WCW Galoob Memories: Series One

Well, it’s finally that time. We’ve been teasing it for months here in WWF Hasbro Memories, but today we’re finally going to get to it.  That’s right – let’s deviate from the land of WWF for a moment and talk about the cousins to our Hasbros – the WCW Galoob figures.

But first, let’s catch up on all our Hasbro and Mattel reviews, shall we?

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series One

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Two

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Three

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Four

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Five

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Six

WWF Hasbro Memories: Series Seven

WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series One

WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series Two

WWE Mattel Memories: Retro Series Three

When Hasbro launched their WWF figures in 1990, WCW was quick to get itself a licensing deal and put out their own 4-inch warriors.  Of course, we’d see WCW following the path paved by WWF from its inception in the late-80’s until the company folded in 2001.

WCW was able to get their toys onto shelves the same year thanks to a deal with toymakers Galoob, best known at that time for Micro Machines.  Like all things WWF vs. WCW, the Galoob figures were a lot like the Hasbros, but with some big differences.  While the Hasbro figs generally had 4 points of articulation, the Galoob figures had 0.  That’s not a typo – the WCW figures were stuck in whatever pose Galoob gave them.  Did that limit playability? Yes, but that’s why we have imaginations.

As a tradeoff, the Galoob line had much more realistic likenesses.  Aside from a couple of glaring missteps, most of the WCW figures were just like the real thing, only smaller (see what I did there?)  But the COOLEST thing, the absolutely ESSENTIAL feature of the Galoob figures is they each came with their own gold WCW belt.   For kids who doubled as toy wrestling organization promoters like myself, this was a dream come true.  Sure, the Hasbro ring came with the WWF Title belt, but how were we supposed to have secondary and tag team championships?  You could only steal so many WWF Title belts from your cousins.

Like the Hasbro WWF line, Galoob WCW Series One contained a whopping 12 figures, so not only did you get Sting and all of the Four Horsemen, you got some lesser known guys like the Z-Man and Flyin’ Brian.  Galoob also offered Tag Team 2-Packs, which featured the regular Series One figs paired up.  There was Sting/Luger (The Dudes with Attitudes), Flair/Arn (The Horsemen), The Steiner Brothers and Doom.  I don’t remember if there was any discount to getting the tag teams over the individuals, but it’s always way better to get two figures at once.

Unfortunately, the Galoob WCW line wasn’t long for this world.  Online speculation is that the figures hit K-Mart long before they hit any other US stores.  When big retailers like Toys R’ Us finally stocked them, most of the demand was gone.  Galoob would issue a set of repaints in the UK in 1991, but by then, the line had been cancelled.  Galoob dumped a handful of other figures in the UK as Series 2 UK exclusives and called it a day, and WCW figures rotted away in Kaybee 3 for $10 clearance bins.

But we’re not here today to mourn the Galoob figures – we’re here to celebrate them! Because how else were we going to have that Steiner Brothers/Demolition dream match?

So let’s get to it!

SERIES ONE

Ric Flair

Grade: C+

We kick off our Galoob reviews with the one and only “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.  By 1990, Flair was wrapping up a hellacious 10-year run on top of WCW/NWA.  He was a 6-time NWA World Champion and the leader of wrestling’s first and greatest stable, the Four Horsemen.  In the months before, Flair completed his trilogy of masterpieces with Ricky Steamboat and made a star out of newcomer Sting at the first ever Clash Of The Champions.

So why, oh why, is the Nature Boy the absolute worst figure in the series?  It’s the likeness. Galoob Flair’s face just does not resemble the real Flair’s face.  I can see flashes of correctness around the jawline and eyes, but the mouth and nose just ruin it.  And while the hair is similar, something about it’s shape just isn’t.

Ric’s pose is great for grappling, with his knees slightly bent and one fist closed.  I always thought of this pose as perfect for hip tosses. Ric’s light blue trunks are also perfect for the era, and I love the little “RF” on them.  It’s just that face…

It’s a shame, too, because Flair should’ve been the marquee figure of this series (along with Sting).  I mean, I wasn’t as scrutinizing as a kid as I am 30 years later, but even as a kid I knew this Flair more represented the idea of Ric Flair than captured his essence.

We originally bought Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the Four Horsemen tag-team set at Roses.  In spite of his issues, Flair was a multiple time MBWF World and World Premium Champion.  Of course, we could’ve replaced Galoob Flair with Hasbro Flair, but Hasbro Flair makes this guy look like a million bucks!

Note: S1 Ric Flair would return in UK S2 as a repaint with black boots, red knee pads and red trunks with a lightning bolt on the front.

Arn Anderson

Grade: B+

When you see Ric Flair, you know “The Enforcer” isn’t far behind.  Arn Anderson was in the middle of a great run in 1990.  Just back after a stint with The Brain Busters in the WWF, Double A spent most of that year defending the WCW World Television Title and cracking skulls for the reformed Four Horsemen.

As a no-nonsense kind of guy, Arn’s figure is also no-nonsense.  He’s in the bent knee “grappling” pose, but with both fists clenched in case he’s got to throw hands.  In spite of the lack of articulation, I always found Arn’s pose to be the most versatile, as I could hit DDTs, suplexes, punches, etc. realistically without having either arm permanently in the air.

Arn’s gear is simple white trunks with “AA” in red, black knee pads and white boots.  Arn loses a point or so due to his likeness.  Yes, Arn looks a lot like Arn, but he looks even more like Al from Home Improvement.

home improvement al

He’s just a little too chipmunky, kind of the same problem that good ol’ Hasbro Typhoon had.

I didn’t realize that there was a variant version of Arn until I started re-collecting the Galoobs last year.  Unfortunately, my original Arn (and Flair) didn’t make it to 2018 and I had to hit up eBay.  I was able to get Flair, Arn, Lex Luger and Barry Windham in a “Four Horsemen” deal for just $19.  My new Arn is the “bald spot variant” Arn.  I’d heard of this, but seeing it in real life is pretty crazy. Is this bald spot a rib? It has to be a rib, right? It looks like he’s wearing a flesh colored yarmulke.

baldspot
Photo (c) J\/\/s Wrestling Memorabilia

Note: S1 Arn Anderson would return in UK S2 as a repaint with red trunks and red knee pads.

Sting

Grade: A+

Here’s the thing. These WCW figures had everything working against them. These hunks of plastic had no articulation and represented what was clearly the #2 wrestling organization in the world at the time.  But they also had Sting.  And that’s all they really needed.

The Stinger is easily the best figure of the Galoob WCW line.  His pose, with the bent elbows and clenched fists, is legendary.  I would even put Sting up there with the best Hasbro WWF figures, like Macho Man, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior.  Because we NEEDED Sting.  Was it nice to have a Barry Windham? Sure.  Was it cool to have Doom destroy The Bushwhackers? No doubt.  But Sting was essential.

Sting was just coming to prominence in 1990, and while his counterpart the Ultimate Warrior was setting the world on fire in the WWF, Sting’s WCW run would outlast and outshine Warrior’s.  In just a short time, Sting got a legendary rub from Ric Flair, a stint in and then a feud with the Four Horsemen, and his first run with the NWA Title.

The Sting figure’s likeness is great and really, what did you need besides that blonde flat top and the facepaint?  I love the brightly colored tights with the scorpion too. And Sting was so cool that he got two variants – blue tights/pink facepaint and orange tights/blue facepaint.  Sting’s expression caps it all off – so fierce.

The Sting pictured is our original Sting and, while historical records are lost to time, I daresay he was an MBWF Grand Slam champion.  If you twisted my arm, I’d have to admit I like the Sting with the orange tights better.

Note: S1 Sting would return in UK S2 as a repaint with black tights, pink facepaint and yellow boots.

Lex Luger

Grade: A

In 1990, Lex Luger was a hot commodity in WCW. He’d just turned face and began teaming with his Dudes With Attitudes buddy Sting.  Luger was also in the midst of the longest United States Title reign of all time – 523 days, a record that still stands today.  Luger would go on to win the WCW Title in 1991. He was a big deal.

Lex was also a big part of the MBWF, and I’m sure any other wrestling organization owned by 10-year old toy promoters.  And this figure is a big reason for it. The guy just looks so strong!  If you are locked into one pose, I gotta say flexing is the way to go.  Plus, Lex can hit a wicked double DDT.

While Ric Flair’s face and hair were just off enough to wreck the figure, Lex’s features are perfect. Amazingly perfect when you consider there was no real-scan technology back in 1990.  I guess the Total Package is also a living statue.  I like this figure so much that, when Hasbro released their Narcissist-era Lex in 1994, we didn’t even think about buying it. This is THE Lex Luger fig.

Note: S1 Lex Luger would return in UK S2 as a repaint with green trunks and yellow armbands.

Sid Vicious

Grade: A-

Sid Vicious got the rocket strapped to his back in 1990.  The future Master and Ruler of the World joined the Four Horsemen (to combat ROBOCOP, no less!) and would end up facing Sting for the WCW Title at Halloween Havoc.  While he may not have matched the attitude of the other Horsemen, you can’t argue that Sid was the best muscle the group ever had.

Galoob Sid is all business in his black singlet with black knee pads and black boots.  He’s got his arms up, which makes him good for powerbombs and tossing jobbers over the top rope.  I also love that Sid is a little taller than the rest of the Galoob figs. That’s attention to detail.  I’d say the only issue is Sid’s jawline, which is just a little too square.

Shown is our original Sid, who definitely threw his share of powerbombs in the MBWF.  The Hasbro Sid (Justice) absolutely pails in comparison to this big hunk of plastic.

Note: S1 Sid Vicious would return in UK S2 as a repaint with a pink singlet. A PINK SINGLET!

Barry Windham

Grade: B

Barry Windham made his return to WCW in 1990 following a brief stint in the WWF.  On his first night back, he joined the Four Horsemen, taking over for Ole Anderson.  (Not a liver spot, not my dog spot, my spot).  Barry rounds out the Horsemen representation in Series One.

As a kid, I never had this Barry Windham. I probably would have bought him if I’d ever seen him in a store, but I didn’t even know this guy existed until I started re-collecting these Galoob figures.  Strangely, I got Barry on eBay in my $19 “Four Horsemen set” with Ric, Arn and Luger, even though Barry and Lex were never in the Horsemen together.  It worked out great for me, though, since I needed all four of those figures.

Barry Windham WAS represented in the MBWF, though, by his WCW Bend-Ems figures.  If you don’t remember Bend-Ems, they were both really great and really garbage.  Bend-Ems were put out by JusToys and they had about a zillion licenses. Everything from Star Wars to Disney (back when those were two different things).  There were even WWF Bend-Ems in later years. WCW Bend-Ems came out in 1990, and every guy in Galoob Series One has a Bend-Ems version.  I could go on about the WCW Bend-Ems, because we had a few of them, but let’s just let this image do the talking for now:

barry_bendem
Photo (c) GarTwo’s Wrestling Figures

The Galoob Barry is a decent, if unassuming figure.  He looks a lot like the real Barry Windham, but he also looks a lot like Shane Douglas too.  I think a black vest would’ve really made this guy shine.  His boots are a nice little detail, though.

Note: S1 Barry Windham would return in UK S2 as a repaint with light blue trunks and wrist bands.

Brian Pillman

Grade: B+

There weren’t a lot of wrestlers we didn’t have figures of as kids, and on that short list are only two that I REALLY wanted.  First was the Hasbro Andre The Giant and second was Flyin’ Brian.   I saw Andre in a store once, and it killed me that we didn’t buy him.  I NEVER saw Flyin’ Brian in a store.  I started to think he didn’t even exist.

Well good news – I’ve got him now! I bought him on eBay for just $7.64.

This Brian Pillman figure is decent. His hair is so 1990 that it should be in a wrestling hair traveling museum. People always remember the Ricky Morton-style mullet with straight hair, but Pillman’s perm/mullet was WHERE IT WAS AT in 1990.  FYI, no one called it a mullet then, they just called it having long hair.

Brian’s likeness is pretty dead on and I love the detail of his Bengals tights.  My only complaint is his pose, which finds Flyin’ Brian looking permanently like he’s trying to be a scary cat. Rarr! RARR!

It’s easily the worst pose in the Galoob line, and luckily only Pillman was saddled with it.

Note: S1 Brian Pillman would return in UK S2 with light blue trunks and knee pads with cats on them.

Tom Zenk

Rating: A-

It’s a shame the Galoob WCW line died so early.  I would’ve loved to have gotten more mid-card WCW guys in non-poseable plastic form. Luckily, with a 12-figure Series One, we still got “The Z-Man” Tom Zenk.

The Z-Man was a main event player in the AWA, but jumped ship to WCW in 1989.  1990 was a decent year for Zenk, as he teamed with Flyin’ Brian to capture the NWA US Tag Team Championship.  He would also to go on to be one of the few men to co-hold the WCW Six-Man Tag Team Championship.   I think I’ve filled my quota of obscure WCW titles for the day.

Z-Man’s WCW career wasn’t exactly lauded, but he spent five years there and was always a good guy to watch in the ring.  He wasn’t exactly a high flyer, but did come off as one of the “smaller guys” like a Brian Pillman.

Zenk’s figure is fairly basic with his white trunks, white boots and white knee pads. The likeness is good from a specific angle, but I’d have preferred the Z-Man with a smile.

Rick Steiner

Grade: A

When you talk about the greatest tag teams of all time, you have to put the Steiner Brothers in the conversation. Rick and Scott Steiner were NWA World Tag Team Champions heading into 1990, and would also win the United States Tag Team Titles that year.  Legit tough guys with legit amateur credentials, Rick and Scott were a huge draw in the early 90’s, so getting Steiner figures was a real treat.

Rick is my favorite of the two Steiner Galoobs.  With his two-tone purple tights and headgear, Galoob got The Dog-Faced Gremlin down.  In retrospect I would’ve liked to have seen some Michigan reference, but they did get the tattoo on his bicep, so it’s all good.

We bought Rick Steiner and Tom Zenk at a WCW house show at the Charleston Civic Center.  I think we went to the merch stand during a tag match featuring Dustin Rhodes and Big Josh vs. Steve Austin and The Diamond Studd.  Steve Austin would go on to be my favorite of all-time, but on that day, I was all about grabbing some toys.

Note: S1 Rick Steiner would return as a repaint in UK S2 with a patterned lime green singlet.

Scott Steiner

Grade: B

I said Rick was my favorite of the Steiner toys, but this Scott Steiner is no slouch either.  He’s got a great mullet and a fun yellow and black singlet.  His likeness is alright if you squint from a certain angle.  It doesn’t help that Scott’s look changed so radically later in his career.

I’m not a huge fan of Scott’s pose, with his one arm flexing and the other palm open.  It’s good for suplexes and neckbreakers, though, and isn’t a bad pose to be in when throwing a Frankensteiner, which he did in the MBWF – every match.

Hasbro put out a pair of Steiner Brothers figures in 1994 during the Steiners’ run in the WWF, but I prefer the Galoobs.

Note: S1 Scott Steiner would return as a repaint in UK S2 with a pink and blue singlet.

Butch Reed

Grade: B

Like Flyin’ Brian, we didn’t have Butch Reed as kids. I remember even wondering if he existed, since I saw those WCW Galoobs in Kaybee Toys ALL THE TIME, yet Butch Reed was never hanging around.  Well good news – he’s real. He’s damn real.

Butch was one half of the tag team Doom, who made a big splash when they debuted (under masks) in 1989.  By 1990, they’d been unmasked, but were still pretty fierce. They beat the Steiner Brothers for the tag titles and feuded with the Horsemen at the end of the year.

Butch is a weird figure. He looks like Samuel L. Jackson and his pose looks the least ready to wrestle. Tack that on to the fact that he’s literally wearing sweatpants and sneakers and someone uninformed would wonder if this is even a wrestling figure when seeing Butch Reed out loose in the world.  Speaking of the sneakers, there are two Butch variants – one with swooshes on his sneakers and one without. I guess the no-swoosh Butch got his off brand sneaks at the Dollar Store.

I had to hit up eBay for my Butch Reed, and I got him with a fresh Ron Simmons for just 16 bucks.

Ron Simmons

Grade: A

Making up the other half of Doom was Ron Simmons.  Ron is also a weird figure in blue sweatpants and white tennis shoes, but at least his pose is stronger.  His likeness is also better.

We played with our original Ron Simmons so hard that his right hand broke off.  He was tended to by the MBWF’s less-than-stellar medical team and wrestled the rest of his career with a wad of duct tape holding his hand on.

Ron would go on to win the WCW Title in 1992, so he was definitely the essential figure of the two Doom figs.

I saw a promotional photo online one day of Ron and Butch wearing these exact sweatpants/sneakers combos.  The columnist claimed that Doom showed up to a photo shoot without their gear, so they just posed in their workout clothes.  These photos were ultimately used as the references for the Galoob toys.  Oops!

I kind of like the extra color to these figures over their typical black ring gear, but it’s kind of funny that the sweatpants don’t even match.

Note: S1 Ron Simmons would return as a repaint in UK S2 with a white stripe on his pant legs.

WRAP-UP

SERIES ONE GRADE: B+

A B+ sounds about right for these WCW Galoob figures.  Nothing was truly awful, and the realistic likenesses are a big selling point.  Sting is a huge homerun and the essential figure from the set, but there are a lot of REALLY GOOD ones, like Lex Luger and Sid Vicious.

I think we can all agree that the UK repaints were LAME AF.  Ric Flair in red trunks with a lightning bolt? Sid Vicious in PINK? Drawing a line on Ron Simmons’ sweatpants and calling him a whole new figure?

The sad thing about the UK Series, though, is the exclusives.  El Gigante, Big Josh, Dustin Rhodes and the Fabulous Freebirds were all UK exclusives, and those figures look great.  Throw in the Lex and Sting in their ring jackets and it’s enough to make you want to cry thinking about the possibilities of another 3 or 4 series released.

But let’s be thankful for what we did get, and that was 12 nice figures that allowed so many of us to have dream matches that would’ve never been possible in WWF and WCW.

Thanks for reading 3,500 words about unmovable hunks of plastic! I’ll be back, hopefully soon, with Hasbro WWF Series 8 – if I can only find that cloaked Undertaker.

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