Before LJN hit toy shelves with their iconic WWF Wrestling Superstars line, the AWA Remco figures were the first wrestling figure line in North America.
As we learned in the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, Remco was originally negotiating to become the WWF's official toy company, but once Vince McMahon chose LJN, Remco quickly pivoted and repurposed an existing toy line ("Lost World of The Warlord") to resemble the stars of the American Wrestling Association.
Although I never owned the figures during their mid-1980s heyday (nor did I ever see them grace Canadian toy store shelves that I'm aware of), these figures were always white whales to collect, and I recent found a few near-mint figures at a local toy market for a very reasonable price.
Let's break the figures down a little further....
If at first glance, you think these AWA figures look like the classic He-Man figs of yesteryear, you're not wrong. While simplistic (and exaggerated for many of the aging AWA competitors), this is exactly how many toys looked in this era. The form factor was so popular, in fact, that He-Man has made a comeback in recent years using the same type of bodies, as has WWE with their Masters of the WWE Universe line and its successor, WWE Superstars.
Probably among the closest wrestlers to this body type in the AWA at the time were The Road Warriors. As you see with Road Warrior Hawk (I don't have Animal in my collection... yet), his muscled upper torso, fearsome facepaint and post-apocalyptic haircut made for the perfect wrestling toy. And Remco was lucky to get The Road Warriors on board before they left the promotion.
Baron Von Raschke, on the other hand, never had the same jacked-up look as The Road Warriors but still received a very similar body type from Remco. In fairness, had the toy company gone for realism and portrayed as an aging, scrawny former Nazi, it may not have really flown off of the shelves at Toys R Us, you know?
Terry Gordy of The Fabulous Freebirds is the first figure pictured that doesn't have the traditional Road Warriors/Baron Von Raschke muscleman physique, which is perfect. With dark curly hair, a decent face sculpt and a slightly taller and bulkier frame than some of the other figures, it's a near-perfect depiction of Bamm Bamm.
We go back to fantasy physiques again with Larry Zbyszko when he apparently was going through a bodybuilder phase. No matter, the face at least a decent depiction of The Living Legend, who was one of the company's top villains at the time.
Coming up next is Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin. While he would later become a Fabulous Freebird himself, at the time he was another one of the territory's top villains. For those keeping score, Garvin has a much more realistic physique and looks great with long, curly hair and red tights. He actually came packaged in some AWA sets with his valet Precious, who was essentially a repurposed Barbie doll.
Garvin's tag team partner at the time was Steve Regal (not to be confused with the guy who later became Lord William Regal - completely different people). I don't entirely remember what this Regal looked like, but from what I can see, it seems to be a decent rendering of the guy.
Last but definitely not least is Rick Martel, whom I believe was AWA World Champion at the time. While his physique was never the bodybuilder mode, it works enough for the guy to get a pass, and the facial resemblance is pretty good.
For a line that only ran a few years, the AWA Remco figures were extensive in scope, with figures ranging from Ric Flair (who was not in the AWA at the time) to Scott Hall, and from The Long Riders to The Midnight Rockers (yes, this was Shawn Michaels' debut figure). Many of the collection are hard to come by these days... but they made for a very impressive flea market find!