Here's one aspect of pro wrestling that isn't necessarily discussed on the dirtsheets too often - WWE makes a lot of action figures.
As best we can determine (correct us if we're wrong), the first WWE action figures came out in 1984, produced by LJN. Over the years, we, the consumer public, have seen little plastic wrestling guys for sale in toy stores, pharmacies, and of course, all over eBay and similar collectible-peddling online outlets.
Some people keep them in their packages and hope they'll appreciate in value over the years. Some people are children who throw them down the stairs until they break and their parents have to go buy replacements. Many of us have a bunch of old wrestling figures stashed away in a box in our attics and we plan to use them to decorate our desks one of these days when we get around to it.
Just about every wrestler who's ever wandered in and out of WWE - from Hulk Hogan to Adam Rose - has an action figure in their likeness floating around in the ether somewhere.
(Emphasis there on "just about." Researching this article, we had tremendous difficulty finding a WWE-produced Blue Meanie action figure anywhere on eBay. It's possible no such thing was ever created, and if so, WWE has failed us all).
Of the dozens upon dozens of figures WWE has put out over the years, most of them are probably okay. We're not action figure experts, but the majority of the toys that we've seen seem just fine. Meanwhile, a few are spot-on, spectacular likenesses, worthy of a Todd McFarlane line. But every once in a while, a WWE action figure comes along that doesn't look a gosh darn thing like whatever wrestler it's supposed to.
Maybe they're still fine for playing with and maybe they still work perfectly well for individuals who need spare parts to build custom figures. But they're certainly creative failures.
Here for your visual amusement, in no particular order, are 15 notable letdowns from the semi-recent history of WWE.
15 Dean Ambrose
Does this man look unstable to you?
Some early attempts to recreate the Shield in action figure form lacked a certain full-assedness, as evident from this Ambrose mold, apparently released by Mattel sometime during his U.S. Title run a few years ago.
As facial features go, the former Jon Moxley’s are more distinctive than most, which we suppose makes him a difficult likeness to mass produce. But this toy almost looks as if they had a bunch of spare “generic action man” figures around that they needed to get rid of. So they slapped black S.W.A.T. gear on them, dubbed the results "Dean Ambrose," and called it a day. But as you can see, he got off light compared to one of his Shield brothers.
14 Seth Rollins
Is Seth Rollins the guy you bought pot from in high school? No, he is almost certainly not. So why did Mattel make an action figure of the guy you bought weed from in high school, then market it as “Seth Rollins?”
Granted, we’d certainly rather buy a Guy We Bought Weed From in High School action figure than a Rollins toy. It would be neat to have a reminder of Nick at age 15, back before he lost all the weight and decided to get his life together. But that’s beside the point.
We suppose making accurate-looking Rollins figures wasn’t anyone’s top priority in 2012. Keep in mind, in an alternate reality where he was booked the way WWE usually books a man of his specific talents, Rollins in 2015 is pretty much Justin Gabriel.
Actually, we’ve got to give this one credit for its attention to detail from the neck down. That’s a pretty spot-on rendering of Raven’s pre-Alliance, grunge-phase WWE wardrobe. Also, how they got away with putting him in a Punisher T-shirt without running afoul of Marvel’s copyright lawyers is anyone’s guess, but it deserves a hearty “bravo.” We’re just not sure why Raven’s head is square. Most human heads are round or oval shaped. Raven had a lengthy career in ECW, WCW, and WWE, among plenty of other companies, and not once did any of his opponents mock him for having a misshapen, deformed skull - likely because he never had one.
12 Jimmy Uso
Early in Jimmy Uso’s wrestling career, many fans confused him for Gene Simmons, the bassist from the band KISS. Hence, several Gene Simmons action figures such as that pictured above were crafted and sold at myriad toy stores. Eventually, it was determined that Jimmy Uso and Gene Simmons are two entirely separate individuals, and Mattel produced Uso toys with a more realistic tongue. As a result of legal action, Gene Simmons continues to collect royalties on all of Jimmy Uso’s merchandise, plus Gene Simmons is officially recognized as a former WWE tag team champion.
Layla might be tied with The Big Show for longest WWE career resulting in the fewest people outside of the wrestling business and fandom knowing who the heck she is, but nonetheless, it couldn’t possibly have hurt whoever designed this figure to look at her picture before composing this embarrassment. After a scan of Google Images, we were able to determine that Layla actually did used to wear her hair curly, although that was before her WWE career. But she never worked as a party clown, so the face here is pretty hella far off, no matter what period of her life the figure is supposed to be inspired by.
10 Rob Van Dam
If the Rollins figure from earlier is a pretty good likeness of a high school pot dealer, this attempt at Rob Van Dam looks like the work of someone who’s never seen a stoned person before, trying to depict a stoned person based on what they’ve seen in TV and movies. RVD's grin and half-closed eyes look downright goofy - pre-sobriety Jason Mewes-level goofy. We don’t mean to imply RVD never had a toke or two before hopping into the ring for his signature style of daring-do - but we’ve never seen him wrestle as messed up as this action figure looks.
9 Brock Lesnar’s Hat
This would be a perfectly fine capturing of Brock Lesnar's likeness were it not for one thing - that hat. What the heck is going on with that hat? It looks like a military helmet of some kind. If the figure was part of a series of army-themed wrestling toys with corresponding accessories, this helmet would make sense. But this figure is part of no such series. This is supposed to be normal Brock Lesnar, wearing a normal hat like he usually does on a normal day in the life of Brock Lesnar. It is a poor attempt to simulate a hat Brock Lesnar would ever wear, no matter how normal the day was or wasn’t. I hate this hat.
8 Bret Hart
We’re sure many of our readers are too young to remember the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World - one of the few successful films based on an SNL sketch, which launched the movie career of Mike Myers - later to become the voice of Shrek. We’re also pretty positive most of our readers are too young to remember Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was arguably the top wrestler in the world right around the same time Wayne’s World was pulling down truckloads of box office dough. Apparently, whoever designed this toy forgot that just because Mike Myers and Bret Hart happened to both enjoy career highs around the same time, that doesn’t mean they’re the same person.
7 Bret Hart Again
Okay, setting aside the fact that no Stretch Armstrong-related product is intended to mimic anything associated with the real world - obviously, the real Bret Hart has hands and fingers - pink pants and black hair alone do not fulfill the requirements necessary to evoke The Hitman. Would it have been so difficult to forge a pair of pink sunglasses onto the head mold of this thing or at least include them as an accessory? Or paint part of the torso black and pink, so it at least sort of looks like Bret Hart's old singlet? Astoundingly, somebody on Amazon is charging $200 for this testament to phoning it in.
6 The Big Show
It’s true that Paul Wight is a larger than average dude - hence the alias - but his bigness has been mostly attributed to his height, as opposed to width. With that in mind, we must ask, why is this Big Show figure wearing a pregnancy MuMu? The face isn’t really working, either. It looks like Jakks had a bunch of heads with similar beards left over from putting together a previous action figure with a beard and said "screw it, Big Show has a beard, it's close enough." But we’re fairly confident that, during a minimum of one occasion during his life, The Big Show was wearing jeans. He may have even worn jeans several times, perhaps even at different points during the day. So in that respect, it’s an accurate looking figure.
5 Trish Stratus
This one made WWE’s list of its all-time best figures. We don’t know what criteria the company used to base quality on - but we notice two major flaws in this likeness of the innovator of the “Matrix” clothesline dodge.
First of all - she appears inexplicably Asian. Secondly, while we certainly remember Stratus as a buxom lady before she retired and got her implants removed because constant back pain sucks, this figure’s chest area has been accentuated beyond the point of human limitation - as is the slimness of the midsection. Not unlike many Barbie dolls, anyone whose body was proportioned like this figure would collapse instantly under the weight of their own breasts and would certainly be incapable of the athletic feats Stratus performed on a regular basis.
4 Chris Jericho
Okay, so WCW put out a series of action figures with accessories mirroring the wrestlers’ finishing moves and/or nicknames. Bill Goldberg came with a little plastic jackhammer. Lex Luger’s toy set included a bunch of S&M gear - because he won with the “torture rack.” You get the idea. So never mind that Chris Jericho has never been seen strutting to the ring with a whip or a little kitty pal, as this figure implies. We’re more alarmed by the fact that he never wore his hair in mullet and he has an actual human face, not a bad attempt to replicate a human face. This toy was designed by outer space aliens who don’t know what humans look like, we’re pretty sure.
3 Brian Kendrick
Maybe this could be taken as a critique of Brian Kendrick’s WWE run, moreso than the action figure itself - but we’re fairly certain this figure looks like a typical “smug guy,” as opposed to Kendrick himself. In a slightly different outfit, this could just as easily be a Shawn Michaels or an Edge figure. "Smug guy" surely captures the essence of Kendrick, but not necessarily his visual likeness. In fact, does Kendrick himself really have any identifying physical characteristics aside from “is a wrestler?” Maybe this really isn’t a bad action figure, as much as it was a bad idea to make an action figure out of Brian Kendrick in the first place.
Take a look at this WWE “Bend ‘Ems” figure. Ask yourself, “Does the woman that this toy is designed to remind me of seem like she has a future in the adult film industry?” Unless we’re talking about adult movies with a slant toward absurdly disproportionate arms fetishists (and we’re certain that there are such things), then clearly not.
You might expect most of the “Bend ‘Em” lines of figures are poor proxies of their source material - but a Google Image search reveals that, actually, most of the Bend 'Ems are fairly accurate representations. The Just Toys company just really, really half-assed their Chyna figure.
1 Road Dogg
Even calling this a “Road Dogg” figure is a stretch. In fact, calling this figure a facsimile of any human being is just wrong. This thing looks like a horrendously botched human cloning project, who also happens to be a member of DX, that’s about to have its first orgasm and immediately die afterwards.
Even more egregious, we’re told liquid of some sort oozes forth from orifices meant to resemble human pours - which is the most disgusting thing we’ve ever had to think about for this website. We strongly advise anyone who comes across this “Road Dogg” figure, or any of the so-called “Maximum Sweat” toys, to throw them in an incinerator as soon as possible.