TED DIBIASE “THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN” (1990)
Well this is embarrassing. I told a friend that I’d review a wrestling figure in my next post so while at work the other day I pondered which one to review. I presently only have 3 wrestling figures displayed in my collection, an LJN Kamala in my bathroom, and Hasbro versions of Macho Man and Ted Dibiase in a display case on my man-cave wall. Since I see them all the time those were the first ones that came to mind. I opted to review the Ted Dibiase. I reviewed the figure from memory (which is what you’ll find below). But, when it came time to post the review tonight I discovered that I already reviewed this figure back in January of 2012. I guess after 600 + reviews I was bound to eventually review the same toy twice by accident. At least I took my own pictures this time. Some of this will be repetitive but I’ve added some new thoughts on this figure as well. He even scored a point higher this time. Enjoy…
I don’t have a ton of wrestling figures in my collection so I have to review them sparingly. But it has been a while so let’s take a look at another one shall we? I loved the solid rubber WWF toys produced by LJN when I was a kid. I had hours and hours of fun with them. I had a lot less fun with the Hasbro figures that replaced them after LJN’s WWF toy license expired. Personally, I found the solid rubber LJN figures to be superior to the articulated Hasbro figures of the early 90s on almost every occasion. But, when it comes to Ted “the Million Dollar Man” Dibiase, he was an exception to the rule.
The LJN Dibiase was one of my least favorite figures from that line. The biggest problem with him was the color of rubber he was molded in. As you are aware, most wrestlers are fairly scantily dressed. Usually boots, wristbands, and some tiny shorts make up the work uniform of most WWF superstars. Therefore it made sense for LJN to cast those big solid semi-nude toys in flesh colored rubber and then paint the shorts and boots afterwards. Less paint meant less cost. But, when it came to wrestlers like Million Dollar Man who wore a tear away tuxedo, or the Honky Tonk Man who wore an Elvis inspired rhinestone jumpsuit, it made fiscal sense to cast those figures in colored rubber and then paint the flesh tone on their face and hands. The LJN Dibiase was cast in black rubber. The only way to play with those toys was to bash them together in the wrestling ring. This resulted in frequent paint scuffs. When Dibiase would come down off the top rope to deliver a vicious elbow onto King Kong Bundy’s bald head a black skidmark was often left behind on Bundy’s forehead. Luckily these were fairly easy to remove with a rub of your fingernail. The problem with Dibiase was that when he was the recipient of an elbow, instead of taking a colorful scuff to his forehead, the flesh toned paint would rub right off of his face. It didn’t take long for my Dibiase to have a black nose and forehead; and no fingernail could fix it.
Beside the black rubber issue, the LJN Dibiase figure wasn’t posed very well for battle. He had a fistful of money and seemed to be leaning back in cowardice. My LJN Dibiase did not usually do to well in the ranks (My brother Doug actually kept a record book of every wrestler’s wins. We even awarded those with the most wins and longest unbeaten streaks Slammy Awards each year).
Ted Dibiase was one of those heels that I loved to hate. His character was just so despicable. I remember when he first entered the WWF. They hyped up his coming by showing vignettes of him belittling people by paying them to do stuff like lick his bodyguard Virgil’s toes.
When the Mattel figures came out most of them left me extremely underwhelmed. But there were two figures that I really liked; Macho Man and Million Dollar Man. It’s hard to believe this Dibiase figure is even part of the same toy line that produced clunkers like my previously reviewed Jimmy Snuka and Jim Duggan. This figure has unrealistic proportions, almost like he’s a dwarf, but it works within the stylized toy line. His tuxedo is black with metallic gold trim. It’s a much nicer looking and more iconic color choice than the purple of the LJN version.
The head sculpt is really nice. It’s not necessarily a great likeness but I still really like it. I think they maybe could have given him a more smug expression. This Dibiase looks a little too chilled out. The best thing about this head is that it isn’t prone to paint loss. This Ted’s face still looks like a million bucks even after all these years (see what I did there).
One of the things I liked least about the Hasbro toy line was the inclusion of spring-loaded action features. Those features are the reason why Snuka and Duggan look like freaks of nature. Million Dollar Man was blessed with one of the simplest, most effective, and least distracting features of the line. Spin his arm back and it swings forward to deliver a brutal “million dollar punch”. It swings with some serious force too. I hurt my fingers playing with this guy on more than one occasion. Lastly, the figure came with a super sweet version of his diamond encrusted million dollar belt. I’ve seen modern more realistic figures of Dibiase produced by companies like Jakks in recent years but I still think that this is the best Ted Dibiase figure released to date. 8 out of 10.
A quick side note: I didn’t go to my high school prom. I didn’t buy into that nonsense. But 3 years after I graduated a dear friend of mine asked me to accompany her to her prom before she moved away. I accepted, but there was no way I was going to wear a standard rental tuxedo. Luckily my mom is a professional seamstress (check out her handy work here) so she was able to produce a custom tux based on my design. The tuxedo was extremely wide legged which was a must for me at the time as a skateboarder/raver. As a color choice I went with a deep blue, almost purple, with reflective silver trim. My vest and bow-tie were also reflective silver. It may have been subconscious but I think its fair to say that Mr. Dibiase influenced my design.