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Trish Stratus

Classic Superstars
by yo go re

When it comes to wrestling toys, I generally go for the characters I watched as a kid. For once, though, I'm reviewing someone I don't know the first thing about.

Renowned for her work as a fitness model, Stratus entered WWE in March 2000 as a manager, leading the careers of Test, Albert and Val Venis. As a manager, she led Venis to the Intercontinental Championship and began her long-standing rivalry with Lita, but her beauty and athleticism left the fans asking for more Trish. She made her in-ring debut that June, teaming with T&A against the Hardy Boyz & Lita, and looking back it's only fitting that Trish's first match was against perhaps her greatest rival.

These days, any wrestling promotion worth its salt will have a women's division. TNA has the Knockouts, ROH has SHIMMER and the WWE has the idiotically (yet appropriately) named "Divas." It used to be that a company would find a woman who could take a bump, and try to make her look remotely attractive: these days the idea is to find really hot women and teach them how to fall down without hurting themselves. Looking up Trish Stratus, she seems (?) to fall into the second category. It's hard to tell - some of the airbrushing makes her look like a transvestite. Basically, this Trish Stratus looks a lot better than this Trish Stratus.

So why, if I'm usually all about the old-school personas, are we talking about somebody who wrestled as recently as 2006 2008 2009? Because of the way this figure was made.

The first WWF toys were the Wrestling Superstars line from LJN. The figures were solid rubber behemoths, standing 8" tall and were entirely unarticulated. The series ran from 1984 to 1989, eventually comprising dozens of wrestlers. I never owned any, but I can still remember spending summers at my grandmother's house, walking downtown to some long-gone department store that had loose Wrestling Superstars in their toy aisle. Starting in Series 14, Jakks began including LJN-style chase figures in their Classic Superstars line, bringing new personalities to the old style. Trish, here, was the throwback for Series 23.

In keeping with the LJN aesthetic, Trish is a single lump of rubber with no joints. She's a bit too small, reaching the standard 8" height thanks only to her skyward-pointing finger, but maybe that's their attempt to create a sense of scale. Of course, the old figures didn't have any such thing. Without that arm, she's only abot 6½" tall. Stratus's dominant feature is her large plastic chest - and the same holds true for this toy! [Zing! --ed.] She's wearing a white tank top with a "100% Babe" logo in a star. You really have to admire the tampographic printing process that got such a clean, crisp reproduction on such an... uneven surface. There's some definite paint slop around the edges of her shirt, or between the black and white on her pants and shoes, but that, at least, is true to the LJN toys, so we won't judge her too harshly for that.

The face is cartoony, to the point where it doesn't really resemble Stratus all that much. Oh, I'm sure fans of WWF's "Attitude Era" would recognize her easily, but if you're comparing the toy to photos? It's just not there. Honestly, she looks like Jane Krakowski - you know, Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock? Is there a Liz Lemon wrestling toy somewhere out there, too? Because that would be hot. Trish's blonde hair flows wildly behind her shoulders.

I didn't get this figure because I knew the character, or because I had a ton of LJN wrestlers growing up. Neither of those is true. Yes, the underlying idea of the figures is just a bit brilliant - aping the style of 1980s toys, and making them available in the subline specifically designed to honor the past? Damn clever. And perhaps not entirely unexpected, since Jakks Pacific founder Jack Friedman was also the founder of LJN (and also the "J" in the name).

But the reason I got Trish Stratus rather than any of the guys is that her extreme pose and cartoony design are really reminiscent of the urban vinyl movement. It's a sculpt with personality and vivre, and it doesn't cost you $50 a pop. Or at least, it shouldn't - no surprise that the only girl was incredibly popular and thus hard to find.

-- 02/17/10

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