Retro Post – Toys! Toys! Toys!1 Comment
Here’s another installment of “Retro” articles by yours truly. This one is a particular favourite of mine as the memories of sitting in my room as a small boy it helps conjour up give me that warm and fuzzy feeling. No, not THAT warm and fuzzy feeling. That one didn’t start happening until I was well into my teens.. With that horrible, vomit-inducing piece of innuendo firmly out of the way – I hope you enjoy!
I can still recall it like it was yesterday; being in one of my childhood friends rooms on a regular visit to borrow one from his seemingly vast library of wrestling videotapes. There I was, standing talking to a guy who probably no longer likes pro wrestling yet to me, was the coolest guy in town. In reality, this kid was one hell of a spoiled brat. The kind of wee boy who could break one of his wrestling figures and by later on that afternoon? Why there was a shining new “Macho King” Randy Savage complete with robe and scepter just waiting in it’s box, freshly purchased from the Woolworth’s store down town. Even as a kid, I can remember thinking this dude was a total bitch. Yes I said it. Sure, he was my friend but growing up I always learned to appreciate what you have and here he was willingly breaking things just so his mum would go buy him another. To prove he damn well could get away with it.
My family weren’t exactly poor but I’d like to think and, actually, know my mother or father would never replace a toy I broke on purpose. Infact, I’d like to think that THEY would know that it’s just something I would never do. This grown-up geek still has all his wrestling figurines in his cupboards. Sure, they might not be in pristine condition (they were played with pretty extensively afterall) but they’re not exactly laying around in bits and pieces either. Someday I know I’ll get a heavy heart when I thumb through them all again, having memories from a very happy childhood come flooding back to me. Memories which I hope other kids from the newer generations will be able to appreciate. We didn’t always have yearly editions of “WWE Smackdown vs. RAW” to play with you know!
The amount of hours I must have spent in the hallway or locked away in my room, listening to rock music mix tapes my dad had made for me on my kick-ass “Goodman” stereo must have been in the hundreds. Bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and The Beatles pounded out of that tape deck like it was the 1970’s and I had a bowl cut. More often than not, I’d grab the remote control meant for the CD-capable stereo and mime along to most of the tracks. Either that or play air guitar, although it likely looked like I was demented rather than riffing like a rock god. More often than not, while all this musical madness was taking place – shaking the walls of our bungalow – I’d be sat smack BANG in the middle of the floor. Literally surrounded by figures I would play out matches, angles (although I just called them “interviews” at the time) and sometimes entire cards with these figures. All the action would take place in my pride and joy; a 1993 World Wrestling Federation Official Toy Ring Playset. Boy that was some Christmas day, receiving that gift. For a budding wrassle’ nerd like myself, it was just so good unwrapping not only the ring but figure sets of “The Legion of Doom”, “Hulk Hogan”, “Randy Savage” and…”THE BIKER MICE FROM MARS”!? Now wait a minute. Oh you’re damn right! My mother knew what the hell I was all about. Why confine my wrestling fantasies to just WWF wrestlers!? This was MY imagination we’re talking about here. The very same imagination which has allowed me to create and play out entire 3-hour long “Pay-Per-View” events on various wrestling video games no less.
Basically, if I wanted popular cartoon characters of the day in the “Royal Rumble”, I’d bloody well have them in that 30-man over the top rope extravaganza. There were no limits to where I’d go with that one. Often-times, my poor sisters own “Barbie” dolls weren’t even safe – doomed to play ringside valets for the various “wrestlers”. Now I do admit, it probably looked a little weird that a seemingly 24-foot female doll was accompanying an apparently dwarfed “He-Man” down the aisle but that took place more than once. I even used one of my “Action Man” dolls one time as a surprise entrant into the Rumble, playing the role of that giant killing machine who just simply could not be eliminated by only one man. He’d annihilate almost everybody inside the ring (he barely fit in the by god thing to begin with..) before eventually succumbing to that old chestnut – the “jeez, we better team up on this guy babyface or heel!” cliché. Yes, even at a very young age I was using stereotypical wrestling booking 101 in my staged battles with dolls.
One time, I even went so far as to have customised entrance themes for the wrestlers. Initially, I would simply hum or sing the songs myself while simultaneously barking out the ring introductions and providing commentary too. This always proved a lot of un-necessary effort however so there was only one thing for it, use those trusty mix tapes! I do admit it was probably the biggest pain in the Giant Gonzalez (ass) to have to fast forward to another song for another wrestler but I had so much fun with all of this that you just would not believe, even going so far as to call my mother, father or sister into the room whilst replaying certain unbelievably spots or moves which had taken place during matches. My family must have thought their little Jamie was slightly bonkers but…nah, no buts. They clearly did. (And probably still do when they hear me singing along to entrance music when watching RAW!)
Having just read over all of that mish-mash of Kennedy childhood, I’ll be very surprised if James Guttman himself doesn’t email me, with the message subject being “Mental health”. If you have survived to this text, you deserve a 1993 World Wrestling Federation Official Toy Ring Playset all of your own. The main point I’m trying to make and I guess, find out is if kids nowadays still use wrestling figurines or are they all playing with the best Traxxas RC trucks. The amount of other ways they can let their little brains go crazy on wrasslin’ is almost endless nowadays, what with all the aforementioned video games out there which are just slightly more advanced than my “one of his arms has a hinge bend in it” Randy Savage action figure from yesteryear. I know that toy companies and the wrestling promotions themselves do still release action dolls but I’m intrigued to know if they are still commonly used the way I used them when growing up.
I didn’t actually get my first wrestling video game of my own up until “WWF Warzone” on the Playstation One console. Some of my friends had “WWF Royal Rumble” and “Wrestlemania: Arcade” on their SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis machines which I would play when I visited their houses but I never did get one of those games for myself until around 1998. My way of getting my fix was the figures and something else I have mentioned in a previous article; pen and paper. Creating cards, storylines and characters on pages and pages of A4 notebook was a daily occurrence for me. Yet another thing which must have perplexed my family.
In a way, I’m kinda glad this was all I had as a kid as, well, I was very happy. Of course, as I’ve grown up a little and got older, I have invested into a lot of the video games and am a major fan of them. It just seemed like a natural progression when I did get them, at an age where I no longer wanted to play with children’s toys.
There were no lies at all when I was referring to being interested in if people, either adults or their children, actually still play with action figures the way I did. Feel free to send me an email to let me know, or just to call me “that” kid who they tell their own to stay away from on the ride to school. I can be reached rather merrily at email@example.com and am guaranteed to respond to everything, totally not because I have no life or anything.. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip back in time of yours truly and that you will send a quick message, I just love talking to people about this wacky world of professional wrestling. And everything in it! Take care everybody and TAKE IT HOME!