That’s A Lot Of Rubber: A Look At WWF/WWE Action Figures

The one thing in life that I am passionate about, well besides horror and movies in general, is wrestling. From being a little Hulk-a-Maniac as soon as I was able to remember in the 80’s, to being a fan of The Rock in high school in the late 90’s early 2000’s, to watching it now but finding myself rolling my eyes, I’ve always loved wrestling. And as a result of this love I gained a love for wrestling action figures. Which should come as no surprise to any of you if you’ve followed this site long, I love toys. So today I want to take a look at the evolution of the wrestling action figure. Well, more along the lines of the WWF/WWE action figure. I’m not counting the side sets, like bendies and thumb wrestlers, I’m not counting any of the toys from AWA, WCW, ECW, or even TNA, I’m sticking with the most popular wrestling company in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment. That being said, let’s take a look shall we??

Our journey starts when wrestling hit it’s first really big BOOM period! In 1984 the World Wrestling Federation and Hulk Hogan was on a tare with the “Rock-n-Wrestling” connection. So along with pretty much everything else, we got our first WWF line of action figures in the form of these LJN figures. Figures that were made of rubber and pretty damn big. From 1984 to 1989 LJN made just about everyone you could think of (Besides Demolition Smash, anyone know why??) and I’m proud to announce I had a lot of these. Also on an added note, if you have any made in 1989, which was the last line, hold on to them because they are worth more than the rest, that also includes the lone Ultimate Warrior in the set.

So now it’s the 1990’s and at the start of the 90’s wrestling wasn’t as popular. Things were slowly changing and one change came in the action figures as Hasbro made these much smaller figures that not only moved, but each figure had it’s own special action. These toys were a lot easier to find around my area than the LJN ones were but with them having moving parts it made them much easier to break. I’d have the whole set of series one now if it wasn’t for the fact that in a long battle with “Macho Man” Randy Savage in the Summer of 1990 my “Ravishing” Rick Rude lost his arm. None the less, these figures would go on well into at least 1993 when wrestling really hit it’s slump. The line would end soon after and believe it or not there would be a couple years without any WWF figures..imagine that?

It was in the 1995/1996 time frame that a toy company named Jakks would pickup the WWF license and produce these odd “Bone Crushing” toys. I remember in 1996 using some Christmas money and buying up pretty much all of series 1 and series 2, which would include such stars as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, and The Undertaker. These figures didn’t do anything special besides the cracking sound that their arms and legs made when you bent them a little. The quality of them varied at times and to be honest, they didn’t really look like who they were supposed to look like 90% of the time, but it was still wrestling action figures damn it!! As such stars as Steve Austin, The Rock, and Kurt Angle came into play Jakks would change up their phasing out these figures for something a little different…

Welcome to what I like to call the “Dark Age” of WWF action figures folks. I don’t really know what to tell you about these other than I just hated them. They were a bigger toy than the Bone Crushing ones, but they looked no more like the wrestler than the others and might have looked worse. Orginally designed with a chip in their feet so that when you ran them across the Titan Tron playset part of their theme song would play, these figures stuck around for a bit in the 2000’s until FINALLY something much much better came along from Jakks..

By time the WWF/WCW Monday Night War was ending or had came to a complete end. WWE had bought WCW and the right to ECW. Sometime later a lawsuit with the World Wildlife Fund would turn WWF into the WWE and Jakks was still behind the wheels with the action figures giving up what would become the standard in the Ruthless Aggression line. The RA figures where much much better than anything Jakks had put out before. Using real scan technology, these figures looked just like who they were supposed to look like for the most part. They were built better, moved better, and looked better. Next to the original WWF LJN series, these were probably THE most well liked line of Wrestling toys ever. That’s why it was such a shock when just last year Jakks lost the WWE license and another, more famous toy company, would pick it up.

When the partnership between WWE and Jakks ended, ending a partnership that had lasted well over 10 years, toy giant Mattel picked up the line. What we got was a new WWE figure that was different than the RA Jakks figures, but not too different to hurt anything. They kept what we loved about Jakks with the size and the look, but added in was the more crisp look more flexability. Now me at the age of 2

7 don’t really have many of these, and what I do have is still in the pack, I can say I dig these. But one has to wounder down the line just where WWE toys will go from here.

Well, there you have it folks, the history of WWE action figures from 1984 until 2010. While many of these lines are really hard to find now days, if you’d like to pick up some wrestling toys feel free to check out The Big Bad Toy Store where many wrestling figures can be found, both old and new.