A holy grail of wrestling figure collecting has been sold.
One of the three known WWF Hasbro Rhythm & Blues Greg “The Hammer” Valentine action figure prototypes has changed hands.
Wales-based collector Marc Reynolds (aka hasbrohunter7777 on Instagram) recently purchased the 1991 prototype figure — one of the rarest, if not the rarest wrestling figures ever — from Mark Bushey.
The R&B Valentine figure was never released but teased in a Toys R Us ad in the March 1991 edition of the WWF Magazine. Valentine, with jet black hair and a molded entrance jacket, was supposed to be included in a tag team wave with his partner, the Honky Tonk Man. However, that didn’t happen.
Bushey announced the sale on his Instagram page. “This will top them all,” he wrote. “Sad day … but an offer I couldn’t refuse. Toughest decision ever, hands down. It’s an end of an era for me.”
For years, Bushey had the figure listed on eBay with a “But It Now” price of $29,999.99. The eBay listing called the figure the “holy grail.”
“These pieces are not intended to be sold (hence the price), more to show what I own … however, if you hit me with a strong offer, I am ALWAYS open to parting with a piece from my display,” Bushey wrote.
Reynolds finally made that offer.
“This is a grail figure and is a dream to own it,” he told Wrestling Figure News. “Once you get into collecting prototypes, then there are a few figures which is everybody’s dream and the Greg, and the moon belly [Kamala] are two of these.
“Adding this to my collection alongside my two moon bellies really does bring my collection into dreamland,” he continued. “After all these years of collecting, it feels like the goal has been completed. I also realise how fortunate I am to own these figures and am very thankful to all the collectors I’ve known and dealt with over the years who have helped me and worked with me.”
Reynolds didn’t share how much he paid for the R&B Valentine, but he said the most he’d ever spent on a figure before was $13,000.
“This figure has now comfortably surpassed that amount, but it was not as high as the eBay price it was once listed for,” he added.
Reynolds, who began collecting WWF Hasbro figures 15 years ago, said he began collecting prototypes around eight years ago.
“Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the whole pre-production process and love learning about how they created the figures from the initial sketches right through to retail production,” he said.
Reynolds said he’d always wanted to own the R&B Valentine prototype figure and the deal came together as he worked out a separate deal to sell some of the 2-Ups (oversized prototypes), prototypes and test shots that he’d collected over the years.
“[B]efore I allowed them to go, I started negotiations about buying Greg,” he wrote. “Once a deal
was in place, then the 3-way deal went ahead. To own a Greg R&B is a dream come true and I felt it was the right time to make the purchase and add it to my collection.”
There are three known R&B Valentine prototypes. One of those is owned by former WWE superstar Matt Cardona (aka Zack Ryder). The figure Reynolds purchased was once owned by Cardona, who earlier this year broke down the history of the R&B Valentine figure and its lineage in a special Major Wrestling Figure Podcast YouTube video.
According to Cardona, the first R&B Valentine figure surfaced on eBay around 2013. At the time, Cardona bid $12,500 for the figure, but lost out to his friend, Steel Cage Customs’ Matt Cerra (spelling uncertain), who bid $12,600.
Years later, a second Valentine figure surfaced, this one with the pin removed from the elbow joint and showing paint damage. Cardona said that figure sold for around $6,000.
Around 2016-17, Ryder said he tracked down the second R&B Valentine figure with the missing elbow pin and bought it for $8,000.
Then a third R&B Valentine figure surfaced in a lot owned by a former Hasbro employee. That lot also included a 2-Up (oversized model) of R&B Valentine. Cardona said he purchased the lot for $43,000, and once he received the third Valentine, he believes it was the one that appeared in the Toys R Us advertisement in 1991.
Cardona then sold the second R&B Valentine (the one with the pin removed from the arm) to Bushey, who has now sold it to Reynolds.
For his part, Reynolds said he’s not looking to part with the R&B Valentine.
“I’ve never bought figures as a future investment as such, I’ve always wanted to own rare figures and collect figures from the pre-production process,” he said. “The only time I’ve let figures go is to upgrade and better my collection, so it will be very difficult to upgrade from a Greg R&B!”