Merch From '92
1992 was kind of an awkward phase for the WWF. Their long-term plan of building the company around The Ultimate Warrior clearly didn't work, so they were slowly transitioning from cartoonish storylines to more serious ones... although they weren't quite there yet. Thus, business was lagging around this time.
Case in point - WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. Sure, his merchandise took up the first page in the catalog, but it wasn't exactly inspired at this point.
There was the usual collection of Hulkamania wristbands, a yellow do-rag, a poster, the traditional ripped yellow sleeveless Hulkamania tee, and then.... this.
I've seen dozens of Hulk Hogan tee-shirts in my day, but I can't say this particular one stands out. The only thing mildly-interesting is that it notes that he's "The Four Time WWF Champion Hulk Hogan".
Granted, all of The Hulkster's reigns were memorable and most were quite lengthy, but can you imagine touting the fact that someone's a four-time World Champion in 2014? Comparisons would have to be made to four-or-more time World Champions Ric Flair, John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H, Edge, Bret Hart, Booker T, Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash..... and that's just off the top of my head!
Talk about championships meaning more back then....
You know what else meant a lot more back then? The Undertaker, apparently.
The Dead Man had recently become a babyface, and WWF couldn't store merchandise quickly enough, judging by the amount of quality items he had going for him in late '92.
First you've got the creepy face tee-shirt which, I'm sorry, but I can't imagine anyone ever wearing. Unless you mean ironically.
The foam tombstone was a little much, unless you were going to the graveyard wearing it or wanted to be goth in school but weren't quite allowed to yet. The purple and black coffee mug looks perfect to sip either hot chocolate or human blood from.
Remember the iconic Macho Man Randy Savage shirt? The one from the mid-80's that came in purple and was essentially a pair of sunglasses with an illustration of Savage pointing at you like a badass?
This isn't that shirt. It looks as though Randy Savage is kind of having some sort of a technicolor seizure.
There were a variety of Savage items for sale -- including posters, do-rags and sunglasses -- but none of them particular cool by this point in his career. In fact, by late 1992, Savage more resembled the teddy bear above than anything else.
You know.... it really says something about the depth of the WWF's talent roster around this time that people like The Ultimate Warrior, Tatanka, Ric Flair, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Big Boss Man and Bret Hart weren't the "top of the food chain" guys here. Sure, they may have had a poster or teddy bear elsewhere in the catalog, but they weren't earning top merch dollar. Can you imagine any of these in their prime and on the active roster today (okay, maybe not Tatanka)? They'd be king of the mountain.
By the way, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention two other merchandise main eventers - The Legion of Doom. Hawk and Animal had their own catalog page of mostly skippable stuff, with the possible exception of foam shoulderpads so that your little snot-nosed kids could pretend to dine on danger and snack on death:
The Party's Here, brother!!!
Honestly, your birthday party in 1992 (or, if you were the type to plan ahead, 1993) could have done worse than having neon etchings of Ultimate Warrior, Jake The Snake Roberts and The Hulkster surrounding your table I'd take this decorative motif over, say, Scooby Doo any day.
And the prices were quite reasonable. I would expect quite a bit of markup for these things, but Vince McMahon wasn't being greedy (for once). A set of eight invitations, eight loot bags, eight party blowers and the Hogan door hanging to the left set you back just $9.95 (note I didn't say "$9.99"), while the "Party Pack" of plates, napkins, tablecloth and cups were available for the low low price of $7.95.
And we go from that, to...... this.
Look, I'm not sure what the hell these things are supposed to be. They could be dog costumes for all I know.
It turns out they are a Baby Bonnet and Bib set, especially configured to fit your young WWF superstar in training. These are $9.95 each as well, which seems a tad on the pricey side for something your precious little bundle of joy is just going to puke all over.
Considering kids this young have no earthly idea what professional wrestling even is, I'm thinking these pretty much equal child abuse.
But hey, at least that's the creepiest thing we'll see in this catalog....
WHAT. THE. HELL???
Um..... I have no words. No, that's not exactly true. I have a few questions after checking out this set:
1) Can anyone explain to me why Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan would be HOLDING HANDS?!?
2) Doesn't poking eyeholes through Randy Savage's sunglasses make him look like Hamburglar or something?
3) Why does Hulk Hogan have the outline of pectorals and a six pack through his T-shirt?
4) Come to think of it.... has Hogan ever had a six-pack?
5) Wouldn't most wrestling fans circa late-1992 rather dress up as The Road Warriors (they even had the cool foam shoulderpads to work with) rather than The Megapowers?
6) Why do Savage and Hogan's feet end way before the costume model's actual feet? Are we to believe that each wrestler has four feet?
7) Again, the holdings hands thing. Because it's seriously creeping me out.
Yeah, you know what? Under regular circumstances, this Undertaker wall-hanging may have freaked me out a bit, what with his eyes bugged out, and the Hallowe'en-esque spiders crawling into the frame.
But after seeing the item above, I feel as though I can look at any other item for sale and kind of say "ehhhh".
Nice job, Vince.