Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wrestling Gifts Of Christmas Past

Emmylou Harris said it best, "Christmas Time's A Comin'!" For better or worse, this time of year makes many people very nostalgic. It is a month-long reminder of times past. Those of you reading this blog might have memories of that favorite wrestling item that you received as a gift. Maybe you even bought it for yourself. There's certainly no shame in that. Maybe you're an adult now (or an overgrown child) and want to find those vintage wrestling gifts for your own children. Either way, the start of the Christmas season felt like a good time to look back on some of my own favorite wrestling gift memories.

*Although the game is based on the 1991 WWF roster, I remember receiving this for Christmas in 1992. Santa Claus definitely didn't bring this, as there was no way that my parents could hide the huge box. I may have even been on the trip to the late, great Hills Department Store when it was purchased. I'm sure that the Remco WWF Superstars Shoot-Out made many kids happy during an early '90s Christmas season. The figures, as small as they are, have great likenesses. It's a shame that Remco, known more in the wrestling world for their AWA line, didn't get the chance to produce more WWF items at the time.

*As fit-for-merchandising as the 1995 WWF era was, it was largely a dead time for toys and similar items. It was in between the Hasbro and Jakks action figure licenses. While JusToys was producing Bend-Ems, it just wasn't enough. Thankfully, the WWF merchandise catalog still offered some unique items. One of those was the inflatable WWF blimp. This was actually sort of purchased for me by my parents as a gag gift. We had just attended SummerSlam 1995 several months earlier, and the "Stridex Airship" kept floating up and down in front of us. Although this is based on the full-sized WWF Airship that went from city-to-city, my parents ordered this for me to keep the summer memories alive. It still inflates and holds a prominent position in my collection.

*The company didn't capitalize on holiday-themed items too often in the WWF days. But when WWE started merchandising just about everything in the "Ruthless Aggression" era, Christmas finally came! One of my favorite items is a WWE snow globe complete with John Cena, The Undertaker, and Batista. There's even a steel chair! This is a large and heavy Hallmark-quality item that you really don't see too often. A friend of mine gave this to me as a gift when it was new. It still reminds me of our wrestling-born friendship each time that I look at it, and the time that we ended up snowbound while Christmas shopping!

*According to my parents, this was an item that was "one and done" during the 1992 Christmas shopping season. It's the infamous Hasbro Royal Rumble mini-ring. Although I still received gifts from Santa, they openly admitted to only seeing this toy once and grabbing it. Smart shoppers, they always were. The ring was the only way to get the exclusive mini figures included and the only real point to owning the three mini figure four-packs that were sold separately. It's a key item in many Hasbro WWF collections to this day.

*What kid didn't want some of the Wrestling Buddies from Tonka? The advertising, voiced by the late actor Arnold Stang, was all over television at that point. Bonk Em! Bop Em! I remember my parents purchased "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase for a family friend and his parents gave me The Ultimate Warrior. It was the only one that I owned until adulthood (ha!), but I sure did slam and piledrive it endlessly. I still marvel that one toy store in my area, Family Toy Warehouse, sold the Legion of Doom two-pack at the same price as the single Wrestling Buddies. Maybe that was their downfall.

I'm sure that many of you have your own Christmas-wrestling memories. Maybe you received tickets to an event, wrestling-related books, or action figures. The possibilities were, and still are, endless. And if you're in the mood to spread some Christmas cheer, don't forget your local Toys-For-Tots. I'm sure that there are many underprivileged children who would love to have a nice Mattel WWE figure under their tree. Many local wrestling promotions, such as KSWA here in Pittsburgh, even have their own toy drives accompanied with a show.

Happy Holidays!

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