AEW “Figure”-ing It Out

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I wanted to get this out a few days ago, when the “Pro Wrestling Figure” episode of “The Toys That Made Us” initially aired on Netflix, but life happens. Either way, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about two of my favorite things in this instance: Wrestling, and Action Figures.

AEW has continued to be fantastic, and I can only PRAY that it continues to air for years to come. But with its continued success, I hope the licensing rights get picked up in certain respects. I know that a video game has already been brought up, and the prospect of that is exciting, especially since several of the founding members of AEW are passionate gamers. But what about action figures? What about those of us who want our nerdom reflected in 1:12 scale, articulated, collections?

Well, I’m here to speak on our behalf, by sharing my infallible opinion, right down to providing the first TEN waves, I’d like to see…

WHY should AEW get licensing for their product started? Well, professional wrestling is arguably the biggest it’s ever been on a global scale. And right now they have an immense amount of talent from all over the World that would help sell, and entice, from various markets. You have an incredible generational mix of fans. Grandparents buying for their grandkids; parents buying for themselves, and their kids; and the kids always happy to ask for more, and more. Now, more than ever, collectors and we “nerds” are open about our hobbies, and happy to invest our time, and more importantly money, into a line from someone who cares.

WHO should AEW license to? Hasbro. Without hesitation. And if anyone from Hasbro ever happens to see this? As a life-long wrestling fan, and action-figure collector? I assure you, the line would sell. But with all the prospective companies, why Hasbro? Well, first, they have the global reach I mentioned in the paragraph prior; they would provide healthy “competition” for Mattel, who is producing WWE product, and could help bolster Mattel’s interest in producing a better product than they, arguably, currently are.

Hasbro gives us some of the best 1:12 scale action figure products in the world with their “Marvel Legends”, “Star Wars Black Series”, and now “Power Rangers Lightning Collection”. They also have the technology, and talent, to give us real-scan products that would provide incredible likenesses. Put a Kenny Omega figure on Japanese shelves with your new scan technology, and see if it sits there for any amount of time. (It wont, is the answer. You’re welcome!)

WHAT would I like to see? Let’s start with two lines, and 2 rings, for now.

Give us a $25 “basic” ring, that can be used for play, and that can stand up to the abuse of hours spent Alabama-slamming figures into it from several feet in the air. Then I’ll take a $50-$75 (depending on detail/accessories included) TO-SCALE ring. Not a ring that one figure basically fits across lying down; and not a ring that will seem enormous until you put forty figures in it. I would love to see a perfectly to scale ring, that’s as close to putting together the real thing as possible. Right down to the mat tie-downs, and cloth skirt. The kind of ring that a kid opens up on Christmas morning, and dad groans, knowing he’s going to spend all day putting it together – except it’s such great quality that he takes it to his room, locks the door, and tells the wife and kids to scram! (Don’t do that, Christmas is about sharing. Wait until the kids go back to school after break.)

The $10-$12 range “basic” line, or we can call it the “AEW Fuse” line, with limited articulation, reasonable likeness, and only basic accessories, if any. These are for the new generation of wrestling fans. These are for the kids that want to smash, and slam their figures around. The kids (and some adults), like myself back in the day, who spend countless hours in their bedroom, creating their own fed, their own storylines, their own champions, and their own World.

Then, and this one is the main one folks, the “AEW Dynamite” line. This is the $20-$24 range figures, with the best articulation options, better likeness, and character-reflective accessories included. An ab crunch; ankle pivot; better hip range-of-motion. For the sake of example, and potentially argument, this is the line I’ll focus on for the rest of the article…

You may find yourself questioning why it’s important for this subject to be focused on for the sake of an article, but I find it’s actually quite important. The fact is, without action figures/toys growing up? I wouldn’t be who I am today. I do believe a lot of creatives, and adults between 25-45 right now, would agree with that. They allowed you to be creative; to develop storylines; to ultimately comprehend things like business management, drama/personal relationships, and morality. Science has even started to support this, with tests showing that kids benefit from more time with physical toys, than on tablets/the internet. Imagine that? Next they’ll say your kids going outside and running around will be good for them. Weird!

So here’s what I’d like to see in the first ten lines. There are benefits, and drawbacks (risk, in business terms), but I think, ultimately, those will prove mitigated by AEW being a great wrestling show, and the licensing company providing a great product…

Series 1

2x Cody Rhodes (wrestling attire)

3x Chris Jericho (w/ AEW Title)

1x Marq Quen

1x Sonny Kiss

1x Britt Baker

“Chase” – Jim Ross

Right off the bat, come out swinging. The man who brought us AEW, and their biggest “name”, should be the two to start off the line. Period. Include an AEW Title with Jericho (high quality, reflective, with detail). This first wave also takes into consideration AEW’s goal of “inclusivity”, and “diversity”, without it feeling, in any way, “forced”.

I’d like to see one female star (with superior, equal articulation to the male figures, or even better, ala the Pink Ranger in Hasbro’s current Lightning Collection series) included with each wave. And Britt is arguably the most “familiar/relatable” female star AEW has, if not the “biggest”.

And as you can see? I included a “Chase” figure. Now, here’s where I want to elaborate. This figure should not be IMPOSSIBLE to get. And one should only be included every FIVE waves. We don’t want the scalpers taking advantage of the line right out of the gate. But a LOT of the supporting “cast” in AEW are top-tier, Hall of Fame names, and deserve the top-tier treatment in figure form, as well. In the chase instance? My recommendation is every other case, or every three cases produced, change out the “Chase” character listed, for one of the 3x figure included, per case (assuming a case of 8 is produced for each series)

Series 2

2x Jon Moxley (tights)

2x Pentagon Jr.

1x Cima

1x Trent

2x Riho (w/ Womens’ Title)

As you can probably already see, I have a pattern to my way of thinking. Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) brought fans over to AEW with the company’s acquisition of him. I don’t think a lot of people knew about his general character, or personality, prior to his stint on WWE, but there’s no doubting that fans will be familiar with him.

I moved one tally from Moxley, to Riho, because she has a global appeal, and is the first Womens’ Title (Again, don’t skimp out because she’s female. Give us a quality, detailed belt) – I understand that not every female “character” will sell in what is still ultimately considered a “boy’s line”, but I am doing my best here to take both business and fan consideration in to mind.

Series 3

3x Adam Page

1x Isiah Kennedy

1x Jack Evans

1x Peter Avalon

2x Brandi Rhodes (Voodoo Queen?)

Mrs. Rhodes, if you ever happen to come across this, that’s what I’m referring to your “look” and “character” as, because of the Awesome Kong inclusion and the video packages thus far. I love it, and hope the character sticks for a while.

Now, at this point in my argument, some people are probably going “why do some females get more than one per case?”, and “why is everyone but the ‘top’ names, only getting one per case?…and my reasoning is simple. Some of the female talent is more familiar than others. These are not the “forever” numbers I want to see for each talent, but when introducing the line?

Again, I’m taking the toy business side of it into consideration. The LAST thing that fans, AEW, or their toy distributor want to see, is product sitting on the shelf. I’m considering numbers that will keep that from happening. It’s not a knock on anyone who performs for AEW. Only that time, and familiarity gained through product purchasing, will improve character adoration.

Series 4

2x Matt Jackson

2x Rey Fenix

1x Michael Nakazawa

2x Jake Hager

1x Bea Priestley

AEW has done a couple of great things so far. They’ve reintroduced stables as an important aspect of a wrestling company; and they’ve given us an incredible tag team division. Possibly the best in the World.

So with Series 4, you see two globally recognized tag team members leading the series, but the 8th case spot goes, not to the female of the wave, but to the familiar stable member included in this particular series.

You will also see that I’m not including both members of a tag team in any single wave. One? Because I legitimately believe every single person on the roster is their own star that deserves their moment, but also? It helps facilitate brand loyalty, and recurring purchases. The only thing worse than an “addiction” to buying action figures? An incomplete team on your shelf!

Series 5

3x Kenny Omega

1x Frankie Kazarian (w/ Tag Title)

1x Angelico

2x Luchasaurus

1x Nyla Rose

“Chase” – Aubrey Edwards

Here’s the fifth series, and every five series I suggested including a “Chase” figure. Why not give us an Aubrey Edwards. Not only is she an awesoe referee from a fan perspective, but we get far too few such figures, as it is. This gives AEW and the toy licensor a chance to one-up competition. Minus one case spot for Omega to fit her in every couple cases shipped out.

I also chose to give the extra case spot to “Luchasaurus” in this wave, if for no other reason, than he’s an AEW talent that kids will see on the shelves, and they’ll want him. He would make a phenomenal action figure, and so would mitigate risk of warming shelves…

Series 6

2x Nick Jackson

1x Scorpio Sky (w/ Tag Title)

1x Brandon Cutler

1x Cody Rhodes (dress clothes)

3x Awesome Kong

The first wave a female talent gets the most case spots HAS to go to Awesome Kong. She is so incredibly long overdue for a fantastic figure, and not only would kids love her to go with their female talent, but I promise, she’s very near the top of a LOT of adult collectors’ want lists.

This is also the first time I include a “street clothes” figure with Cody Rhodes. My recommendation is the white suit look from when he appeared to attack Jericho prior to Full Gear, but with a CLOTH suit jacket. His suit shirt, and pants, can be moulded (so long as they include the superior articulation still) – but a cloth jacket that is form-fitting, and removable? That’s next level. Again, you’re welcome.

Series 7

3x MJF

1x Evil Uno

1x Chuck Taylor

2x Marko Stunt

1x Emi Sakura

This is, admittedly, the first “hard sell” series on my suggested list. I try to include a “headliner” for each wave, a female talent, a tag talent, and a mid-card talent. MJF deserves a spot in the “headliner” category. The dude is a fantastic heel, and is going to be a great talent for DECADES to come. Start familiarizing future generations with him now. He will also fit great with your collection the same way we love to have “Lex Luthor” for Superman. Is he a guy in a suit? Sure, but without him? Supes just isn’t the same.

Emi is doing great things to help develop the womens’ division, but I’m not certain how well she would sell due to lack of familiarity, outside Japan.

Marko gets the second tier release amount, because I think he could easily be marketed as “Jurassic Jr.” and come with a removable Luchasaurus mask.

Series 8

3x Sammy Guevara

1x Santana

2x Jungle Boy

1x Kip Sabian

1x Allie

Sammy? See MJF above. Good Ol’ JR’s comparison to Eddie Guerrero is absolutely on-point and the guy will work as both a heel, and face, for years to come. Include the bear headpiece entrance gear if you really want to ‘WOW’ us…

Jungle Boy pulls the second tier release amount for the same reason as Marko above. Kids seem to love him; he’s a family-friendly character that parents will be okay buying for their kids, and he completes Jurassic Express. He wont sit on shelves.

You also have the added bonus of someone like Kip Sabian included in this line (same with Brandon Cutler above) – who are admitted and open nerds, that will help promote not only their individual figures via public media, but the line as a whole. You’re making figures of nerds, promoted by nerds, to sell to nerds. That’s basically printing money.

Series 9

4x Darby Allin

1x Joey Janela

1x Ortiz

1x QT Marshal

1x Leva Bates

Alright, before you blow up about the case layout, hear me out. What Darby Allin did in his match against Chris Jericho on Dynamite was nothing short of incredible. The first time I saw anything about Darby, I admittedly rolled my eyes, if only because I’ve never been big into the skater scene. And it felt like they were hyping him up just for the sake of his match against Jericho. I was wrong. If we’re comparing young talent to former? Darby is a young Jeff Hardy hand-delivered to your toy line on a silver platter for years to come. Adults, and kids alike, love him and now? Respect him.

If WWE had known the sales figures on Jeff throughout his career, from the start, don’t you think they’d have been much obliged? AEW/toy licensor? You’re welcome!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any other member of this series, and each one deserves their spot in the release. But again, I’m considering both business and fandom. Do I want them as figures? Yes. Will kids be crawling over each other for a QT Marshal figure? Debatable. Sorry. (Don’t take it personal, QT. This is just business)

Series 10

2x Dustin Rhodes

1x Jimmy Havoc

2x Shawn Spears

2x Jon Moxley (street clothes)

1x Brandi Rhodes (business attire)

“Chase” – Tully Blanchard

Congratulations, you’ve got a successful toyline! Grandparents, parents, and kids alike, are dropping their money on your figures and acessories. Everyone’s happy (except the lincesors that looked past AEW in the first place) – and now? That “thank you” would be appreciated coming this way with maybe some sort of check included? Appreciate it!

But back to the wave, it’s SERIES TEN. It HAS to arguably be the biggest one released, top-to-bottom, thus far. At the very least, it’s the biggest after the first wave. Every single one included here is arguably a “headliner”, or potentially so. First? Dustin. Do we really need to justify him being included for any reason other than he’s Dustin, and he’d make an amazing figure!? No. We don’t.

Same with Jimmy Havoc. Now I want to explain here why he was my choice to only get one-per-case. As amazing as a figure of him would be (especially with a cloth entrance coat/studded rubber fitted mask), his general “look” may put off some grandparents/parents from buying his figure for their kids. And I think Jimmy would understand, and even be okay with, that. I recall such arguments being made for the likes of Gangrel, Mankind, and “Ministry” Undertaker back in the day, when I was a lad.

Shawn Spears is a quality heel, and familiar enough from his time with WWE to warrant two on the shelf. This would actually be my preferred figure look for Moxley (ala the sleeveless jean jacket with Mox spray-painted down the back), but it’s a look that deserves to be reserved for Series 10, and would look incredible on the shelf with the rest of this wave.

Brandi gets her second release, this time as the business woman who is doing her part to bring us such incredible content. Give her cloth business jacket, and skirt; make sure she’s able to stand in-display wearing heels; and give this particular one a special look/color for the packaging. Maybe include a short inspiring message to young (female) collectors. You could even go the extra mile and include Pharoah… (doesn’t have to be a dog with articulation. Just a moulded sitting version of the goodest AEW boi!)

Pull one from Shawn Spears every couple cases and fit in “Chase” Tully Blanchard. Series ten is the first time two talents are released that go together, and that’s because Tully is such a legend, and I HATE when we get talent, but not the manager that helped make them who they are within the company.

Below, I list my “Chase” suggestions that take you right up to Series 50 of the line. Some of them may cause you to scratch your heads, but as a child? I LOVED not only having the in-ring talent, but the people who ran things behind-the-scenes because it made it more “real”, it kept my playtime, and my imagination, grounded in the reality that made me think “one day, I could be this!”…

And as an adult? I simply believe that these individuals either deserve a figure because they’re legendary at what they do, or as gratitude for bringing us the AEW product itself. Include a break-away business desk with Tony Khan; an announce table with Excalibur, etc – whatever will help improve interest for kids and adults alike.

We can also start talking about things like entrance ramps; barricades; lights out weapons packs, etc at this point, as well. So there you have it! My op-ed love letter to a (hopeful) AEW figure line down the road!

Series 15

“Chase” – DDP

Series 20

“Chase” – Excalibur

Series 25

“Chase” – Earl Hebner

Series 30

“Chase” – Tony Schiavone

Series 35

“Chase” – Justin Roberts

Series 40

“Chase” – Dean Malenko

Series 45

“Chase” – Goldenboy

Series 50

“Chase” – Tony Khan

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