WWE | Pro Wrestling

A WWE Wrestling Figure Retrospective – Part 1

LJN Hulk Hogan Pyrotechnic Introduction

With the year coming to an end, a new era is upon us in sports entertainment.

I am not talking about the much needed end of the WWE brand extension; I am not talking about TNA Impact permanently moving to Mondays; I am not even talking about WWE instituting a pets championship where Damien will fight Matilda in the finals of the tournament. (None of those are planned to happen, as of press time.)

So what am I talking about? Mattel.

That’s right! The brand that has brought us the quintessential perfect girl for over half a century, Barbie, is now throwing its hat, its mold, its plastic, its everything, into the world of World Wrestling Entertainment. This does not mean that a new WWE Diva named Barbie will debut…wait, that already happened 10 years ago…

What this means is that WWE figure enthusiasts, collectors, and fans will now be staring at brand new packing housing brand new model replicas of their favorite superstar presented by Mattel.

WWE fans are in for an initial shock when the first wave, as they call them, of Mattel WWE figures hit store shelves on January 1, 2010. These are not the figures we are used to. But time’s change and so do figure lines.

By all means, this is not the first time wrestling figure aficionados have had to suck up their emotions and store away their collections for a whole new slew of figures from a different company.

Since 1996, Jakks Pacific has been bringing WWE superstars’ and divas’ likenesses to our homes in the form of 6 inch pieces of PVC, paint, and fabric, but now their monopoly of the WWE figure market is being run over by the Barbiemobile.

But before Jakks, wrestling figures collectors and those who played with them and had their own federations, I’m not naming names, bought from other companies that will always have a place in the hearts and memories of those who were a part of those nascent years.

Let me take you on a stroll down wrestling figure memory lane. Hold on to your accessories. They may get lost along the way.

Next Up: LJN Starts the Fun

LJN Starts the Fun

Beginning in 1984, the World Wrestling Federation signed a deal with LJN. LJN’s figures were 8 inch slabs of rubber molded into the image of a superstar. The first series of the line called Wrestling Superstars featured Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, Jimmy Snuka, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Iron Sheik, and Hillbilly Jim.

Though the figures did resemble their namesakes, these originators did have some fallbacks. For one thing, it was rubber, nonmalleable rubber. For instance, in Series 6, Rick Rude’s pose was with his hands holding his waistline on his pants. You couldn’t even do the Rude Awakening with the way the figure was posed! You couldn’t even do a clothesline! You couldn’t even…well, you could do the Rude patent swivel the hips move…but, who did that?

Moving on.

Another drawback was that if you did play with them, not naming names, the paint would come off shortly after the opening bell. Series 5’s Honky Tonk Man was cool, he came in his Elvis gear with a guitar and all, but it seemed his outfit wasn’t the only thing colored blue. After brutal beating after brutal beating, the entire figure would turn blue! Face, hands, everything! You may not have known it at the time, but the Honky Tonk Man was the first member of the Blue Man Group.

Another negative, or positive depending on what end of the fight you were on, is that these figures could do some damage to the human body. If your brother or sister was bugging you, throwing an Andre, a Kamala, or even a 1980’s Vince McMahon commentator figure, would stop your sibling’s annoyance post haste.

And don’t even get me started on putting that ring together! I needed a toolbox to get those ropes in the turnbuckles and then if I wanted to reenact the Wrestlemania 2 main event, putting the cage on the ring took up most of the match! I was the only 1st grader with my own tool kit because of this stinkin’ ring!

But those are shortcomings of being the first, I suppose.

Find all of your WWE figures and accessories new and old on Amazon.com by clicking here.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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