Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Time...It's Time...

...It's Review Time!

Tis the season for plenty of sales. Both in brick and mortar stores as well as online, the deals are there to be had. The WWE online store has seemingly had sales going on for the past month which included many of the new Mattel action figures.

Not feeling like spending $50-$100 on that new Sheamus figure? (If you ever listen to any advice from me make it this--wait for Sheamus! He'll be everywhere!) Then how about knocking $4-$5 off those new Mattel WWE Legends? That was one deal that this collector simply couldn't pass up, especially since one of the deals was the new Series 3 Vader figure.

Big Van Vader is a character that translates into action figure form like no other. With roughly around ten different action figures, give or take a few variants, the only disappointing version was the original Jakks "Bone Crunching" figure released in 1997. The figure was thin, looked like a monkey, and was just overall disappointing. Jakks more than made up for their error with their Classic Superstars Vader figures that included the huge helmet which Vader wore in Japan and WCW.

Japanese NOAH, Mattel, & Jakks Vader Figures

This brings us to the new Mattel version. Dare I say, this figure is customizable right out of the package. Between the "White Castle of Fear" cape from WCW to two different removable masks (one black, one red), you can change Vader from era to era all in one figure.

Body-wise the figure is most reminiscent of Vader earlier in his career. Mattel did a fantastic job on capturing Vader's look right down to the gloves. The figure seems a bit less stiff than some of the other Mattel offerings, leading to easier poses depicting Vader just as he was when he was considered the best "big man" in the business.

The packaging is again very nice albeit a bit over sized for the figures. The back of the card discusses Vader's legendary WCW feud with Sting. Match this figure up with the Jakks Legends Sting and WCW lives on.

This series also includes Mr. Perfect, Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith, The Rock, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Vader is probably the best Legends effort put forth by Mattel thus far, and I'm hoping such upcoming figures such as The Von Erichs and Randy Savage only surpass him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Gobble...Gobble..."--Gorilla Monsoon

Ah, the magic of Thanksgiving's wrestling tradition. From being the original date of Starrcade to later being taken over by the Survivor Series, the American holiday was once one of the highest grossing days for the wrestling industry.

While today's superstars get to celebrate the holiday at home, it was not long ago when after a day of cooking and eating, the family would pack into the car to celebrate Thanksgiving evening with a night of wrestling action.

The last time that live (wrestling taped at an earlier date does not count) wrestling was presented on a wide scale on Thanksgiving night would've been twenty years ago for the fourth annual WWF Survivor Series. The event included the debut of The Undertaker, the last time the original members of Demolition would together grace WWF rings, and the one and only time a "Grand Finale Match of Survival" occurred as the main event. All of these highlights could only be overshadowed by one thing...

The debut of The Gobbledy Gooker. And for all of you, on this Thanksgiving, I give you the gift of seeing the authentic autograph of the big bird himself...hatched 20 years ago and still going strong.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old School Is...and always will be...Cool!

This coming Monday, Raw will be transformed into an "Old School" three-hour special. While we will probably receive a heaping helping of Santino, Nikolai, and Sheiky-Baby in "Foreigner Funnies" and Dusty dancing with the Bella Twins, it's still nostalgia. Nostalgia is something that goes a long way with me.

I'm of the opinion that a wrestling roster should always have a few veterans on hand. If you look back at the wrestling magazines and even films of wrestling from the 1960s and 1970s, many of the stars were ALREADY in their 40s and 50s. While building an entire promotion around seasoned stars may not be a wise venture, I've always felt that WWE should have been commended for including such names as Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Fit Finlay, and Tony Atlas on their lineup in the past few years.

I'm not the only fan who prefers wrestling of yesteryear to the present product, but it does my heart good to know that so many children are fans of today's superstars. Seeing the kids at live events make me recall my days of youth. Those days when the suspension of belief wasn't quite a leap and the thought that maybe, just maybe, that main event grudge match may not go as planned. Maybe these gladiators, in their top position, want that win just a bit more. Maybe tonight things are getting out of hand!

So while I don't necessarily feel the same magic as I once did, I'm glad that so many do. While I may covet those incredible 60s and 70s magazines, three items in my personal collection are just begging for John Cena's signature. A Nattie Neidhart autograph thrills me just as much as one from her father, "The Anvil." That Sheamus figure about to hit shelves? I'll be bringing one home.

As much as the business changes, a lot of it remains the same. Next Monday Night, hopefully the youngsters will get a proper taste of what they missed...or they'll get Gene singing "Tutti Fruitti."

Hey...wait a minute...are you putting me on?


For more information on the pictures in this entry and many other great wrestling collectible photos, check us out on Facebook:



And for a great "new school" wrestling collectible, pick up the January 2011 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated available on newsstands now. It's the "Greats of the Game" Collectors Issue featuring profiles on six of the top stars in the industry. Not to mention, the Bret Hart "Career Report" feature was penned by yours truly!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On this most political of days...The State of Collecting Address

When has wrestling memorabilia been a factor discussed in a political election? Without getting into specifics (you can get politics elsewhere on the net), it's an amazing but true fact. That point, coupled with the fact that I haven't discussed trends in recent weeks, lead us to have our first annual...State of Collecting Address.

I've been receiving a lot of feedback lately on current trends in wrestling memorabilia and current products. While the product itself is nowhere near as hot as it was ten years ago, there is still a ton of new memorabilia being produced. A lot of that can be credited to the WWE's current kid-friendly direction.

Without a doubt, the Mattel-WWE partnership has shown the biggest boost WWE has ever given one of their licensees. While many products have been seen on WWF/WWE television over the years, it has usually been items sold directly from the company. Items that were strictly sold in stores have mostly been shoved to the back burner.

Yes, the LJN and Hasbro action figure lines were frequently shown in the background on WWF programming, but Mattel's line has received the true red carpet treatment.

While I have not been shy with my varied feelings on the line, it's no secret that the figures have been a huge hit with collectors of all ages. Going into 2011 with long-awaited figures such as Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Sheamus, the Nexus, and even The Von Erich's, Mattel should have no problem keeping their momentum. The recent announcement of the first ever Magnum TA figure for Mattel's WWE Legends line only adds to their good outlook.

Mattel's Dusty Rhodes & Drew McIntyre vs Jakks' Suicide & Sting

Jakks, former WWE licensee now under contact to TNA, has disappointed some collectors. While much of the product that the company has released this year has been quality, slow releases and cancellations of some very anticipated products produces a large question mark in forecasting their 2011.

Their Legends of the Ring figure line, despite getting off to a great start in stores, has been all but dissolved. It's been said that some figures slated for release in the series will be integrated into the basic TNA figure line, but it seems that highly anticipated figures like Jim Cornette and Terry Taylor will never see the light of day.

Despite slow releases and delays, the basic single and tag team lines have done very well. Inclusions of stars such as Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, and D'Angelo Dinero as well as Knockouts Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and Daffney should continue to keep the line afloat.

Figures aren't the only collectibles out there and nor will we pretend that is the case. A couple of months ago I discussed the future of wrestling trading cards. Both companies are in good hands with the Topps WWE and TriStar TNA products. Both Topps and TriStar have a full grasp on how to release product in the same vein of other sport card lines. The releases have been wonderfully marketed to both wrestling and trading card collectors in general, which is why I believe the product continues to fly off shelves. Add that to the fact that, at $1.99 per pack, cards are still an item that "Johnny WrestleManiac" can convince mom and pop to buy on the weekly trip to Target.

Printed media is still in the game as well. WWE churns out two regular publications per month, as well as countless special issues covering individual stars, events, and even a Divas Calendar magazine. TNA has yet to venture into the field of magazines. With the popularity of their program book sold at live events, this is an avenue TNA may be wise to consider. Their program is a very well-done publication full of high-quality photography. Specials on Jeff Hardy and the Knockouts would be obvious high-sellers.

TNA 2010 Program

The legendary Stanley Weston wrestling magazines can also be found at newsstands nationwide. Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler/Inside Wrestling are still the longest running wrestling magazine titles. Still featuring the best writing and photography covering the industry, the titles have kept with the times and feature the best in-depth analysis of the business. PWI's annual "Greats of the Game" issue, to be released within the next week, features a Bret Hart career overview put together by yours truly.

DVDs and video games, always hot sellers around the holidays, are last but certainly not least. All of the WWE and TNA pay-per-view events are released on DVD, often just a month after occurring. Both companies have released compilation DVDs in recent months with WWE's Chris Jericho and TNA's Asylum Years sets getting rave reviews from fans. WWE's release on Bobby "The Brain" Heenan this December should keep old school fans happy for the holidays.

Both companies have also released video games this year, with WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 getting the majority of the attention. While the games have changed little over the past few years, fans continue to enjoy playing as their favorite stars and legends. An arcade-style game featuring stars past and present entitled WWE All-Stars is set for a 2011 release.

Prepare your wallets for 2011. There will literally be "something for everyone" in the new year. While the onslaught of merchandise still won't be quite as overwhelming as in the days of the Attitude Era, there is still another wrestling "boom" on the horizon. Whether it comes in the next year or five years from now, its coming is inevitable. These are the times in which virtually anything wrestling, past or present, becomes "hot."

Now is a great time to prepare. A lot of items that were impossible to find at a decent price ten years ago are now readily available. My personal prediction is that vintage magazines, which can now be found for extremely reasonable prices on the secondary market, would be a wise choice to begin with. Issues that once sold for $50-$100 can now be found for $10 or under. As with any collectible, it's all about timing.

It all boils down to collecting what you like. Don't let prices or what another collector else has or covets decide what's in your collection. That Santino figure may be just as exciting to you as a Bruno Sammartino magazine is to me. Simply remember to enjoy what you have and continue to celebrate the sport of kings...

...or sports entertainment.