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Official Article

Vintage WWF Merchandise

 

 

 

 

 

If you were a kid in the 80’s it was hard not to be drawn in by the larger than life characters and action packed spectacle of choreographed violence known as professional wrestling.

The World Wrestling Federation boasted the highest profile of any wrestling company and managed to take their “Superstars” beyond the television screen and into all forms of entertainment. WWF merchandising was legendary, so let’s take a look at some vintage WWF items that are sure to body slam you back in time.

WWF Superstars Cereal

All through the 1980’s Ralston brought us licensed cereals inspired by pop culture icons such as The Real Ghostbusters, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even the Nintendo Cereal System! So it only made sense that WWF heroes like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior would find themselves on a box in the cereal aisled as spokesmen for WWF Superstars cereal. Formed in a vague star shape the cereal boasted to be “Spoonsize Superstars, hint of vanilla, sweet, but no pushover”. Seeing as the WWF Superstars TV program aired late on Saturday mornings in many markets, this was a match made in heaven.

This particular box was on shelves in the run-up to Wrestlemania VIII and was promoting a giveaway where up to 10 lucky winners would receive an all expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl of wrestling which included a chance to meet WWF Superstars like Jake “The Snake” Roberts or the Legion of Doom. Vince McMahon’s legal department made sure to include a tiny asterisk declaring “names for example only”, so it was much more likely you’d be shaking hands with famed jobber Barry Horowitz than the Ultimate Warrior.

Hulk Hogan Rock N’ Wrestling Cartoon VHS

Speaking of Saturday mornings, one of the ways I personally got pulled into the world of the WWF was through the animated adventures of Hulk Hogan and friends. It was basically like the Goonies R’ Good Enough music video as a weekly cartoon, where a team of good guy wrestlers including Andre The Giant and Women’s Champion Wendy Richter faced off in wacky non-wrestling competitions against the likes of The Iron Shiek and The Fabulous Moolah.

Though none of the actual wrestlers voiced their animated counterparts, there were some soon to be famous names in the cast. For example, Hulk Hogan was voiced by Brad Garrett, better known as Robert, the dopey brother on long running sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. Junk Yard Dog was voiced by James Avery who played Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for 2 seasons from 1985-1986 and is fondly remembered by many kids of the era.

Hulk Hogan Clip-On

One of the weirder offerings from the WWF was this Hulk Hogan Clip-On figurine, which is just what it sounds like. Instead of having a boring old figure of The Hulkster just standing on your desk, the clip attached to his back allowed you to hang the reigning WWF champion on a shirt pocket, belt loop or baseball cap. These came in Andre the Giant varieties as well, but luckily this was far from the only attempt to sell WWF figurines.

WWF Superstars by LJN and Hasbro

Rowdy Roddy Piper was the ultimate heel of his day. A fast talking jerk who could throw insults with the same power as his fists. As you can see here, “Hot Rod” had many figure forms with the first being the larger toys by LJN which came packaged with a poster of the wrestler, but were mostly just rubber statues. That being said, I loved playing with these guys in the ring I inherited from my elementary school friend’s older brother. Eventually Hasbro got the WWF license in the early 90s and started producing figures with actual articulation and action features. Then there were Thumb Wrestlers.

The concept of thumb wrestling had been around forever, but adding a figurine of your favorite WWF Superstar over your thumb to do battle was novel concept. The best part was these Thumb Wrestlers would be packaged in 2-packs, so you always had an opponent to duke it out with. I had Hogan and The Iron Sheik back in the day, but pitting Hillbilly Jim against the Junkyard Dog is just as nostalgic.

Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II

Somehow the WWF managed to invade the jukebox as well as the toy box by releasing multiple albums over the years featuring tunes sung or inspired by their roster of wrestlers. Most people don’t know that long time manager, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart was a rock star in the 60’s before getting into the pro wrestling business and wrote a lot of the songs on Piledriver. A few of the tracks served as ring entrance music at live events such as the rockin’ “Demolition” inspired by the tag team of the same name and “Girls In Cars” which played out Tito Santana & Rick Martel aka Strike Force to their matches. Even the owner of the company Vince McMahon got behind the mic for a song called “Stand Back” which was later performed live with back-up dancers at the WWF awards ceremony “The Slammies”.

WWF Magazine

Back in the day before the internet was omnipresent we had to get information on our favorite hobbies from magazines. WWF magazine was a great tool for giving background on the wrestling characters and current feuds through various articles. But most of all it was filled with advertisements for more merchandise featuring your favorite Superstars. And for those of us who were fans of the “First Lady of WWF”, Miss Elizabeth it was a rare treat to get pictorials featuring Macho Man Randy Savage’s lovely valet.

One of the most exciting ads in this particular issue was for WWF Superstars ice cream bars. These were an absolute master stroke in terms of marketing. Kids already love ice cream, but print Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat or “The Million Dollar Man” on a cookie housing delicious frozen treat within and you’ve got yourself a sale! Adding to the premium feel was the fact that the bars were individually housed in their own boxes that came packed with a WWF collector card! Speaking of trading cards…

Wrestlemania III Trading Cards by Topps

Seeing your favorite wrestler on TV was a thrill, but so was having a picture of them in action on a little cardboard square. Wrestlemania III was a true spectacle with wrestlers riding on mini-wrestling ring carts and the infamous slamming of Andre The Giant by Hulk Hogan. Speaking of the 8th wonder of the world, just imagine applying that sticker to your Trapper Keeper! These cards absolutely captured the excitement of a live WWF pay-per-view and have such a nostalgic quality to them.

WWF Wrestling Buddies

Every kid who watched pro wrestling was familiar with the constant parental threat of, “If I see you trying any of these moves out on your little brother, there will be no more wrestling”. Luckily Tonka had the solution to this problem, give the kids a pillow-soft wrestler to pummel to their heart’s content!

WWF Wrestling Budddies were phenomenally popular and why not? Giving a piledriver to the Big Boss Man never felt so good. As you can see here I’m lucky enough to have the Ultimate Warrior in my collection who was an absolute phenomenon during his relatively short run with the company. The only thing that’s missing is a piece of ring rope to attach to the Warrior’s hands with velcro so kids could imitate his wild ring antics along with the amped-up wrestlers set of power moves.

If taking a look at these vintage WWF merchandise items sparked a bit of nostalgia for your childhood wrestling obsession, why not take it to the next level and watch the latest Wrestling themed episode of RD’s Retro Detention. This time around RD is showing off these items and more as he dreams of being a WWF Superstar himself. It’s a slammin’ and jammin’ good time you won’t want to miss. So check it out now at this link 

 

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OldSchool80s Posted on Jul 05, 2020 at 08:33 PM

Fun memories! Thanks, as always, for sharing!

Mr Magic Posted on Jul 03, 2020 at 06:06 PM

When I was a kid, I had a Shawn Michaels figure. He wasn't in his "Heartbreak Kid" attire, but his "Rocker" attire.

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