Come on, like you've never tried to make Hulk Hogan out of Play-Doh before. We've all done it. We don't talk about it often, but we've all done it. Problem was, our Hulks never looked quite like the real thing. It's hard to illustrate those impressive pythons and sexy underwear with clay, but fortunately, young wrestling fans found salvation in this 1992 serve-up by Craft House, the "WWF Superstars Maker."
Oh boy. Having seen the gamut of these "clay kits" over the years, I stand firm in my belief that this is the most uninspired, piece of crap toy to ever include colored dough. I've often reviewed things that seemed dumb, but I could usually see why kids were into 'em. Not so with this thing. I guess Craft House hooked up with some other smalltime toy makers for some kind of off-kilter Iron Chef contest; there's just no other explanation for how rushed and pointless this playset was. Arriving in the early 90s, the Superstars Maker already had a strike against it -- pro-wrestling's boom period was decisively wrapped up, and truckloads of once-diehard fans lowered their status to "passing interest" at best. Compiled with the toy's overwhelming emphasis on being shitty, I assume that only a handful of people ever bought it. Let's find out why...
Basically, it's just a bunch of plastic molds that ostensibly let you create miniature wrestling figures with the two included canisters of "Color Dough." They only supplied "red" and "yellow," so I hope you like your Superstars appearing either extremely sunburned or covered in piss. Though my kit's been sealed for all these years, the dough still managed to crystallize and solidify. To tell you the truth, I would've been disappointed if it hadn't. When you're opening a can of ten-year-old Play-Doh, you're definitely hoping for a little touch of scientific wonder. Besides, my house is full of pliable, usable clay. Who needs the bastard child "Color Dough?"
There's four molds for four different wrestlers, reflecting the WWF's most popular heroes and villains from the early nineties. Well, arguably. Really arguably. The face-to-heel ratio is a tad unbalanced, with only one "bad guy" mold and three pillars of sweaty virtue to kick the nuts off of him. Before we see the kit in action, let's meet the stars...
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Obviously, Hulk Hogan got the nod. This was 1992, and Hulk's popularity was taking a bit of a nosedive. A notable number of fans had grown tired of his act, which fundamentally hadn't changed in almost ten years. Regardless, the pro-wrestling fishbowl was rather small, and Hulk was still the Great White. The second mold is for the "Ultimate Warrior," the would-be successor to Hogan's throne. The WWF could've gotten most anyone over with the fans with the type of run the Warrior received, but admittedly, few looked the part quite like him. After winning a long series of "squash matches," (easy and decisive victories) the Ultimate Warrior was built up as just that -- an unstoppable, snarling, ultimate, WARYAOR. It worked. Even to this day, the Ultimate Warrior remains one of the only pro-wrestlers who was ever granted a legitimate pinfall victory over Hulkamania's prince.
Then, in what has to be considered one of the stupidest ideas in WWF history, a newly returned and white hot Warrior was pitted against a wrestling newcomer named "Papa Shango" -- A VOODOO PRIEST, wearing clown makeup and a top hat, who often dimmed the arena lights to set his opponents' FEET ON FIRE. Warrior, after taking an extended absence that made him seem all the more fresh, was scripted to vomit on national television as the result of one of Shango's "curses." The following week, he gave an interview about the incident -- wearing a concealing jacket that seemed suspicious considering the Warrior's penchant for running around mostly naked -- and fell victim to another curse. This time, green slime dripped down his forehead. The Warrior wasn't known as one of the most "sane" or "grounded" professionals in the industry, but jeez, like he was ever gonna recover from that shit anyway.
The third mold strikes the likeness of Randy "Macho Man" Savage, one of my all-time favorites and a primary ingredient of the worst lunchbox ever. It's hard to really explain his gimmick -- Savage was just your resident psychopath who loved wearing glittery capes and "grand opening" tassels, but he was mighty likable and, for a time, one of the most skilled performers in the company. Finally, the kit's one villain comes in the form of "The Million Dollar Man," Ted DiBiase. The evil rich guy. DiBiase became famous for trying to buy Hulk's championship belt, and to a lesser degree, for stealing a fat white plumber's fat black girlfriend just for kicks. Now that we've met the competitors, let's make them out of Play-Doh.
There's the molds. They're yellow, just like 50% of the included clay. They're also incredibly hard to push together -- a necessary part of the process. You're given four plastic screws (also yellow) to hold them in place while the Play-Doh morphs into a WWF Superstar, but for the life of me, I couldn't get the screws to work right. It seemed frustrating, so I can only imagine how well-received these hunks of junk were with kids. The only other thing in the kit is a plastic playmat featuring a WWF "squared circle" scene, with painted-on fans hollering for the oncoming wars of clay wrestlers. Obviously, this is no showcase item. I've got no idea why they even bothered, though after reading about the Warrior's rather off-kilter off-screen exploits, it's not impossible that he added a "YOU MUSS MAKE AH PLAY-DOH MOLD OF ME" clause to his contract. The other guys were just along for the ride.
To the six of you who've never played with something like this, you just fill up the molds with Play-Doh, seal 'em, open 'em, peel off the excess clay, eat it, pull out the figures, and viola -- instant mushy wrasslers. Since the given "Fun Dough" was dried up and useless, I had to resort to this odd sampler set of Hello Kitty "glitter clay" we got in the mail. Yes, it's really glittery. Too glittery. I've taken two showers (okay, one) since snapping these pics, and my stubble is still peppered with glitter. I didn't eat the clay, so I can only take this to mean that I touch my face way too often. I hate finding out bad things about myself through WWF molding kits from the early 90s. It's like teaching a parrot to talk and finding out you've got cancer from it. How the parrot could diagnose such a thing, I have no idea. I also have no idea why I chose to fashion the Ultimate Clayyior in all-black clay. Guess I support equality even subconsciously. Go me.
The truly devoted could mix and match different colors in each mold to create perfectly realistic schemes. I'm not truly devoted, and more honestly, not at all devoted. My wrestlers were just a mismatched hodge podge of whatever colors I had available. This made for an interesting journey in aesthetics, but the reality is, they pretty much all came out looking like shit. Are you ready to rumble? Here's my newly birthed Play-Doh grapplers...
Man, these molds sure put the wrestlers in some ridiculous poses. On the left is Randy Savage, looking like the guy who cheers on a friend who's kicking ass at a video game. "Ooooh yeah! 5,000 more points and we get to the bonus round! Ooooh yeah! Yeah ooh ooh yeah!!!" Ted DiBiase is on the right, crafted in blood red (well, more like ketchup red) and posed to fake a heart attack. I understand that the molds are limited by their need to be relatively flat, but come on. I've seen more impressive battle stances from ants I was about to step on.
Forming an ill-fated tag team, the macho and the million dollar men face off against these two pillars of darkness. On the left, the ULTIMATE WARYAOAOAOAH. It's very difficult to describe his pose -- looks kinda like he's trying to make those rude armpit sound effects. Or attempting to eat his own arm, which again, isn't an entirely impossible scenario given his reputation for eating arms. He's paired with Hulk Hogan, shown on the right in his "I'M GONNA RIP OFF MY T-SHIRT IN A DISPLAY OF POWERRR" pose. Hey, knock it all you want, the guy made ten trillion billion dollars doing that and little else. By the way, I had to rewrite these last few paragraphs five times because I kept confusing which guy was which. I know the wrestlers well enough -- it's just that the kit absolutely sucks. I'm trying really hard to find a saving grace, but the only thing we haven't looked at yet is that stupid plastic playmat. I doubt it'll help the letter grade any, but whatever, it's worth a shot...
Nope, the playmat sucks, too. They're allowed to create this insane alternate reality out of Play-Doh, and yet they still decided on following our stereotypes by portraying the fans as misshapen beasts with bad haircuts. I'm not saying it ain't half-true, but between these monsters and the poorly formulated molds, it's like buying fruit off the ugly tree.
But you know, the early-to-mid 90s were a particularly depressing time to be a wrestling fan, and if nothing else, the "WWF Superstars Maker" goes a long way in illustrating that. I would've preferred if they were a bit more outright with the crap factor by including molds for such luminaries as "Doink the Clown" and "Kamala, the Ugandan Giant," but if I had to pick a dream to make a reality, that'd be like #17,567th. Overall Grade: D Minus. Would've been lower if the box didn't have a 1.00 rebate offer. Oh wait, that expired in 1993. F, my friends, it's an F.
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