Thursday, October 10, 2013
That's Funky! That's The American Dream!
Dusty appealed to me from the first time that I saw him. If there was ever a living breathing superhero that didn't LOOK like a superhero, it's "The American Dream." It's possible that the look is part of what captivated me. It was easy to see why Hulk Hogan was a hero to millions. He not only had the charisma but he looked the part as well. Dusty admitted in many promos that he didn't look like a star athlete, but it ultimately didn't matter. Even upon his return to the WWF in 1989, a far different place than the WWWF he had left a decade earlier, Dusty was embraced by the fans with open arms. These were the same fans who were used to the Godlike physiques of Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, yet roly poly Dusty was just as believable as a hero to them.
Now that all fans are aware of Dusty's true position within Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980s, it's no surprise that "The Dream" appeared on most of the merchandise put out for the company. T-shirts, trading cards, bandannas, and of course programs all saw the presence of Rhodes, with the highlight possibly being the 1988 Bunkhouse Stampede event program. While the cover is simply a white cowboy hat with the NWA logo (the confusing one that looked more like it said AWA) on it, you know who it is meant to represent.
Seeing as how popular he was during this time, Dusty finally met with the magic of the WWF merchandising machine. Dusty Rhodes post cards, promo photos, folders, and notepads were available as was the famous first action figure of "The American Dream." The figure has always been one of the most sought after from the Hasbro line. It is still popular with collectors, although thanks to Jakks and Mattel we now have many others to choose from.
My all-time favorite Dusty item? Not a magazine cover, photo, card, or action figure. It's a piece that ensures that "The American Dream" will stand tall and proud for generations to come. It has the United States championship belt, the aforementioned ring jacket, and a million dollar smile to boot. It is a larger-than-life cardboard Dusty Rhodes that was used in the 1988 Mello Yello-NWA tie in. Dusty made a live action commercial as part of the promotion as well. An NWA-Mello Yello logo hat was produced, as were several series of Mello Yello cans that featured various NWA stars. Dusty is "holding" a variety of those cans in his cardboard counterpart, and although "The Dream" has told me that he has another piece from the Mello Yello campaign, he did not remember this one at all.