Friday, January 25, 2013

Figure Friday: A Tale of Four Hulksters

With Hulkamania in full gear at the beginning of the 90s (okay, not full gear, but still pretty huge), it was only natural that Hasbro do all it could to cash in on the merchandising phenomenon (and alleged wrestler) that was Hulk Hogan. For that reason, no fewer than four distinct Hulk Hogan figures were created and sold by the toy company between 1990 and 1993. Oh, and not one of them was bald.

The very first Hasbro figure to depict the Hulkster was 1990's model. Unlike most Hasbro WWF figures, this one not only is capable of doing a real wrestling move that the wrestler in question might actually perform, but its special move is actually named properly. This is the first of many figures to do the gorilla press slam. It also features a generous hairline for our favorite vitamin-ingester. 

Hogan's hair hearkens back to the mid-80s, when he was balding but still capable of wearing a headband without exposing his scalp too much.

The cause of Hogan's rapid hair loss will
forever be a mystery.

Next was the 1991 Hulk Hogan figure with the "Hulkster Hug." This figure is unique for two reasons. One, it is the only figure in the Hasbro line to feature this particular finishing move, in which Hogan's two arms can be pulled apart and spring back together. Two, it has perhaps the least intimidating name for a move ever created by Hasbro. It sounds like something the Hulkster might give to good Hulkamaniacs who sent him Get Well cards after Earthquake injured him and who regularly eat their Hulkaroos at Pastamania. Again, this figure was quite kind to Hogan in terms of the hair question, especially considering what Hogan's coif actually looked like in 1991.

1992 saw the release of another Hogan figure, this time with the so-called "Hulkaplex." One really has to use his imagination for this move, as the artwork on the packaging shows Hulk grabbing his opponent in a front facelock with his right arm and flipping him over. In reality (and by "reality," I'm referring to a 4 1/2'' plastic replica of a pro wrestler), only Hulk's left arm is spring-loaded, making a downward strike when released. I know Lou Thesz uses to say that Hogan didn't know a wristlock from a wrist watch, but this is ridiculous (although not as ridiculous as literally being unable to distinguish a timepiece from a wrestling hold). It was at this time that Hasbro caved in and no longer depicted Hulk with a semi-full head of hair; rather than exposing The Immortal One's cranium, however, they simply gave him a bandana, just like he wore in interviews and entrances to hide his bare scalp. A limited edition version of this figure was also released as a mail-away offer, with red attire, a different bandana, and, for the first time ever for a Hogan figure, pants!
Collectors like to dress up this particular figure
like it's on its way to the morgue.

Come 1993, Hulkster was on the way out of the WWF. Amidst a steroid scandal, he had teased retirement at the previous year's Wrestlemania, only to make a handful of appearances the following year (one of which saw him just so happen to win the WWF title). This figure came out concurrently with the Virgil action figure; I mention this because both figures have the same finishing move. While I have always had fun with the name of Virgil's move, the "Bodyguard Bash" (which, in addition to being a name no one would ever call their finisher, was also two years out of date for DiBiase's former manservant), the "Hulkster Slam" may take the cake as far as inaccurate descriptions go. A right-handed punch, the Hulkster Slam is not a slam at all. Moreover, Hulkster never did the move; sure, he threw plenty of punches in his day, but never one that required him to dislocate his shoulder and sever his arm in order to "wind up" before unleashing it. The "Hulkster Slam" model of Hogan re-uses the move of figures such as Jake Roberts and Ted DiBiase (a re-release of which borrows Hulk's body). This figure is also the only Hasbro figure of Hulk's without Hogan's famous tear-away shirt. It does, of course, retain the bandana that Hogan always wore to the ring but didn't wear in matches. I suppose this figure depicts Hulk right after he has torn off his shirt but before he has taken off his bandana before a match.

Given the efforts made to hide or divert attention away from Hulk Hogan's baldness, is it any wonder he sued Vince Russo after the WCW writer's Bash at the Beach rant wherein he called Mr. Bollea a "big bald son of a bitch"? If only he had called him a "big bandana-ed son of a bitch," he could have stayed out of trouble.

No comments:

Post a Comment