SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
You’ve probably seen plenty of John Cena, Hulk Hogan and Undertaker action figures. But when was the last time you saw a toy of El Gigante or Big Josh?
In 1990, toy company Galoob began production on a line of the first WCW action figures. They were similar to LJN’s WWF Wrestling Superstars line, but slightly smaller. One wave of figures was released in the U.S., but due to poor distribution and a weak WCW product at the time, sales were sluggish. By 1991, stores like Kay-Bee Toys were selling the Galoob WCW figures at clearance prices.
The first series was made up of 12 wrestlers: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Sting, Lex Luger, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, Brian Pillman, Tom Zenk, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Butch Reed and Ron Simmons. There were some variations, including Arn with and without a bald spot, Sting with blue and orange tights and Butch Reed with and without a red Nike swoosh on his shoes. Each figure came with a generic WCW title belt. There were also four tag team two-packs issued with the first series: Flair & Arn, Sting & Luger, the Steiners and Reed & Simmons.
In 1991 Galoob released a second series of repainted figures in the UK. The second series was made up of 10 of the figures from the first series, minus Reed and Zenk. The figures were made from the same molds but had new paint jobs; for example, the first series Flair had blue tights, while the second series Flair had red tights.
Also in 1991, Galoob produced a third series of all new UK exclusives: El Gigante, Big Josh, Dustin Rhodes, Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, Sting and Luger. The Sting and Luger figures were in their entrance robes. Also included was a Fabulous Freebirds two-pack with a sound module.
A second series of tag teams was produced, with the wrestlers in their UK variant colors: Flair & Anderson, Sting & Luger, the Steiners, and Hayes & Garvin. There were two version of the Sting & Luger two pack: one had the UK repaints, and another had them in their UK-exclusive entrance robes.
The Galoob line was canceled after the release of the UK exclusives, but at least eight prototypes of unreleased figures have also surfaced over the years: Flair in an entrance robe, Diamond Studd, PN News, Richard Morton, Black Blood and new figures of Hayes, Garvin and Sid.
All things considered, the Galoob figures were actually pretty well done and may be the best line of WCW figures ever. They were solid hunks of plastic that didn’t move, just like the LJN WWF figures, but most figures had a surprising amount of detail. Many of the head sculpts were actually very accurate.
The Galoob WCW line is still very popular with collectors today. The first series of figures and tag teams is very abundant, so you can get just about any figure you’re after for just a couple bucks.
The UK-exclusive figures, however, are much rarer and more expensive. One lot of three loose figures (Gigante, Big Josh and Sid) recently sold for $99.99, while another (Luger, Sting and Rhodes) sold for $75. A loose Rhodes figure recently sold for $60, as did a loose set of Garvin and Hayes. Finding the UK-exclusive figures mint on card can be next to impossible and very costly. The prototype figures are also very collectible but incredibly scarce.
Several collectors have also made plenty of custom Galoob WCW figures over the years. Recent sales on eBay have included customs of Tony Schiavone, Gary Hart, JJ Dillon and Paul Jones, among others.
PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.
NOW READ OUR PREVIOUS COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Interview with PWG BOLA card designer Brian UbbenFigures