Happy holidays Internet, ’tis the season to make list posts (fa la la la la, etc) and being the hack fraud that I am I’ve decided to get a piece of clickbait pie and try to put a full stop at the end of my fraught journey through this mad, bad and very weird year we called 2016. So what better way to chronicle my metamorphosis into a collector of odd and noteworthy wrestling figures than with a good old fashioned top 10 list of some of my favourite toys I’ve managed to get my mitts on in the last 12 months since starting this wacky odyssey through toyboxes past with brand new photos and some first-time micro reviews. So please enjoy this loving send-off to the year as I count down the Woeful Wrestling Figures Top Ten Toys of Two Thousand & Thixteen!
10) Maximum Sweat Undertaker
Of all the grotesque Maximum Sweat figures I’ve seen around, Undertaker somehow manages to transcend the ugly aesthetic of the line, claim it as his own and become a highly stylised and somehow appealing figure. Maybe it’s the over-muscled late 90’s comic book proportions or maybe it’s the fact I can’t help but envisage Rob Zombie in the Dragula video whenever I see him on the shelf. Either way I’m clearly blinded by nostalgia.
9) Vibrating OFST Giant
1997 was a more innocent age and nothing exemplifies that like realising that WCW licenced and marketed a solid lump of battery operated, vibrating plastic in the shape of someone called “The Giant”. Quite how no one saw “8 inch Vibrating Giant” as the horrendous double entendre it is is baffling. Thankfully they didn’t see it and I get to own one.
8) Face Flipping Batista
Months after spending ages laughing myself silly upon opening up this piece of hilarity I still find myself smirking every time I catch a glimpse of him from the corner of my eye. From the neck down this figure is a solid plastic love letter to mid 00’s decadence and that would be enough to secure a place for any of these two faced titans on this list but the ridiculously red face of Big Dave means he above all others represents his toy line here. Well done Dave.
7) WCW Vampiro
I’ve been wanting to talk about this figure for months now but always struggled to find enough things to say about it to fill a full review. In a nutshell, this is a superbly sculpted, articulated and detailed figure that goes an extra mile by having real string dreadlocks affixed to his head. One of the best WCW toys I’ve ever seen.
6) Create a superstar Ultimate Warrior
There’s nothing too remarkable about this toy other than the ability to completely dismember him if you so wish but the novelty of having something that adds a little more character to the Ultimate Warrior gimmick is very welcome indeed. Casting Warrior as an ancient Aztec or Incan war god is an inspired idea that plays directly to my taste for adding kayfabe back stories to existing characters. Esoteric as it may be, this is a figure designed seemingly for me and me alone.
5) Tuff Talking Goldberg
Get a load of this tower of power! A late arrival to the Woeful Wrestling Figures arena, big ol’ Billy Goldberg here immediately made a huge impression with his sheer mass and bulk. Perpetually towering over his plastic bretheren like a Kaiju monster from a Godzilla movie (Kai-Jew? Goldzilla?), Goldberg makes up for the sad news that his electronic gimmicks are beyond repair by the sheer comedy of his presence alone.
4) ECW Lance Storm
Whilst ostensibly an unremarkable figure on face value, this ECW branded toy of Lance (dramatic pause) Storm earns a spot on this year end rundown because of what he represents, improvement. Lance hails from the Original San Francisco Toy company who’s lamentable past is where the entire line of distressing vibrating WCW toys such as Giant from earlier. In two years they went from crap like that to the solid, stylish and most of all, playable ECW lines. These feel like a missing link between the chunky and robust classic Hasbro WWF figures of my childhood and the modern stylish and decorative Mattel WWE figures and Lance is my favourite one of the figures I’ve obtained so far.
3) Zombie Triple H
No figure I managed to grasp in my sweaty paws in 2016 was as badass as Zombie Trips. The gruesome idea to peel Haitch’s face off to replicate his signature skull motif was inspired and guaranteed this toy a permanent spot on my desk/toy palace. Easily the standout of the WWE Zombies concept.
2) The Prince of Fear
It all started with him. I never really expected to take this whole odd toys thing as far as I have but I had a need to occupy my thoughts but lacked the attention span to really enjoy doing the old Wrestling in the Clinton Years stuff. That seemed like too much work. So I took inspiration from Thew Adams, a transformers toy reviewer on YouTube who’s punchy, fast review style I greatly admired. So I did what all good Internet hacks do, I “borrowed” his “Knockoff Beatdown” formula and applied it to cheap unofficial wrestling toys. One of the first of which was this ghastly Kane-a-like with dubiously woeful attire and an even more dubious name. Thank you Poundland, you started me on this crazy ride.
1) Fake New Jack
No figure out of all I’ve reviewed best exemplifies what I was thinking of when starting this weird project. Every single inch of this figure is absolutely dreadful and hilarious in equal measure. Even the packet he came in is full of stolen official artwork laughably altered to try and hide it’s blatant copyright breaking. Taking an obscure ECW figure of the morally questionable New Jack, replicating it in awful plastics and slapping on a new head pilfered from some other poor figure all combine to make the quintessential and essential Woeful Wrestling Figures poster toy.
So there you have it, some fine and not so fine toys from all ends of the wrestling toy spectrum. From obscure gimmick lines to baffling experiments and from discount store fakes to official standouts. Before I sign off and get on with the business of enjoying this Christmas period I have the standard few schmaltzy thank you’s to end on, chiefly the lovely Bryan Barrera of WCWWorldwide.com who donated the Raw wrestling ring I use as set dressing along with a lovely Surfer Sting figure to bulk out my collection and Lee Cunningham, host of the Raw is Nitro podcast who has generously mad several donations to aid me tracking down some rarer items to review. Your contributions and enthusiasm for my work is gratifying and has been a great source of inspiration to keep going with this idea. And lastly a big thank you to anyone who has read, liked or shared any of the series so far it means more than any of you could possibly know. Enjoy the remainder of the year and this holiday season and New Year celebrations and we’ll all reconvene in 2017.
Thanks for reading.
Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida).