Saturday, May 29, 2021

George "The Animal" Steele Would Have A Ball With These...

This past year brought a lot of unique items and situations. This entry covers both. You know you saw the ads for them and probably continue to do so. Virtual signings! Virtual meet and greets! Virtual conventions! Concepts that sound like something out of an odd future became real out of necessity. After all, promoters and celebrities need to make money somehow. While I cannot say that I partook in much of that (I may have fired off a few items to be signed, just in case), a new series of collectibles caught my eye. The Highspots Turnbuckle Collection.

No, I don't think that they've actually given it that swank sounding title, but they may as well steal it from me. It takes a lot for me to latch onto something like this, but I got caught hook, line and sinker. Ranging in price from $75 to $109 per item, Highspots began offering official turnbuckles representing talent that they've had in for their virtual signings. Highspots has made turnbuckles and even full rings for countless promotions over the years, so these are actually real, quality made corner pads. 

What caught my eye at first were that some of the pads featured artistic representations of the classic Hasbro WWF figures. I'd venture to guess that they are colorized versions of the drawings on the card backs. Others, such as The Iron Sheik, feature a fictional Hasbro-style figure drawing. I have a feeling that the Mattel Retro figures weren't used in fear of legal issues. Figure drawing or not, the turnbuckles have all featured a logo proclaiming either the talent's name or a quote or symbol representing them. How can your eye not be caught by the classic figure of "The Dragon" on a bright red turnbuckle? Talk about conversation pieces.

The turnbuckles are obviously not folded as they would be if attached to a post and ropes, so there is a lot of room for the wrestler(s) to sign. How cool is it to see the Million Dollar Man and I.R.S. figures flanking a symbol very close to the one used for Money Inc. back in the WWF days? What about "Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant's classic profile and a nod to his "Boy From New York City" theme? That is not to say that all of these have been a home run in my view. I can't say that I've known many of the indy talent names that have received one. Nevertheless, even those ones have seemed to sell well.

One that particularly stands out is the turnbuckle that Highspots produced for a private signing with "Fabulous Freebird" Michael P.S. Hayes. Though I was initially hoping for a "Badstreet" logo turnbuckle, the one that they did offer came out great. The design represents both Hayes and the "Badstreet USA" theme music in a style made to resemble the famous Jack Daniels label. On top of that, extra effort was put into the materials. While the others that I own seem to be done with a screen printing process, this Hayes/Badstreet turnbuckle is actually embroidered. 

If I still did my "Future Holy Grail" award at the end of the year, these would be a no-brainer. Once they sell out, they're gone. While a few early ones made it to the regular Highspots commerce site for a spell (I was able to get The Iron Sheik at Black Friday pricing in November), most sell out before the signing even takes place. Seeing as that these aren't truly licensed, I would consider them more of a high-end art piece. But do you really need to worry about licensing when they're "endorsed" in bold Sharpie or paint pen right by the wrestlers themselves? I'm not.

I told myself I was only buying Steamboat. Now I'm not far off from having enough to build a ring...

Friday, May 7, 2021

You can't wipe out this Blue Meanie!

It's nearly limitless as to who we may receive in figure form in the future. Aside from two names in particular, literally anyone who has stepped foot into a wrestling ring now has a shot at plastic immortality thanks to what I like to call "boutique" manufacturers. These are small outfits who are legally obtaining the rights to produce stars of the ring in figure form. As I discussed a few months back in my review of the Bruiser Brody figure by Junkshopdog, it's all about what you like and what you decide to include in your own collection. While I expect to see more from Junkshopdog (Terry Funk, The Road Warriors, Dynamite Kid AND Bull Nakano) on this blog in the coming months, for this entry we're shifting gears to a group known as Chella Toys. Based in the U.K., Chella Toys has been making waves with a line called Wrestling Megastars that attempts to continue the beloved Hasbro WWF line.

Chella Toys began with a figure of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis. While figures of indy star Ethan Page, Dynamite Kid, Hayabusa and Bull Nakano (who would've thought we'd get two figures of the joshi legend?) are upcoming, the second release stars none other than The Blue Meanie. Following this blog for over a decade as I'm sure you have, you know that I feel Meanie has been very underrepresented in the action figure world. Despite being a living cartoon character Meanie did not receive a figure in either his ECW or WWF runs. This was probably due to timing. Several years ago he finally saw a plastic representation in the Figures Toy Company Legends of Professional Wrestling line, but that one suffered greatly in quality. In the mean(ie)time, The Blue Guy did join the Micro Brawlers mini-figure lineup.

I think we've finally gotten the Meanie that we all deserved. Shouldn't the most beloved cartoony wrestler join the ranks of the most beloved cartoony wrestling figure line? In a word, yes! He's here and he's dancing. The Meanie comes packaged with "Josh Shernoff." I've guested on podcasts but I generally don't listen to them. From what I understand, seeing as that Meanie's shirt is from his "Mind of the Meanie" podcast, Shernoff is his co-host. The inclusion has divided a lot of fans. For me, it took away the burden of wanting a second set to get signed since I just really wouldn't want a podcast host to sign anything. I'm sure he's a great guy and is thrilled to have a figure. It's not a bad figure and comes with a very cool removable "Mind of the Meanie" microphone accessory.

The main event here is Meanie. How great is this little guy? The pose, the facial expression, the short shorts. This is what we've all wanted for a couple of decades. The folks at Chella Toys obviously have a great grasp on what made the Hasbro WWF line as popular as it is even today. It captures the spirit in a way that many of the Mattel retro figures quite honestly didn't. Even the backer cards on these Chella releases (I own the Aldis figure as well) are of the same thickness of cardboard that Hasbro used all of those years ago. The Mattel stuff was, for lack of better terms, cheap and flimsy. Is it that expensive to get a better quality cardboard for loyal fans paying good money? Chella Toys doesn't think so. They delivered.

Two aesthetics that may be cons with fans do exist. Some collectors probably would've preferred a different shirt on the figure. Seeing as that his podcast is probably something that he'd like to promote, it's easy to see why that shirt was used over a Blue Meanie or bWo shirt. Even though I've never heard the podcast I don't mind the shirt at all. It even promotes his social media accounts on the back. The other issue some may have is with the "Real Megastar Action." As a take off on the classic Hasbro "Real Wrestling Action" of each figure in that line, the Wrestling Megastar line has followed suit. The difference is that it's tongue-in-cheek and none of these figures have an action beyond you posing them. I actually think it's rather cute and the classic "action" callout on the card is much more endearing than a useless stand or an even more worthless advertisement for an app game. Mattel, I'm looking at you.

What a great new addition to the Hasbro-styled collection! I went the eBay route on these through a reputable United States based seller. There is apparently an "official" distributor of these in the U.S., but by many accounts that individual is less than trustworthy. For future Chella Toys releases I'll probably stick to eBay. I definitely want to get my hands on a Bull and probably a Dynamite who is designed to match the Hasbro Davey Boy Smith. Another independent toy maker is bringing out a Hasbro-styled line as well, so I could see possibly picking up some of those and reviewing them as well. But until then...

Meanie Dance!!!