During San Diego Comic Con this past week, Mattel released images and prototypes of Ronda Rousey’s first WWE action figures. In addition, Topps is promoting its upcoming WWE Women’s Division trading card product around the inclusion of Rousey’s first WWE trading cards. There’s little doubt that at this point in 2018, Rousey is WWE’s most marketable star.
This should be no surprise to collectors who followed Rousey’s meteoric rise from 2012 to 2016. During most of that time, no professional athlete was hotter than Ronda Rousey. To put her popularity in perspective, Rousey’s autographs and trading cards regularly sold at higher prices than those of megastars like LeBron James, Mike Trout, Sidney Crosby and Peyton Manning.
Although Rousey’s popularity waned somewhat after two consecutive losses, her booboo face behavior and withdrawal from the public eye, she still remained one of the two most popular MMA fighters in the world, along with Conor McGregor. Even in 2018, Topps is still including Rousey in its UFC trading card products, and her cards often sell for the highest prices on the secondary market. You’re unlikely to find a Topps UFC Ronda Rousey auto for under $100.
Ronda’s early WWE items seem to indicate that she’ll be one of the hottest wrestlers in whatever merchandising line she’s in, whether it’s trading cards, action figures, dolls or digital apps. As reported in an April 2018 PWTorch.com collectibles column, Rousey’s first WWE trading card – a Topps Now card commemorating her WWE debut at WrestleMania – sold 1,342 copies, compared to 261 for Charlotte Flair and 145 for the Undertaker.
Rousey is prominently featured in the marketing for Topps’ 2018 WWE Women’s Division product. This set will include her first basic Topps card, which Topps is labeling her WWE rookie card. Topps has not confirmed whether this product will include any Rousey autographs or memorabilia cards. This product is currently listed for an October release.
Beyond Rousey’s performance in the ring and how she is presented on WWE TV, there are several factors that will affect the value of her trading cards. For one, base wrestling cards are mass produced and don’t tend to have a lot of value, so collectors will be waiting for her autographs. Unfortunately, collectors have run into two issues with her recent UFC autographs.
For one, almost all of her Topps UFC autos over the last couple years have been redemptions. Nothing frustrates a card collector more than pulling a redemption for the top star in a product and having to wait an undetermined amount of time for it to show up in the mail. Secondly, the quality of Rousey’s signature has vastly deteriorated compared to earlier autographs. Digital signatures and marketing materials often depict a very legible “Ronda Rousey” signature, but in reality her most recent UFC signatures were little more than a few loops and scribbles.
Ronda’s first WWE action figures will be her first real action figures of any sort. Jakks Pacific briefly ventured into making UFC action figures in 2010, but the line quickly ran out of steam before Rousey became a star. Her only collectible figures so far have been a UFC Pop Vinyl from Funko and mini figurines from a company called Round 5.
At San Diego Comic Con, Mattel revealed images of a basic Rousey figure in a “Hot Ronda” T-shirt and a Barbie-esque WWE Superstar Fashions Doll. Many collectors are awaiting Rousey’s first Elite or Defining Moments figure from Mattel.
“The Ronda basic that was shown at Comic Con was good,” said Jef Toon, cohost of the Fully Poseable Wrestling Figure Podcast. “A lot of feedback from our listeners and other collectors was they were disappointed in the face shown on the rendering, but with Mattel introducing this new True FX face scan, and judging from other figures that we have seen with this new device, we are not worried one bit.”
Rousey’s first Elite or Defining Moments figure will undoubtedly be the top figure of the year, and many collectors never find one at their local retail stores. Recent history has shown, however, that once the initial buzz dies down, the figure should be easier to find on the secondary market, so collectors should be patient and not pay exorbitant prices early on.
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PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.