With their rippling muscles, larger than life personalities, and colorful outfits, wrestlers are the closest thing the world has to real life superheroes. With the rise of the hot dog-skinned mountain of muscle known as Hulk Hogan, wrestling grew in popularity in the ’80s, thoroughly cementing itself in the public consciousness. As these titans tussled, fans the world over clamored for toys to bring the action of wrestling leagues such as the WWE and WCW into their homes. While this lead to the creation of plenty of classic toys that fans hold near and dear to their hearts, it also led to some… well, not as classic toys. In fact, it led to downright strange wrestling toys.
During the ’80s and ’90s, companies cranked out plenty of toys to satiate the demand of fans. Fans remember such classic toy lines as LJN’s rubber Wrestling Superstars and Jakks Pacific‘s WWF Signature Series, but there have been plenty of weird, unusual, and just plain off wrestling toys over the years. So slap on your “Macho Madness” shirt and practice your People’s Eyebrow and join CBR as we take a look back at the weirdest wrestling toys from yesteryear. From WWF to WCW, from figures that sweat to sad ’80s wrestling figures, from Andre the Giant to Kurt Angle, they are all here in CBR’s 15 strangest old school wrestling toys.
15. EXCLUSIVE COLLECTOR FIGURE SABLE
In the mid ’90s, Sable ruled the world of women’s wrestling with an iron fist. This buxom brawler wasn’t exactly known for her in ring skills, but the bombshell blonde set tongues waggling across the world. Whether she was cavorting around the ring in a skimpy bathing suit or performing scandalous stripteases, Sable was the closest thing women’s wrestling had to a bonafide star. Too bad this figure of Sable made the wrestler look less like a divine diva and more like a sentient sex doll.
The snappily named “Exclusive Collector Figure Sable” outfitted the glamorous grappler in a cartoonishly large metal bra, accompanied by a very uncomfortable looking metal thong and full blown knight’s armor for her left leg. Oh, and a whip, because what vacant-eyed, partially armored sex doll is complete without a whip? Fans looking to take home a little piece of Sable were likely left disappointed when they laid eyes on this plastic abomination.
14. RING MASTERS BRET “THE HITMAN” HART
Bret Hart has earned the nickname “The Hitman” thanks to his methodical, take-no-prisoners approach to wrestling. But apparently Bret doesn’t spend all his time locking people in the Sharpshooter and shopping for pink sunglasses; if the Ring Masters Bret “The Hitman” Hart figure is to be believed, the Hitman likes to throw on some pinstripes and head out to his local smooth jazz club.
Okay, Ring Masters Bret Hart is actually supposed to look like a 1930s mobster (which is weird in itself), but with his duster, snappy fedora, and pinstriped vest, Hart looks more comfortable laying down some sweet saxophone then he does partaking in a tommy gun drive-by. Bret managed to cement himself as one of the top starts in the WWF, but if he were to ditch the pink and black trunks and sub in the snappy zoot suit he apparently likes to wear in his spare time, he might not have been such a fan favorite.
13. WWE MUTANTS STING
Sting cuts an imposing figure. With his iconic black and white face paint, his floor length leather jacket, and his trusty baseball bat, Sting has never been one to back down from a fight. With an arsenal of moves that includes the Scorpion Death Drop and the Scorpion Death Lock, Stinger has managed to emerge triumphant against the likes of Kevin Nash and Seth Rollins. With a career that spans more than 30 years, Sting has really done it all. Well, everything except turn into a giant, terrifying Scorpion King style creature. Thankfully, WWE Mutants Sting came along to rectify this.
WWE Mutants set out to take fan favorite superstars and show the world what these wrestlers would look like had they grown up next to a toxic waste dump. In the logic of the line, turning Sting into a scorpion creature makes sense; what doesn’t make sense is why Sting’s body was drastically changed but his head stayed exactly the same. This gave the world a Sting with a buff scorpion monster body, replete with stinger and washboard abs, topped off with the sad face of a wrestler well into his fifties. If you’re going to turn a beloved wrestler into a horrific scorpion abomination, at least fully commit, guys.
12. GROSS-OUT WRESTLERS STING
Turns out Sting has a long and varied history of receiving terrible toy treatment. Long before he was a scorpion creature with six pack abs, Sting received a figure in WCW’s Gross-Out Wrestlers line that gave the iconic superstar the head scratching ability to shoot off his face.
For fans that have wondered what lurks under Sting’s infamous black and white face paint, well, wonder no more; if Gross-Out Wrestlers is to be believed, the Stinger is hiding a discount version of Jim Carrey’s The Mask under all that corpse paint. With a push of a button on the figure’s back, kids could shoot Sting’s face clear off his head, leaving Sting’s Crypt Keeper-meets-the Red Skull mug exposed to the world. Also, he came with a baseball bat that was also a vampire, replete with fans and wings. This weird, thoroughly confusing figure definitely gets points for originality… but not much else.
11. WCW HERO HEADS
Wrestlers are larger than life. With their bulging muscles, colorful outfits, and outlandish personalities, it only makes sense that kids would want any means necessary of bringing some of that action home in the form of merchandise. While wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and The Rock have received plenty of action figures, only three wrestlers can lay claim to receiving merchandise depicting their decapitated heads shoved on sticks.
With Hero Heads, the WCW finally gave aspiring serial killer children everywhere a way to live out their fantasies of lopping the heads off of famous wrestlers and mounting them on stakes. Fans could choose from foam replicas of the noodles of Hulk Hogan, Sting, and Vader, which could be used to bonk your friends or to mount in your yard to scare off invading armies.
10. WRESTLING SUPERSTARS “MEAN” GENE
When LJN was pumping out its Wrestling Superstars line during the zenith of the WWF’s popularity in the ’80s, pretty much every schlub that threw on a pair of trunks ended up with a cheap rubber figure. When LJN inevitably ran out of wrestlers to give the action figure treatment to, the company was faced with a dilemma: Should they stop making figures until they have new wrestlers to make into toys? Or just forge ahead and turn any guy who wandered in front of a WWF camera into a toy? The answer was an overwhelming “Get the announcers ready to have their toys made.”
Thus, legendary WWF interviewer and announcer “Mean” Gene Oakerland got an LJN toy made, leaving kids the world over to feign excitement when their parents gave them an action figure of a mustachioed man in a suit. Thankfully, LJN was kind enough to trap the toy in an internal shrug, almost as if “Mean” Gene was saying “Yeah, I can’t believe this got made either.”
9. WRESTLING SUPERSTARS TITO SANTANA
With a sideways glance, a wrestler can strike fear into a crowd. With a snarl, a wrestler can cause the audience to recoil in horror. The face of a wrestler plays a huge part in how the audience interacts with the spectacle of wrestling, as the grimaces and determination conveyed by the face help to convey the story of the match. If all wrestlers had faces like LJN’s Tito Santana figure, people would be less inclined to be involved in the spectacle of wrestling and more likely to offer the guy a sippy cup and a Raffi CD.
Tito Santana was renowned as a “wrestler’s wrestler,” known for his technical prowess and his agility in the ring. But if you were to judge from Santana’s LJN figure, you might think he was susceptible to boo boos and getting pushed in the mud. This plastic mockery has a face that looks to be on the verge of tears, as if Santana was just informed of some terrible personal tragedy. You can practically hear the “But Mom!” this figure is yelling. Santana definitely deserved a better figure, but this weird figure at least gives us plenty to mock.
8. FLEX ‘EM KURT ANGLE
As fans will recall, Kurt Angle managed to parlay his gold medal victory at the Olympics into a long and storied wrestling career that saw the ankle-breaking grappler take on all manner of comers, even with a broken freakin’ neck. Angle was certainly no chump in the body category, either; on top of his grab bag of wrestling moves, Angle rocked a chiseled physique that added to his imposing nature. So it makes sense that the WWE would give Kurt a figure to show off that bod; unfortunately, they decided to do it in the most horrifying way possible.
The Flex ‘Em line allowed fans to squeeze the figure to make the wrestler flex their rippling muscles. Problem is, Angle’s figure caused the fan favorite fighter to look like he was rocking the girdle from Hell. With his massive arms and legs, this only caused Angle’s itty bitty torso to look all the weirder. We get it, Kurt; everyone wants that narrow waist, but you’re in danger of smooshing your organs with that cinched-in tummy. Know when to say when, man.
7. WRESTLE BUDDY DDP
For those wrestling fans that would rather cuddle up to a wrestler, there were Wrestling Buddies. This popular line of toys took wrestlers and scrunched them down into stocky, no-neck pillows fit for snuggling up to. While the idea of a toy line designed to allow children to fall asleep nestled on Hulk Hogan’s abs certainly sounds weird on paper, the toy line was a huge hit. But that doesn’t mean every wrestler made a smooth transition into a Wrestle Buddy; in fact, Diamond Dallas Page made for one truly terrifying Wrestle Buddy.
As one of WCW’s most popular stars, it was inevitable that DDP would get the soft and cuddly treatment. Problem is, with his assortment of tattoos and generally mangy appearance, DDP’s Wrestle Buddy turned out downright ugly. With his scrunched in face curled into a perpetual open mouth yell (perhaps it was intended to be a smile? The world may never know), his protruding nose, and his unnaturally tan skin, Wrestle Buddy DDP wouldn’t help kids to stave off nightmares; if anything, he would be causing them.
6. VIBRATING SCOTT HALL & KEVIN NASH
During the famous “Monday Night Wars” of the ’90s, the WWF and WCW fought for market supremacy. Toys and video games were pumped out, with each company hoping to get that sweet, sweet merchandising money. In an effort to differentiate themselves from the other wrestling toys cluttering the racks, WCW opted to roll out a line of vibrating figures, likely in hopes of cornering that lucrative “children who want to pretend their wrestling figures are having a seizure” market.
With the Vibrating Scott Hall and Kevin Nash figures, fans could push a button on the figures backs, causing The Outsiders to shake and buzz. Famously, when told of the vibrating figures, Kevin Nash quipped “Don’t forget to pick one up for Mom!” Sure, wrestling is supposed to be for the whole family, but this is a little ridiculous.
5. WRESTLING SUPERSTARS ANDRE THE GIANT
Andre The Giant was a titan of the squared circle. Clocking in at a dizzying 7’4″, with a staggering weight of 520 lbs., Andre The Giant was a lot of man. What he wasn’t, however, was a skinny Andy Kaufman lookalike. But you wouldn’t have guessed it from looking at LJN’s Wrestling Superstars interpretation of Andre.
Andre was famous for his barrel chest and massive frame, but LJN’s figure made him look like someone’s Italian uncle that had hit the pool to show off his new speedo. While the real Andrea cut an imposing figure, this Andre looked like an oddly proportioned knock-off; with his dinky legs and arms, mixed with his doughy center, this Andre looked more likely to be found dining alone at a Pizza buffet rather than lighting up the squared circle. Thankfully, Andre would later get a more accurate figure, but fan will never forget this strange version of the Eighth Wonder of the World.
4. UNDERTAKER THUMB WRESTLER
The Man From Death Valley. The Dead Man. The Phenom. No matter what you choose to call him, we all know him as The Undertaker. Since taking the WWF by storm all the way back in 1990, Taker has blazed a trail of destruction across pro wrestling, cementing himself as one of the most legendary performers to ever grace the ring. That, of course, makes him perfect for a toy that allows kids to shove a thumb up the Dead Man’s backdoor and use him as a puppet.
Jakk’s Pacific’s WWF Thumb Wrestlers line allowed fans to take one of the most imposing wrestlers in the industry and cram a mandible claw up his no-no zone. Once your thumb has made Undertaker presumably wince, fans could use The Dead Man to fight blistering, white knuckle fights of thumb wrestling, but with a plastic recreation of a famous wrestler on your thumb. A strange toy in a strange toy line, fans are perfectly fine letting the Undertaker Thumb Wrestler restin peace.
3. S.T.O.M.P. UNDERWATER SIEGE “STONE COLD” STEVE AUSTIN
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin: a hero of the people. With his propensity to stick it to authority and give a big middle finger to anyone that stands in his way, ol’ Stone Cold was everything fans the world over aspired to be. He took no guff, chugged beer like it was water, and handed out Stone Cold Stunners like they were going out of style. That attitude naturally made him the perfect fit for a dorky pair of water wings and a scuba mask. That’s right; thanks to Jakks Pacific’s S.T.O.M.P. Underwater Siege line, ol’ Stone Cold could head beneath the waves to hand out ass whoopins.
S.T.O.M.P. Underwater Siege took fan favorite wrestlers and suited them up for aquatic combat for… reasons. Thus, Stone Cold was outfitted with a bandolier, a swanky pair of neon green tinged pants and flippers, and presumably sent to stomp a mud-hole in Atlantis. For kids that needed a toy to play with under water, and they happened to have left their Street Sharks at home, S.T.O.M.P. Underwater Siege would do in a pinch. But even kids can see how silly, ridiculous, and downright stupid sea combat Steve Austin is. And that’s the bottom line.
2. MAXIMUM SWEAT ROAD DOGG
Let’s face facts: Road Dogg was no one’s favorite D-Generation X member. In a stable that included big names such as Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna, Road Dogg’s defining characteristic was having the worst hair cut of the group. But as a member of the biggest stable in the WWF, Road Dogg received his fair share of action figures. However, none were more terrifying than Maximum Sweat Road Dogg.
With a line-wide gimmick of a button on the figure’s back that would allow the figure to “sweat,” Maximum Sweat Road Dogg already had the cards stacked against him out of the gate. But take this weird feature and slap it on a figure that looks like John Carpenter’s The Thing trying to replicate Road Dogg, and you end up with one truly godawful figure. Maximum Sweat was a strange line, and Road Dogg was definitely the strangest figure in the lot.
1. POWER SLAM WCW WRESTLERS DENNIS RODMAN
There’s nothing wrong with bringing celebrities into the world of wrestling. After all, melding the titans of the squared circle with the biggest names in Hollywood has given us some of wrestlings most iconic moments: Mr. T fighting alongside Hulk Hogan. Lawrence Taylor taking the win over Bam Bam Bigelow. Uh, David Arquette winning the WCW Championship? Well, maybe the less said about that last one the better.
When WCW was at its peak of popularity in the ’90s, the biggest names in Hollywood were practically chomping at the bit to join in on the action. This led to Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman getting brought into the legendary NWO to fight alongside the likes of Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall. Rodman’s brief run with the NWO was enough to net him an action figure, ensuring that kids everywhere could pit their toys against an indifferent looking Rodman figure, replete with pimp hat and basketball hoop. There are lame wrestling figures, and there are weird wrestling figures, and Dennis Rodman is the best (and definite worst) of both worlds.
Can you remember any other wrestling toys more unsettling than these? Let us know in the comments!
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