You don’t have to smell what The Rock is cooking to taste the popularity of WWE Memorabilia. The WWE franchise grosses millions of dollars every year, and fans show their dedication to the sports entertainment empire through their collectibles. With merchandise including action figures and garden gnomes, no two collections are alike among wrestling enthusiasts.
Though the WWE empire has an extensive history behind it, we’ve dug up ten of the most curious and unusual facts surrounding WWE Memorabilia.
10: The first wrestling action figures were made by LJN.
Debuting in 1984 with figures such as Andre the Giant and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, LJN’s ‘Wrestling Superstars” toys were on the forefront of wrestling memorabilia.
LJN was a toy company and video game publisher that operated between 1970 and 1995, and they’ve since become an infamous name on the internet. Between commissioning poorly made movie tie-in video games and producing other faulty electronics, even the rose-tinted goggles of nostalgia show LJN in a negative light. That said, their Wrestling Superstars toys are still considered highly collectible, and mint condition figures can be sold for high prices.
9: The WWE action figure license has changed hands four times.
The WWE brand is no stranger to change. Beginning as “Titan Sports” in 1979, the corporation would spend many years as the “World Wrestling Federation” (WWF), only to officially rebrand as “World Wrestling Entertainment” (WWE) following a lawsuit. This makes it appropriate that their official toylines would change throughout the years as well.
After LJN closed their toy line in 1989, toys would go on to be produced by Hasbro, Jakks Pacific, and the current license holder Mattel. However, in September of 2015, the WWE announced a return to their Jakks Pacific partnership, producing toys in addition to their existing Mattel figures. Whether either of these companies becomes a face or a heel in the community remains to be seen.
8: Miss Elizabeth was the first female WWE action figure.
As one of the pioneering women in the Wrestlmania series, it’s only natural that Miss Elizabeth would be included in the original “Wrestling Superstars” line.
The Miss Elizabeth figure was variably manufactured, with the body alternating from rubber to plastic and the skirt color changing from purple to gold. The rarest of these variants are extremely valuable in mint condition, with a purple skirt Elizabeth selling for $1800 this past year.
7: Employees of Jakks Pacific received exclusive figures.
Protip: if you want the rarest collectibles, work for a toy company.
Employees of Jakks Pacfic exclusively received a limited run of Classic Superstar figures, including a robed Ric Flair and Roddy Piper donning golden gloves. In auction, either of these rare superstars can cost more than $1500.
6: There was a line of action figures that could actually “sweat.”
If there’s one thing to be said about Jakks Pacific, it’s that they got creative with the WWE license. The S.T.O.M.P series, for instance, featured WWE wrestlers cast as G.I. Joe style military soldiers. However, easily the most bizarre of Jakks’ work was their “Maximum Sweat” series.
The “Sweat” toys sported openings that could be filled with water, which would then be secreted from the figures upon pressing a button. We don’t know who asked for this, but they exist nonetheless.
5: The WWE has ten official subsidiaries.
Nothing showcases the WWE’s multimedia capabilities better than its subsidiaries. In addition to the brand licensing described above, branches of the WWE include WWE Books, WWE Studios, and the WWE Music Group. A WWE collector could theoretically build a vast collection without ever purchasing a single action figure.
4: Wrestling trading cards date back to 1950.
Topps is famous for producing trading cards since 1938, and their wrestling cards go back almost as far.
Topps produced a small set of trading cards depicting wrestlers and pugilists in the 1950s, but cards of this variety ceased production after 1955. It wasn’t until 1982 that the “Wrestling All-Stars” cards would debut, featuring names such as Hulk Hogan and The Iron Sheik. Wrestling trading cards have since been produced regularly each year, with multiple manufacturers releasing their own sets.
3: Zack Ryder is a huge WWE collector.
You don’t have to just be a WWE fan to be a WWE collector! Zack Ryder is a known name in the ring, but his photo-op on wwe.com shows just how hardcore he is with his WWE collection.
2: Lasers scan the faces of WWE stars to create modern action figures.
In the early days of WWE collectibles, artists would draw unique renditions of each wrestler to be fit onto premade character molds. Nowadays, the process is much more in-depth.
Toy companies like Mattel actually scan the heads of WWE stars while creating their figures, and they base their creations off of 3D models that are produced in the scanning process. What’s more, many modern figures even take each wrestler’s height into account, making those fan-made match ups look more realistic.
1: The Moon Belly Kamala figure is worth up to $10,000
Every kind of collectible has its holy grail, and the Moon Belly Kamala figure is far and away the jackpot of WWE memorabilia.
Funny enough, the rarity of this one is the result of a bizarre production run. The official Hasbro toy was released with a yellow star on Kamala’s belly, differing from the trademark crescent moon that Kamala was known for. It’s unknown whether the figure was shipped like this due to copyright issues or a factory mistake, but a limited supply of toys depicting the actual moon belly were actually produced regardless. It’s speculated that only 24 of these figures exist at most, but there has been no confirmation that more than a select few are even around today.
These types of limited toy variants are usually the result of misprints in the world of collectibles, so it’s rare to see such an elusive collectible that is the “correct” version of the figure. This not only makes Moon Belly Kamala the holy grail of WWE memorabilia, but also one of the most unique collectibles to ever be produced.
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