wrestling / Columns

From The Other Side of the Guardrail – Wrestling Figures

March 25, 2020 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Wrestling Action Figures


Greetings, all!

Before we get started, if you’ve been dying to know my thoughts on Souled Out 1998, and I’m sure you have. I know the second I wrote it, I was excited to read it, because then I’d know what I thought, and that’s awesome. Anyway, you can read that here. Enjoy!

Welcome to another edition of The Other Side of the Guardrail, where look at the wrestling business from the fan’s perspective. This particular issue was going to be about me talking about my experience with wrestling merch and such when I broke in, along with an interview, but the interview was more entertaining than just me talking, so that’s pretty much going to be the focus of the article now.

I spoke with JB Toys & Championship Belts. A life-long wrestling fan who has a MASSIVE collection of not only wrestling figures, but plenty of other toys from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, and also creates Championship Belts. A very cool dude, and a die-hard fan who offers a damn fine product. So after you read the interview, go check out his IG @JBToys1 , and website www.JBToysAndCollectibles.com


Caliber: First things first, JB Toys & Championship Belts, that’s not just your IG, but also your business?

JB Toys: Yes that’s correct. It started as JB Toys & Collectibles and then over the last two years we started to expand and began doing Custom Championship Belts as well.

Caliber: Tell me a little bit about these belts you offer. When you say custom, is it literally anything? Or no copyrighted designs?

JB Toys: We offer a fully customizable championship belt to our customers, meaning that you can choose from many options including the metal type you want used, the plating and plate thickness you prefer as well as a variety of leather strap color options and whatever logos and designs you want on your specific title. The possibilities are endless and our options let you create the perfect title to fit your budget and needs. As far as copyrighted designs (and there are so many out there) we don’t use them without the permission from the owner of that said design or logo. Most of the custom titles we create are our own creation or they may be based off of designs for businesses and brands that the actual owner of that particular logo or design is the party purchasing and having us make their title so it is usually not an issue.

Caliber: That’s awesome. How does pricing work?

JB Toys: We try to accommodate all budgets, so we offer different plate thickness and leather quality options to work with the customers specific budget. Our custom titles usually range anywhere from $350 to $650. We do work with some Indy and major Pro Wrestling Promotions and we also do a high-end line of In-Ring style custom titles with 24-karat plating and larger plate thickness on premium leather for around $800-$1500. So there are many options out there that we can offer, to hopefully cater to our customers specific wants and needs when creating their own title.

Caliber: So, how’d you become a pro-wrestling fan?

JB Toys: I actually became a fan of pro wrestling at the very young age of 2 believe it or not! I would sit with my great uncle and watch AWA on ESPN on our antenna tv back around 1986 and I would just sit in awe of the wrestlers and the stuff they were doing in the ring. My first live wrestling show my mother took me to was when I was 3 years old and it was a taping of WWF Wrestling Challenge featuring a main event of Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Championship against One Man Gang here in Rochester, NY. Such an incredible thing to experience live at that age, seeing these larger than life characters in person. The rest was history! I was hooked and I never missed a show, pay per view or live event in my area from that moment forward. Now fast forward thirty plus years later and I’ve traveled all over to see just about every major wrestling promotion and have met countless legends and current stars in the wrestling business and I’ve even been fortunate enough to work with some of them first hand.

Caliber: All time favorite wrestler?

JB Toys: Hulkster!

Caliber: All time favorite match?

JB Toys: My favorite Hogan Match of all time is hands down from Wrestlemania 6, Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior in a title vs title match. That was the first Wrestlemania I ever ordered and watched live, Hulk Hogan was larger than life and nobody thought he could be beat. When Warrior won it had so much meaning and in a way, a passing of the torch within the WWE. I would say my favorite wrestling match of all time in general would have to be the Wrestlemania X Ladder Match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels. Such an incredible story was told and that match was way ahead of its time.

Caliber: I’ve never known anyone to have that as their all time fav, but it’s a solid choice. For me, when I go back and re-watch it, it doesn’t have that same impact it did 20 years ago. I’ve seen such better and crazier ladder matches. I think their rematch at SummerSlam is incredible though.

All time favorite PPV?

JB Toys: But that’s the thing, you have to look at that match for the time it took place, being the first ever ladder match and pushing the limits. They were doing things that were never done before that point. Sure ladder matches and spots from that match are a dime a dozen now, but that match will always stand alone as the first to do it and it opened the door to the style of wrestling that we see today.

Choosing all all time favorite PPV is a tough one! The first one that comes to mind is Wrestlemania X. We saw Owen Hart finally step out of Bret’s shadow and win on the grandest stage. We also saw the Michaels vs Razor ladder match, Macho Man finally put an end to his emotional feud with Crush, as well as Bret Hart finally getting his moment, beating Yokozuna for the world title after being cheated out of that moment at Wrestlemania 9.

Caliber: I have a special place in my heart for WMX. Because when I broke in, it was May of 1995. Wrestling was as dead as it’s ever been. No merch, no tapes, nothing. I found WMX at a garage sale and lost my mind, I begged my mom and she got it, and I watched it to death.
Really, technically, one could say it’s the best ever, cause it’s the only PPV that has 2, absolutely undisputed, everyone agrees, 5 star matches.

How about favorite year? Like for me, it’s WCW in 1997. Everything from top to bottom the whole year was magic. How say you?

JB Toys: I have to agree with you for sure that 1997 was the best year in professional wrestling. You had three great promotions in ECW, WCW and WWF.

ECW had one of its greatest PPV’s in Barely Legal 97 and was beginning to get national exposure. It was also doing cross-over work with WWF.

WCW had arguably its greatest ever year with Hogan vs Sting in a truly compelling feud. The start of the Goldberg character, great cruiserweight action, another great feud in Savage vs DDP.

WWF had the start of the Attitude Era. Hart vs HBK feud, culminating in the Montreal Screwjob, which created the Mr McMahon character. Steve Austin was developing, from proving he was a tough SOB when he didn’t tap to Hart at Mania, then breaking his neck at SS 97. The Hart Foundation was probably the best work Bret had ever done and the clash of personalities between him and HBK made the feud so good. How can you top 1997?!

Caliber: Back in 1995, you know what wrestling merch I had available at my Toys R Us? NOTHING. With exception to about 10 Rockers 2packs from the Hasbro days. That was it.

Kids these days have no idea how good they got it.

Well, a year later, and we FINALLY started to get new figures, and they were glorious. They looked good, and had articulation! Meanwhile, WCW was still making those giant plastic figures which I hated. However, they were the only ones who made a ring, so I had to use their giant, over sized ring for my 6 inch WWE wrestlers.

I mean, you couldn’t even get shirts easily! I still remember losing my ever loving mind when I saw TWO wrestling shirts for sale at a local sports store at the mall. It was the DX shirt with the red logo, and a generic Stone Cold shirt.

So, what were your first wrestling figures?

JB Toys: I was lucky enough to be born in the mid 80’s and experience the beginning of WWF action figure history with the LJN big rubber WWF figures. The LJN figures were my first introduction to wrestling figures and I still look back at photos of when I was 2 or 3 years old and I’m sitting on the floor playing with my LJN wrestling ring, having a match with my Macho Man and Hulk Hogan figures and Big John Studd is the enforcer on the outside, to make sure nobody leaves the ring lol. So many memories with those. At the time , being a little kid and having those 8” rubber figures and that wrestling ring was awesome because they were larger than life and you could even sit inside the ring as a kid (I remember doing so a few times). I still have the original 6 LJN figures in my collection today that I had as a child and preserved them for over 30 years.

I do also remember having the Remco toys AWA ring and figures.

More often than not just play with the LJN WWF Guys. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 1990’s that my favorite toy line ever was released, Hasbro’s WWF Figures, they changed everything. That was and is to this day my favorite action figure line of all time. The playability, the characters, the cartoony style and look, the accessories just all put them over the top and the fact that each figure had its own action move was the best. To this day I own every Hasbro WWF figure and ring ever made boxed and loose.

It sounds like you came into the game around the time that the JusToys Bend Em Line was winding down and Jakks Pacific was about to introduce the bone crunching action figures in the mid 90’s, so it was kind of a transitional period when you got in. The pure nostalgia of the LJN and Hasbro WWF lines is unmatched by anything for me though.


Caliber: The Hasbro Line is arguably every older wrestling fan’s favorite. How could they not be? They looked awesome, had their own moves, and the packaging was awesome! Some of the best toy package art I’ve ever seen.

Yeah, when I came in, they just started coming out with the 6inch ones that had the WWF logo display base, and “bone crunching” sound effects. I still have over 50 of them loose somewhere.

I don’t know much about the Hasbro line, but I do know a few things, so I gotta ask:, you got the Kamala with the moon belly?! [Note From Editor: It’s the rarest of the Hasbro figures and worth thousands]

JB Toys: Hahahaa that Kamala moon belly never really did anything for me honestly. They are out there for $8k-$15k but a paint variation isn’t worth that to me. I acquired a personal holy grail from the Hasbro line recently. I was able to obtain a graded and autographed Hasbro of Owen Hart. Owen signed it in 1996 and then it was professionally graded. So to me, to have an autograph that’s that rare means more to me than a moon painted on Kamala’s belly on a few early production figures. My next grail to hunt down will be a Macho Man Randy Savage autographed Hasbro. I’ve passed up a few over the last 15 years but I don’t think I could ever let another one pass me by.

Caliber: Oh wow. That’s awesome. Yeah, I’d much rather have that.

So, what’s your personal favorite Hasbro figure?

JB Toys: The series 4 Bret Hart is probably my absolute favorite Hasbro. Always loved that figure and I remember the anticipation for Hasbro to put out a Hitman because he was so big at the time. We would check KB Toys daily waiting for it!

Caliber: That’s one that I had back in the day, because I found a friend in 6th grade who had a stash and hooked me up with a few. Including that SWEET golden Razor necklace.

OK, so, tell me about the rarities/mailways for that Hasbro line. Kids these days won’t ever know the joy of mailaways. One of my happiest memories was FINALLY getting the Kwik Kick & Jynx GI Joe figures in the mail.

JB Toys: When it comes to WWF Hasbro figures the “holy grails” of the main line are the Mail Away exclusives. They released a mail away version of The Undertaker, Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan. While the Hogan was the most desired due to having a completely fresh new outfit, the Hitman and Undertaker were re-releases of their Series 4 and Series 8 figures with very minor differences like a slightly different hair and beard shade for Undertaker and the Bret Hart is the series 4 with the variant Purple Heart on his singlet. Oddly enough now-a-days the Undertaker is the most valuable of the three, and all three can easily bring over $1,000 each bagged and sealed. There are a few other rarities in the line like the JC Penney Catalog Exclusive Ring that contained a bagged Hogan and Savage, but unless they’re still in their sealed bags there is no way to set them apart from their common release figures. The Savage from the JC Penney ring set was actually supposed to be in green trunks as shown in the catalog images.

Sadly it was just the orange trunks series 1 version re-released in the JC Penney catalog playset when it released. But either way if you come across that ring and those bagged figures you have some of the biggest rarities in the Hasbro line outside of that Moon Belly Kamala!

Caliber: I’ve seen the mail-away Hogan, and it’s freaking sweet.

Wrestling fans, young or old, are living in a golden age for merch. The higher end figures these days are just insane in how amazing they are. And we get things like Unmatched Fury, or Defining Moments. I love that stuff.

Of the modern figures, which is your favorite? And were you excited for the retro line they did a few years back?

JB Toys: Mattel has done an incredible job with the new figure line and I say new but it’s hard to believe it’s been around for nearly 10 years now! I would have to say my absolute favorite 3 figures from the Mattel line would be the Defining Moments Wrestlemania 7 Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior decked out in all of their over the top entrance gear and the Defining Moments Hulk Hogan with the tear away shirt and Hulkamania headband with the 1986 WWF Championship. Mattel does such an incredible job with detail and facial likeness. It’s great to see how figures have evolved over the years. When the Retro line was introduced I was more excited than I have been for any other toy kind in recent years and I went to Walmart almost daily to check for the first series to drop in stores. I was one of the first in the country to find them and I’m pretty sure when I saw them from a far distance I ran down the aisle like a little kid! I even have a photo standing the store holding a huge pile of them

From the first day I found them. Such a great moment as a collector. It’s a shame the Retro line is on hold for now, there are so many great figures that could be made to fill gaps that the original Hasbro line left.

Caliber: I know you do the conventions and meet and greets, so I’ve got a few questions about those…but first, could you tell the story about a certain former ECW wrestler you met and the whole ordeal with dinner and staying at your place? It cracked me up first time I saw you tell it. [Note from Editor: I omitted the name from the following story, simply because of the litigious nature of people. But let’s just say, the person he’s talking about tag-teamed with RVD, feuded with Taz, and had a relative that threw fire]

JB Toys: Man… that was something else lol. I do a lot of conventions and comic cons and wrestling shows so I meet a lot of past and current talent in the wrestling business. I have stories about all of them, some good, some bad… some very bad. I grew up a huge fan of —- going back to his early ECW days. I even marked out when ECW was brought back to WWE even though it was a shell of what it used to be, but I loved seeing —- on TV again and I was at the live Raw show when —- invaded Raw and attacked John Cena. I was right behind the announce table when he did the leg drop on Cena from the top rope, which was wild to see in person. I had heard over the years that —- was less than decent as a human being from people in the business and others who have met him at shows and cons, but you never want to believe that stuff when it comes to someone you idolized growing up.

I had the chance to finally meet —- at a local comic con called the Nickel City Con a few years back and the day of the show I had arrived early, got autographs and photos with everyone I had hoped except for —-. He was nowhere to be found. I asked the promoter and he was irate and had not heard from —- either. So I decided to wait it out and went and grabbed lunch and killed some time and then came back to his vendor location hoping he would be there. Again nothing. I was pretty fed up but he was really the main reason I went so I decided to message ——- (his girlfriend) also known as Super —– who handles most of his bookings through Facebook and she immediately responded saying that the promoter was a piece of garbage and screwed —- on his cut from the convention money they agreed to and on and on which I didn’t care to know or need to know about. She then said they were on their way and would be there soon. So I stayed and waited…

——- then messaged me again on Facebook saying that because the promoter burned them that they needed a place to stay that night and said —- would sign anything I wanted for free if I let them both stay with me! I couldn’t believe she even asked me, a fan, a stranger, to stay in my home. She then went on to say that they had hardly any money due to having to pay for their own flight and rental car since the promoter didn’t pay like he agreed to so she said that —- wanted her to ask me if I would take them out to dinner after the convention and if I covered everything he would throw in some “free merch” and sign everything. I felt so uncomfortable but I messaged her back and told her that I had plans after the convention and could not provide any of that for them and she started getting desperate and begging, to the point where she even insinuated doing “anything” I wanted that night which I interpreted to sexual favors.

At this point I even thought about leaving the convention. But I felt like if I didn’t identify myself when meeting them I could squeeze by get my stuff signed and get out. Boy I was wrong lol. ——- immediately recognized me when they arrived, obviously from my Facebook photos. She came up and asked me to hang with them at their booth and instantly —- was miserable and was throwing merchandise on his table complaining about everything. Once he finally sat down and started I quickly went up and got an autograph on my belt and a photo and tried to walk away when ——- grabbed my arm and asked me to stay so that they could turn the rental car in and try to get their money back and have me take them to dinner and the airport. —- then came over and started handing me beat up old figures and t shirts from his duffel bag, telling me to keep them and thanking me for taking them. I knew I needed to get out of there quick so I told ——- that I had to run to the ATM to get more money out and then I ran out the front door and never looked back lol. I then got a bunch of Facebook messages from ——- asking where I went and telling me that if I left they need me to come back! Can you believe the balls of the two of them?! I blocked her on Facebook from that moment on but man what a crazy experience that was… I was told by a fellow fan that they did something similar to him and he got trapped into it and spent over $400 on a bar tab for —- that night and they ended up doing “drugs” in his bathroom and trashed his house. I dodged a big bullet I guess but I’ll never look at —- the same again man!

Caliber: Hahah, holy hell. That just blows my mind, man. He was pretty successful for at least 15 years. And for those years he had to have been making at least $200,000 a year, and now he’s dead broke, having his girlfriend beg fans for things. Wow. Some of these guys need to be poster-children for drug abuse.

So, is that your worst experience with a wrestler?

Who then was the opposite, and you had a great experience? I know it won’t be Bret or Flair from all the things I’ve heard.

JB Toys: That was definitely my worst experience with a pro wrestler by far. I had a pretty bad experience with Bret Hart but nowhere near as bad as the interaction with —-… Flair was actually a great guy when I met him and really took his time with me believe it or not. We talked about the NWA days and we talked about Charlotte just breaking into the business at the time and even talked championship belts for a bit.

My favorite experience was honestly with Bullet Club / The Elite (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and Cody). I went to a Global Wars event for Ring of Honor a couple years ago and it was right after Omega won the first ever IWGP US championship and I had rushed to make one to bring to the show. So the standard ROH autograph signings occur usually an hour before the show starts and I was walking to merch stand when Kenny and The Bucks walked passed me and Matt Jackson said “Hey Kenny! He’s got your freakin belt, they must have overnighted it!” And they kept walking…

I was pretty confused but thought it was super cool they noticed me so when I went up to meet them for the meet and greet Kenny asked if I was with ROH or a fan? I said I’m just a huge fan and made this title to be the first signed by you! He was blown away. He told me that his IWGP US title was left behind when he took his flight from Japan and they were going to overnight it to him for this grouping of shows but he didn’t want to risk it getting lost. So when he saw me with it he thought it was the real belt and thought that I was bringing it to him lol. Pretty wild. He took photos with it and signed it for me and we had a long talk about the belt making process and I told him I had brought an ROH title for Cody to sign but I didn’t see Cody doing the autograph signing and the Bucks said don’t worry we will help you get it signed by the end of the night! I wasn’t sure how but I was super excited and said “ok cool I’ll hang after the show and see what happens”.

It was incredible, seeing Omega in his prime is like watching no other. The Bucks too, so charismatic and having fun in the ring being so over. I head outside to see if I can see them around and I watched nearly all of the talent leave the building and get in their rental cars and take off, leaving just me and two buddies in the parking lot and a few employee cars. I was pretty bummed that it looked like I had missed them and wouldn’t get the ROH belt signed by Cody after all.

It’s now an hour after the show and I said to my friends let’s head out, looks like everyone is gone. As soon as I said that, like a movie scene in slow motion Kenny, Cody, and the Bucks come walking out with their luggage and head over to me. I couldn’t believe it. Cody was decked out in a 3 piece suit and came over and said “Hey I heard you were looking for me?” And I don’t even remember my response I was speechless. I handed him my ROH title he signed it for me perfectly and then I ended up sitting with the Elite for about an hour on the steps of their rental van just talking Wrestling and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. We sat outside that venue until around 2am shooting the breeze about the direction wrestling was heading and Bullet Club and the Elite and it was above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen. They didn’t have to do that for me, they didn’t even have to get Cody for me. These guys are truly for their fans going above and beyond for them. Surreal moment.

Caliber: I appreciate you taking the time for the interview, brother. Ya’ll can find him @JBToys1 on IG, and his website www.JBToysAndCollectibles.com

I appreciate ya’ll hanging out, and as a parting gift, the most underrated hottness in the history of wrestling: Brooke Adams in Aces & Eights….

Any questions, comments, drunk-ramblings, feel free to send them my way, I always dig hearing from you, the beautiful people.

Instagram: @CaliberWinfield

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