Thursday, August 30, 2012

From The Musty Yellowed Pages--WWF Magazine August/September 1985

This month we've explored the era of the "Rock 'n Wrestling Connection" quite a bit.  From the 1985 Topps WWF cards to the Rock 'n Wrestling cartoon, I think that we've covered the fun and "mania" that surrounded this time period in professional wrestling.  Although the mid-'80s "boom" period for wrestling seems to be universally accepted as stretching from Hulk Hogan's title win to just about early 1988, the Rock 'n Wrestling Connection itself was only about a year long.  The time when Cyndi Lauper seemed to disappear from the WWF, Wendi Richter herself vanished for obvious reasons, and WWF programming stopped appearing on MTV seems to be the cutoff point.  The WWF Magazine cover dated August/September 1985 is probably a good cutoff merchandise-wise, and that is what we're exploring today to top off the month of '80s glory.

Probably due to their own licensing deals, Lauper and Mr. T didn't appear on all that much WWF merchandise.  The cover of WWF Magazine is an exception for both.  Lauper appears here in a picture from the shoot for her "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" music video along with Rowdy Roddy Piper, Nikolai Volkoff, and The Iron Sheik.  With a bright orange background inserted behind the "fearsome" foursome, you can't miss the cover.  The first actual page (the inside cover is the letters page) starts right off with the WWF marketing machine.  Coliseum Video Presents WWF WrestleMania--The Greatest Wrestling Event Of All Time!  $39.95!  $39.95?  Yes, kids.  Videos were not usually "priced to own" until a few years later, but forty bucks was actually affordable compared to the normal price of WWF videos of the era, a fact that we will revisit in a bit.

Feature articles cover such stars as Hillbilly Jim, wrestlers such as Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat who hail from "The Islands" as well as Jesse "The Body" Ventura.  Ventura had just begun his transition from wrestler to commentator and the article does a good job of putting it over.  You notice in this and other articles that the photos used are much less polished than ones used in the future of the publication.  The photos are good, but ones such as a photo taken of Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon commentating ringside at the first WrestleMania are almost candid and not the "slick" style of photo used as the company got bigger and bigger.  Two WrestleMania programs sitting on the table probably make the picture even more appealing to me.

In his nearly decade long WWF-stint, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was always a large part of WWF Magazine.  From having his own column to many articles about the Heenan family and his other devious antics, Heenan was as much a heat machine on the newsstand as he was at ringside.  Although he would get his own cover two years later, Heenan shines in an article examining his connection to his fan-given nickname of "Weasel" as well as the animal itself.

Keeping with the trend of profiling managers, another article focuses on one who had been with the company for quite awhile--Captain Lou Albano.  The Captain was appearing in the feature film "Wise Guys" with Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo and the article includes behind-the-scenes photos.  A one-page article about WWF and Coliseum Video, a fluff piece discussing the latest releases, follows the Albano feature.

The cover article is next, with the photo-packed feature on Lauper's "Goonies" video that featured a plethora of WWF stars.  In addition to noting how massive the pirate ship set used in the video was, a particular photo of Freddie Blassie always stuck out to me.  This absolutely had to be one of the reference photos used by LJN when they created his figure.  The pose is identical down to the placement of the rings on his fingers.  The "Hollywood Fashion Plate" never looked better!

The marketing machine is back again with a page full of items that would command a high dollar today--early posters.  These would be even scarcer than the ones shown in the later merchandise catalogs which themselves are in high demand these days.  Posters of Hogan in three of his color combinations (blue and white, all white, and red and yellow) and Richter from her bikini shoot are particularly memorable.  The following pages feature early WWF logoed apparel.

$59.95!  There's the Coliseum Video price that most of us remember.  The "Andre the Giant," "Most Unusual Matches," and "Best of the WWF Vol. 2" tapes are showcased in a full page ad urging fans to order.  Although there were even some budget WWF videos released at the time, until WWF Home Video took over in late 1997, this was the price for most tapes.  Of course there were ways around this for fans to "bring home the action," but that's another story for another time.  The opposing page is the beginning of an article chronicling the feud between Freddie Blassie and The Sheik.  The Sheik, not the Iron Sheik.  This is a fact that the article points out.  Many of the early WWF Magazines not only feature stories on wrestling history, but also stars who were not in the organization of the time.  Jeff Walton, a name familiar to many wrestling fans, is the author of this article which is accompanied by several classic photos.

While the back cover is an advertisement for Tuesday Night Titans, it's the inside back cover that is memorable to so many fans.  "How Do You Get A Wrestler In A Mailbox?"  This is the ad to order the first five LJN WWF figures directly from the WWF Merchandise Department.  At only $10 each, how could anyone pass it up? 

This was the 1985 WWF.  These pages lavishly illustrate just how far this company was coming in both the fields of professional wrestling and entertainment.  An all-color, all-slick magazine was just the kind of publication that the progress of the rest of the company demanded.  I think the voice of the WWF at the time, Gorilla Monsoon, would've summed it up something like this...

"This magazine would be a best seller at any newsstand anywhere in the world!"

As usual where Gorilla is concerned, I would have to agree.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whatcha Gonna Do When Cartoons Run Wild On You?

About a week ago the wrestling news community was abuzz about WWE's latest venture.  No, not the delayed WWE Network, next Marine film, or even 2013 Hall of Fame rumors.  The news that had everyone talking was the announcement that the next Scooby-Doo animated film would be set at WrestleMania!  Not only that, but WWE names such as Vince McMahon, John Cena, Brodus Clay, and (of course) A.J. would be providing their own voices for the show.  I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited over this news.  For all of the silliness in wrestling these days, this is the type of thing that works.  On our fanpage I went as far as to promise a review of the movie right here on the blog once it is released.

This isn't wrestling's first foray into Toon Town.  In 1985 the WWF was snatching up licensing partnerships left and right.  It was the dawn of Hulkamania and there was no better way to market that to children than partnering with DIC Entertainment and creating the "Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling" cartoon series.

Featuring a cast of top WWF stars like Hogan, Andre the Giant, Wendi Richter, Lou Albano, Junkyard Dog, Tito Santana, Hillbilly Jim, Roddy Piper, Big John Studd, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Mr. Fuji, Fabulous Moolah, Mean Gene Okerlund, and Bobby Heenan, one would think that the cartoon centered around wrestling.  Not really.  Instead, the "good" wrestlers were pitted against the "bad" wrestlers in traditional cartoon situations.  Robots, Amazonians, and cruise ships were just some of the tough topics tackled by the crazy cast from the squared circle.

Seeing as that each character was based on a real life persona, one would also think that the wrestlers would voice their respective 'toon.  Not quite.  The WWF's schedule at the time most likely prevented this from occuring.  Voice actors were instead used to provide the familiar tones of the WWF elite.  While some like Albano and JYD sounded very close to the real deal, others like Piper and Fuji weren't even close.  Giving life to the voice of the Hulkster was non other than Brad Garrett, who went on to play Robert on "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Other notables included Lewis Arquette (father of the many current Arquette actors) as Snuka and James Avery (Uncle Phil on "Fresh Prince" and the voice of Shredder in the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoons) as JYD.  The visual look of the wrestlers was what you'd expect from an '80s cartoon, although a peek at their early designs in the September/October 1985 issue of WWF Magazine shows that the characters were originally more realistic looking than the final product.

Probably one of the most attractive upsides to doing this cartoon was that a whole new line of merchandise was produced off of the show itself.  Games, coloring books, puzzles, bed sheets, backpacks, stickers, pins, and home videos were all produced under the banner of the cartoon. 

While no action figures, or "dolls" as they were frequently labeled then, were produced for the show there was a line of erasers which, in recent years, have become the most popular item to come from the cartoon show.  Regular figures were most likely not allowed due to WWF's agreement with LJN, but a company called Winston Toys nearly got around that.  Hogan, Piper, Snuka, Sheik, JYD, and Richter were the six characters used by Winston for their line of erasers.  Around 3 1/2 inches tall, the erasers were just a tad shorter than the LJN Bendies and are often mistaken as such.

Curiously, Sheik and both versions of Hogan and Snuka are almost shrunken down versions of their familiar LJN counterparts.  Piper and JYD are the only pieces in the line that actually look like their cartoon counterparts.  While both of them are very difficult to come by, it's actually the Richter eraser which seems to be the rarest of them all.  Not only is it the only figural representative of Richter ever produced, it is my speculation that had Richter stayed with the WWF and been produced as an LJN figure, the eraser is an example of what the finished product would have looked like.

The Richter eraser isn't the only female controversy to arise from the cartoon.  The infamous Mad Maxine was originally scheduled to be on the show as the "evil" opposition for Richter.  Although the fact that her run in the WWF was so short is probably the real reason for her omission, speculation has always been that Fabulous Moolah somehow had her removed from both the show and the promotion so that she herself could be featured on the cartoon.  Moolah did indeed end up appearing in the show, but her merchandising was relegated to a pin and an appearance in the card game.

The cartoon lasted two seasons for a total of twenty-six episodes.  Many of those episodes were released on VHS video over a period of many years.  Some were distributed by DIC during the cartoon's original run while WWE re-released many around a decade ago in new packaging.  With the release of Hogan's "No Holds Barred" film to DVD just weeks ago, it may be only a matter of time before WWE decides to once again revisit their original cartoon venture in the current media formats as well.

Although a cartoon show is exactly what many wrestling purists say is what was wrong with the WWF's national expansion, it's also what brought many, many fans into wrestling in the first place.  Who is to say that promoters from decades earlier wouldn't have jumped on producing a cartoon show given the opportunity?  Certainly the wrestlers involved in Rock 'n Wrestling cut their teeth in the territories.  Fans of those wrestlers, as well as the cartoon, can take comfort in the fact that their favorite stars received much more merchandising money from ventures like these.  Wrestling was, and still is, a business.  The Rock 'n Wrestling cartoon is something, like the new Scooby-Doo/WWE team-up, that we should just sit back and enjoy rather than bash.

While I cannot say that Rock 'n Wrestling started me on pro wrestling, the first wrestling collectible that I ever owned was spawned from the series.  The coloring book shown here in this entry holds the honor of being the first ever item in my collection.  I can still recall sitting in restaurants and coloring in my vast collection of coloring books based on various kid-friendly properties of the '70s and '80s.  My artistic skills?  Impeccable!  Did you know that Andre the Giant had green hair?

You do now!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Decade Of Wrestling In TNA's TENacious Card Set

With a decade now under their belt, I think it is safe to say that one of the areas in which TNA Wrestling has excelled is in merchandising.  Although two action figure lines have fizzled (seemingly through the fault of the manufacturers and not TNA itself), other items have been going strong for the majority of the decade of the company's existence.  Aside from a very nice series in 2004 from Pacific Trading Cards Inc., Tristar has been the company that has continually produced a quality card product under the TNA banner.

The latest series celebrates that full decade of TNA and Impact Wrestling with a fitting title--TENacious.  The Tristar company claims that this set will have the lowest number of cards produced of any of their previous TNA products.  Although slated to have a release date of 8/15/12, some hobby retailers were selling them at least a week earlier.

Breaking a hobby box of Tristar's TNA product is always a good time.  This is because most of their recent boxes have guaranteed a certain amount of "hits."  In card collecting lingo, hits are special cards that are either numbered, include a relic or autograph, or any combo of the above.  What both myself and another collector found when opening a hobby box of TENacious cards is that in the 20 packs of 6 cards we both received a complete 99 card base set.  While this is not guaranteed on the box nor is it usually the case, it's a welcome bonus that we don't have to go searching for the couple of cards that usually prevents collectors from a complete basic set in a box break.

I was immediately drawn to the actual box itself.  It's longer and thinner than the normal card hobby boxes.  With the shrink wrap still on, it honestly reminded me more of a box of chocolates than trading cards.  Like a few of the other Tristar TNA sets, even the boxes are numbered.  For the record, this box is numbered 1242 out of 1800.  Upon opening the box, on top of the 20 packs is a color-coded checklist of the 99 base cards and 20 short print cards.  Kudos to Tristar not only for including the checklist but for NOT including it in the packs where it would take the place of a regular card.

If you subscribe to our Facebook Fanpage, you've already gotten a sneak preview of the hits pulled from this box, but how about the 99 card base set?  Beginning with a card of TNA Founder Jeff Jarrett, the set is 99% current stars.  The ten year anniversary is tackled with memories from stars who have been there for much of that time as well as screengrabs of various events throughout the years. 

Although I'm a huge fan of the concept of picturing past moments such as Ken Shamrock winning the NWA championship and Jeff Jarrett attacking Hulk Hogan in Japan, the screengrabs did not work out too well.  The pictures are much too grainy and/or flushed out to produce a quality card.  There must have been a reason that they went in this direction, but it's sort of baffling when it's obvious that so much effort goes into the production of these sets.  The cards actually look a lot better when photographed than they do in person.

Tristar seems to take pride in getting "rookie" cards out quickly and has included some in this set.  Brooke Hogan, Joseph Park, Alex Silva, and Jessie Godderz all get the rookie treatment in this set, with Godderz card even including an Ohio Valley Wrestling logo emblazoned on the front.  Look for the Brooke and Park cards to be a bit more sought after than most from the basic set due to the former having crossover appeal and the latter being the best developed comedic character to come out of professional wrestling in years.

The current roster is well represented and I think I would argue that it might be represented just a bit much.  A subset of even just some of the bigger names from the past decade in TNA would've sufficed.  And as always, I must lobby for even just a subset of non-glossy cards.  As accessible as many of the TNA stars are for autographs at their shows, non-glossy cards would come in very handy for quick autographs.  Tristar has not produced a non-gloss set since their Impact '08 release.  For the second week in a row, how about it?

The reason that most collectors will purchase a hobby box isn't for the base cards, but for the hits.  As stated above, Tristar has done a fantastic job over the years with these special cards.  The back of the hobby box for TENacious lays out exactly what you may receive.  Off the top collectors are guaranteed three autograph cards which will be numbered to 100, 10, or even 1.  This particular box yielded autograph cards of Austin Aries and Kaz each numbered 6 of 10, and a dual autograph "Wedded Bliss" card of ODB and Eric Young numbered 91 of 100.  The latter is exceptionally cool and the lovely "bride" even noted on our fanpage that she doesn't even have one.

The next hits are short printed cards which can include anything from Jeff Hardy art to cards celebrating Sting's TNA Hall of Fame induction to a TNA Arrivals subset.  The Hulkamaniac in me was very pleased to receive a Hulk Hogan TNA Arrivals card numbered 28 out of 100.  The next two hits are parallel cards from the basic set stamped with a foil TNA 10 logo and numbered, again, to 100, 10, or 1.  The cards in this box were both of Knockouts, albeit one no longer in the company: an Angelina Love card numbered 6 of 30 and a card of the Killer Queen herself, Madison Rayne, numbered 8 of 10.

We finally come to the 7th hit where you again have a chance of two different card styles.  This hit is either an Impact celebrity signature card (signatures cut from other autographed celebrity items eclectically ranging from Chris Rock to Tom Arnold) or a TNA 10 event-worn clothing card.  This box held the latter, in this case being a dual shirt card from the former Dudley Boyz/Team 3D, Devon and Bully Ray.  A nice card for sure, although the celebrity cards would be more beneficial for someone trying to recoup their investment. 

What we have here is a solid set.  It could've reflected a bit more of the past decade of TNA, although I understand that they're trying to look ahead and there's nothing wrong with that.  I will state that I feel, like the recent WWE card product, that the looks are starting to blend together from set to set.  Reflexxions was a nice change, but in taking a peek at what Tristar has done with other card lines makes me hope for a more retro card look in a future set.  I won't go into another non-gloss rant, but retro is always king in this blog as it is for many collectors.

I would definitely recommend picking up a hobby box as the number of guaranteed hits is worth the retail price.  The aforementioned fact that the two first hobby boxes which I've seen broken have yielded a complete set only adds to that value.  Take a drive down to your local hobby shop and make an "Impact" on your TNA card collection, because when those 1,800 boxes are gone, they're gone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fresh 1985 Cardboard...Hulkster Style!

I think it's un-American for a child to grow up without owning at least a few trading cards.  Baseball cards immediately come to mind (especially to this Pittsburgher who finally has a team to root for again) but wrestling cards will suffice just as well.  There are plenty of examples from the last three decades to choose from, produced by various companies for several promotions and featuring virtually every major (and not so major) wrestling star.

I've discussed before the fact that any card produced before the "glossy" era took over automatically ranks high in my book.  Not only do they have higher aesthetic appeal with that classic "cardboardy" look, but they're also a Helluva lot easier to get autographed!  No worries of bubbling or much smudging.  While there are occasionally new entries in the realm of cards with matte finish such as Topps Heritage, the oldies are still the best.

But how about some "new" oldies?  How about breathing that glorious mid-'80s air just once more?  How about procuring some 1985 Topps WWF cards that weren't stuffed away in some basement for years?  It has been achieved.

The 1985 Topps WWF Pro Wrestling Stars set isn't particularly rare.  Although occasionally a card or sticker will sell for a couple bucks to a collector who needs one or two to complete a set, the #1 card (Hulk Hogan) is the only one that will grab $10-$15.  A whole set, albeit of varying condition, will usually get $35 or so.  It was a set released during a huge boom period with millions of kids as the consumer so there are obviously plenty out there.  As with all aspects of collecting, fun and enjoyment should always prevail over "rare."

Though unopened packs are fairly common to come by, the cellophane-packaged "rack packs" are a bit tougher to find.  I can remember buying baseball rack packs in my youth since the packaging allowed you to know, in advance, a few of the cards that you were getting.  Here in 2012 I had several different WWF rack packs to choose from, but I decided to "go with the gold" and pick one with the Hulkster showing up twice in plain view.  Thumbing my nose at profit, I opened the 27-year-old relic with full knowledge that a rack pack with a Hulkster card "showing" recent sold for over $30.

I carefully cut open the first of three sections and pulled out the "fresh" cards.  1985 scents?  You bet.  MTV.  New Coke.  Blair Warner.  It was all captured in that cardboard-filled plastic package.  Did I sniff?  Of course.

13 fresh cards that, depending on Topps manufacturing practices at the time, had never before been touched.  No gum stains, either, thanks to it being a gum-devoid rack pack.  Some of my favorite cards of the 1985 set which simply featured a large individual photo of the star and their name poured out, as did some of the action shot cards.  Jesse "The Body" Ventura!  Chief Jay Strongbow!  The Iron Sheik!  A card which I had not previously owned, a shot of Captain Lou Albano dressed as Santa Claus (used in 1983 as a WWF Program cover), was my personal favorite.

The middle section of each rack pack contains three sticker cards.  As with many sticker subsets of the day, the cardboard backer of each sticker contained a piece to a puzzle that formed a larger photo.  While the Albano and Brutus Beefcake sticker backers were each a piece, the back of the Hulkster sticker actually shows what the puzzle looks like completed.  While they were not in this pack, my own favorite stickers from this set are an action shot of "The Flying Frenchman" Rene Goulet and one of Wendi Richter from Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" video.

As an aside, Topps 1985 Cyndi Lauper card series is actually a relatively unknown entry in the world of wrestling memorabilia.  Thanks to her contributions to the Rock 'n Wrestling Connection, several cards in the set feature wrestlers and wrestling shots.  My favorite from that set is a card showing Richter, Lauper, and manager David Wolff in the ring at Madison Square Garden.

Back to the opening of the rack pack, it was finally time to get a third "shot" of '80s air and more classic cards.  Another variety of portrait cards and action shots was overshadowed by what any fan, past or present, would want to find in a pack like this: a fresh and pristine example of Hulk Hogan #1.  While T206 Honus Wagner it ain't, a fresh and new version of an iconic card such as this is welcome in any collection.  After all it isn't his rookie card, but it is his WWF licensed rookie card and an image that many fans will always remember.  Another card found in this pocket, Wendi Richter's bikini shot, is another image that fans have never forgotten.

Topps WWF 1985 Pro Wrestling Stars may not hold the value of other cards, but other factors make it a must for any collection.  From various cards of some of the all-time greats to action shots like Hogan vs Antonio Inoki in Japan and Snuka leaping from Andre the Giant's shoulders to comedic "The Superstars Speak" cards, there's a lot to collect and enjoy. 

Collectors should note that there was an identical set produced in Canada by O-Pee-Chee who also released a second series.  Series 2 features shots from WrestleMania 2 as well as the only cards of one of my favorite wrestlers, Leilani Kai.  The Hogan #1 card was produced with both a beige and aqua green background however both are of equal value.

With the popularity of Topps Heritage sets in all sports, it saddens me that their WWE Heritage line halted at series IV aside from a few subsets in recent years.  With the relatively tired look of the company's recent WWE product, it would be refreshing to see a new Heritage set with past and present stars.  How about mimicking the look of '85?  "Topps Pro Entertainment Stars 2013." 

Make it happen!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Somebody's Gonna Get Their...Figure Reviewed

I've always enjoyed Mark Henry.  Maybe it's because he has a unique look that may never be duplicated.  Maybe it was that time back in the Nation of Domination days when he pointed yours truly out to The Rock at a house show.  I was proclaiming my allegiance to the Nation, after all.  Maybe it was because I always knew that he had a run in him like his recent monster stint where he became one of the top heels in the business.  Regardless, you have to admire his longevity.  Injuries aside, 16 years in one company is a lifetime in the wrestling industry.

Even though the Olympian was around for the entire Jakks-WWE association, he seemed to receive fewer figures than some of his counterparts.  This was most likely due to his aforementioned injuries and also thanks to being occasionally lost in the shuffle.  Mattel has already produced several Henry figures in their WWE line and all have proven to be hits among collectors.  Several of them even reached secondary market prices which were drastically above retail.  At the same time that "The World's Strongest Man" was dominating in the ring he was also clearing the shelves.

The most recent Mark Henry figure is one of four figures in the Toys "R" Us exclusive "Best of Pay-Per-View 2011" series.  All of the figures are in attire to match what they wore at the respective pay-per-views.  Henry is in the blue singlet worn at Money In The Bank 2011 while the others in the series are John Cena (Over The Limit 2011), Christian (Capitol Punishment 2011), and Rey Mysterio (Royal Rumble 2011).  Considering that the other three figures have countless re-releases already on the shelves, Henry is the most desirable in the set.

Similar to the Michael Cole Build-A-Figure, buying all of the figures will net you a "bonus."  Each of the figures also includes a piece of the current WWE interview set.  While the other three figures are each packaged with a piece of the plastic "curtain," Henry's figure comes with the flat screen monitor, monitor stand, and hanging WWE logo.  The crafty (and thrifty) child will realize that these are the most important pieces to have and create his or her own curtain instead of buying yet more figures of Cena, Mysterio, and Christian.  I know I certainly would have.  Then again, back in my day, when we walked up snow-covered hills BOTH WAYS to school, we had to create our own wrestling arenas and interview areas!

Another incentive to purchase these figures is a bit more attractive.  Purchasing just three of these figures will entitle you to a free COO Triple H figure when you mail in the receipt and proofs of purchase from the figure packaging.  Details are available right in Toys "R" Us stores and online.  As a huge fan of wrestling figures clad in business suits, another thing that we didn't have "back in the day," I'm sure that we'll be seeing Trips reviewed here in the near future.

As for Mark Henry, I'm reminded of the old line about the LJN King Kong Bundy figure.  Collectors have always joked that you got "more for your money" since he was so much bigger than the rest of the line (and could be used to attack your friends...something that we didn't do back in the day).  Henry definitely resembles that remark, especially when taking into consideration how thin some of the Mattel WWE figures have been.  Henry fills the plastic bubble nicely and, along with the accessories, makes it look like you're getting your money's worth.

Mattel absolutely nailed Henry's unique body in the design.  The royal blue singlet color is very appealing and the side "strongman" logo as well as "WSM" (World's Strongest Man) lettering down the back is spot on.  Although this is the first Mattel version of Henry that I've decided to add to my own collection, it was while looking at the first release that I noticed just how perfect the short yet bulky arms are.  It's the former World Heavyweight Champ in his finest action figure form to date.

The one detraction for me is the facial likeness.  While it is very close, he doesn't look quite angry enough.  The Jakks Mark Henry face wins out here, but it isn't like Mattel's is terrible.  I do believe that this likeness was originally used by Mattel when Henry was still a babyface which would explain its reuse.

This figure could easily be called a highlight of the Mattel-WWE association thus far.  With the practice of reusing body styles in wrestling action figures going back to 1985, it's refreshing to see such a close design produced for a single character.  When you include such cool accessories that would work in any collection (hanging the WWE logo above a display of the figures would be ideal), you have the makings of a great figure.

My advice?  If you're a fan of Henry or the cooler Mattel efforts, buy it!  Similar to the Build-A-Cole series Bret Hart figure, Henry seems to have either shipped separately or in lower quantities than the other three figures in the set.  This situation (for both Henry and Hart) seems to have been rectified with a larger presence now in Toys "R" Us stores nationwide.  Both figures popularity, however, will nullify the commendable efforts to bring more to the shelves.

Rumors of retirement for "The World's Strongest Man" have been impending for months.  Whether this is true or not has yet to be revealed, but this may be one of the last Mark Henry figures produced.  Just another reason to pick up such a great figure.  And if you don't?  Well.  Somebody's gonna get their...