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Mattel recently released a new WWE Hall of Fame box set exclusive to Target, which includes Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Eddie Guerrero and the first Mattel figure of Larry Zbyszko. The four-pack was originally advertised in Target’s 2016 holiday toy catalogue, but Mattel then announced the set had been scrapped for undisclosed reasons. It began surfacing oversees by January, and finally made its way to U.S. shelves in Target over the last couple months, carrying a $49.99 price tag.
Zbyszko’s first action figure was released way back in 1985. It took more than 30 years, but the “Living Legend” finally has another figure in his likeness – even if his name is misspelled “Zybysko” on the packaging.
“Larry is very excited, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that they butchered his name,” laughed MLW’s Mister Saint Laurent (MSL), a longtime friend of Zbyszko’s. “When Larry and I were tag team partners, I used to tease him constantly about his name being wrong in WCW/nWo Revenge for Nintendo 64. I would have friends over and whenever Larry would walk by, we would all pick him in the game and rib him that there were four Larry’s on the TV, but none of them had their name spelled right.”
Zbyszko’s only other figure to date was part of Remco’s AWA toy line, which lasted from 1985 to 1987. The Remco AWA series remains one of the most beloved wrestling toy lines to date, and also includes the first and only figures ever made of several wrestlers. The 30-year delay between Zbyszko figures may give hope to collectors who have been pining for modern figures of other wrestlers from the line.
“It’s a great looking figure, and I hope it’s the first of many,” MSL said. “Larry was forgotten for so long, because of how he left the WWF at the time, so whether it’s being in a video game or having a new action figure, it’s nice for the new generation of fans be introduced to Larry and hopefully go back on the (WWE) Network or YouTube to see not just one of the best heel runs in wrestling history, but also one of the most over babyface announcers in history.”
Unlike the LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars line from the same era, where figures were sold individually, the Remco AWA figures were mostly sold in multi-packs. The first three series were sold in two-packs, and Series 2 included a couple of three-packs. There were also a couple different battle royal playsets that came with seven figures. Single figures weren’t sold until the fourth and final series, called Mat Mania. Series 4 contains some of the rarest and most valuable wrestling toys of all time, such as Nord the Barbarian, Boris Zhukov, Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.
In all, the Remco AWA line included figures of 34 different wrestlers. Some had multiple figures, such as Greg Gagne, and others had different muscular and flabby bodies, such as Terry Gordy and Jimmy Garvin. A few wrestlers, like Zbyszko, were released multiple times with difference accessories; the Series 1 Zbyszko figure had a red jacket, while the Series 3 version had a white one.
One and Done
Of the 34 wrestlers in the Remco AWA line, 15 have not had another figure since. Some of the one-and-done wrestlers aren’t surprising; Steve (not William) Regal, Dick Woehrle, Doug Somers and Scott Irwin probably won’t have another wrestling figure. But several other wrestlers had memorable runs in the WWF or other territories, including Boris Zhukov, “Wild” Bill Irwin (aka the Goon), “Playboy” Buddy Rose, Greg Gagne, Jerry “Crusher” Blackwell and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie (General Adnan). Paul Ellering is once again part of WWE in 2017, and could possibly show up in a Mattel series with the Legion of Doom or the Authors of Pain. A new action figure of Precious seems unlikely, but Mattel has released stranger things than a Garvin-Precious two-pack.
But more surprisingly, some of the biggest names in wrestling history were included in the AWA toy line and haven’t appeared in action figure form since. Wrestling legends and WWE Hall of Famers Carlos Colon, Nick Bockwinkel and Stan Hansen have somehow never surfaced in another mainstream toy line, although Hansen and Bockwinkel have had some collectible figurines released in Japan.
The remaining 19 wrestlers in the Remco AWA toy line have found their ways into various other series over the years. Not surprisingly, no wrestler from the original AWA series has appeared in more toy lines than Ric Flair, who has shown up in six other products. The “Nature Boy” has since been included in the Hasbro WWF, Galoob WCW, Jakks WWF/WWE, OSFTM WCW, Toy Biz WCW, and Mattel WWE lines.
Scott Hall is the only other wrestler from the AWA toy line to have appeared in five other products since then: Hasbro WWF, Jakks WWF/WWE, OSFTM WCW, Toy Biz WCW and Mattel WWE. Hall (as the Diamond Studd) was also scheduled to be included in the Galoob WCW line, which was canceled before his figure could be released.
Curt Hennig and Rick Martel are the only two wrestlers from the Remco line to be included in four other toy products. Hennig appeared in the Hasbro WWF, Jakks WWF/WWE, OSFTM WCW and Mattel lines, while Martel was featured in the LJN WWF, Hasbro WWF, Jakks WWF/WWE and Mattel WWE lines.
Other Remco AWA Trivia
Martel and Jim Brunzell are the only two wrestlers to appear in both 1980s toy lines. Martel was packaged with Baron Von Raschke in Remco AWA Series 1, and was the included in his Strike Force gear in LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars Series 5. Brunzell was packaged with Greg Gagne as the High Flyers in Remco AWA Series 1, and then was sold as one-half of the Killer Bees in LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars Series 4. Both Strike Force and the Killer Bees were also later sold in tag team box sets from LJN.
Nord the Barbarian from the Remco AWA Mat Mania series is one of the most valuable wrestling toys of all time, with loose figures commanding more than $300. All of John Nord’s other figures are as the Berzerker from Hasbro WWF, Jakks WWE Classic Superstars and Mattel WWE Elite.
Steve Keirn as one-half of the Fabulous Ones is one of the most common Remco AWA figures. His only other figure is as Skinner in Hasbro WWF Series 5.
Scott Hall and Terry Gordy are the only wrestlers from the AWA line to appear as themselves and as another character in a different line. Hall’s first figure is from Remco AWA Series 5, packaged in a “Greatest Grudge Matches” two-pack with “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. He appeared as himself in OSFTM WCW, Toy Biz WCW, Jakks WWF/WWE and Mattel WWE, and as Razor Ramon in Hasbro WWF, Jakks WWF/WWE and Mattel WWE. Gordy was originally included in a Remco AWA Series 2 Fabulous Freebirds three-pack. He also appeared as himself in a Jakks WWE Classic Superstars Freebirds three-pack and as the masked Executioner in a Jakks WWF Buried Alive four-pack.
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PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.