10 RANDOM PIECES OF
If one ever wanted to make the statement that WCW was never quite on top of their merchandising game.... well, one wouldn't be wrong in saying so.
Despite a huge product effort in the early 1990s and again when wrestling became "cool" during the nWo years, WCW's merchandise was always a distant second to the mighty World Wrestling Federation. WWF's posters, toys and other swag was always top-notch and typically had a uniform look and feel to it, whereas WCW's merch was often a random collection of stuff. For example....
Sting Fly Buddies
At one point, a WCW marketing executive sat down and told his board of directors: "You know what kids would really like to play with? Sting - but without a torso."
According to Amazon.com and other reputable sites, these Fly Buddies came out in 1997, and are a hybrid water balloon and frisbee. You fill Sting up with water or otherwise inflate his giant head and then whip at your friends. Sounds like fun, right? RIGHT? This particular item also came in the torso-less forms of Hollywood Hogan and The Giant.
Four Horsemen Vitamins
Yes... Four Horsemen Vitamins were actually a thing in the mid 1980s. I can't even imagine the NWA mark who had to have these bad boys floating around in their system.
On one hand... Ric Flair and company were notorious party animals, so people may have thought ingesting these would give one the necessary endurance to limousine ride, jet fly, etc.
On the other hand... a bottle of vitamins endorsed by Arn Anderson just doesn't work for me, personally.
Hulk Hogan Baseball Cap
Look.... I'm not against owning a Hulk Hogan baseball hat, per se. I even have one myself (albeit one with the classic "Hulkamania" logo etched across the front instead of a pasty white cartoon of the all-time legend). But this one kind of misses the point.
It's red and yellow, yes, so points for having decent branding game, but the image of Hogan is just.... well, pathetic. It looks like a bootleg hat someone could find at a flea market, where the creators of the hat changed the image just enough so people would think it resembles The Hulkster.
Lex Luger Wrestling Buddy
Okay, it's not - technically speaking - a wrestling buddy, those pillow-like toys that WWF fans used to LOVE in the day (I was a bit old for them by the time they came out), but this is most assuredly a knockoff of the Wrestling Buddies line.
According to my research, there were four WCW Wrestling Champs available circa 1991 - Lex Luger, Sting, Ric Flair and.... Rick Steiner? That one makes no sense! Who would "Hug 'em" OR "Bop 'em" to a pillow of The Dogfaced Gremlin? Were Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson busy the day the pillows were being made?
WCW Loot Bags
WTF... again with Sting, Lex Luger and Rick Steiner? I mean.... Rick wasn't even the number three babyface at the time, let alone a marketable part of the company. Maybe as part of a tag team, but two singles wrestlers and one half of a tag team just makes it look like Scotty Steiner couldn't be bothered to pose for the loot bag picture (which.... well, that may actually make a bit of sense.)
Odd casting choices aside, I can't imagine anyone, under any circumstances, throwing a WCW birthday party back in the day unless you hated your child. Or your local K-Mart was sold out of the WWF loot bags (which included Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Demolition Smash).
WCW Vinyl Stickers
I want to hate these stickers so badly, especially because of the Rick Steiner factor... but I can't.
The truth is, these stickers are badass beyond belief. I'm particularly looking at the Sid Vicious kneeling on one knee pose, but all of them kick at least 10 kinds of ass. If WCW had abandoned their traditional pay-per-view model in 1991 and just shown people these vinyl stickers instead, I'm not convinced it would have made the slightest bit of difference in the buyrate.
And yet, we do have to address the elephant in the room: TWO identical Rick Steiner stickers on the cover. Yes, I'm aware that the Lex Luger-Ric Flair top rope slam is also a double.... but at least that's two different people. Ugh.
Big Josh Action Figure
This happy little fellow was part of the WCW Galoob action figure series that I covered in great detail here. It's actually the first article I ever published on this website, so you know I think the world of this series.
Unfortunately, my WCW action figure battles never included a Big Josh figure because it was EXCLUSIVE TO THE UNITED KINGDOM, along with a few other gems (El Gigante, The Fabulous Freebirds, Dustin Rhodes). WHY?!? I've since acquired some of the UK collection but Joshie is still missing in action.
These figures sell on eBay for hundreds and thousands of dollars a pop, which is absolutely shocking because I seriously doubt WCW paid Big Josh that much during his entire run in the company!
WCW Coloring Book
Here's the crazy thing: a good decade after WCW closed its doors, these suckers were available at literally every dollar store in my area.
Had I come across these today at my local Dollarama, I not only would have gobbled up every copy on the shelf, I'd probably color in all the pages, but write a feature-length post on each one.
Nothing against Vampiro (I thought he was a cool character, actually), but I cannot imagine throngs of wrestling fans wanting to dress like the guy, especially this was WCW in 2000, when most of its fans had long jumped off the ship for the more predictable waters of WWF.
Look, the dreadlock braids and Frankenstein-like face paint is a nice touch; if your kid wanted to be Vampiro for Hallowe'en, this would have been a perfect acceptable way to do so. But VAMPIRO? Seriously? Was the WCW merchandising center fresh out of That 70s Guy Mike Awesome and The Monster Meng masks?
Also, that mask kind of looks like it's staring back at me. Any one else notice that?
WCW Wrestling Ring & Cage
WCW had some cool action figures back in the day, with the aforemention Galoob and later, Toybiz. This series, created by the Original San Francisco Toymakers, kind of missed the mark.
For one thing... look at that ring. Two wrestlers take up, like, 85 percent of the ring space. And if you add the cage, Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan can't even budge!
But then, the wrestler selection. Hogan, Savage and Hall are all nWo guys fine. But the lone babyface is.... RICK STEINER?
I give up.