures Toy Company has also announced that they will be producing two addition lines: one of current, non-contracted, indy wrestling talent, as well as a new Legends of Wrestling line. It was not that long ago that I featured the original Figures Toy Company Legends of Wrestling figure line here on the blog. That line still contains a few stars of yesteryear who otherwise would not have an action figure.
As trivial as it may seem to some, I've heard some celebrities claim that they really didn't realize that they had "made it" in their profession before they saw their own action figure. No matter why it was produced, it's an honor. In a way, it's the modern day form of receiving a statue. Having your likeness immortalized in a form that will stand the test of time would be humbling to most. While so many wrestling greats have had this honor bestowed upon them, many still have not. Others deserve that chance again. Mattel has once again stepped it up as far as producing stars of the past in their WWE line, but it just hasn't been enough. Though the company has gone a bit deeper in character choices, they're still playing it safe and attempting to produce stars that kids just might know, ignoring the wants of the more mature collector.
Through various forms of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, Figures Toy Company has slowly released information regarding these new figure lines. For starters, all of the lines will feature the Jakks "Ruthless Aggression" styled bodies. This is not a huge surprise considering that the company has used the body style for other figures. This is particularly notable for the Legends line as, in a way, this will be the second revival of Jakks legendary Classic Superstars line. The original line went into character depth that had never before been explored as far as wrestling action figures. When Jakks and TNA joined forces, the style was briefly revived with the "Legends of the Ring" line that produced, among others, Sting and Jeff Jarrett. Should all go according to plan, we will see yet more legends joining the compatible style.
Until more signings and announcements are made, we can all speculate just who will see inclusion in the line. As both FTC and logic will tell us, the wrestlers cannot be ones under current deals with WWE or other companies. Those deals generally end without much of a fanfare, leaving fans to figure out just who will and won't have a shot. I've previously taken a look at stars who've never had an action figure, but now that there is a new hope for these figureless folk, it's time to see who has a realistic shot.
It's amazing to me that men who played such an important part in the early "television era" of wrestling such as "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and Verne Gagne have never been immortalized in plastic. It could be argued that they wouldn't appeal to children, but Figures Toy Company has proven with other lines that they're quite aware of the adult collectors. These lines will likely be tailored to them, leaving hope for these NWA and AWA pioneers.
Gagne really should have received a figure in his own AWA line produced by Remco. It's actually quite surprising that he didn't. Had the line gone on a year or so longer, perhaps a Verne complete with He-Man-esque physique (as the Remco line is so infamous for) would have made it to store shelves. A few who did make it to the AWA line such as Larry Zbyszko, Nick Bockwinkel, and Stan Hansen could all use some modern-day representations.
If you've followed me at all over the years, you know that I have a soft spot for the female legends of the ring. While I realize that some just would not be marketable in the figure world, there are quite a few that would be coveted as figures by fans. Missy Hyatt and Leilani Kai have both stated that action figures are just about the only things missing from their long careers. Other great candidates would be Baby Doll and Wendi Richter. The various Halls of Fame for the pro wrestling world are filled with female stars who never got their due. Maybe this time around we can see female figures of more than just the usual suspects.
From here, I leave it to Figures Toy Company. As a fan of their "ReMego" line of figures based on the 1966 Batman television series, I can tell you that they will work hard to bring fans exactly what they want. These names are just an example of exactly what collectors are looking for. The Classic Superstars line didn't end as it should have, with many loose ends and disappointments. This is the line that can change that. I wouldn't bet against it.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Newer fans may not realize it, but for many years WCW was the only major company to recognize the history of the business. From roughly after the end of Tuesday Night Titans (where history was often discussed) until the late 1990's, the WWF went to great pains not to acknowledge anything outside of its own umbrella. When a talent left the company, they were no longer mentioned. Period. WCW was different, and this show was proof of it. The company was happy to acknowledge its roots in both Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling as well as its former stars.
In the first year especially, WCW took an almost WWF-like approach to the event with a weekend of festivities. Unlike the WWF, who would've showcased these events on television, WCW barely made note of them aside from brief mentions on commentary. Thanks to folks like fan/collector George Mayfield, video records of these happenings do exist. In addition to meet and greets, a dinner was held at CNN Center the night before Slamboree 1993. Fans could mingle with the stars and legends as the card the next night was hyped even further. It should be noted that Sting's mystery opponent (replacing Scott Norton) was announced as Nailz during this dinner. By the time of the match, he was simply referred to as "The Prisoner" for obvious legal reasons.
Some cool merchandise came from these early years as well. An 8x10 photo set was produced for Slamboree 1993. Nine photos featuring thirty-four legends were produced. Interestingly, not every legend featured at the event was included in the photos. On the flip side, first-person accounts indicate that not every star in the photo set was available for autographs. It's a fun set, and even after the passage of over two decades, many of the signatures are still attainable.
Slamboree was one of the events that I was hoping WWE would eventually adopt, along with The Great American Bash, Starrcade, and War Games. As we know, only one of those came to pass with more unlikely for the future. Still, with old concepts returning to spice up the Network, would a few WCW shows really hurt? Surely something using the Bash name could be a fun summer event. Want to really make NXT fans squeal with delight? How about the first WWE-branded War Games match using NXT stars? Even the original Slamboree concept could be revisited. NXT has been using older talent. Have some up-and-coming stars battle the "new" legends. Dusty is already a force in NXT, it's time to bring some of his past victories full (squared) circle.
I was thrilled to make an appearance on the latest edition of The Bix Show podcast which dropped yesterday. Bix and I discussed lots of wrestling memorabilia, including many items that you've seen here on the blog, so I hope that you will all check it out. You can download it directly at davidbix.com or you can subscribe through iTunes. I hope that you enjoy listening as much as I did participating, and I hope to return to the show in the future!
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Paige joins the Mattel WWE line as part of the Elite 34 series. It's a Helluva set, with "modern" Hulk Hogan, Rusev and Doink the Clown all making their Elite figure debuts. As I always note, the Elite female figures are built the same as the Basic Divas, although they include accessories. Those accessories are likely part of the popularity of the Paige figure, but we'll get to that.
Mattel seems to have gone all out with the design of Paige. In addition to many newly sculpted costume parts, I do believe that the midriff part is new with this figure. The outfit design is "classic" Paige and matches the image of her on the box as is usually the case with Mattel. I'm glad that a dark purple outfit was chosen rather than basic black. The detail on the studded belt really pops out and almost appears as if it's a separate piece. The skin tone is as white and almost porcelain as the real Paige, and it wouldn't have been acceptable any other way.
As I mentioned, Paige is packaged with some unique accessories. For only the second time in the Mattel line we are treated to a chromed and painted WWE Divas Championship. Previously only available with the Elite Kelly Kelly figure from a few years ago, the belt looks better with Paige holding it. It appears bulky around her waist due to the design of it and her own studded belt that is part of her attire. Also included is the NXT Women's Championship. This belt actually looks better than the real deal. The NXT Championships are rather basic looking. This is likely intentional since the original idea of NXT was, of course, to be a developmental territory that accentuated the basics. It's nice and shiny, but again looks a bit bulky around the waist of Paige.
The former Britani Knight makes for a great action figure. Her unique look sets her away from the stereotypical blonde WWE Diva. That, in addition to loads of charisma and great in-ring skills, make me hope that she sticks with the business for the long haul. It's in her blood, and you can't get more devoted than that.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
A number of years back, I stumbled upon a small, inexpensive collection of vintage 2 cent postcards signed by various wrestlers. The original owner had obtained them as a child at matches not far from his home in Jersey City, NJ. He explained that there really wasn't anything else at the time to get signed, so he had these postcards autographed.
Like that collector from yesteryear, I similarly enjoy obtaining a signature on a blank index card when I'm able to. Although it's always nice to have items tailored to the wrestlers themselves signed, an autograph can often truly "pop" all by itself with a blank background. He was not the only collector from his era to do so, and many rare and classic signatures from all levels of celebrity can be found this way.
Before acquiring the lot, one signature jumped out at me above the rest. I gladly would have paid the nominal amount (around $10) that I paid for the whole lot just for this one autograph, but we'll get to that one in a bit. The cards themselves are a bit discolored with age, but the autographs are as crisp as the day that they were signed. Before the age of the Sharpie, ballpoint pen was king. I've occasionally had more modern day wrestlers sign letters in ballpoint, which adds an "old school" feel to the signature.
Names such as Gino Garibaldi, Luigi Scarpa, Len Rossi, Dan Miller, Aldo Venturi, Ted Lewin, and Jose Miguel Perez are a few of the recognizable names included. Many of these stars wrestled for Capitol Wrestling, which of course was promoted by Vincent J. McMahon and eventually became what we now know as WWE. Given that these were obtained in the New Jersey area, it's not much of a stretch to picture the original owner obtaining them just as he had said.
There are three autographs from the collection that I still have not been able to identify. One has always seemed to me that it might be a foreign star, as the writing certainly looks like it may be in another language. The other two are very much like signatures of yesteryear, with distinct styles and flares. I'm sure that one day, browsing wrestling autographs from the past, I'll recognize the same signatures from this collection and finally be able to identify them. If you think that you recognize these three autographs, feel free to drop me a line! That top one sure does look familiar.
As a heel, Davis likely did not sign too many autographs. With him seemingly wanting to distance himself from wrestling, he does not likely sign many today, either. Although the rarity factor is there, the coolness doesn't end with it. As opposed to "floating" in some portion of the card, Davis takes up the whole thing. A very characteristic "Lotsa Luck" inscription was even added and tops off the bold signature that conveys the "brash and arrogant" character that Bobby Davis was said to bring to the ring.
This little collection is probably one of hundreds of thousands of similar sets of relics. Many have stumbled their way into the hands of collectors who, like myself, will save them for posterity. Others have yet to be found, still waiting in attics and basements waiting to be rediscovered. Who knows what all is out there? It's up to us, the passionate preservationists of the squared circle, to rescue them.