Welcome back to yet another edition of WWF Hasbro Memories, the internet’s only comprehensive review column of the Hasbro WWF figure line from the early 1990’s (that I know of anyway). If you like this sort of thing or just missed a column, make sure to go back and check out my reviews for Series One and Series Two.
Today, we’ll be looking at Series Three of the toy line, which dropped in 1992 and would be the biggest series to hit shelves at a whopping SIXTEEN figures. I don’t see what we’re waiting for – let’s do it!
If you’ll recall from my earlier reviews, both Series One and Series Two were stacked with figures. Series One brought us an unprecedented 12 singles wrestlers, while Series Two went balls out with a total of 15 (9 singles and 3 tag teams). So it seems pretty unlikely that Series Three would see Hasbro go even further. Believe it or not, they do – 12 singles wrestlers and 2 more Tag Team 2-packs, making a grand total of 16 figures. In early 90’s WWF terms – ub-be-LIEVE-able!
Better still, 11 of the Series Three guys are making their debut in the line. For kids like us, who only bought the new wrestlers and left the revamped ones on the shelf, this is a huge deal. In fact, through Series Three, Hasbro produced figures for 33 different wrestlers. How are you not losing your mind thinking about that???
OK, let’s all just calm down and check these superstars out.
Let’s start things off with an icon – Series Three sees the debut of Sgt. Slaughter. Thankfully, the figure was released after Sarge’s whole “Iraqi Sympathizer” thing, so you’re not getting Slaughter in his Saddam Hussein garb. Sarge goes more for the “bulky G.I. Joe” look, and he really excels.
As far as play goes, Sgt. Slaughter’s bent elbows and crooked leg make him a little hard to maneuver in the ring, but he can still pull off a killer legdrop. His hat is also annoying because it prevents other wrestlers from giving him a suplex or a DDT, but hey, dude’s got to accessorize. Plus, if the hat were removable, I’m sure I would have to pay like 80 bucks for it on eBay.
Sarge’s Real Wrestling Action is the “Sgt.’s Salute”, which is the double spring-loaded arms that we see so often in this line. His right hand is molded for the classic “I WANT YOU” pose (read in the voice of Uncle Sam, not in some weird sexual connotation), so the “Salute” name makes sense. But guess what? This marine salutes with TWO HANDS brother! With the right hand you get the finger and – wham! – the left hand gives you the fist.
Overall, a good looking figure that loses a little in play. Sarge would go on to be WWF Commissioner in 1992, so he wouldn’t be doing much in the ring anyway.
If you listen to the Good Brothers Wrestling Podcast (CHEAP PLUG!), you know that the Texas Tornado was held in high esteem by MBWF workrate fans. He was involved in what is remembered as the greatest MBWF match of all time, but we’ll get to that later.
I’m really happy that Kerry Von Erich made it into this line, as 1992 would see the end of his WWF run. This figure is super cool too, and he has one of the most wrestler-appropriate Real Wrestling Actions we’ve seen thus far in the line – the Texas Twister. We saw the debut of the “clothesline arm” wrestlers with “Macho King” in Series Two. The Tornado does them one better by having TWO clothesline arms. You can spin the figure around at his waist and he’ll come back with a dizzying punch or clothesline (like a tornado, get it?). Von Erich’s real finisher was the Tornado Punch, a discus punch, which this mimics exactly. In fact, my only complaint is they didn’t just call this a Tornado Punch.
I’ve mentioned before how the sheer volume of this line lets wrestlers who would typically not get a figure be immortalized in plastic, and I would put the Texas Tornado in this group. The guy was nearing the end of his run (and sadly his life) in 1992, but he’s still a legend and getting him in the MBWF was awesome.
BIG BOSS MAN
The Boss Man makes his return to the line in Series Three, this time sporting a svelter physique and that same ol’ night stick. Hasbro Checklist sites differentiate between the two Boss Mans by referring to the S1 version as “plump and wearing shades” and S3 Boss Man as “slim and no shades”. Why couldn’t we just say shades or no shades? Why do we gotta make S1 Boss Man feel bad? And also, when was the Boss Man ever “slim”??
S3 Boss Man has a few advantages over his S1 counterpart other than fitting better into his pants. Something felt off about S1 Boss Man’s scale. His legs and head were small, like he had been scaled down further than the other figures. Series Three takes care of that while keeping the same spot on likeness.
Series Three also gives Boss Man a new Real Wrestling Action – the Jailhouse Jam. While the Jailhouse Jam is just a clothesline, the more violent of us will bend his elbow and let him Jam that nightstick right into someone’s face. If someone asks you if you want a Jailhouse Jam, say no.
Overall, I don’t see S3 Boss Man as a huge improvement over S1, but he has his charms. I prefer S1, mainly because that’s the figure I had growing up. I had to hit eBay for this guy, but I got him for just 99 cents! (I’ll let you wonder if I have two nightsticks.)
BRUTUS “THE BARBER” BEEFCAKE
Another guy returning from Series One, Brutus Beefcake makes a HUGE comeback with a totally revamped figure. S1 Beefcake featured the dreaded “handleback”, but S3 Beefcake has TWO SEPARATE LEGS, and those bad boys are clad in some zebra striped tights with magenta stripes that are just KILLING IT!
Brother Brutti’s shears also make their return, though this time with some repainted black handles. I’m pretty sure the head mold is exactly the same as Series One, but I ain’t hating, because literally everything else about Brutus has been improved.
Brutus’s Real Wrestling Action is the Beefcake Flattop, which is just a terrible name for his wind-up arm. It would be cooler if his shear holding arm wound up – you could picture spinning scissors around wildly as a true finisher. I’m glad for the flattop haircut reference, as it was a style preferred by both the Boss Man and I in the early 1990’s.
Brutus may be my sleeper favorite of the Series. Crazier still, I didn’t even know this figure existed until I started completing my collection this year. I have no recollection of seeing this toy or any reference to it back in the day. I doubt I would have bought it anyway, since we already had the S1 Brutus, but I would’ve been tempted. I found The Barber for just $10.50 on eBay and snatched him up.
While S1 Hulk is kind of bland and S2 Hulk is just too weird, S3 Hulk hits it perfect. He’s got a sweet “Hulkster Rules” tank top that is just aching to be ripped. While S1 and S2 Hulks had a headband, S3 Hulk is rocking a sweet Hulkster doo rag that hides his baldness.
Hulk’s Action is notable. He’s advertised as doing the “Hulkaplex”, which involves putting his opponent’s head in his bent right arm and suplexing them. Hogan’s gimmick arm is actually his left arm, which does the wind up punch move. I’m not sure how that relates to the suplex – I guess he’s putting some extra mustard on it.
We had S2 Hulk Hogan growing up, but I saw S3 Hulk on sale in some Pennsylvania department store over the summer and had to have him. My rationale for breaking the “no rebuying wrestlers” rule – I would be gone for three weeks, so my brother and I both needed a Hulkster to continue MBWF action.
THE NATURAL DISASTERS
GRADE: EARTHQUAKE – A, TYPHOON – B
Tag Team 2-Packs are back in Series Three, so it’s kind of odd that The Natural Disasters are packaged separately and not together. I mean, sure, I buy Earthquake as a singles wrestler since he had a main event run with Hulk Hogan in 1991. But I don’t remember ever seeing Typhoon wrestle a singles match (in that gimmick), so I can’t imagine wanting to buy him alone. I’m wondering if the Disasters’ sheer girth kept them from fitting in a package together?
At any rate, it’s great to get both Quake and Typhoon making their debut here. Quake is an awesome figure, with rotating leg joints that allow him to do his dreaded, snake-killing butt splash. The details on Quake are great too, right down to his tiger tattoo and super 90’s singlet. Earthquake’s Real Wrestling Action is the Aftershock, which translates to pull and release arms. That really puts some stink on that butt splash – pun intended.
Typhoon on the other hand – I can’t help but feel like he’s copying his tag team partner. Typhoon has the exact same body mold and the same Real Wrestling Action. Sure, it’s called the Tidal Wave, but it ain’t different. I could get past that, but what I can’t get past is Typhoon’s head, which looks a little more chipmunky than Fred Ottmany. I’m glad they were thinking of Typhoon, but I think Hasbro mailed this one in. Like some employee thought he was just doing Quake and found out the afternoon before it was due that he was assigned Typhoon, too. Plus, he had tickets to a hockey game that he was not going to miss. Maybe the fact that these two weren’t a Tag Team 2-Pack had something to do with this miscommunication, too? It’s all coming together!
Wouldn’t you know it, when I found my big tub of old Hasbro figures, the only Natural Disaster I had in there was Typhoon. I had to hit up eBay for Quake. There were some varying prices on Earthquake figures, so I decided for one that was cheaper and a little more banged up for $4. My original Earthquake was beat all to heck anyway, so he felt like home.
Note: After writing all that, I found info that the Typhoon figure was originally going to be Tugboat, but Tugboat changed gimmicks and his toy did too. This probably explains why they weren’t a 2-Pack better than my theories – which are still solid.
GREG “THE HAMMER” VALENTINE
Like Superfly Jimmy Snuka before him, I sense that The Hammer was included in this series for his legendary status. I’m fairly certain Greg Valentine was no longer in the WWF when this toy hit shelves. Even in 1991, other than pulling out an iron man performance at the Royal Rumble, Greg Valentine wasn’t exactly setting crowds on fire. Still, Greg Valentine is absolutely a 1980’s legend and I’m glad he got to have his Hasbro moment.
The MBWF used Greg Valentine as a tag team specialist, and I remember he and Ric Flair having a successful run as a unit. Even though the figure is fairly nondescript, his scowling mug captures the essence of The Hammer. Valentine’s action is the Hammer Slammer, which, like S3 Boss Man, is a clothesline arm. Lord, Hasbro just couldn’t wait to rhyme things with “slam”, could they?
Here are two Greg Valentine side notes. First, Valentine would jump ship to WCW not long after this series hit shelves. I saw a WCW show at the Brushfork Armory in Bluewell, WV that year and, among the notable moments from the show, I caught a glimpse of The Hammer shaving his legs behind the curtain. It’s one of those memories that just makes you feel funny.
Second, there’s a pretty famous (among collectors) prototype of Greg Valentine in his “Rhythm & Blues” gear that appeared in a WWF magazine ad for the S2 Tag Teams. (Rhythm & Blues was The Hammer’s tag team with Honky Tonk Man). When Series Two came out, Honky was released as a singles wrestler and the Hammer was nowhere to be seen. It’s not uncommon for a figure to be modified or get axed before a series is released, but over the years, the R&B Valentine’s legend grew as no one could get their hands on a prototype. Legend has it that the original and only known prototype turned up in a former Hasbro employee’s attic a couple of years ago and went for over $13,000 at auction. It may be Greg Valentine’s largest appearance fee ever.
Hulk, Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior were the early 90’s triumvirate of the WWF, so it’s no surprise that all three of them made appearances in each of the first three series of the Hasbro line. It would be hard to top the S2 Warrior, which is one of my favorites of the whole toy line. S3 Warrior doesn’t.
S3 Warrior reminds me a lot of S2 Hogan. I think Hasbro wanted to do something cool with a figure they’d already made, so they gave this Warrior a new kind of Real Wrestling Action. The “Warrior Wham” is accomplished by standing Warrior on his feet and pushing down on his head. This causes his feet to compress and his arms to start moving in opposite circles. Think of it as Warrior berserker mode.
The worst part of this awkward Action is that you sacrifice the articulation in the figure’s neck and waist to make it work. That’s a big loss in figures with only 4 points of articulation. I guess you could say his feet have articulation now, but not in any realistic human way.
Overall, I’d say S3 Warrior easily tops the handleback S1 Warrior, but falls way short of S2. It sucks, too, because this figure LOOKS really cool. Like S3 Brutus, I didn’t know S3 Warrior existed back in the day, so I had to hit up eBay for this guy. $27 later… (It’s ok, I talked the guy down from $30). S3 Warrior would be the final Ultimate Warrior figure until the Mattel Retro series debuted.
MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE
Back in Series Two, I raised a little bit of an eyebrow at Hasbro packaging the S1 Smash in a Demolition Tag Team 2-Pack with the brand new Crush figure. So, even if you had S1 Smash, you had to buy him again to get Crush. I let it slide, though, because the S2 Smash was packaged with a pretty rad black helmet/mask.
Series Three’s biggest sin, though, is this Randy Savage, which you may notice is the EXACT SAME MOLD as S2 Randy Savage. The trunks and shades are even the same color. The only difference in the figures is the back of Mach’s tights, which say either “Macho Man” or “Macho King”, depending on the Series.
S2 Macho King was packaged with a sweet crown and scepter. S3 Macho Man is packaged with nothing. I understand the desire to get one of your top stars in his current gimmick, but couldn’t they have at least given him some different color trunks? They didn’t even rename is Action – they both do the Macho Masher!!
To my knowledge, I never owned S3 Macho Man back in the day. He goes on eBay for 20 to 30 bucks. I’ll just let you wonder what mine says on the back of his trunks.
Now we’re talking. Series Three saw the debut of possibly the WWF’s greatest in-ring performer of the time, Mr. Perfect. Perfect’s figure is kind of no frills – just a muscular dude in a bright yellow singlet with bitchin’ blonde hair. He’s pretty much perfect.
Mr. Perfect’s Real Wrestling Action was the Perfect Plex, which is the same as Hulk Hogan’s Hulkaplex discussed above. It’s a great Action for Perfect, as it not only showcases his technical ability, but is also his real life finisher.
If Series Three hadn’t given us such a great Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect would be my favorite from the group. He’s still one of my favorites from the line. I mentioned above that the Texas Tornado was involved in the greatest MBWF match of all time. That match was against Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Title at one of the regular Beach Blast events held at the pool. It was a peninsula match, which means it was held on the diving board. I wish it had been filmed, I’d release it on an MBWF DVD.
Sadly, our original Mr. Perfect didn’t make it into the tub of found figures. I picked this guy up on eBay for $11.99, after talking the guy down three bucks.
KOKO B. WARE
As far as I can tell, Koko B. Ware was never a big deal. I always thought I got into wrestling after Koko’s heyday, but looking at history, I don’t think I did. Koko carried a live bird named Frankie and performed a couple of the better songs on the WWF’s Wrestling Album soundtracks. Now he’s in the Hall of Fame. Life is weird.
There were only two wrestlers released as Hasbro figures who never made it to the MBWF – Koko B. Ware and Andre The Giant. I only regret not having the Giant.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh. Just because Koko didn’t set the wrestling world on fire, that doesn’t take away from a pretty nicely colored figure. Plus he comes with a bird. Then again, turn him around – handleback. Ugh. Koko’s handle helped him perform the “Bird Man Bounce”.
This Koko only cost me $3.99 on eBay, but that was without Frankie the Bird. That cost me 15 Euro. Maybe I’m just surly at The Birdman.
SERIES THREE TAG TEAMS
Series Three brings back the Tag Team 2-Pack gimmick and offers up a classic pair of early 90’s WWF tag teams. Rumor has it that the Hart Foundation was going to be the third, but Bret Hart went the singles path before they could come out.
I know the Nasties weren’t one of the bigger tag teams in wrestling history, but I always loved them. They kind of sucked in the ring, but they were tough and they cracked me up. I know they were supposed to be like a gang, but they come off more like a mix between Beebop and Rocksteady and the Insane Clown Posse.
Their figures are spot on. The likenesses are awesome, and their graffiti style shirts and shades are perfect. As for Real Wrestling Actions, Brian Knobbs will hit you with the Nasticizer (the ol’ clothesline arm) and Jerry Sags will finish you off with the Punk Pounder (double pull and release arms). It’s nothing fancy, but when a team’s big move is rubbing their opponent’s face in their armpits, it doesn’t have to be.
Like Demolition before them, the Nasty Boys figures completely capture the essence of the real life team. It’s the greatness of the Hasbro WWF line.
LEGION OF DOOM
I could gush about L.O.D. just like I did for the Nasties. Their paint and likeness is spot on, and I love that the spiked shoulder pad ring gear made it. Animal’s legs feel a little small given the scale of the other figures, but I can let that slide. Really, there’s only one giant problem here: HANDLEBACK HAWK!
With a team so tough and gritty, I hate the decision to make Hawk a handleback figure. I guess the thought is he can hit the top rope to deliver the team’s signature Doomsday Device. It’s alluded to by the Real Wrestling Action names – Hawk does the Hawk Attack, while Animal is equipped with the Doomsday-er. Animal has the pull and release arms similar to S2 Warrior, and they really are perfect for putting an opponent on his shoulders and holding them there.
It’s a hit when it should have been a homerun. Why couldn’t Hawk just have been a clothesline guy, like Greg Valentine and Macho Man??
Note: Animal typically came with all 10 fingers.
SERIES THREE GRADE: A-
Three series, three A- grades. Like Series Two, Series Three featured a lot of homeruns intermixed with a handful of missteps. That “Macho Man” repaint may have kept this from being the best series in the line thus far, but as it stands, I’d give Series Two a slight edge.
Overall, Series Three does not miss a step after Series Two. Hasbro has laid down this line’s mission statement and held true – deliver fun and exciting figures of as many WWF superstars as possible. While there might be a misstep here and there, overall Series Three is as strong as the two that preceded it. Over two-thirds of the figures are making their debut here, with legends like Sgt. Slaughter, Greg Valentine and Texas Tornado all getting plastic tribute. Tag Teams came back in a big way, too, and most of the returning figures were given unique twists. You’ve got to love the new Brutus and Hulk.
Overall, I would say my favorite figure of the series is Hulk Hogan, which will remain the best Hulkster of the whole line in my opinion. Close runner-up is Mr. Perfect and the Nasty Boys are dark horse faves. Discounting the Macho Man “repaint”, I’d say my least favorite figure is Koko, and he’s really not so bad.
Note: S3 Hulk Hogan would return as a repaint in 1993 (sporting red gear) as a special WWF Magazine Mailaway. These mailaway figures were packaged in clear plastic bags and fetch a princely sum on eBay.
Note: S3 Mr. Perfect would return as a repaint (sporting blue gear) in Series Eight.
Thank you for reading another marathon review for this Hasbro series. Believe it or not, we’re chronologically over half way through this line’s full run. Hasbro would release 8 more series in the WWF line, but they would be released in shorter intervals with fewer figures. In fact, Series 4 would only contain four. So expect a Series 4 Review soon, I’m currently only one Bret Hart shy.