Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Forgotten Dream

If you know me or if you've followed this blog for any length of time you know that if I had a gun to my head, Dusty Rhodes would be chosen as my favorite wrestler of all-time (out of a finally settled upon top ten). That's why, in addition to a love (though not a top ten feeling) for Michael P.S. Hayes, this and the review of his new figure released at the same time were split up into two. Both are long overdue.

Jakks and Mattle have both been amazing in getting Dusty Rhodes the wrestling figure respect that he deserves. Both companies have released multiple looks for The Dream, some of which were never expected. Today's focal point is certainly one of those, but a welcome one. When most fans think of Dusty's 1989-1991 "Common Man" run in the World Wrestling Federation they think of the yellow polka dots. Rightfully so, as for a good fifteen months that's basically all he wore. After the dancing and happiness were taken away from The Dream due to manager Sweet Sapphire selling out to The Million Dollar Man, Rhodes began getting a bit more serious. The dancing stopped. The polka dots turned dark red, including being utilized on a western-style poncho. Even two pieces of attire dating back to his days in Jim Crockett Promotions returned, those being his "American Dream" ring jacket and top hat.

That later look is what Mattel has brought us in their latest Dusty Rhodes offering. Straight off of the promo photo for his "Dream Team" at the 1990 Survivor Series we have The Dream with the aforementioned poncho and hat. It's part of Mattel's Elite 83 series and, thankfully, isn't any kind of store exclusive. Although Dusty is the only legend in the set, the Mattel debut of Michael Hayes is shipped in some of the cases as a "Collector's Editon." We know what that means.

This is Dusty's second release since the era of extra hands began. In addition to the hat and poncho we get three sets of hands total, including open hands reminiscent of when The Dream was about to break out into a charismatic strut to mock his opponents. The bird talon from the hat is removable and for some bizarre reason was shown worn around his neck in early Mattel promo shots. Way to know your source material, boys. The poncho looks a helluva lot better out of the package than it does in the box thanks to the useless bands holding it in. It looked bad in the promo shots, too. Again, who is doing these shots? I'm available, folks.

The body is the same as we've seen on every Mattel Dusty. Why change it? It works. The "splotch" is here as are his signature Austin Hall cowboy boots. A red elbow pad is included. I'm sure this could be switched out on the last Dusty release to give that one a freshening up, if one was so inclined. The face is the sculpt/scan that was included on the Dusty Rhodes figure that came packed with the WCW ring. At one time that was my favorite Mattel WWE figure and it still stands tall. It's a great likeness and works on multiple eras of The Dream.

I would have to say that this is the most niche of the Dusty Rhodes figures we've had from any company. He did not wear this look long, yet it's very much made to be an action figure. I'd advise you to pick this one up early as there will probably not be another in this style. You know how that goes. There are still various other Dusty looks to explore. Although Jakks did a great '70's Dusty figure (my favorite Jakks version of The American Dream), I'd like to see what Mattel could pull off in a similar style. With their penchant for including entrance gear, Dusty's "cactus" robe that made many magazine covers of the era would be superb. "Bullrope Match" Dusty (think Jakks final Dusty release packed with Cody's rookie figure) and entrance jacket Dusty would be my other two top choices.

I've had this figure for quite awhile but I do not believe it's actually hit stores yet. If it has, heed my words above and grab it if you want it. Next time, we take yet another walk down Badstreet...

Monday, March 15, 2021

Wrestling MarketWatch: WWF Hall of Fame 2021

Along with the Royal Rumble match, the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony is probably the last piece of fresh programming from the company that I truly enjoy. At this point even WrestleMania has completely lost my interest. For reasons that are no mystery to a single person on the planet, 2020 did not see a WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. While details are still sketchy, it appears that the 2020 class will finally get inducted alongside the class of 2021. Whether the class will be merged as one or if each will go down in history separately has yet to be seen. 

For 2020 we have the nWo (Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Syxx), John Bradshaw Layfield, Jushin Thunder Liger, "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, The Bella Twins and Batista. As of press time the sole 2021 inductee to be announced is Molly Holly. In this edition of MarketWatch we're going to look at the recent selling prices of memorabilia from several of these names. As always prices quoted are for non-autographed items.

*Starting with our first 2021 inductee announced we visit the sole action figure of Molly Holly. It's always been an underrated figure and is still a highlight of the Jakks "TitanTron Live" style. Molly is one of the best female grapplers of the past two decades and is more than deserving of her Hall of Fame induction. The support shown by fans as well as her peers has been something to see. This is not the first time that this figure has been here on the blog in a MarkerWatch feature. Around three and a half years ago the figure was selling for $20. Still undervalued, it's recently been selling for an average of $15. Whether or not her Hall of Fame induction will yield her a second figure has yet to be seen.

*Always controversial, John Bradshaw Layfield was one of those superstars who was able to reinvent himself several times during his career. The "JBL" character, WWE's answer to J.R. Ewing, was without a doubt his best incarnation. At WrestleMania 21 back in 2005, JBL made a grand entrance with money falling from the sky. Those "JBL Bills" were scooped up and have landed in the collections of many fans worldwide. One example recently sold for $18.

*Some may say that The Bella Twins are undeserving of a Hall of Fame entry. The WWE Hall of Fame is full of inductees that you may or may not agree with. I will say that the duo has brought many extra eyes to the business, both male and female. Even my girlfriend is a fan of the twins thanks to their "Total Bellas" program. From figures to teddy bears, the twins have also had their fair share of memorabilia. It's a proven fact that authentic autograph cards of female wrestlers sell for a bit more on the secondary market than the male wrestler cards. Perhaps there are a lot of "lonely hearts" collecting? Nonetheless, Brie Bella's Topps WWE Heritage 2016 authentic autograph card recently sold for $28.

*One of my favorite inductees this year is Jushin Thunder Liger. The puroresu star who retired in 2020 has always been fascinating to his legions of fans, myself included. He recently received several modern wrestling figures thanks to a company called Storm Collectibles. You can see the first of those by clicking Liger's "label" at the bottom of this entry which will lead to a review of that figure from last year. That being said his older figures from Japan, while less poseable, are still in high demand. This New Japan Pro Wrestling figure recently sold for $51.

*Shortly after the creation of the New World Order, those in charge at WCW realized that the nWo was the more popular brand. This led to their logo being slapped on nearly every piece of merchandise that passed through the Atlanta-based wrestling company. Did you own a Bash Brick? It's a somewhat hard foam brick that you can "safely" bash your friends (or enemies) with. It really doesn't have much of a connection to wrestling other then the logos, but who's counting? One recently sold for $25.

There are always at least a few speeches to watch out for at the Hall of Fame ceremony. Who those will be and just how the ceremony itself will take place are still mysteries. I can tell you that Batista's will be a great pee break for me, even if I'm not watching live.

Sorry, Big Dave.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Evil Million Dollar Corporation Strikes Again! No, I don't mean Mattel...

The never ending battle between collectors and Mattel strikes again. I've heard countless fellow collectors declare that it's starting to simply not be worth it anymore. Frustrations over distribution and store exclusives are at an all-time high. Whether it be friends that I run into in person or those across the miles, we're all fed up. Collecting should be fun, not something to cost time and happiness. It's really getting tiresome. Nonetheless, this particular pre-order went smoothly (though from the looks of things it did not for others) thus here we are with three of the four latest Mattel WWE Legends.

In this go-round we've got "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Tatanka and Nikolai Volkoff. The set is rounded out with a late-1995 version of The Undertaker, however I passed on the figure as I do with many characters who are produced time and time again. Interestingly, you could almost call this "The Million Dollar Corporation" wave as even The Undertaker had loose ties to the group. None of them exactly look as they did in the Corporation era, but it's a fun coincidence that I'm sure was completely lost on the manufacturer.

First up is The Million Dollar Man himself. Unfortunately the figure itself is a billon dollar disappointment. First off, it seems rather short. I come in at 6 foot. I've met DiBiase many times and he's taller me. We're not seeing accurate height here. The design on the suit seems out of whack and looks badly printed on. Accessories included are an extra "laughing" head, a briefcase, the Million Dollar Championship, and extra hands. The hands seem rather pointless as both sets included are gripping. How about pointing hands? DiBiase often pointed in promos while making a statement. The briefcase isn't out of place but it isn't exactly associated with him, either. Both heads are recycled from previous releases. The "smug" head looks fine, but the laughing head makes him look like a turtle with how it fits on this neck. Last but not least is that awful Mattel version of the Million Dollar Belt. It's looked cheap, weak and not even worth a million pennies since it saw its first release a decade ago. We couldn't have gotten an update? Why did they drape it over his shoulder in the packaging? Because it only fits around the waist if you nearly tear it. If you want a good suited version of DiBiase from Mattel seek out either the figure from the Howard Finkel Build-A-Figure set or the Entrance Greats release.

Next up we have the evil Soviet Nikolai Volkoff. Hold up! This is a first time release for Nikolai as he is NOT evil at all here! Indeed we have the first figure ever released of Volkoff to represent his 1990 turn to the favor of the American people. An American flag is included on his tights, jacket and hat. In all honesty this is one of my favorite Volkoff figures ever done. The face is perfect and is a huge improvement over his previous Mattel release, though I know which photo they designed the latter from as well. This facial expression is just more iconic. Also better this time around is his leg movement which was very stiff in his two-pack release. My only complaint here is that the color used on his boots and tights is a tad too dark. I'll let it slide.

In a personal aside it does make me a bit sad that Nikolai didn't live to see and autograph this one. If you didn't have the chance to meet the burly brawler, I can only say that you missed out on a really down to earth guy. He was one of a few old wrestlers who upon meeting was like visiting with an old uncle. Always a few stories, a joke or two and a nice experience overall. Nikolai is also one who, sadly, I honestly feel would not make it in the business today at no fault of his own. He's not the type of wrestler that the flippy-dippy fans could ever appreciate. He stood out as a character and a true menace without having to have a single fancy move, yet every fan from the '70s thru the early '90s remembers him. 

Finally we have "Native American" Tatanka in his debut attire. If you look closely at the famous "Undertake 'Em All" ad from 1993 you'll notice that the Hasbro figure was initially slated to have this design as the symbol from the side of the tights made it onto the prototype even as the trunks were painted as the final product ended up. All these years later and here we are. Just like with Nikolai, I'm a huge fan of Tatanka. Criminally underrated, a great character and immensely fun to watch in the ring. If he had come along a few years earlier when the business itself was in better shape I can't even imagine the heights that he would've reached. Just as with his first Mattel release included are his tribal necklace and tomahawk. One big improvement over that first figure are the inclusion of open hands allowing either chops or some great poses of Tatanka looking to the sky. I'm very much looking forward to getting this one autographed.

Lumping DiBiase in with The Undertaker who didn't impress me enough to even pre-order, in my opinion it's a 50/50 wave. Volkoff and Tatanka in never-before-released attire are amazing. I would actually call this the definitive version of Volkoff, even if his heyday was as a villain. The face is just scary real and, although he only began wearing it in 1990, he wore the gear for the rest of his life until his unexpected death in 2018. I would still like to see '70s Volkoff and '06 Tatanka, but I'm not holding my breath. Jakks did a great job with the latter, but to me that run was so much fun (albeit short) that I would like to see a Mattel take on it...though it would probably end up as a store exclusive that no one ever sees anyway.

It's hard to say at this point just how difficult these will be to find. Like the first two Target-exclusive Legends waves, the retailer has seemingly gone to great lengths to screw up the pre-order process. That, coupled with Mattel's legendary piss-poor distribution, makes it a wonder that anyone is supporting them at this point. That being said most of the last wave of Legends are available to order on Target's website as of press-time. Jake Roberts is now missing but was available just days ago, likely selling out due to collectors making one last grasp at the (terrible) chase version. Speaking of stupid chase versions, DiBiase in silver is the one this time around. It goes with Mattel's Virgil, but with how horrible the figure is you may want to skip it altogether.

Your winners? Tatanka and Nikolai Volkoff!