How do you get a wrestler in the mailbox? Apparently you have to mail away for these old LJN figures. Today’s Classic Comic Ad is from the early 80’s and the start of LJN’s World Wrestling Federation line. These first LJN figures were pretty rough, but it gives you an inside peek into who WWF was marketing at the time. One of the neatest parts of this ad is that it shows off the complete first series of guys, who would then go on to be bootlegged for decades later.

I don’t know if it’s the changing of the times or the fact that Jimmy Hart has become a close personal associate of Hulk Hogan, but it’s a bit odd to read that Hart wants “to lick” on the WWF Superstars. Classic Comic Ads can always point those things out, though. At the time when this was printed in WWF Magazines and comics, it didn’t seem perverted at all.

WWF Ice Cream bars by Good Humor were one of those things that completely slipped out of the conscience of most wrestling fans. At least until earlier this year when CM Punk brought them up in a promo. Punk spearheaded a short and unsuccessful campaign to get a new version of the bars made. It just goes to show you how wrestling has a different stigma attached to it now.

This old school ad has all the elements of a classic. I particularly like the packaging for the bars, which features only two wrestlers: Hulk Hogan and the Junkyard Dog. A lot of fans today don’t realize just how popular JYD was, but his inclusion next to Hogan should give you some idea. Another interesting twist is that the bars were officially named “WWF Superstars of Wrestling” bars. The WWE now no longer is allowed to call itself the WWF or use the phrase “Superstars of Wrestling”.

And you have to love the little quote at the bottom: Take it from the mouth, “Once you lick ’em, you’ll love ’em!” Yeah… That sounds perverted.

Know the latest tips in freelance job and some cool iphone apps for note-taking.

Huge news out of the video game world as a sequel to WWF WrestleFest, a remake of sorts, titled WWE WrestleFest, will hit all the Apple mobile devices as a downloadable game this week. I haven’t been more excited for a wrestling game since WCW vs nWo Revenge came out in the late 90’s. I am super stoked to check out the new iPhone WWE WrestleFest game! It’s supposed to be a reimagining of sorts, for the classic game.

The original game was made by Technos Japan and is considered by many (myself included) to be one of the best mainstream wrestling games EVER produced and easily one of the best arcade games of it’s time and all-time. WWF WrestleFest was a follow-up to WWF Superstars, which was also made by Technos. One of the big gimmicks of both games were the tag team tournaments. The original game had the nearly unstoppable team of the Mega Bucks (Andre the Giant and Ted Dibiase) in which Andre was basically invincible. WrestleFest featured the Legion of Doom, who although they were tough, were more balanced in that the both of them were super tough, but not invincible.

The game was designed mostly to eat quarters, but it had a lot of fun replay value, including the Royal Rumble option and even a STEEL CAGE match! Granted the cage match just happened, usually in a rematch mode, so you couldn’t pick it, but it was still fun. It was awesome stuff for the time and actually, it took decades for console games to catch up. I originally purchased WWF Wrestlemania for Super Nintendo, because it promised to be similar and had a lot of the same roster as WWF WrestleFest. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as good.

The best part of the classic game was the roster, which was the perfect mix of the 80s-90s WWF. You had all the big names, Earthquake, Mr. Perfect, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake The Snake, Hulk Hogan, Big Bossman, The Ultimate Warrior, The Million Dollar Man and freaking DEMOLITION! Not to mention the Road Warriors, who were unplayable, but still competed against you. The only weak spot was the Ax wasn’t in the game, instead Crush was part of Demolition. Of course, everyone just pretended Crush was Ax.

The only person missing from the classic game was Macho Man, but he’ll be in the new game. However it has not been confirmed that the new game will contain all the classic characters. One would presume that Hulk Hogan may not be in it, due to his ties with TNA, but Hogan’s video game license is different so the Hulkster may show up. One thing that is for certain, is that the game is hoping to rekindle some nostalgia and plans to have new characters in addition to the classics.

Unfortunately, this game is being made by THQ, which could mean it will blow chunks. THQ’s best games are ones that they had other companies develop, although that could be the case here as well. With a roster of some of the best from classic WWF and a variety of Attitude Era and current stars, this is looking like a game that any fan of wrestling or video games should purchase. With multiplayer mode allowing you to play against players across the globe, this could be the return of the modern arcade!

The gameplay is presumed to be a slightly more elaborate version of the classic gameplay and the graphics are clearly much worse than the classic WrestleFest, but the spirit is there. The best news is that this game is going to be constantly updated with “extensive downloadable content,” which will likely include additional playable characters, ring gear, etc. These upgrades are supposed to be unveiled about once a month, which means the roster will constantly be growing! Hopefully with more and more legends!

Pricing has not been announced yet, but one would expect this will cost a bit more than a traditional iPhone/iPad title. I’m hoping it’ll be reasonable, though. Fans who downloaded the old TNA iPhone game will note that it’s actually quite plausible to have a fun iPhone style wrestling game, but this one’s arcade nature may make it a better fit for iPads.

WWE Entrance Greats – Series 5
The Undertaker
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel

Yesterday in the 31 Days of Halloween we looked at wrestling Mummies and today, we look at the most famous wrestling zombie to date… The Undertaker! What’s scarier than this guy? Let me tell you, not much.

When the Undertaker debuted in the WWF in 1990, he was a sight to behold. On the surface, the idea was absurd. Undertaker was a “zombie” who could not be hurt. They never officially said he was dead, but that’s how he acted. WWF was able to restrain themselves and not make the gimmick over the top or cartoony. It might not have worked had they not rushed Undertaker into a feud with Hulk Hogan (who was unstoppable at this point) and had Undertaker defeat Hogan for the title.

Oddly enough, Mark Calaway had been wrestling for several years but never got over prior to appearing in the WWF. You see, Mark was big, but a bit awkward, not a very good talker and he didn’t look particularly fierce. He also sucked at selling. He had been brought in by Hulk Hogan to appear in Suburban Commando (underrated movie in my mind) and Hogan insisted that Vince McMahon hire him. Vince took Undertaker’s weaknesses in talking and selling and turned them into a genius gimmick. He wouldn’t really talk (his creepy manager Paul Bearer would do that work) and he wouldn’t sell much because he was a “monster”.

Add to that a relatively obscure version of the piledriver, that just happened to be named the Tombstone and you’ve got a success. It all clicked and Undertaker became an ominious force, which he remains today. Mattel decided to use their Entrance Greats line to show off this debut version of the Undertaker. Is it worth adding to your collection? Let’s head on down to the Funeral Parlor and find out!
Continue reading

WWE Legends Series 5
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel

Mattel has made some odd choices in their WWE Legends line and while wave 5 is arguably the best wave to date, it does have some questionable elements to it as well. Akeem makes for a very interesting figure, but how popular he is could be debated. Mattel has the unenviable task of trying to decide between popular old faces and nostalgic one shots.

Akeem is an odd inclusion, because as “Akeem” he wasn’t really at his peak. This should for most intents and purposes, really be a figure of the One Man Gang. One assumption is that Mattel was planning a tag team pack with Akeem and the Big Boss Man (The Twin Towers) which would have been awesome. However no protos of Boss Man have shown up, nor has his name been mentioned on any lists. Seriously where’s our Boss Man?

Anyway, back to Akeem… I’ve gotten some flack for being too negative about the WWF/WWE at times, but I’m sorry, it’s justified. See Akeem was for the majority of his career known as the One Man Gang. I mean, what else would you call a 6 foot 9, 457 monster? The Gang was a complete bad ass, terrorizing every wrestling territory across the globe until he landed in the WWF.

He wrestled as the Gang for a while and then one day, Vince McMahon told George Gray (Gang’s real name) that they were going to make him a black man. Gray was hesitant, but McMahon told him that he had a spot on his roster for Akeem, but not for the One Man Gang.

And thus, Akeem was born. Only the WWE could see money in taking a bloody brawler and turning them into a bizarre racist stereotype/cartoon character. See Also: The Bushwhackers. The character was also a shot at Dusty Rhodes, who as an on and off rival of McMahon, was the subject of constant pointless jabs that only insiders could comprehend. To his credit, Gray embraced Akeem and turned him into a combination of comedy gold and a surprisingly fierce tag team wrestler.

Sadly because Akeem often asked for vacation time so he could see his family (his words not mine), he eventually lost his push. Gray lost most of his desire for the wrestling business after working for the WWF and Akeem was never seen again. One Man Gang resurfaced in WCW and ECW a few times throughout the 90’s and now he works as a prison guard in Georgia. Perhaps as a tribute to his late partner.

The Legends packaging is pretty much the same as always, with a stylized photo of Akeem on the front and back. The back of the package lists his WCW US Title run and mentions the segment in which One Man Gang became Akeem. Even the back of the package struggles to explain why a bad ass biker would become a dancing “African”.

Honestly I don’t think the package does justice to just how utterly absurd the change to Akeem was. So why not let the actual video help us?

Mattel clearly had a lot of fun with Akeem. For a character such as his, it’s quite fitting. He’s bright, colorful and basically a walking caricature.

Your attention will likely be immediately drawn to his unibrow. I have never seen Akeem with a unibrow and as best I can tell it’s just something Mattel made up to make him look even “funnier”. Although maybe one day Akeem’s eyebrows got long and that was the one photo Mattel used for reference. I don’t know…

Despite the bonus unibrow, the head sculpt is actually quite good. It’s even superior to the Jakks head sculpt of Akeem, which is something that isn’t often the case. This definitely looks like Akeem and I have no complaints about it. Even the unibrow, albeit probably inaccurate, works.

Mattel’s paint work on this figure is vastly superior to Jakks’ version. The inclusion of the map of Africa with the word AKEEM is particularly important. Although Akeem did have tights without that at times, he is most famous for those. The colors are brighter as well.

The body is also superior to the Jakks version, which used their “all fat guys look alike” mold. Mattel’s Akeem is fat, but also muscled. It works much better for Akeem, who never looked sloppy fat.

The sculpt reuses a lot of Dusty Rhodes’ parts, including his boots. However, they are largely accurate for Akeem. There appears to be a new leg piece or something, which gives him a bit more height. He’s probably not as big as he should be, but he’s still pretty sizeable.

There’s really little to complain about with the sculpt and paint on Akeem. After the disastrous stains on Rick Martel, this is a great relief. Akeem is a fun figure to look at and really stands out on the shelf in that wacky 80’s WWF way.

Akeem has the standard Legends/Elite articulation with double knees, ball neck, torso hinge and the ball hinge legs. There are the normal assortment of hinges and swivels as well in the arms, wrists and legs. Because Akeem is a big man, his leg articulation is a bit more limited by the sculpt, but for the most part he is quite poseable.

Whether it’s dishing out punishment…

Or cuttin’ a rug, Akeem can do it.

Often these WWE figures from Mattel can feel a bit weak in the accessory department. Especially at the $15+ price point. Akeem has a few things going for him.

His dashiki is made of a harder fabric than most WWE clothing and his 10 gallon kufi hat is made of soft rubber.

Some of the paint on my Akeem’s kufi hat was smudged off out of the package and it’s a little misaligned, but at this point so long as the figure isn’t covered in fabric stains I’m not too upset.

This is pretty much everything you could want for an Akeem… Well except maybe a Build-A-Slickster!

The real question is whether or not Akeem is a name that will drive you to spend $15 or so on him? Personally I would have much preferred a One Man Gang figure and I’ll definitely buy OMG if they ever release him. However, it’s hard to knock this figure too much as Mattel did a pretty solid job on him.

In essence, he’s no jive turkey!

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 7
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Dashiki, Kufi Hat
Value – 8
Overall – 8 out of 10

Air Africa 747!

George Gray is one the nicest, most down to Earth wrestlers to come out of the 1980’s. It’s great to see him in figure form and it’s nice to see that Mattel did such a fine job on him. I love having an Akeem on my shelf, even if the very idea of the character is absolutely asinine. It’s so crazy that it works.