When it comes to wrestling, there are a ton of promotions floating around. The promotion that tends to stand out above the crowd and consistently remain relevant, is the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment. This is why we will be focusing today specifically on WWE figures. Some of us will remember that the WWE used to be referred to as the WWF(World Wrestling Federation), which
makes older WWF figures more highly collectible. As most of us know, collecting wrestling figures, or anything wrestling related for that matter, can prove to be a spendy hobby. Throughout the years the action figures produced for World Wrestling Entertainment superstars have steadily evolved, with added personalities and updates to rendering and articulation. It is common, more so nowadays, for many wrestling figure to also come with a line of accessories. From breakable and rebuildable tables, to ladders and trashcans, and also belts and apparel, WWE figures pack a Super Kick into their product assembly.
WWE Stands Tall
The WWE has been around for a long time. Formerly the World Wrestling Federation, it was changed to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002 for reasons that would take entirely too long to discuss.(darn those pandas) WWE actually dates all the way back to the 1960s and the World Wide Wrestling Federation, always bound and determined to showcase their wide array of often muscle-bound characters.
Many of us remember classic personalities, such has Hulk Hogan, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and The “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The insane and over the top gimmicks offered real life versions of superheros and villains intertwined in an in-ring spectacle! Not too uncommon from the gladiators of Rome, crowds poured in to witness the events that the company, which would become the WWE, put on for their often roaring crowds.
The Evolution of the WWE Figure
Having purchased and been gifted wrestling figures since I was born back in 1986, and seeing the value some older figures have accumulated has made it difficult sometimes to decide if I wanted to display the figures in their packaging or actually remove them from their boxes and interact with my immortalized heroes. The evolution of the WWE figure has been a very long and winding road.
Back in the 1980s, a company called LJN produced the first figures for the growing wrestling company. These figures were non poseable, as they didn’t have an articulation, but they did provide a rather accurate depiction of their in-ring counterpart. LJN, not only the first to have a figure contract with WWF/WWE, didn’t produce figures for a long time, making any LJN WWF figure highly collectible.
When LJN closed their doors, Hasbro put out their first interpretations of the superstars in 1990. This time there was a mild amount of articulation, as each figure included a “signature move.” The Ultimate Warrior’s arms moved up and down to utilize his gorilla press slam attack, and Shawn Michael’s figure had spring loaded legs so he could fly into action. You could also pick up two packs of several popular tag teams. The first, and fairly basic version, of a toy wrestling ring was produced by Hasbro, giving the figures their grand stage, where many an adult and child would recreate their favorite matches, or create their own. These rings, and many hard to find variants(Moon Belly Kamala) or sought after prototypes are highly collectible.
- Jakks Pacific
By 1996 Jakks Pacific had taken over the license and eventually would feature much more points of articulation depending on the series the figure belonged too. Technology had advanced to the point of face and body scans, adding more realism to the figures. Jakks would also go on to place microchips in their WWE figures that would interact with play sets. The first play set was the TitanTron Live play set and was capable of playing snippets of superstar theme songs for their entrances. Later on they would release the Trash Talkin’ Stage which would recognize the superstars and allow them to exchange a series of “smack talk” between two figures. These chipped figures were less articulated than the “Deluxe Aggression” line, but tailored to the microchip interaction. The “Deluxe Aggression” line featured many more points of articulation, and even fabric apparel for some wrestlers. Before the end of their contract, they also produced several successful lines of WWE Classic Superstars that brought new figures of older mostly retired wrestlers, immortalizing them in their prime. Countless multi-figure collections, often containing six or more figures were made available by Jakks, as well as backstage playsets and more realistic toy rings.
January 2010, production shifted to Mattel. Mattel, being a much larger business than Jakks, was able to continue making EVEN MORE realistic WWE Action Figures. Several lines have been produced, offering less articulated and more basic models for a better price tag, as well as highly articulated figures that included accessories. Toy rings were more real than ever, with fabric ring aprons and real turn-buckles. Though, realism wasn’t always the focus, and more cartoonish rings with breakaway ring mats and crazier accessories are also readily available. The company also produces their own line of classic superstars, the WWE Legends line, even producing zombie versions of WWE Figures for several wrestlers. Mattel still continues to produce quality figures for WWE in 2017.
- Return of Jakks Pacific
Jakks Pacific would eventually sign back on in January 2015. Jakks caters more to Asian markets, and Mattel still creates, what fans seem to agree, are the more favorable figures. You can still pick up Jakks versions of WWE figures on American shelves, but many reviewers have noted that they pale in comparison to Mattel’s detail and value.
Collecting WWE Figures as a Hobby
Whether you pick up an older figure that is no longer produced, or the occasionally rare,(and sometimes not so rare) variant of an action figure, collecting WWE Figures can be an exciting hobby. Mattel still continues to produce quality figures, while Jakks seems to create a more sub par figure in comparison. With technology quickly advancing, sometimes a favorite superstar of old is re released with signature attire from a classic event, and can be fun to pick up and display for nostalgia. The new technology, of course allowing for more amazing details than figures produced during that time could have offered, and often with superstars and apparel that wasn’t released during the time period.
Every fan of Professional Wrestling knows that superstars like to take the event outside of the wrestling ring at times, and with that comes backstage accessories and play sets, as well as many tables, ladders, and chairs to collect and pummel your other WWE figures with. You can purchase announcer tables and full arena setups, complete with guard rails and entrance ramps(often sold separately) to showcase your figures. There are even steel cages, backstage play sets, elimination chambers, and many more new accessories being created every month. Picking up these awesome accessories can help you create or recreate your own wrestling matches and moments.
- Completing Your Set
Announcers and referee figures are usually more rarely released, so collecting them to add to your set is of high importance to people who make wrestling collections their hobby. Sure, you can have your announcers table and your ring, but you need announcers to sit behind the table, so they can be involved in the carnage when your Randy Orton figure decided to put another superstar through it. Referees also add realism to your matches, and displays.
WWE Figures are Just, Plain, FUN
Whether you’re an adult that collects wrestling figures for nostalgia and display, an adult posing as a child that still plays with action figures(nothing wrong with that!), or a child who is a fan of Professional Wrestling, collecting WWE figures is just, plain, FUN! With so many wrestling figures available, and more upcoming superstars being put into the lineup every day, there are far too many to collect them all. The options are vast, which makes being able to be picky about your selection pretty easy when you want to pick up your favorite superstar. Sometimes, however, a superstar is released in limited amounts, and the fun comes from rushing to the store to try to be the first to pick one up before they sell out. You can opt to pickout a cheaper priced basic figure, or a deluxe figure, even search the internet for discontinued or harder to find figures, but you’re sure to find something in your price range that will provide joy to the hearts of any Pro Wrestling fan.
Now you can show off your WWE figures to friends and also trade them back and forth like many people do with their beloved Pokemon Cards. The industry of Professional Wrestling is constantly expanding, and there are some pretty great fans out there. Maybe you have a favorite superstar, so you make it your goal to grab up every instance that they are immortalized in action figure form. Then of course you will also have to pick up one of their rivals to fight/be displayed with. Let’s not forget the many variants that sometimes come out. Sometimes you might pick up a superstar from a particular series that has a different shirt, paint scheme, or sculpt, often making them more collectible and just plain fun to collect.
So maybe you already own a handful, or maybe like myself, an entire storage crate full, of WWE figures. Maybe you are just looking to pick up your first figures, and want to know what’s out there. Professional Wrestling provides an incredible entertainment outlet for millions of people, and collecting WWE figures is a huge part of the experience. Don’t be scared to pick up some action figures, even if some people still call them dolls. WrestleManiacs love their WWE toys. Wrestling fans are, for the most part, an amazing breed of people, and starting your figure collection is a great way to get involved. Whether you’re cheering your favorite star, or booing the heel you love to hate, it’s pure excitement. We’re thrilled to have you here with us at WrestleManiacs.