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WCW Bruisers
by yo go re

Wrestling fans are spoiled today, because Mattel's toys are kind of amazing. Great likenesses, dynamic articulation, and incredibly accurate costumes? Yeah, back in the day there was none of that. But we had something better: style.

ToyBiz had the WCW license, and they ran it much the same way that they ran their X-Men or Spider-Man lines: lots of bodies repainted and reused whenever they could, and lots of "themed" sub-lines. Grip 'n Flip wrestlers, with magnets in their hands; Ring Fighters, with an action-featurey section of wrestling ring; Slam Force, which actually reused superhero accessories; and the WCW Bruisers, which... I don't know what the theme is, here. Some of them had action features, some of them had accessories, some of them were headliners, some of them (Wrath, Disco Inferno, we're looking at you) were definitely not... the series was all over the place. But like we're said before, the name on the card matters less than the toy inside it, so let's look at Goldberg.

As mentioned, ToyBiz reused the hell out of their molds - their original Goldberg toy was released at least five times, sometimes with a T-shirt painted on, sometimes wearing jeans and work boots, but always the same body. This one, however, offers something different. It actually breaks tradition with most of ToyBiz's wrestling stuff, because rather than striving for realism, the style is very cartoony. This is like the Saturday morning animated version of Goldberg. Like we said: style. All those years of sculpting superhero bodies paid off nicely, giving Goldberg a monstrous physique, even with the unusual style.

The head is just as stylized as everything below the neck, but it's still more recognizable than the mess Jakks released in their Classic Superstars line. He's baring his teeth at us, and there are deep wrinkles between his eyebrows. The best part is that the proportions between his head and neck are right - namely, the neck is wider.

The articulation is less than spectacular, but this figure was released in 1999, so you have to make some allowances. He has a swivel neck, balljointed shoulders (with visible pins, because injection molded joints weren't a thing yet), a swivel in his left bicep, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch, hinged knees, and hinged ankles. The swivel in the upper arm is presumably so he can perform his Jackhammer finishing move, but he can't lift his right arm straight enough for that, thanks to the way his torso is designed. He comes with a pair of softgoods pants, which impede his articulation less than the rubber elbow and knee pads do.

Goldberg's accessory is a bit of stage or runway with the WCW logo on the back. It's 4" wide and 3" deep, and has a sculpted diamond plate pattern on the black areas. A lever on the back flips the floor upward, launching Goldberg (or whatever figure is standing there) forward in a spear tackle. There are two footpegs to hold the figure in place until you fire him - they're big enough to keep him standing, but thin enough that he won't stick to the base and ruin the action feature.

Sometimes a stylized representation of a character works better than realism, and WCW Bruisers Goldberg is a perfect example of that. This isn't Bill Goldberg, the ex-football player who came to the WCW after he was too injured to play, this is "Goldberg," the monster who could squash anyone who was put in front of him. It's a shame ToyBiz didn't try more of this sort of exaggeration; it would have set them apart from Jakks, with their RealScan likenesses and ultra generic bodies.

While this sculpt was ultimately never used for any other figures, it almost was. At Toy Fair (in some undetermined year), ToyBiz showed a line of "WCW Cyborg Wrestlers," which cast the athletes as half-robotic creations. The Goldberg in that never-to-be-released line used this body, but had a removable face, mechanical legs, and a sparking metal fist. Was that figure based on this one, or was this just a "normalized" version of it? No idea. But either way, since it never happened, this Goldberg is one of a kind.

-- 02/19/14

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