Throughout the history of the WWE/WWF, it is hard to find a character more interesting in appearance than George “The Animal” Steele.
Boasting his patented green tongue, hairy body, and a lumpy physique; “The Animal” was originally one of those characters I feared as a young child based simply based on the fact that at first glance, he scared the crap out of me. From his unusual look to his appetite for turnbuckles, George Steele was in a league of his own as far as the development of wrestling characters through history. While most wrestlers of the era had bodies to boast or were terrific on the microphone, Steele relied on his looks, prowess and odd behavior as a means to develop his character. It goes without saying that a person as unique as George Steele came with some pretty odd, yet fantastic merchandise for those individuals lucky enough to support him in his heyday.
While the 80’s belonged to the Hogan’s and Savage’s, it should be noted that wrestlers such as Steele were key players in the success of the WWE/WWF; and for that reason alone, many of these wrestlers who were less revered at the time have since developed cult followings with newer fans or fans looking back and realizing how polarizing some of these athletes actually were. Many of these mid to low card superstars were given merchandise which was very short run; sometimes to the point that you will not find certain item up for sale for years at a time. This is very true to the merchandise of George “The Animal” Steele. Today we will take a look at the best and most sought after merchandise from one of the era’s most under appreciated workers. Rest in Peace, George…and thank you for all of the wonderful memories.
1) George “The Animal” Steele “Mine” Doll
The most expensive and sought after piece of your “Animal” collection is definitely going to be this unusual grey haired creature released by the WWF Titan Sports in 1988. After spending the 60’s and 70’s as a heel, “The Animal” was later reinvented as a face in WWF and near the end of his run, needed something to bolster the gimmick. Taking a cue from “Hillbilly Jim” (who was coming to the ring with a hollowed out stuffed animal which was meant to look like actual roadkill) Steele decided his act could benefit from the addition of some type of stuffed creature. Shortly after, the idea for a doll that looked like Steele was developed and “Mine” began showing up with Steele when he would walk to the ring at live events. Soon after, it was officially released in the WWF Magazine Catalog and for sale at live events all over the country. The “Mine” doll was supposedly a slow seller in ’88 and discontinued after a short run yet its popularity has only grown over the years. Currently, a “Mine” doll goes for anywhere between $250-$400 dollars, not only making it the most sought after of the “Animal” items, but one of the most sought after vintage World Wrestling Federation era-items in existence. On average I see 1 to 2 of these come up for sale each year and without fail, the price always seems to stay the same or increase; never falling in value or demand.
2) Coliseum Video Presents: George “The Animal” Steele VHS Tape
This is one of those items I do not understand. This video cassette is a supposed “best of”, yet every single match is a loss, disqualification or a count out. WWF was milking that cash cow hard when it allowed Coliseum to release this “gem” in 1987 and while it is a dismal tape at best, it is still one of the most coveted items amongst both “Animal” and Coliseum video collectors looking to complete their collections. For fans looking for a better look back at Steele, I beg you to shell out $9.99 and watch the WWE’s network collection over ponying up $25-$50 dollars for this disappointing tape. The longest match on this offering is Steele vs. Danny Davis and it is a ten minute stinker that ends in a DQ. Can we all say “underwhelming”? Whether I like it or not, this seems to be a must have for any Coliseum video tape head so it still has the esteem of making this list.
3) WWF Remco LJN George “The Animal” Steele Action Figure
The most commonly owned item on this list is also the most affordable. For the low price of $5-$15 dollars you can score this George Steele LJN action figure and decimate the turnbuckles of your plastic wrestling ring! This is a very common action figure that can usually be had on the cheap if you find it loose out of package but like many of the other LJN’s can command a high price if it is still on card.. One problem the LJN line overlooked in the 80’s was a growing collectible market in which collectors were beginning to keep toys in the package. The weight of the figures often times can compromise the bubble window; often causing them to pop off if the figures are hung or stored incorrectly so it is recommended you invest in a protector (can be had for $3-$10 online) if you are to acquire any vintage on card WWF LJN figures. Figures that can be had for $3-$20 dollars loose are worth upwards of $40-$500 dollars in this line. That is a large margin between the two that makes spending a little extra on a protector worth the hassle.
4) WWF LJN George “The Animal” Steele Stretch Wrestler
One of my favorite 80’s WWF lines was the well done Stretch Wrestler line from LJN so it’s no surprise that snuck The Animal’s stretch likeness into my list. This is one of those items that rarely comes up for auction and usually fetches $60-$100 loose and upwards of $200 or more in box. With many of these procuring damages ranging from wounds that cause them to dry out to improper storage temperatures; your opportunities to own these seem to dwindle in numbers by the day.
Great characters provide us with great toys and merchandise and it goes without saying that George “The Animal” Steele was just that! To find out more about these collectibles or if you have something wrestling related you would like to find out about be sure you contact me @NicholasGrooms via Twitter! Until next time, collectors!!!!
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