Monday, October 5, 2015
I've been a pro wrestling fan for a very long time. I was always fond to the toys and played with the ones my cousin's house when I visited. I always got stuck playing with the B and C roster guys while he got to be Hulk Hogan or Jake 'the snake' Roberts. It was always a sort of one side ass kicking contest when I had to be Virgil or the Berzerker or (for God's sake) Texas Tornado. I never had any of my own till I was much older and the JAKKS toys WWF figures were the big thing. I've since sold off all my JAKKS figures (except for a few) and invested my money in improving my LJN, Remco and Hasbro wrestling figure collection. While I'm not a completest (well, except for the LJN figures because they display so well), I've only really grabbed what I've come across that I've liked. I'd like to give you the top 6 wrestling figures, in my opinion of course and in no particular order. Why top 6? I'm giving you more than 5, what do you want from me?
Vampiro Canadiense from CMLL wrestling
Oh glorious Canada! Land of snow, maple syrup, hockey, and dreadlocked goth wrestlers that know Spanish and hang out with ICP. Wait, what? This amateur pro wrestler turned amateur hockey star turned rock & roll drifter turned Mexican wrestling star turned Mexican soap opera star turned WCW wrestler turned goth rapper allegedly got his training from none other than Abdullah the Butcher, one of the most brutal pro wrestlers before "hardcore wrestling" was even a thing (also makes some damned mediocre BBQ, look it up). Anyways, with such a unique look you'd think companies would have been chomping at the bit trying to get a figure made of the Canadian Vampire, right? Well, not exactly.
Back in the early 90s, a toymaker made CMLL (Consejo Mudial de Lucha Libre) figures of all the top stars of the time. These were nice, sturdy, hard plastic figurines just shy of the official LJN WWF figure size that came on gray cards with lots of good graphics and live pictures from the actual events. The figure assortment included international greats like El Ultimo Dragon and many others. But the stand out figure was Vampiro. He was a very sought after figure for the time he was active in WCW and even after that while he was in ICP's wrestling association. Sadly, in 1992 I saw them at a discount store at the local mall for a little over a buck a piece and my mom gave me the choice of all 6 different CMLL figures or 3 Dick Tracy figures (they were slightly more expensive), I made a boner move and went for Dick Tracy figures.
I was never one to pay top price for a figure I was only mildly attracted to. I had the Toy Biz WCW figures (the ones with the very cool rooted dreads) but I still kind of wanted it. I recently picked up this figure while at a friend of mine's collectibles store in Downtown St Pete. I've talked about going into Planet Retro a lot but the store has some really awesome stuff that keeps you coming back over and over again. On the top of a bin full of loose LJN figures I found Vampiro in not exactly the best of condition. I got a very good deal on the figure (I bought a bunch of stuff at the same time so I'm not sure what the breakdown was and I don't really care), went home and washed him down in warm soapy water, used acetone to remove all the stray marks and strip the paint off of his hair and upper tights and touched the whole thing up in Vallejo paints. It's for my personal collection and if I do sell him down the road (the market has certainly cooled for demand of this figure so he'd have to die or start wrestling again for value to increase) I make no bones about letting someone know I've touched up the figure significantly.
Abdullah the Butcher from Remco's AWA line
Outside of the really awful one released about 10 years ago, this was the only figure ever made in his likeness. The detail wasn't the greatest but this is just about a 30 year old figure. Like I mentioned before, Abdullah the Butcher was the godfather of hardcore wrestling before it was a thing and I admire that watching some of his old matches from overseas. Also, it marked a change in Remco's basic figure design. A new torso was created to produce wrestlers a little more accurately who weren't as muscular as the rest. He's a cool figure and really the best one they've made so far.
The Giant from Toy Biz WCW series one
I always thought this was the best figure out of the first half dozen series Toy Biz produced. They stayed in the same vein as the Hasbro figures and unfortunately that worked against the figures most of the time. Action features got squeezed into every figure and rarely did they work as intended and most of them made the figure look ridiculously misshapen. The likenesses were hit and miss but some got it close enough. The Giant mixed that almost got it likenesses with silly action feature that actually worked well enough. The choke slam feature sometimes threw the opposing figure across the ring, which was good enough for me since it was the freakin' Giant.
The Great Khali from JAKKS WWF Ruthless Aggression line
Not a great wrestler but a great figure. Huge, imposing and a totally unique sculpt is what really attracts me. The face, captured in mid primordial scream, also is an attractive feature. Probably very much needed because with a closed mouth this guy looks like one of those Easter Island heads. While JAKKS was in business, they got as much mileage out of this sculpt because we all know toy companies try to avoid too many unique molds. The more unique bodies or accessories, the higher the price gets. Still one of my favorite releases from the JAKKS WWF line.
Doink the Clown from Hasbro's WWF line
Take a line full of squat, burly looking men and add a clown with real rooted hair. Marketing brilliance indeed. This figure was sought after upon it's release and didn't cool off for several years. Now, I've bought numerous collections in the past and I never see this figure loose. The ones I find online loose don't have particularly good paint jobs due to being played with rough. I don't have many of the Hasbro WWF figures, if I had to guess it would be less than a dozen and I've used most for customs, but I do have a Doink in fairly good condition. I think I'd more than likely shit myself if a muscle-bound clown the likes of this came running at me. I don't scare easy but damn if that face isn't terrifying.
George "the Animal" Steele from JAKKS Classic Superstars
JAKKS WWF classic superstars line brought the fans an amazing amount of awesome figures over it's 20+ series releases. Everything from nWo Hogan, Brutus Beefcake, Shockmaster and even Kona Krush (but no "Macho Man" Randy Savage, sigh!) but one of the most memorable releases was George "the Animal" Steele. He wasn't much different than the rest of the series; great attention to detail and a really good likeness....is that HAIR? Yes, they glued "real" hair to his chest. George, outside of Prince Albert, was probably the hairiest wrestler to ever step in a ring. JAKKS gave us that extra added realism by furnishing a fuzzy figure for the fans.
Slick from LJN WWF wrestling superstars
An 8 inch rubber pimp (in)action figure. He was literally the watered down version of Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch. The removable hat was a nice touch.