THE SPECIALISTS COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Action Figure Spotlight on first Ax toy; info on new Topps WWE cards
Jun 19, 2012 - 2:02:27 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist
In Brief: LJN released a figure of Demolition Ax in 1988, but an LJN figure of Smash was never produced.
- Action Figure Spotlight #33: Demolition Ax LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars Series 5
- Originally released: 1988
- What you can expect to pay: $10-30 loose, $80-125 packaged
- Recent sales: $10.49, $24.50, $29.99, $31.50 (loose); $99.00, $99.99, $103 (packaged)
In the mid-1990s, wrestling action figures evolved from toys to collectibles. The big rubber WWF Wrestling Superstars toys from LJN held sentimental value for teens and twenty-somethings who had played with them as kids a decade earlier.
Collectors scoured garage sales and secondhand stores looking for discarded wrestling toys. They found the toys they remembered from their childhood – Hulk Hogan, the Iron Sheik, and Big John Studd – and later releases they either had outgrown as teens or never saw in their local stores, such as Billy Jack Haynes, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Ted DiBiase.
When collectors came across a toy of Demolition Ax, they would rummage through the other toys hoping to find Smash. With the Internet in its infancy and the scattershot distribution of toy magazines, many fans were going off of memory and didn’t have a definitive checklist of LJN toys at their disposal.
For whatever reason, LJN made a toy of Ax but never made a figure of Smash. Some collectors have suggested that a figure of Smash was withheld after the WWF replaced Randy Colley with Barry Darsow in the early days of Demolition, but that has never been corroborated.
The Ax figure was released in 1988 in the fifth series of LJN’s WWF figures, which was the last wave of figures available in stores. In 1989, a sixth series of figures was available exclusively through ads in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated family of magazines, but Smash was omitted from that series as well.
Demolition wasn’t the only incomplete tag team from LJN. The sixth series included a figure of the Warlord but not one of his Powers of Pain tag team partner the Barbarian. Smash and Barbarian were advertised for a seventh series of LJN toys that were never produced, and photographs and prototypes have never been seen.
The Ax toy is posed in an awkward stance similar to the Jesse Venture figure from Series 3, flexing his right arm while his left arm hangs to his side. Ax has red face paint and has his tongue hanging out of his mouth. The picture of Ax on the back of the package shows him from one of his earliest WWF matches in strange face paint that doesn’t resemble the red paint on the figure or the paint he would wear during most of Demolition’s run. This early picture lends credence to the idea that the figure was designed in Demolition’s earliest days, possibly when the Smash role was filled by Colley.
The Ax figure is very popular with collectors today. Because it was a late release that wasn’t as widely distributed as the earlier figures, packaged figures are tough to come by and consistently sell for around $100. Loose figures usually fetch anywhere from $10 to $30 loose, depending on condition.
Topps Offers Previews of New WWE Cards
Collectors of wrestling cards will have a nice variety to choose from in a few months.
In addition to the Leaf Originals Wrestling cards scheduled for release in July, Topps will offer up its latest WWE product in September. Topps WWE 2012 will feature the usual autographs and relics, along with lip print cards from most of the Divas in WWE. Packs are $2 each, with 24 packs per hobby box. Each hobby box will contain one relic card and either an autograph or another relic card containing a piece of the mat from WrestleMania 28.
The relic cards will feature pieces of t-shirts worn by the usual wrestlers – John Cena, Randy Orton, Christian, and more. There will also be relic cards of a few new wrestlers, most notably Brodus Clay.
The real draw to these cards will be the autographs, assuming Topps is able to secure them all. Topps is advertising a Triple H autograph, which would be only the second time that Triple H has signed for a trading card set. Topps has advertised Triple H’s autograph in past sets but never come through.
There are also autographs of most of the Divas, current stars like Chris Jericho and John Laurinitis, and an impressive list of legends that includes the first pack-certified autographs of wrestlers like Barry Windham, Tully Blanchard, and Terry Funk, among others. A full checklist for this product can be found at WrestlingTradingCards.com .
Do you have a question or comment about wrestling collectibles? Contact Michael Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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