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Jerry “The King” Lawler
7 Inch Scale
Jerry Lawler has lived a pretty incredible life. From appearing in major motion pictures to feuding with stand-up comedians, he’s hung out with Batman, wrestled Frankenstein and nearly died on national television. Lawler’s life has been outrageous and his life story is worthy of an entire series of books. Through it all, The King has managed to remain pretty level headed and aside from an affinity for young women, he’s remained mostly scandal-free.
I would imagine most people today know Lawler from the WWE, where he’s been the voice of Monday Night Raw for the past 20 years. By the time Lawler first stepped foot into a WWE (then WWF) ring, I had been watching him for decades. Lawer was the King of Memphis wrestling, which was, without a doubt, the hottest wrestling territory of all time. Other areas may have drawn bigger crowds or made more money, but Memphis was consistent. Memphis was the last territory to die, falling apart during the Monday Night Wars, whereas every other territory died in the 80’s. Hell, Memphis might still be around today if it weren’t for some bad business deals.
And a huge part of that was Jerry Lawler. He was Memphis’ top draw and even today, Lawler can still draw a crowd in Memphis like few others. While I didn’t grow up in Memphis, I grew up in one of the surrounding areas that fell under their territory. That meant that Jerry Lawler was in my town once or twice a week and on my television screen just as much. He was as much of a local celebrity (like a weatherman or something) than he was a bona fide TV star. Lawler remained the top Memphis star for decades and as a result holds the world record for amount of championships held. Nobody else is even close.
Jakks made by my count, six versions of the King during their run with the WWE license. Perhaps even more. For some reason though, Mattel really dragged their feet on getting around to Lawler. I suppose the story is that kids might have a hard time relating to buying a figure of an “old man” but Lawler has mostly seemed eternally young. Likewise, he spent the better part of 2011 competing for the WWE Championship. In fact, the WWE was within a cat’s whisker of putting the belt on the King. Even a few months ago Lawler was giving CM Punk a run for his money, before having a heart attack, that is. I was starting to wonder if Mattel wasn’t going to make a “Superstar” Bill Dundee figure before they got around to Lawler. Thankfully Mattel finally got a King out into the stores. But is he worth the wait?
1 1/2 Inch scale
Perhaps the best figure of the bunch in Lego’s Series 8 of Minifigures, is the Diver. He seems like a deep sea diver to me and he’s got all the traits of a classic, fun little figure. Sure he’s not as exciting as an alien or a robot, but it’s the little things that help this figure stand out. From the magnifying glass in the helmet to the lead boots, there’s just enough small details to make the charm factor on this figure, second to none.
I was torn on the title of this article, but I figured this one would be the most eye catching. Other potential titles included, “Toys that would be on clearance in 2 months, now worth $1,000s of dollars”, “The most valuable ReMego toys to date” and my favorite, “Django UnBayed”. The story, if you haven’t been keeping up, is that NECA’s Django Unchained Mego-like figures have stirred up quite a controversy. It’s certainly not the first time a toy has been controversial and it’s hardly the first time in the last few years that protesters have convinced someone that an “adult collectible” is being sold to children in a toy store.
Of course, times change. Matchbox got into quite the controversy in the 80’s when they made Freddy Krueger figures that WERE marketed to kids. But nobody bats an eye at Krueger figures lining the shelves of Toys R Us anymore. We have action figures of everything from fictional murderers to real life serial killers. You’d think we’d be past the days of a plastic toy getting people up in arms, but we’re not.
So what makes this controversy different? Slavery, I suppose. You see, at the heart of the issue is the concept that kids will buy these toys and play “slavery” with the dolls. As someone who played with toys far longer than he had any right to, I’m sure certain aspects of slavery already creeped into my toy playing. Weren’t Rocksteady and Bebop basically slaves to Shredder? But I digress… Even though these toys are aimed at adult collectors, it was first that we had to “think of the kids” and how they might be exposed to such horrors.
Even though none of these figures had made their way to Toys R Us yet (one assumes they would have eventually), they were pulled from the virtual shelves. Now we couldn’t just protect the children, we all needed to be protected. You see, we live in a strange world. You can own an AK-46 assault rifle, but you can’t own a toy from a movie where someone was a slave in it. In America, as long as it’s not hurting anyone, you can complain and get rid of it. Just try and find a t-shirt with the Kentucky Wildcat penis tongue on it anymore. But guns, those are okay. You can buy a rebel flag, dynamite, beer and a katana at the local flea market on Sunday, but not toys about a slave hero from a movie.
Perhaps what makes this so interesting is that the brouhaha went national. It garnered the attention of the Weinstein Company, producers of the film, who then forced NECA to stop making the figures. They even made NECA go so far as to call for the toys sold to retailers to be returned. Since the toys had just barely hit and not yet made it to larger retail chains, it’s pretty easy to stop these toys cold.
The figures are so rare that protesters can only carry pictures of the figures to complain about.
That more or less negates the need for a protest, no?
Apparently, the National Action Network and Project Islamic Hope, two civil rights groups at the center of the storm, felt the figures were commercializing the slave experience. Of course, one could easily argue that the movie itself does the same thing. And we know there will be other Django merchandise, t-shirts, hats, Slurpee cups. It’ll happen and that’s just as much commercialization as anything else. So why are toys persecuted? Because nobody stands up for toys. Toys are still considered “children’s playthings” in the minds of the masses.
Yet, despite all that, the figures have been selling for hundreds and thousands of dollars on Ebay. The highest auction I could find was over $5,000 for a set of figures. At least until today, as Ebay wants nothing more to do with Django. Ebay has removed all of the auctions, at the behest of complaints, because it violates their “racially or ethnically offensive” policy. Even though Ebay pulled the items down, several have popped back up, all at inflated prices. Ebay’s jump into this mix will likely briefly increase the figure’s worth but I suspect over time, if Ebay continues to pull auctions, the price will plummet. Nobody really wants these figures, they only want them because they’re rare and controversial.
It was just the other day I was talking about the leaked info on the New Ninja Turtle Figures for 2013 and now I can show you detailed photos of all the speculated characters. Although Toy Fair is a few weeks away, the Hong Kong Toy Fair is already producing some information, including our first look at all the new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product.
Much to my surprise, the Mousers are not a retread of the 2K3 sculpt, but in fact the most comic accurate Mouser sculpt ever done by ANY company. They look to have articulated heads, jaws and legs, but not knees. Playmates could have easily re-released their stellar 2K3 sculpt, but I have to give them props for this new Mouser sculpt. Even if I actually think the 2K3 sculpt is more accurate to the Nickelodeon source material. These Mousers will be super popular, and although it’s a 7 pack, it appears that half the Mousers are black. I’m not sure what that’s about.
Our first look at the new Shredder and Splinter is sort of disappointing. On one hand, Shredder comes with a cape now and a second unmasked head. He also may have knee joints, or at least knee bends in his sculpt. Splinter, on the other hand, is in some sort of training suit and he looks pretty terrible. Also in the lineup is our first look at some new unannounced figures, like the Toddler Turtles and special mission suit Turtles. The Toddler Turtles look fun, but don’t look better than the 2K3 versions. I’ll probably still pick them up, though.