I decided to do some of my Christmas shopping a little early this year, but on top of that, I've decided to do my Christmas shopping a little cheaper this year. I'm the last in a long line of older brothers and sisters who've reproduced like jackrabbits with their wives and husbands. While this makes for an interesting photo arrangement, it sucks when you've got to buy presents for 45,000 people. This year, I'm doing things a little differently. I've got a zillion small kids to get gifts for, and I refuse to go broke doing so. Instead of all the pricey baubles in real toy stores, I'm getting all their gifts from whatever closeout stores I can find. Who cares if 'Tickle Me Elmo' is really a cheap knockoff named L'Mo with a missing eye? It was ten bucks cheaper! Besides, every kid has an Elmo. How many kids do you know that have an L'Mo? They'll be the talk of the town.
I found a few toys that fell just slightly below the barometer of acceptability - these figures were surely interesting, but a tad too reminiscent of sinful pieces of horse shit to pass to my blood relatives on Christmas. I bought them merely for review purposes, and because I need something new to play with in the bathtub. You'd be amazed how boring your dick gets after twenty years or so. Friends, welcome to our tribute to the wacky world of bootleg pro-wrestling toys!
"Cold Steve" Stone Austin, The Overgiver, Vince McDonald, Mr. Rock...they're all here! Pro-wrestling figures are some of the easiest beasts to rip off, because they all pretty much look alike, just with different haircuts. The toys we'll be taking a look at today are from a few years ago of course, since wrestling's gotten pretty boring again and not enough people like it anymore to warrant ripping off the likeness of some big cowboy dressed like a homosexual astronaut painted gold. Sometimes, they just make a generic figure that looks enough like a wrestler to pass as such. In other cases, they blatantly steal some real wrestler's face and pawn it off on their toys. In either event, the figure remains very cheap and brittle and will likely collapse the second a six-year-old tries to bodyslam it.
First up, the mighty participants of the bluntly titled "Wrestling Federation." Six of the strongest, burliest, Smurfiest grapplers this side of Madison Square Garden. The set, which was four bucks, included four six-inch figures made of hard plastic and painted with about as much detail as I'd paint my dead grandfather's toenails on a double dog dare. While none of the figures are direct ripoffs of any actual pro-wrestlers as far as I can tell, they're all scaled the same as the official WWF/WWE toys. So, if you ever wanted your Rock figure to take on a bald fat guy with a cyborg leg attachment, here's your opportunity.
Interestingly enough, the creators of "Wrestling Federation" toys actually had the balls to use copyrighted WWE photos on their packaging. Well, sort of. One of the pictures is clearly from the WWE, but everyone's faces are blurred. In another instance, we get one of the real federation's stars with an upgraded look:
Wrestling fans are real familiar with Chris Benoit, unanimously considered one of the best performers in the world. You might not be as familiar with his distant cousin, Mike Benoit. He's got all the same tools and skills as Chris, but never made it to the big leagues because he's got these huge alien saucer eyes that make him look like he's perpetually trying to pass a lava lamp out his ass.
Actually, they just took one of the more popular Chris Benoit photos and enlarged the eyes enough to where it looks just enough like someone entirely different. The WWE isn't known to take these kinds of things lightly, so I'm surprised they got away with it. Then again, I'm pretty sure these figures were crafted in the foreign land of Zamboolia, and who the fuck knows how to sue anyone from there? I tried telling Chris about this outrage, but he just nailed me with a German suplex and told me to stop being taller than him.
As a slight update, turns out these four slobs are actually just leftover ECW figures - some of them left completely as-was. For the article's sake, we'll pretend that bit of information doesn't exist. I'd much rather give these guys names myself.
Let's meet the stars of Wrestling Federation - these four sports entertainers continue to revolutionize the industry by having arms roughly the same length as their legs:
Chilla: Chilla dresses not unlike most of wrestling's low tier stars, which is to say, much like a half-naked member of Vanilla Ice's backup dancers. Believing that the key to victory in the ring is keeping a good poker face, Chilla always wears sunglasses. They help him shed any signs of emotion. Like, when someone pegs him across the skull with a folding chair, he wouldn't want his opponent to see him squinting and thus give away that it really freaking hurt. His finishing move is called the 'Penultimate Animalistic Bam Slam.' He hasn't used it yet but swears it's really painful.
White Collar Whitey: Leaving his cushy executive position in Corporate America after an unfortunate incident where he somehow crushed one of his underling's skulls with a vice, White Collar Whitey had no choice but to enter the dangerous fray of Wrestling Federation's wrestling federation. He doesn't have the same physique or technical know-how as his peers, but he still attracts attention by wrestling in business slacks. So, if you're a weak chubby kid who wants to be a pro-wrestler, keep those slacks in mind. He doesn't win too many matches, but one of the moves in his arsenal almost always leads to victory. It's called the 'Square Ass Spookout.' Here, take a look:
He shows his opponent his strange square-shaped ass, which almost always results in them running away from the ring, drawing a countout victory for Whitey. I can't explain it either, I guess wrestlers are born with two personality traits: deep voices and an intense phobia of square-shaped asses.
Here's the rest of da crew, yo:
Adam Appleseed: A hero to millions, Adam Appleseed is the Wrestling Federation's world champ. Using a mix of martial arts and more standard wrestling maneuvers, Adam's skills and irresistable blonde hair have made him a bona fide star in all parts of the world. He even has a catchphrase: "I'm Adam Appleseed and I am going to rip one of your legs off." Short, concise, to the point. Like a response from a Magic 8-Ball. Adam wears black wristbands, but they're not for protection. They're gestures of remembrance for Twableeo, the only Ewok in Return of the Jedi that got killed by the Stormtroopers. Appleseed dedicates each victory to that special little bear, and any time his wrestling journeys take him to the forest moon on Endor, the event's a guaranteed sellout.
Crazy Animal: You know a guy's intense when his first name is 'Crazy.' You know he's doubly intense when his last name is 'Animal.' You know he's triply tropply intense when he's BALD AND SCREAMING, KILLA KOLOFF. Crazy Animal hails from Israel, and his rag tag 'anything goes' method of grappling has garnered him a new nickname from fans: 'The Unorthodox Jew.' One of his legs has been fitted with metallic coverings, making him look sort of like the Terminator. Some of the other wrestlers feel that Crazy Animal's leg attachments give him an unfair advantage, so as a compromise, he tapes a 'DO NOT PUNCH - HARD METAL UNDERNEATH' sign to it before each match.
While growing up, Crazy Animal's favorite wrestler was John Cleese. Of course, John Cleese never wrestled in his life. That's how we know Crazy Animal's really crazy, and not fake crazy like a fifteen-year-old in a Manson t-shirt who really wants a chic prescription for Ritalin.
Crazy Animal: Happy birthday to you was created for you? Chilla: Nope. Crazy Animal: And when she shines, she really shows you all she can? Chilla: Hmmm. Nope. Crazy Animal: The reflex is a lucky clover? Chilla: Okay, this isn't working. I don't know how to interpret Duran Duran lyrics either. Maybe you should ask Tito Santana.
That's about it for the 'Wrestling Federation' guys. To be honest, four bucks wasn't that bad of a deal. I handed these off to my nephew who plays with the real WWE figures constantly, and he seemed to enjoy them. Of course, he also enjoys eating snot out of his nose and coloring walls with crayons, so it's tough to gage the quality level solely from him.
I got another set of bootleg wrestling figures too, but this one doesn't meet the same esteemed levels of the previous guys. It's called the 'Heavyweight Championship Set.' Christ guys, I know you're peddling crappy toys for the fast cash-in, but could you spend more than two seconds coming up with the stupid names? This collection includes four smaller figures, assorted weapons, and a real wrestling ring...
Of course, one of the wrestling ring's posts broke off as soon as I opened the package. Maybe I was just full of associative rage because I was so engulfed in the wacky world of pro-wrestling. Or maybe they just used really poor materials. The figures included here were a true hodge podge - some don't look anything like wrestlers, while others are direct ripoffs. The ring itself is an odd creature, fashioned in fluorescent green. Makes me crave lime candy. Here's the four participants in tonight's bloodbath:
Belt: Why am I calling him 'Belt'? Because it says so on his chest, silly! Belt kind of reminds me of real life wrestling star Rob Van Dam, but anyone with long hair and a neon singlet probably would. A true acrobat, Belt can contort his body into any number of positions. I'm not sure how this translates to victories over 300-pound scary wrestlers, but it looks pretty cool. His finishing move is the 'Ultra Mars Mega Masher.' To do it, he clenches one of his fists and throws it directly into his opponent's kisser. Usually people would just call that a 'punch', but Belt does it so well that it deserved a longer, cooler name.
Johnny Underground: Call me crazy, but I just can't see Johnny Underground as a pro-wrestler. He's skinny, short, and wearing weird leather clothes that make him look more like a dance club's resident coke dealer. Maybe he's the guy who supplies the wrestlers with the super-juice? Also, he doesn't have a unibrow so I don't see how he could possibly be a real pro-wrestler. Then again, the WWE once threw a guy into a clown suit and had him beat more impressive wrestlers by confusing them with duplicate wrestlers in clown suits. I guess there's no set criteria. Maybe Johnny can be world champ someday. If not, he certainly has a future ahead of him on Buffy.
Boris Volkoff: They don't do it so much anymore, but years back, there wasn't a wrestling federation in existence that didn't make use of some bald guy as a Russian sympathizer. Boris Volkoff mixes the power of Zangief and the brains of Gorbachev to become one of the world's most successful wrestling stars. Oddly, one of his eyes is bigger than the other and purely black. I'd say he was injured but those Russians are sneaky, and this might just be a red herring. Boris likes to depend on his sheer physical strength to win matches - he's not the type to break out with all the fancy schmancy moves. Some consider wrestling a ballet for men. Boris considers it a means to break someone's spine without getting arrested. His finishing move, 'The Sputnik,' is when Boris lifts an opponent over his head and throw him into Row Sixteen. He adds another row for each new victim, so the next time he does it, it'll be into the seventeenth row. Thinking ahead, Boris has commissioned a secret Russian lab to build him a third arm for when he gets up to rows in the mid-30s. Those red guys are smart cookies.
Totally Not Kane: Totally Not Kane is totally not Kane. If you've never heard of Kane, take a look:
He's a real WWE wrestler, a guy so scarred from a childhood fire that he has to conceal most of his body at all times. Except in the early 90s when he portrayed an evil dentist, or in the late 90s when he portrayed an evil trucker. Kane's actually one of my favorite wrestlers, or at least he was until they ruined him in recent weeks. How'd they do that, you ask? Well, see, the current storyline's big question is whether or not Kane killed a friend in a car accident ten years ago, and then proceeded to have sex with her corpse. Instead of responding to the allegations, Kane just threw a lot of chairs around, and occasionally pointed to the ring posts, causing them to explode in a brilliant fireworks display.
This is one of the reasons people have a hard time accepting wrestling as a good show to watch. Other reasons include the 50% chance that you'll see a 400 pound thong-wearing Samoan rub his ass crack into his opponent's face for a few minutes. No, that really happens.
The set also came with a bevy of weapons for the wrestlers to use on each other. Now in the world of wrestling, 'weapons' are loosely defined. Occasionally you'll find the more classic sledgehammer or steel chair, but it's really up to the particular contestant to decide. As long as it's heavy and makes a great sound when it falls to the floor, it's usable. Here's what this set came with:
A) Stereo equipment. Taller than the wrestling figures themselves.
B) Wooden crate. Splinters pave the road to an easy victory.
C) Metal guardrail. Hey, they hurt.
D) The Riddler's Scale. A giant weigh-in device adorned with mysterious question marks. Presumably stolen from a backwoods carnival's 'Guess Your Weight' attraction.
E) Door. Oddly, the words 'Go Out' are spray painted on the front of it. I can only assume this is a cryptic voodoo curse that makes doors hurt more when smashed against an opponent's head.
And that's pretty much it for the bootleg wrestling toys. It's a pretty hard formula to fuck up, so these aren't all that bad, especially for the low price. I wouldn't recommend them for kids who actually know their wrestlers, but if the kid just wants to make his toys beat each other up without any television ties, they work just fine.
Belt: I can't believe this! I've gained four pounds since last week! From twig to pig in seven days flat! What am I going to do?!
Boris: You could...'go out' more often. Ha, ha ha. Do you get it not? 'Go out', like says on the door? In Soviet Russia, jokes tell you!
My toys aren't very funny. They shouldn't quit their day jobs.
More X-E: If you haven't checked out X-E's new 'Updates' section, you're missing out on all the bloggy fun. I update it regularly with various crap, most notably thus far: a guy in a stupid Spongebob costume, a story about an idiot who IM'ed me, and a picture of an action figure shaped like french fries. CHECK IT OUT!