Thursday, June 30, 2016
In this edition of MarketWatch we'll look at some of the most treasured memorabilia featuring The Great American Bash and other Crockett-promoted events: the publications. JCP produced some very nice all-slick, sometimes even all-color, programs and magazines that showcased their stars in a way that the WWF would later become famous for. The rough, often bloody, action that took place in JCP rings came through the pages making them highly collectible today. If you're a longtime reader, you've seen some of these items before. This time we'll look at some recent selling prices for them. As always, the prices given are for un-autographed copies.
*Jim Crockett Promotions history of high-quality color spectacles in publishing goes back to the legendary Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine. Nearly all of the big stars of the promotion made the cover at one point or another as the production carried on into the 1980's. Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Dino Bravo, Blackjack Mulligan, The Mighty Igor, and Greg Valentine are just a few of the names who found themselves on the front page, but none may have looked more menacing than Ole Anderson. The notoriously gruff grappler was featured on the cover several times, but the Volume 4 Number 6 issue has Anderson, by himself, in a full color photo. A copy of this issue recently sold for $30.
*Speaking of tours, The Rock & Roll Express even had their own offshoot, "The Summer Sizzler Tour." That tour produced its own publication, as did Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson themselves. Jim Crockett Promotions knew that many of the wrestlers had large female followings and produced what could almost be described as photo albums for some of the stars. The Express even had a fan club for a time with high-quality bulletins. One of the publications featuring Morton and Gibson was "The Rock & Roll Express: Solid Gold." This magazine, featuring photos of the boys in and out of the ring, recently sold for $20.50. It should be noted that the sold example had major cover wear. A copy as pictured here would likely fetch a bit more.
*Jim Crockett Promotions, and many fans, definitely looked at Starrcade as the biggest event of the year. It certainly came before WrestleMania as the industry's biggest supercard, but often had endings that weren't quite as final or conclusive. Some also point to Starrcade being moved out of its original home of the Carolinas as the beginning of the end for the promotion. While I find the latter to be a bit dramatic, something just seems right about Starrcade and Greensboro, NC. After the move to Chicago in 1987, Starrcade came to the more fitting Norfolk, VA in 1988. The program from that event, subtitled "True Gritt," recently sold for $175.50.
It wouldn't be a Fourth of July for me without celebrating Jim Crockett Promotions a bit. Maybe I'll pull up a classic show on WWE Network, schlepp out the programs and magazines, perhaps even the Wonderama trading cards. I'll wrap a Road Warriors or Four Horsemen bandana around my head and cue up "Rock & Roll Is King." It's a great time to revisit that era. It may gone forever, but that's what's great about the kind of memorabilia that we look at here each week. It lets us hop in that time machine for a quick spin without ever leaving our seats.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Finn Balor's first figure was actually in Basic Series 57. That figure was devoid of any paint or demonic attire. It was very much Balor in his previous guise as Prince Devitt. The Demon had to wait. Now, in this Elite figure, we get the character itself. The figure blends well with the packaging since the current style is mainly red. Since Finn is decked out in his headdress and gauntlets, the figure fills the plastic window nicely. No "floating" effect here.
The paint itself is also very well done from front to back. Gone are the days when designs didn't quite make it around the whole figure. I'm looking at you, Jakks, with that comment. The blacks, whites, and reds are well applied and I didn't seem to have much problem with errors or sloppiness on my example. The pink "tongue" of The Demon looks really cool, too. The paint apps on the accessories are very good as well.
The first figure of Finn as The Demon will be a popular one. That being said, I'm sure that it won't be the only one. Mattel will be able to get away with straight re-releases on this figure due to the popularity. There are also a few variations on the character from several big events that could be capitalized on. It wouldn't surprise me to see a Basic version of The Demon, sans accessories, as well. As I've said before, anything with the NXT logo stamped on it is sure to be a hot seller at this point in time. Whether or not the stars represented in those items will be under the NXT banner much longer...that's another story.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Seemingly now settled at three mass retail WWE sets per year, Topps is now on their second for 2016. This time it's the aptly named WWE 2016 set. These sets named only by year usually mirror the sets produced by Topps for other sports in the same year such as baseball and football. A particularly handsome design was chosen by Topps this year, which instantly forces a minor hit with me. If I'm not a fan of how the base cards look, I usually won't invest much into a set. The Topps WWE Road To WrestleMania 2016 set resembles that remark. Aside from the Dusty Rhodes Tribute subset, I largely ignored the rest of the cards.
For those who enjoy variants there are parallels in the set of bronze, silver, and even a rare red. To be honest, the silver and bronze are barely noticeable. While on the topic of parallels, I must point out something that I noticed after a box break. Topps has been good for a few years now about building a complete base set out of one single box. While I was able to do that, I would have had to have used a parallel card to do it had I not pulled the same regular card from an outside pack. In my book, a base set should be included in every hobby box without any parallels involved.
There are also plenty of different "hits." Some of us always want that autograph to be pulled, even those of us who mainly obtain our own signatures. After being spoiled by "on-card" autographs of recent sets, Topps has gone back to the stickers. It was disappointing to see this. For awhile I didn't think that it would make much of a difference to me, but I now see that it does. In my box, I pulled Nia Jax. While you can never go wrong with pulling a female related card (see one of my past card set reviews for the sad commentary on that), Nia wouldn't have been my first choice. Nonetheless, she is a new autograph for me, and with NXT as hot it is, you can't go wrong with that brand name slapped onto anything.
It's definitely a middle-ground set. I'm very pleased with the base card style as well as the choices in both names and photos. Whoever made the call on including a Mr. X (the Danny Davis version who is also in the set under his regular persona) card deserves a raise. Sensational Sherri Martel, Miss Elizabeth, Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, and J.J. Dillon also brought a smile to my face. On the flip side, many of the subsets are once again snoozers. I realize that the casual fan still wants cards of The Rock and Triple H, but many of us regulars are well past that. At least past subsets of Sting and Hulk Hogan offered images that have never appeared on cards before. It was refreshing.
The next time that trading cards grace this blog will likely be in August, just a few weeks away. At that time Topps will bring us their 2016 installment of WWE Heritage. As longtime readers know, the Heritage sets are my favorite. I'm anticipating a lot of loving for this new set as well, as the design is based on Topps 1986 baseball which was a favorite of mine as a child. Bring on that cardboard goodness...
Thursday, June 9, 2016
It was not a hoax.
We've now had a year to accept the death of one of the most colorful and brightest stars in wrestling history. In that time we lost other wrestling icons such as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Bockwinkel, not to mention many other huge names in entertainment, sports, and pop culture. The death of Dusty still hits me, personally, just a tad more. I never imagined a time when Big Dust wouldn't be part of the wrestling business. Appearing at a convention, coaching young talent, or breaking out that legendary combination of lisp and drawl for one more cameo on WWE television.
Speaking of his coaching, it may be that aspect of his career that he was most connected with at the end of his life. As the promo/interview coach at the WWE Performance Center, so many of the stars who have come through NXT and are now debuting in the WWE's "New Era" spent time under the learning tree of The Dream. That NXT show which I attended the night of his death turned out to be the first true public memorial for Dusty. Many of the young stars who he had likely coached just days earlier were on the card. Their love for him was evident only by their emotions and personal showings of respect. Their abilities to perform were in no way hindered, exactly as The Dream would have wanted it.
The wrestling business itself continues to feel the Rhodes "bootprint." NXT has the "Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic" tournament. Wrestlers ranging from Cody Rhodes to Tommy Dreamer to Bailey to Kevin Owens have integrated tributes to the dream into their respective attires. In his last major WWE moment, Stardust paid several tributes to the original Stardust (an early moniker of Rhodes) at WrestleMania 32. A statue of The Dream was also unveiled by WWE that same weekend.
Recently departing WWE, son Cody has set his sights on tearing up the independent wrestling scene as soon as possible. Thanks to his natural in-ring gifts, this new phase in Cody's career will likely remind many of his father's time as a traveling attraction similar to Andre the Giant. Dusty's other son, Goldust, is coming up on the thirtieth anniversary of his own storied wrestling career, with no signs of slowing down. And as far as Dusty's aforementioned wrestling "kids" such as the current and former stars of NXT? I think we've been seeing his impact in many of them already.
Now that's what I call "livin' on the end of a lightnin' bolt..."
Thursday, June 2, 2016
As soon as collectors received the first Trish Stratus figure from Mattel nearly three years ago, I began the call for Lita. It was only fair that Mattel produce the female member of Team Xtreme, especially since Stratus was already available. We have now gotten our wish as part of Mattel's WWE Elite Series 41.
Lita does not suffer from the packaging being too big, and actually looks just right. I think it's likely due to the bulkiness of her pants and one arm being raised. It's the female figures that usually suffer here the most and at times look as if they're "floating" in the bubble.
When I first picked up the figure, I wasn't completely sold on the likeness. Out of the package it looks a lot better to me. I'm not sure that it's the best Lita facial ever done. Looking back, Jakks really nailed her on a number of occasions. Nonetheless, it works. I can picture what they were aiming for with the particular hair mold used and again, it works. Everything in this department is very good, just not perfect.
Included with Lita are two shirts. One is made of rubber and is a white wrap-around. The other is actually made of a thin cloth and is supposed to be the yellow mesh top that made it into several of her more memorable promotional photos. Both fit well enough, but I wouldn't be surprised if many just pose her without them. The black bra, again, was a Lita staple. I could see both of the shirts actually tearing if placed and removed too much. The yellow cloth one is very thing and the white one has a thin rubber "snap."
That aforementioned popularity guarantees two things: this figure will be a popular one, but it likely won't be the only one. I can see Mattel wanting to insert Lita into their basic line and possibly even a more modern version in their Hall of Fame series to match the second Trish figure. With Lita's varying looks and styles, there are plenty of possibilities.
There are plenty of cookie-cutter females in professional wrestling, but there will only ever be one Lita...and that's why we love her.