WCW Thunder Champions
Goldberg, Scott Hall, The Giant, Bret Hart
6 Inch Scale
By: Original San Francisco ToyMakers
$30 & Up (Online Secondary Market)

Not all wrestling figures can be as nice as Mattel’s WWE Legends or even Jakks’ TNA Deluxe Impact lines. In fact in the early days of wrestling figures, many of them were downright atrocious. While Hasbro’s WWF figures, LJN’s WWF figures and even WCW’s Galoob toys had some charm, they weren’t very good for playing. By the early 1990’s, wrestling was starting to boom again and along with it came new toys.

Enter the Original San Francisco ToyMakers, known for their… Actually I don’t know what they’re known for other than bad wrestling figures. Their first attempt at WCW figures were LJN inspired large rubber versions. Those were actually quite good (African American variant Jimmy Hart notwithstanding), and OSFTM did a pretty wide range of characters from Hulk Hogan to Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman. When the company started to upgrade to articulated figures, things got screwy.

First came the strange “vibrating” wrestlers, which to this day I still don’t understand. Next came what we’re looking at today. Wrestling figures that for all intents and purposes would have been great in 1988, but really suck when you consider they were released in 1998. Is there any reason to like the WCW Thunder Champions box set?

We get a pretty simple window box for this set. OSFTM made a variety of these sets with four figures. When I say they made a variety, I mean it. There are over a dozen different packs of these figures. Including some larger packs in the smaller 4 inch scale figures. Sadly, almost all of these packs contain the same dozen or so characters, reshuffled around to be new themes.

The WCW logo is nicely placed on the side, with the official Thunder logo on there as well. The word CHAMPIONS is gigantic and kind of an eye sore. Actually, the whole package is a bit of an eye sore. It’s way too busy for it’s own good. I do like the phrase “We are the champions” on the front, though. You’d think that would trademarked or something. Suck it Freddy Mercury!

The back features the same busy logo as the front, but has a decent amount of cross sell. For starters, they show off every other figure in the line. They also show the WCW ring. Although I’ve never actually owned that ring, I’ve always wanted it. It’s almost identical to the old WCW Galoob ring and OSFTM cranked out this ring hundreds of times for every scale of their figures. It comes with a red cage and that’s awesome.

Each of these figures have to be graded on their own, but as a whole, everyone bares at least a passing resemblance to the wrestler they are supposed to be. Some are much better than others. It should be noted that although these figures have a litany of problems including buttons and thumb levers on their backs, they’re certainly better than Jakks first few series of Bone Crunching figures and even most of their later work up until the Titan Tron Live era.

Goldberg is the World Champion in this set and has a fair amount of problems, so he seems like as good of a place to start as any. Bill Goldberg was a massive, downright scary dude with a body that was made for wrestling. His fierce growl and attitude unfortunately didn’t translate to this figure very well. His roaring head sculpt looks more like he’s got an overbite, than any of Bill’s famous facial mannerisms.

There is definitely some Goldberg in the face, though. It’s just not spot on. I think the fact that his beard is orange instead of more of a brown detracts a bit. His body sculpt isn’t terrible and given that his design is pretty basic, it translates well enough. He even has his infamous tattoo.

By himself, Bill looks like a decent figure but next to the other WCW figures, he seems woefully undersized. His muscles are smaller than Bret Harts!?! In fact he’s smaller than Bret across the board. In real life Goldberg is a good four inches taller than Bret and considerably bigger everywhere else (or at least that’s what Missy Hyatt told me).

If Goldberg is too small, Bret Hart is too big. He seems very stocky and kind of fat in a sense. I think this is in part because OSFTM were so used to making the LJN rubber figures that the first few sets of WCW figures were much in that style. Goldberg was the last OSFTM action figure, so he may have been designed by a different team. It’s a shame actually that the figures weren’t more like the Goldberg, than the Hart.

Bret does however include really good paint detail with his full WCW era logos on the chest and sides of his tights. Bret Hart may hate his time in WCW, but let’s face it, there’s no doubt that WCW rolled out the red carpet for him. Of course, his head sculpt here is pretty weak. He looks more like Terry Gordy, than the Hitman.

The Giant (WWE’s Big Show) is pretty much as perfect as it gets for this line. His face sculpt, although grimacing, is a great depiction of Paul Wight. In fact it’s way better than any of Big Shows half dozen or so first Jakks scans. The body is appropriately huge and much like his old WCW shirt, he looks “big all over”. He actually has huge, ham hock fists, which is something pretty much neglected on every other wrestling toy line.

Scott Hall’s toy, much like the man, is a bit of a mess. The body itself actually isn’t too bad, but the head sculpt looks nothing like Hall. I blame a lot of that on the five o’clock shadow that Hall has sported for his entire career. Instead of stubble, we get a full blown beard. It makes the whole head look strange and the sunglasses don’t help. He does have the curly hair in the front, but it’s not enough.

Surprisingly, Hall has far and away the best outfit of any of the figures. He has the blood drips on his jacket, knee pads and the full HALL on the front of his trunks with nWo on the back. Scott Hall also has one open hand, presumably to either chokeslam people or get his hands on some booze. They don’t call him “Last Call” Scott Hall for nothing.

Despite what the Mattel WWE Kool-Aid drinkers would like you to believe, they are not the first people on the block to do scale in wrestling toys. OSFTM did scale quite good in this line, omitting of course, the undersized Goldberg. Hall, Hart and the Giant all have a really good scale going on.

Everyone has pretty much the same articulation, which is tied into their “action” features. Sadly these action features really drag the figures down. Thankfully they don’t hinder or impede the movement of the articulation too much.

You get a couple of very basic cuts. This wouldn’t be so bad if Jakks wasn’t already pumping out much more articulated figures by this time. In a lot of ways I think the fact that WCW’s action figures sucked, is part of the reason they started to lose the Monday Night War. You have to be able to get that kid audience and what do kids want? They want toys. WWF had 90% of the roster in action figure form and WCW only had these crappy guys.

Each guy includes pretty much the same “action” which is advertised as an atomic elbow. It’s the standard twist and lift, which looks more like hay bailing than any wrestling move I’ve ever seen. Here it is as demonstrated by Bret Hart:

The Giant gets an actual button to press on his back which allows him to do his “Not the Momma” action:

Despite all this, you can pose these guys in a handful of decent poses. It’s better than Hasbro, Galoob or LJN in the articulation department, but that’s not saying much.

The best part about this set is definitely the title belts. This set was supposed to reflect all the champions at the time. It’s a great idea. Of course who knows if any of these people held these belts during the time this was released.

As cool as the belts are, we’ve got one big caveat to start. All of the belts are replicas of the WCW World Heavyweight Title belt. They just slapped a new printed name on them. The sculpt of the belt is fantastic. Ignoring the fact that it looks nothing like the US or Tag Titles.

The strangest part about all this is that the belts have changed color in the package, giving me four distinct shades of gold. The worst of which, sadly is the World Title. It appears to be almost a copper color. Why did the belts change color? Well it’s not for the usual reasons. Each of these figures has oil sprayed on them. Some of them were super greasy when I pulled them out.

I suspect that the oil was put into the figures to make sure their mechanisms remained smooth. That worked, but in the process the oil caused the paint to change colors with the soft rubber belts. A total bummer but likely didn’t effect you 15 or so years ago when these first hit the market. I’m sure the OSFTM didn’t expect anyone to be buying these off Ebay in 2011… But I showed them!

Seriously though, it’s a shame that they were so worried about protecting the crappy “action” features which is easily the worst part of the figures. Because it’s that oil which ended up destroying the best part of the figures, the belts. C’est la vie.

Can you really put a price on a hay bailing Bret Hart figure and an undersized Goldberg to kick him in the head? The answer is yes and chances are that price is too much. Look, these figures aren’t terrible, but they’re not good either. I don’t really know how much you should pay for these dudes or even why you’d want them… Yet here they sit in my collection. I’d say no more than $30 for a four pack. It’s probably only really worth about half that.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 3
Accessories – 4 Title Belts
Value – 4
Overall – 5 out of 10

Ironically in a lot of ways these WCW figures were better than many of the wrestling figures that had come before them, yet failed to fulfill the potential that the other OSFTM WCW figures showed. Instead of amping up the play value, they seemed to take a step backwards.

Eventually the Original San Francisco ToyMakers did make smaller versions of these figures that featured ball jointed shoulders. Those toys were for their time, the best wrestling figures around. It’s a real shame that these large counterparts didn’t get the same treatment.

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