Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Wrestling Classic Figure Review--Hasbro WWF Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart

The Tank! He quit professional football because it wasn’t rough enough for him! You know who I’m talking about. The Anvil himself. Though he passed away several years ago, Jim Neidhart has never left the minds of wrestling fans. From his 2019 WWE Hall of Fame induction as a member of The Hart Foundation to new merchandise to his future-Hall of Famer daughter Nattie, The Anvil remains a beloved legend of the ring and is destined to remain so. The beard. The laugh. The brutish physique. Even the little pink hat from that second WWF Tag Team title reign. All iconic. All Neidhart. 

Today we’re looking at what was the first figure that I personally ever owned of Jim Neidhart. While he did have an LJN Wrestling Superstars figure that I acquired later, I still remember walking into the Greensburg, PA Toys R Us somewhere between December 12th-December 13th 1992 (my 10th birthday was the 16th) and being shocked to find an all-new Hasbro WWF figure series including Neidhart, Virgil, The Mountie, The Warlord and Sid Justice. Jaws dropped. Birthday money was spent. A good time was had by all…or at least by me. Many fans count their first exposure to these five figures as part of the beloved “Undertake Em All” ad that hit WWF Magazine in early 1993. I guess I lucked out by finding them early, though even at this point generally you had to grab what you saw as there wasn’t any guarantee that you’d run into them again. 

While four of these were completely new additions to my roster (Sid was no stranger to my figure world thanks to the Galoob WCW Sid Vicious figure), The Anvil was my favorite. Not only was it a dead-on likeness from top to bottom, but we finally had the second half of The Hart Foundation tag team. The issue many have with the figure is that it reflects Neidhart’s time in “The New Foundation” with Owen Hart, rather than Bret. Gone was the familiar pink and black attire and replacing it were baggy blue pants with yellow trim and black and white checkered boots. A matching Owen was to come in late 1993, but this attire wasn’t exactly from a memorable run for either. Years later we would all learn that an original Hart Foundation version of The Anvil had been in the works but was changed as his role did in real life. 

Personally, I’ve always loved the figure. The attire never bothered me with how well they captured his body type and the absolutely perfect “Real Wrestling Action” used for the figure. The facial sculpt is the perfect blend between realism and that slightly cartoonish Hasbro look. I’m also certain that I’m not the only one who had no issues teaming this figure with Bret. Did it matter that they didn’t exactly match? Not when there are tag teams like Demolition, The Natural Disasters and Arn Anderson & Barry Windham (my own personal Galoob-born Brain Busters-esque duo) to battle. Eventually The Nasty Boys would join that lineup, but I covered why they were late to the party several years ago in another edition of The Wrestling Classic Figure Review. 

By the time “New Foundation” Owen Hart came along I don’t remember teaming the two very much. I certainly paired “The Rocket” with Koko B. Ware to recreate their team of “High Energy.” Koko’s Hasbro actually wasn’t too far off from matching anyway. The “punching” arm of The Anvil eventually came fairly loose and I ended up buying a second on eBay in the late ‘90s. Further on down the road I picked up a carded example and was able to get it autographed shortly before Neidhart’s passing in 2018. Like nearly every Hasbro WWF figure, the price of a carded version has elevated in recent years with the average cost for Neidhart settling around $250. 

For those still looking for true “Hart Foundation” Hasbro figures, Mattel has announced that they will be part of the next WWE Retro four pack along with manager Jimmy Hart and Nikolai Volkoff. The Anvil prototype looks fun and is a must-have, but I think I’m remaining partial to the original in the case. 

Yeah, baby!

No comments: