These Action Figures...
As an avid follower of Extreme Championship Wrestling, I knew that they had briefly manufactured a line of action figures circa 1999 and 2000. But because (a) I wasn't really collecting wrestling figures back then and (b) these didn't seem to ever appear in Canada (or at least Toronto), I'd never actually owned any.
I have to admit, I kind of figured these figures would be low-quality because ECW was the distant number three company... but they're quite surprisingly on par with the figures being made by WWF and WCW at the time.
Sure, they don't have the facial recognition technology that today's figures do, but this is a perfectly acceptable rendering of Rob Van Dam, right down to the ponytail, pose and white yin/yang singlet. Given RVD was such a counter-culture hero at the time... it's a no-brainer this figure would have been huge.
Now.... this may be a somewhat controversial position to take, but I'm going to just come out and say that out of all the ECW figures (or at least the first two series that I now own), Buh Buh Ray Dudley is BY FAR my favorite. Not only did they nail the little details like the tye-dye shirt and Dudley-style nerd glasses, but he's just HUGE! He's like, friggin' Big Show compared to the rest of the line.
D-Von Dudley is fine, too, but Buh Buh Ray is the all star of this line.
Sabu is probably close second for me because, hell, he's friggin' Sabu, and what more reason do you need than that?
Okay, fine - he's ridiculously detailed for an action figure in this era, right down to the scar tissue on his stomach. And the little details, like the lime green parachute pants and tape all over his bicep, wrists and fingers just screams "Sabu" to anyone who thought this was from maybe an obscure AWA action figure line or something.
Wait..... can I change my second favorite choice from Sabu to New Jack?
This figure is just.... so badass. The hangman's noose around his neck is something you'll probably never, EVER see on another wrestling figure (as far as I know, this is the only New Jack fig in existence). The electrical tape wrapped around his wrists and hands is just ridiculous. Plus, if your wrestling figure promotion ever needs an "angry ghetto dude" character for any reason, you just KNOW that's who you're going to use for that role.
And then we have.... Chris Candido?
Don't get me wrong; I definitely had respect for the guy's skills and feel he was underutilized for most of his career.... but it just seems like such an odd inclusion given how many others there were in ECW at the time.
By the way, the action figures they made that you WON'T see in this column (Series 3 and later) include Super Crazy, Jerry Lynn, Yoshiro Tajiri, Steve Corino, Rhino and Mike Awesome.
And of course, you have the man in ECW at the time - World Champion Taz (or maybe he was gone by the time this figure was out - I don't recall).
While the head sculpt isn't really that faithful to the Taz that we know and love, this figure still manages to capture the fighting spirit of The Human Suplex Machine.
One thing I should point out - all of these figures either have levers or knobs on their backs that move either there arms or waists. In Taz's case, you can swivel his hips to deliver one heck of a belly-to-back suplex. A nice little touch.
And finally in the line (or at least, in Series 1 and 2), you have The Impact Players, which both look amazing. Lance Storm has a completely stoic expression on his face, and his trunks and boots have a kind of no-nonsense approach to them - although, it has to be said, I don't remember Storm ever wearing that green and black combination.
Justin Credible is not just the coolest and not just the best in his jean shorts and black ECW shirt. Plus, if you operate the lever on his back, he can do the DX crotch chop (kind of). Was that a nod to his backstage allegiance with Shawn Michaels and Triple H? Probably not -- it was probably a complete coincidence -- but hey, we can at least pretend.
Seeing these two together makes us appreciate what a good, solid tag team The Impact Players were, and you could definitely see them challenging other tag teams on the roster as the main event for your figure's B-shows.
Overall, this is a REALLY good line, and I'm shocked that more people don't point to it with high regard. I suppose it's possible that they were only released in small quantities at the time.... but if that were the case, then why are they relatively affordable on eBay and the like some 15 years later?
Had ECW lived past 2001, I have no doubt that they would have expanded the line, created some weapons for the boys, created - I don't know - a toy flaming barbed-wire ring or something, the whole enchilada. But instead, we only got about two dozen figures (plus repaints of most of the initial characters, such as Tommy Dreamer wearing a yellow hockey jersey for some reason).
But I'm not complaining - the relatively small quantity of toys makes them EXTREME!