Category Archives: Wrestling

“THE NATURAL” BUTCH REED

WCW-Butch fullWCW WRESTLING

Black History Month rolls on and I have another black action figure review for you.  Today I’m taking a look at Butch Reed.

Butch Reed made his debut in the WWF in 1986.  It was shortly after that when I became familiar with him.  I don’t remember his debut as I was just getting into WWF wresting around that time. He was already an established presence when I started watching.  He fought and defeated “The Birdman” Koko B. Ware at the legendary Wrestlemania III where Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant.  Apparently he went on to have memorable feuds with Tito Santana and Don “The Rock” Muraco.  I remember all the fighters but the details of the match-ups are pretty blurry to me now; I would’ve been 8 or 9 when all this was going down.  The main thing I recall about “The Natural” Butch Reed is his blonde hair.  One of the reasons I don’t remember much about him may be because his stint in the WWF was quite short; he left shortly after Wrestlemania IV in 1988.  WWF was the only wrestling promotion I cared about so when he left the organization he may as well of fallen of the face of the Earth as far as I was concerned.WCW-Butch photo

I was aware of the WCW and knew who the stars of that federation were, mostly by way of generic wrestling magazines, but I never watched it.  I knew that Butch signed with them after his WWF departure but I knew next to nothing about the path his career took.  It was actually pretty interesting to read his wikipedia page in preparation for this review and to learn about what came after the WWF and even more so what came before.WCW-Butch Pillman

 

 

From ’83 to ’86 he fought in an organization called Mid-Soutch Wrestling where he fought under the name Hacksaw.  The Nickname put him at odds with Jim Duggan, the other Hacksaw.  Mr. Duggan is the only Hacksaw I was ever familiar with because he carried that nickname with him when he entered the WWF some years later whereas Butch made the change to “The Natural”.  I only ever knew Reed as a bad guy (or “heel” in wrestling jargon) so its neat to  learn that he started out as a good guy (also known as a “face”) and the tag-team partner of the Junk Yard Dog.  After Reed became a heel in Mid-South he took on a new partner, Jim Neidhart, I guy I know as “the Anvil” from WWF.   Reed later switched back to being a face and had feuds with baddies like Ted Dibiase and Kamala.

Loved these trading cards when I was a kid.  Had the whole set.

Loved these trading cards when I was a kid. Had the whole set.

After WWF he fought in WCW as part of a masked tag-team known as DOOM along with Ron Simmons. He and Simmons were eventually unmasked and ended up feuding with each other.  Thing have been relatively quiet for Reed since he left WCW in 1992.  though he’s fought for smaller regional promotions here and there.  The best thing I learned from his wiki page is that he’s still alive.  So many wrestlers from my childhood have passed away so it’s nice to check in on a guy like this who I haven’t give much thought to for the past few decades and find out he’s alive and well.

As kids I, along with my brother Doug, managed to collect nearly the complete collection of LJN’s big rubber WWF wrestling figures.  We loved those things.  Unfortunately they never made a Butch Reed.  However, I had a double of Koko B. Ware and so I painted the double’s hair blonde and used it as Reed.  I’m not sure why I had a double of the Birdman but I may have acquied it specifically to create a custom Butch Reed…I can’t recall for sure.WCW-Butch slam

After LJN lost the WWF license Hasbro began putting out smaller articulated WWF figures which I didn’t like nearly as much as the big solid rubber ones.  Meanwhile, Galoob began releasing WCW figures right around the same time.  Galoob’s figures were solid unarticulated pieces much like the LJN figures but they were smaller and more-or-less to scale with Hasbro’s figures.  I wasn’t interested in the WCW characters who had never fought in the WWF, like Sting and the Steiner Brothers, but I was happy that Galoob finally provided me with a real Butch Reed figure.

Since this figure is of plain ol’ WCW Butch Reed, and not WWF’s “Natural” Butch Reed it doesn’t have the trademark blonde hair, but hair color aside this is a great figure.

The sculpts on the WCW figures were ahead of their time.  The likenesses are very good and the proportions are far superior to those found on the goofy Hasbro figures.  Butch’s hair is textured, he’s got veins sculpted into his arms, and his Nike sneakers have loads of nice details.

The key to a great unarticulated wrestling figure is the pose and Butch has a great one.  His arms are up and curved which is perfect for body slams, pile drivers, clotheslines, and a bunch of other essential moves.  I also like that he has one open hand and one closed fist as that allows for more possibilities as well.  Of the 3 WCW figures I have (I also have Lex Luger and Brian Pillman) Butch is my least favorite character but my favorite toy because of his great pose.  8 out of 10.

WCW-Butch compare

TED DIBIASE “THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN” (1990)

WWF-Ted fullWWF-HASBRO

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…WWF-Ted face

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.

LJN Dibiase

LJN Dibiase

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. WWF-Ted back

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). WWF-Ted real

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.WWF-Ted belt

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).WWF-Ted victory

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 10WWF-Ted pin

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.WWF-Ted me1WWF-Ted me2

SHAWN MICHAELS

WWF-Shawn MichaelsWWF

Man I loved wrestling as a kid.  I almost completely lost my taste for it into my teens but I do still indulge by throwing on a classic WWF DVD from time to time.  My brother Doug is still pretty into wrestling but mostly in a nostalgic way.  He collects toys of the guys who wrestled when we were kids and he reads their autobiographies but he doesn’t follow current going-ons in the WWE.  Recently he told me about a special he watched which ranked , I believe, the top 100 pro wrestlers of all time.  I was shocked when he told me that Hulk Hogan wasn’t number 1.  I know some of you people grew up in the age of Stone Cold and the Rock and you think they’re the best and that’s all well and good.  Some of you may be older wrestling fans who would rank some guy from the 70s in your number 1 spot, wrestling has been around a long time.  But as far as I’m concerned, as a child of the 80s, Hulk Hogan is the undisputed greatest wrestler of all time. Yes, I know he actually wasn’t that great of a wrestler but I’m taking the whole Hulkamania package into account; the prayers and the vitamins and all of that.  The guy was a goddamned super hero.WWF-Shawn Micheals package

Anyway, the guy who topped the list was Shawn Michaels, HBK, the Heartbreak Kid.  I don’t agree with this choice but that’s not meant as a slight to Mr. Michaels.  I was a HUGE Shawn Michaels fan as a kid.  That was long before he was known as HBK though.  Doug and I idolized the tag-teams of the 80s: the British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation, the Killer Bees, etc. Not only were tag team matches generally more exciting to watch, but the figures came in easily shared 2-packs.   Doug and I used to emulate our favorite tag teams when wrestling our stuffed animals.  When the Rockers, a team featuring a young Shawn Michaels and his partner Marty Janetty, came onto the scene Doug and I became instant super fans.  We were won over by their high flying acrobatic moves and their rock n’ roll attitudes.

When wrestling Scooby Doo and Stinky, our largest stuffed animals, in  our epic bedroom brawls it became common practice for Doug and I to tie our housecoat belts around our arms and legs in an attempt to replicate the Rockers look.  I was always Shawn and Doug was always Marty.  Pretending to be the Rockers was fun and all but we both so wanted LJN to produce action figures of the Rockers.  Back in those days LJN produced big solid rubber wrestling toys which were well sculpted and a blast to play with.  Sadly LJN lost the WWF license before they got a chance to produce any Rockers toys.WWF-Shawn Michaels-rockers

When Hasbro took over the WWF license shortly afterwards they began releasing shorter, articulated figures made of harder plastic.  Some of them were okay but in no way compatible with our beloved LJN rubber wrestlers.  Some of Hasbro’s toys down right sucked.  Their Jimmy “Super Fly”  Snuka figure received the lowest ranking I’ve ever given on this site (and yet for some reason it remains one of my most viewed posts??).  Hasbro released the first ever Rockers figures and unfortunately they were on the sucky side of the spectrum.  They shared the same action feature and construction as that god awful Snuka figure.  Their legs were stuck together and their oversized torsos could be pulled down over their legs, revealing a giraffe neck, in order to launch the figures into a drop kick or something.  Doug got the Marty out of the pack and I got Shawn.  I hated that Shawn Michaels toy but I played with it a lot anyway since it was the only Shawn Michaels toy available at the time.

I still own that figure and I still hate it.  He looks fat, has a growth on his back,  and his proportions are way out of whack.  You would never guess from looking at this figure that this guy would go on to make a solo career based on a heart throb persona.  I almost feel like I should go out and buy a better Shawn Michaels toy for myself as dozens have been made in the years since, but I just don’t care enough anymore.  This clunker shall remain my one and only Shawn Michaels figure.  I should give it a 1 but just because I idolized this guy so much and this was his first ever figure I’ll give it a 3 out of 10.

BRUTUS BEEFCAKE

WWE-Brutus LJN fullWWF

In my last post I told you about how much I loved comic books and toys in the 80s.  Another passion of mine that developed around the same time as my love of comics was my love of wrestling.  I went to local matches at the Halifax Forum whenever I could and I sat mesmerized in front of the TV every Saturday morning to see all of the latest WWF action.  It was like a soap opera and I couldn’t bear to miss a single episode because you never knew what you might miss if you didn’t tune in.  While toys based on my favorite comic book characters were difficult to find at the time, that was not the case with my favorite wrestlers.  Toy company LJN began producing solid rubber wrestling toys in 1984 and they continued to do so until 1989 when they lost the WWF license to Hasbro.  Those 5 years of LJN figures coincided perfectly with my need for wrestling toys.  Had they been released any earlier I would’ve been too young and by the 90s I was pretty much over wrestling all together.  I bought a few of the Hasbro produced wrestling toys in the early 90s but I never really cared for them (here’s why) and I had lost interest in watching the matches on TV by then.  But during that second half of the 80s I saw a ton of great matches and collected a bunch of great toys.  And while solid figures with no articulation wasn’t ideal for super hero toys (like the Hulk I reviewed yesterday)  I thought it was perfect for wrestling toys.  Those big solid LJN toys could take a ton of abuse.WWE-Brutus young

Brutus Beefcake joined the World Wrestling Federation in 1984.  My earliest memories of him were when he was a member of the Dream Team with Greg Valentine.  My brother Doug and I were always partial to tag teams and the Dream Team was a favorite of ours early on.  They were champs for a while but they eventually lost the belts to another one of our all-time favorite teams, The British Bulldogs.  Not long after that Brutus went solo and developed his new persona, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.

As the barber, Brutus’ new schtick was putting his opponents to sleep and then cutting off their hair.  I very much enjoyed him as the barber and his popularity sky rocketed during that period.  His outfits got flashier and flashier during his barber years.  Most of them, with their long tassels and barely-there pant legs, are straight up disturbing.  But this figure came out before he had made the switch to a solo act.  This is from his Dream Team days, when his outfits, while still loud, were much tamer by comparison. WWF-Brutis-barber

This figure features Brutus in some pretty spiffy pink pants.  I don’t think that I could pull off this look but I actually think Brutus can, mind you a lot of leeway is given to wrestlers and hair metal bands.  The spotted tights made this one of the most interesting looking figures of the LJN years.  He’s also wearing his “sexy” elbow high gloves.  Sadly his trademark bow tie is absent.

The face is kind of weird looking.  The sculptors captured his smugness but he looks more like a smug Jay Leno than a smug Brutus Beefcake.  And I’m just noticing now how strange his abs look.  With these unposable figures, having a good pose was critical and Brutus has a pretty good one.  Having one arm up and one arm down allows for a variety of simulated wrestling moves.

This is one of my favorite wrestling toys.  8 out of 10.WWE-Brutus LJN face

A funny side note: My brother Doug had this best friend named Brad for a couple of years during High School.  Brad’s grandmother lived across the street from us and one day when Brad was visiting he and Doug got talking and they became pals.  Doug started spending entire weekends out at Brad’s place in Cole Harbor.  This Brad kid was OBSESSED with wrestling.  He used to tell us that his high school had a wrestling league and that he was the heavy weight champ and that he wrestled in a mask.  No schools around here have wrestling teams (as far as I know) and even if they did  it definitely wasn’t WWF style wrestling with theme music and all that crap.  And yet Brad continually told us stories of his epic matches with foreign objects and managers and all that stuff.  When Doug would sleep over at his house, Brad would greet him in the morning and say that while Doug slept he had went to an early morning match and won.  It was ridiculous and yet Doug let Brad think that we believed it all.  Brad also told us that Brutus Beefcake was his uncle and that Brad had visited him in the States a few times and that Brutus had gotten him tickets to Wrestlemania one year.  This kid was so full of shit but it was interesting to listen to.  I wonder what happened to that guy…

MUMMY, COMBO, JUDO & MR. SPRAY

Muscles 2M.U.S.C.L.E. 

Way back in June of last year I reviewed a trio of M.U.S.C.L.E. figurines.  I can’t recall exactly what I said in that review but seeing as it was my first and only MUSCLE review up to that point I imagine I filled you in on the back story of this toy line.  To recap, they were tiny wrestling figures imported from Japan in the mid 80s that you could purchase in a variety of multi-packs:  large rectangular boxes (which big bro Doug and I used as the wrestling rings), small blister packs, and clear plastic garbage cans for some reason.  Doug and I each had a fairly sizable MUSCLE collection which was relatively easy to acquire given how small and affordable they were ( I actually have no idea how much they cost but I’m sure it wasn’t much).  The initial assortment of figures was only available in a solid flesh tone.  Later figures were released in solid green, purple and other colors but Doug and I’s collection was pretty much entirely flesh toned.  The few colored figures we had actually looked like knock-offs to me.

Much like the Battle Beasts of my youth these toys were basically a clean slate  Only a select few had names on the packaging and there was virtually no established back story.  The fact that they were wrestlers was pretty much the only story provided by the manufacturer.  Most of them didn’t look like wrestlers as there seemed to be absolutely no common thread amongst the figures. There were animal people and monsters and and all kinds of really weird stuff that only the Japanese could come up with.  Just look at the assortment of figures I’ve lumped together for this review and you’ll get an idea of the variety of characters within the line.Muscle pack

Regrettably I don’t recall all of the names that I gave to my MUSCLE figures when I was 8 years old.  I played with them a ton but I’ve barely looked at them in the past 25 years so any clever monikers I came up with have slipped through the cracks of my mind.  The only name that I truly remember from this particular lot is COMBO though I imagine the other names I just came up with for this review are pretty close to what I would’ve named these other guys back in the day.

Mummy is clearly some kind of bandaged up something with what I think is a long braid on the top of his head.  I colored his pants with a marker years ago which I regret doing.  It doesn’t look so bad on him but I really f***ed up some of my other MUSCLE figures when I attempted to color them.  Combo was a favorite of mine as a kid.  He’s clearly some sort of combination lock man.  I seem to recall him being a frequent title holder in my MUSCLE wrestling league.  Judo actually looks pretty close to human if you look past the absence of a nose.  He’s a pretty cool, straight forward figure who was a member of a pretty deadly heel tag-team of mine.  Lastly there’s Mr. Spray who is a living aerosol can.  I guess it’s no weirder than a combination lock man but at least Combo looked mean and tough; this guy looks fat and goofy.  But I like him regardless, he’s kind of cute.  I used to make him use his aerosol spray like a foreign object whenever the ref had his back turned.

I think I graded them individually last time so I guess I should again.  Mummy: 6, Combo: 8, Judo: 7, Mr. Spray: 7.

BRIAN PILLMAN

WCW-Brian PillmanWCW

I think the last wrestling figure I reviewed was a craptacular version of Jimmy Snuka.  Well today I’m going to review a much better figure of different wrestler with the same fashion sense as Mr. Snuka, Flyin’ Brian Pillman.  I loved my WWF wrestling figures when I was a kid.  Back in the day when the WWF aired on Saturday mornings Doug and I watched it religiously.  But the WWF figures that I have such a fondness for can hardly be called action figures.  They were just big chunks of molded rubber with zero articulation.  I imagine that some kids back then longed for more traditional action figures but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about those big clunky figurines produced by LJN.   I feel LJN losing the WWF license to Hasbro played a huge part in me losing interest in wrestling.  The Hasbro figures were smaller, chubbier, articulated (poorly) and made of harder plastic.  I collected the first wave or two of the Hasbro figures but for the most part they sucked balls and so I moved on.  Hasbro is to blame for that Snuka monstrosity so you can see what I mean.WCW-brianpillman real

Around the same time that Hasbro launched their WWF figures another toy company, Galoob, released their own series of wrestling figures based on the WWF’s only real competitor of the time World Championship Wrestling; or WCW.  I was never really into the WCW and probably only watched it a couple of times.  However there were so many cross over figures because wrestlers tended to change promotions quite often so I was familiar with most of the wrestlers in Galoob’s 12 figure line.  The line featured future Hall of Fame-ers like Sting and Ric Flair and other big names like the Steiners and Arn Anderson.  I owned 3 figures from the line, all of whom wrestled in the WWF at one point or another: Butch Reed, Lex Luger and Brian Pillman.  Doug had Pillman’s partner Tom Zenk along with Barry Windham.WCW-carded

 

 

The Galoob figures were leaps and bounds better than Hasbro’s offerings in my mind.  They were the same size but they had superior sculpting and lacked articulation, akin to the LJN figures.  I personally don’t think wrestling figures need articulation so long as they’re given a nice static pose.  Sure it makes moves like the figure-four-leg lock impossible but it makes them durable enough to take a real beating.  If I had dared to put any of my G.I. Joes or Transformers through the kind of abuse my wrestling figures endured I’d have nothing to show of my childhood but a bucket full of loose screws and broken plastic limbs.

The UK version with blue shorts

The UK version with blue shorts

My fondness of Pillman didn’t come from his stint in the WWF wither.  That occurred  around the time I was graduating from high school and I had been done with wrestling for years by then.  I discovered Flyin’ Brian when he wrestled in Stampede Wrestling based out of Calgary.  I barely remember watching Stampede Wrestling on TV as I would’ve been quite young but I remember really liking this guy.  He was my favorite wrestler in the company.  He had the same acrobatic stylings as the Rockers who were another favorite of mine and he seemed like a good guy.

I remember Pillman died a while back but I couldn’t tell you the specifics about it.  I read his wikipedia page before writing this to refresh my memory on the man and was kinda shocked to discover that he died at the age of 35 back in 1997.  His body was discovered in his hotel room after he failed to show up for his match against Dude Love/Mick Foley.   What shocked me was his age.  I turn 35 10 days from now so it’s kind of eerie.  Hopefully I don’t have any undiagnosed heart conditions like this childhood hero of mine.

This figure is a great representation of the man how I remember him.  He looks young and happy and ready to fight.  He’s got his long curly hair which looks wet from sweat here.  He’s wearing his classic animal print tights and he’s sculpted in a pretty good pose; perfect for diving off the top rope.  R.I.P. Brian.  7 out of 10WCW-Brian Pillman face

JIMMY “SUPERFLY” SNUKA

WWF

Jimmy Snuka is one of those great wrestlers who was just a little bit before my time.  I have very little memory of ever actually seeing him wrestle.  He left the WWF in 1985 which is right around the time my brother Doug and I were getting into wrestling.  I remember him faintly from the Hulk Hogan animated series but most of my memories of him stem from his late 80s /early 90s return to the WWF (around the time I was losing interest).  The first Snuka action figure was released by LJN in 1984 as part of their first wave of solid rubber WWF Wrestling Superstar figures.  He was released alongside wrestlers who were still huge at the time like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper.  The first wrestling figure that either of us ever got was Doug’s Junkyard Dog from that first wave of figures.  After that we were hooked and  eventually owned them all.  There were a few wrestling figures that I owned from those early days whom I knew even less about than Jimmy Snuka.  I eventually learned who Bruno Sammarino was though I never saw him wrestle and I still have no idea who Ted Arcidi was but his action figure saw just as much action as my favorite figures did.  

When ever we played wrestling, Doug and I would dump our entire collections into piles behind our backs.  We would reach behind us grabbing two random figures at a time.  These two figures would then square off in the ring and this was how we set up our wrestling cards each night.  This format meant every toy was used every time-no favoritism here.  Jimmy Snuka was never a major contender in our wrestling federation but he did okay.  His success was based more on the fact that he was a cool figure as opposed to being a a wrestler that I cared about in the real world.  I really liked those giant rubber wrestling toys because they were so different from all of my other figures. Even the bad ones were pretty cool.

LJN version

The same cannot be said of the wrestling toys released by Hasbro when they took over the WWF toy license in 1990.  These things, for the most part, totally sucked.  They were more akin to traditional action figures.  They were smaller, made of harder plastic and had moving joints.  I don’t think any of these changes were improvements over the rubber figures produced by LJN.  My Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka Hasbro figure is a great example of how bad this toy line was.  His proportions are a mess.  He has broad shoulders, giant arms, a melon head and little tiny legs. For an articulated figure he has almost no movement, his legs are molded together.  All of the Hasbro figures had an action feature and some worked out okay.  Snuka’s action feature is a total cluster f**k.  He has a large bump on his back which you press down on.  When you do this is legs are pushed up into his torso and his neck stretches out like MOTU’s Mekaneck.  The idea being that when you quickly released him from this compressed position he would soar across the wrestling ring to mimic the high-flying style for which he was known, thus the nickname.  It doesn’t work and it looks ridiculous.  These Hasbro figures probably had a lot to do with why I lost interest in wrestling actually.  Why I still have this one in my collection and not my LJN version is beyond me.  I’d like to compress and launch this thing into the ocean.  1 out of 10.

JUNK YARD DOG

WWF

Doug, still a wrestling fan.

Today I shall be doing my second joint review.  A few weeks ago I had my good pal Andrew pair up with me to review She-Ra and her horse Swiftwind.  Today my big brother Doug will be helping me along in my review of the LJN wrestling figure: Junk Yard Dog.  I had asked both Andrew and Doug to select a figure that we both owned.  I had to own it obviously because the name of this blog is “mike’s collection” and they had to own it so they could talk about their memories of the figure.  Pretty basic right?  Andrew was able to follow instructions but Doug came to me telling me that he had chosen Junk Yard Dog;  a wrestling figure which I have never owned.  I appreciated him participating in this little exercise but didn’t really want to write about a toy that I didn’t own myself.  So I asked him if he could maybe pick another toy.

ah…I didn’t realize it was supposed to be something you had too.  Makes it difficult for nostalgia things since we always had different stuff.

This is true.  It wasn’t often we had the same toys because as I’ve mentioned on here plenty of times we usually split collections down the middle.  I suppose I can indulge you this one time.  So why this figure?

I picked JYD because of all our toys growing up GI Joe was always the number one collection but I’d say wrestlers were number 2…and he was the first one we had.

You know I never really ever considered wrestlers as our number 2 collection.  We were both huge wrestling fans as kids and did have a lot of figures and we did play the hell out of them but I would go with Transformers of He-Man.  Maybe that’s more of a hindsight thing.  I’m pretty over wrestling where as you still collect the figures to this day.  I do recall you getting JYD and both of us loving the big solid rubber design.  So different from anything else we were into.  Do you remember when you got him?

I got him as a birthday present from one of my friends and although we knew some about wrestling we didn’t know a whole lot back in the days in Ontario…we didn’t get our second wrestler until after we moved here.  I think it was that summer at Grampas when we moved here that really got us started on it…then having Caroline, Ken and Valerie take us to see live wrestling.

Yeah those live events really won us over.  Did you even know who JYD was when you first got that toy?  I didn’t.

No I don’t think I knew who he was when I got him. The reason I chose him for this is because his origin is specific to us….for years he was the only wrestler we had….and yet we always had these wrestling tournaments for all of our toys to participate in…from the team of Mack and Sport…to Tomax and Xamot…to JYD and Mantenna

Ha. Oh yeah, I forgot about that team up. That’s awesome. Did your love of the figure translate into a fondness for the real guy?

Well he was certainly never a regular champion in our federation….and I really only remember him in real life for his WM3 fued with Harley Race.  Once we actually got all our wrestling firgures…he just faded into the pack after that and was never a particular favourite in the wrestling universe.  But I was excited when he was made as a Classic Superstar years later..because he does have that significance.

Yeah. I never paid much attention to him. When I think of the man, I think of the figure’s face as I know it better. The chain was a pretty cool accessory too.  Did you hold onto your original JYD figure or did you have to buy him over again?

I had to buy him again….I don’t have the chain anymore. So few of them had accessories too that was really cool.  Getting rid of the original is one of those toy regrets.

Yeah, I’ve got my fair share of those.  So what do you like about this figure?

I feel he was one of the guys with one of the better poses…he had both arms out so it was prefect to make him lock up at the start of a match and pick guys up for a bodyslam….I don’t know what they were thinking of when they approved that Rick Rude pose.

Horrible Rick Rude figure

I know. I hated that Rude figure. Is JYD still alive do you know?

Nope, he died a long time ago.  Sylvester Ritter I think was his real name.

Bummer. Well R.I.P. Sylvester Ritter I guess. Do you recall any of his specific matches?

The only real match I remember him from was in Wrestlemania 3.

Wrestlemania 3 was pretty influential to us.

Yeah, Billy Jack Hayes and Hercules always had that full nelson rivalry in our federation…Andre and Hogan were bitter rivals ( although Andre never did well since the figure had that afro which reminded me of Imperious Leader….WM3 really shaped our federation.

Best Wrestlemania ever.

Exactly…Adonis vs Piper, the debut of the Barber, The Bulldogs vs the Harts….I’d be lucky if I could even name the main event alone at any other wrestle mania.  But on the topic of buying JYD and so many over again…another significant thing about the wrestlers was just how careful and meticulous we were in taking care of our toys.  So many of the figs I have since bought are in rough shape…my Slick is pretty much just a gray slab of rubber.  These toys were made for smashing together but we would use permananet marker to replace any paint chip in a boot or hair..etc etc…Despite how often they were used our guys looked great.

Now I know you still play with your wrestling toys, not physically but you play out matches in your head and records stats like a psychopath.  How is the Junk Yard Dog Classic figure faring in your league these days?

He’s still a middle of the pack guy these days…KOKO B ware drags him down as his tag tam partner.  He needs Mantenna back again I guess…I seem to recall them doing pretty decent in the original tournaments.

A reunion would be pretty sweet.  Alright well let’s wrap this up, What would you rate this figure?

I’d give him a 7 out of 10…good figure…loved the LJNs…good pose….but he looked a little too nice.

JYD vs Rick Rude in great pants

KEN PATERA

WWF

Ken Patera had an impressive career as an olympic weightlifter, powerlifter, strongman and wrestler for many years before I ever heard of him.  I was introduced to him in 1987 when the WWF began hyping his return to wrestling after serving an actual prison sentence.  In the old days he was a bad guy or “heel” as they’re known in the wrestling world.  Upon his return he felt slighted by his former manager Bobby “the Brain” Heenan and so turned against him and his gang of thugs known as the Heenan family.  Patera was now a good guy or a “face”.   I remember watching wrestling as a kid wondering who this big brute was.  He quickly won me over by strangling Heenan with a belt and swinging him around the ring.  I don’t remember much about him after that as his hype was short lived.  Injuries resulted in him leaving the WWF in 1988.   For a short while before leaving he had teamed up with another rather forgettable wrestle Billy Jack Haynes.  The Patera-Haynes tag team may not have made waves in real life but in the wrestling federation that took place on my bedroom floor, well that was a different story entirely.

Just found this pic and felt compelled to include it

I’m not sure why we decided this, Patera and Haynes were far from out favorite wrestlers, but for some reason Doug and I gifted them with super-human strength.  It may have had to do with the sheer size of the Patera figure; it was an absolute beast.  I had fatter wrestler toys and taller wrestler toys but I think Patera was the biggest.  He was just so thick and heavy with enormous arms.  He looked like he could kick the ass of all my other wrestling toys put together: So he did.  I had Patera and Doug had Haynes.  I must’ve gotten the Patera figure after that team-up was already established on TV because I don’t ever remember a time playing with Patera as a solo act.  We made the Pater-Haynes team an unstoppable force of nature.  Able to lift the entire wrestling ring up if they felt like it to crush over some unsuspecting foes head.  Not to say that they never lost, bad guys have a way of finding a face’s weakness.  A well placed foreign object always did the trick.  Patera was strong but not invincible.  As a kid I looked up to wrestlers and some of them are genuine heroes of mine.  Ken Patera is not one of those guys.  I barely remember his matches and his short stint in the WWF had little impact on me.  I did however have a ton of fun playing with him so for that Mr. Patera I’m glad you never died of a drug overdose.  7 out of 10.

HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN

WWF

I’ll be honest, I never really cared for Hacksaw all that much.  He always played to dumb for my liking.  The U.S.A! U.S.A! chant was fun for a while and who doesn’t like watching a guy getting smoked in the head with a 2 x 4 but I found Hacksaw boring for the most part.  I believed Hulk Hogan’s patriotism but Hacksaw’s just never seemed genuine to me, maybe because he played up the moron schtick so much.  I liked him enough to buy his figure though, not once but twice.  I had the big original LJN version which I got rid of and then I have this smaller crappier one which I held onto.  I really didn’t care much for this line of figures from Hasbro but they were all that was available at the time.  Doug and I bought most of series 1 and 2 before losing interest.

As far as likeness’s go these figures were really hit and miss.   Some of them came out quite well while others just looked ridiculous.  Often times it had to do with the action feature being added to the character.  Duggan here is actually one of the better likeness’s in the line.  His big dumb yelling face captures the real thing quite well though I think a painted tongue would’ve helped a lot.  That flesh colored tongue just creeps me out.  The gut hanging over the top of his shorts is pretty accurate as well.  Duggan was never one of the “abs” guys.  His action feature is appropriate, if you lift his arms over his head they quickly swing down delivering a crushing blow.  He could lay a real beat down on you with his 2 x4 if only it would stay in his hand.  The swinging motion tends to send it flying.

That’s about all I’ve got to say about this guy. meh.  2 out of 10.