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...