It’s no secret that I have a “thing,” for wrestling figures. As my personal collection continues to grow and evolve, I have taken some time to reflect on why I chose to spend my time (and money) on toys.
A very simple answer is nostalgia. The definition of nostalgia is, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” While that may be the textbook definition, I want to take it a step further and share why wrestling figures inspire such a strong nostalgic feeling in my own life.
To be perfectly transparent, I don’t remember the exact age or time I owned my first wrestling figure. I can remember vividly that the Galoob Sting was always my favorite figure and I wore out the paint on those blue tights faster than any kid on the planet.
Recreating matches in my mind and commentating them as I performed the moves with my toys was an essential part of my childhood and the memories I have of growing up. Not only was I a fan of the WCW line of Galoobs, but WWF Hasbros took the top spot in my playtime.
From the jumping action of “Superfly,” Jimmy Snuka to the Honkytonk Man swinging his guitar, I spent countless hours playing with my Hasbros in an attempt to recreate the excitement that I would get to see on the living room TV.
When I think about the Hasbros I owned and played with the most, I immediately think of Hackswaw Jim Duggan, the Ultimate Warrior, Big Boss Man, and my most played with Rowdy Roddy Piper. Those characters were always at the center of the living room battle royale. However, those toys are not what pulls me back into the world of collecting and the nostalgia that plays such an important part of my collection. The one figure that surpasses them all is “The American Dream,” Dusty Rhodes.
At the time, Dusty was not the figure that stood out to me the most on TV. He wasn’t high flying like Snuka, He wasn’t larger than life like Hulk Hogan, and he didn’t have the hype factor of the Ultimate Warrior. However, when it came time to play, Dusty was more important than them all. I can remember my dad giving me Dusty vividly. The blue card, the polka dotted gear of Dusty on the package, and above all the white and yellow boots on the figure itself. I remember being underwhelmed at the figure, because like I said…he wasn’t who captured my attention on the television screen. All of those memories make me smile when I think back to a much simpler time in life. Yet, none of those memories compare to memories of the hours I spent with my dad playing with my figures on the living room floor. You see, Dusty was the figure my dad always chose to play with when we would sit and live out our (or my) professional wrestling matches. And while Dusty rarely won his matches in my figure federation, he won my memories because of my dad.
My dad has always been an extremely busy person. As a minister, my dad is always on call and can be needed at a moments notice and has always made himself available to those who need him. My dad is an incredibly selfless individual that has made countless sacrifices to put others before himself. Myself included. There were days I can remember him being tired, stressed, and overworked. Yet, without hesitation, my dad would ALWAYS make the time to sit and get lost in imagination with me and my toys. From making voices for the figures while playing, to sound effects, to counting the 1-2-3 of the final pin, my dad set whatever pressure he was under aside to enjoy time with me.
Through the years, some of my happiest memories revolve around my dad and I playing with Hasbros without a care in the world.
These memories are the “why,” to my collection. I will forever be grateful to my dad for his impact on my life, the advice he’s given over the years, but most importantly for his time. Thanks to my dad, collecting these figures has preserved so many great memories and allowed me to “live the dream,” as an adult. Thank you dad. I love you.
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