When Rasslin Merch Machine interviewed Shawn Ng for SlamWrestling.net back in April 2021, Ng had “one of the most impressive pro wrestling collections” on social media, including “prototypes, unreleased figures and ring-worn wrestling gear from legends in the industry,” but he hadn’t yet monetized his knack for wrestling collectibles.

Now, Ng operates ShopKWK (Kayfabe Wrestling Kollector), a wrestling memorabilia shop, “the first of its kind in the Chinese region,” and Ng has continued to expand his portfolio from wrestling collector, to online vendor, to most recently toymaker, with his very own line of KWK Kayfabe Heroes action figures.

KWK Kayfabe Heroes are an “action figure line for adult collectors,” in a 1990s-style retro form, with state of the art sculpting and realistic details. Signed talent for series one of KWK Kayfabe Heroes include Yoshitatsu, Mantaur, and PN News. Series two will include TAKA Michinoku, TJP, La Resistance (Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier), and The Original Los Conquistadores. And so far, series three includes ODB, Ox Baker, Sam Adonis, and many more to be unveiled, including new KWK signee Laredo Kid. 

Mantaur KWK promo pic

On a call with SlamWrestling, Ng said that he first had the idea for a new line of wrestling action figures back in the summer of 2020. At first, the concept wasn’t for a line of retro figures, he actually wanted to create something in the style of NJPW CharaPro figures, but then he was given a tip on a cache of carded WWF Hasbros, which he previously didn’t even have much of a connection to. These Hasbros weren’t in the best of shape, but they were ultra rare samples, meaning these were the figures that were used for approval as they made their way through the factory line, before they were approved and released for sale.

According to Ng, the factory where these were manufactured went bankrupt in 2017, the factory and the contents made its way into the hands of collectors, and Ng became the owner of 43 WWF Hasbro samples. He’s currently down to ten samples, which Ng said will most likely never leave his personal collection, but Ng said that this journey of hunting and collecting ultra rare Hasbro samples and prototypes swayed him to create a line of figures that pay homage to Hasbros, in all their variety and collectability and cult-like following, but at the same time, aren’t simply a replica or nostalgia piece. 

TAKA Michinoku KWK promo pic

In deciding which talents to include in his line of KWK Kayfabe Heroes, it was important to Ng to include those who either never had a wrestling figure or never had a retro style figure. Either way, Ng said that everyone he signed for this line has an interesting story to tell. Ng said that it’s more complicated to work with estates than with living wrestlers, but he is dedicated to making the estates of wrestlers proud. Ng said that nobody, whether they’re a living wrestler or estate, are signed to an exclusive deal with KWK, but Ng’s first signee, Yoshitatsu, isn’t just a signed talent, he’s a close friend. 

Shawn Ng and Yoshi Tatsu

Shawn Ng (left) with Yoshi Tatsu

Ng met Yoshitatsu at a wrestling convention in Tokyo before WrestleKingdom 14, where they bonded over a discussion of traditional Japanese wrestling and Antonio Inoki, and remained friends, as well as business partners, ever since. If you follow KWK Kayfabe Wrestling Kollector on Facebook or Instagram, you can bare witness to Ng and Yoshitatsu’s blooming friendship, and professional relationship, as Ng accompanies Yoshitatsu to Middle Kingdom Wrestling in Shanghai, and you can also admire the creative process as Yoshitatsu’s KWK Wrestling Heroes figure comes to be. Ng made sure to point out that Yoshitatsu’s figure is his actual fighting pose, and unlike the typical, smiley-faced Hasbros, Yoshitatsu’s figure looks to be letting out a passionate war cry.

Ng also stated that, as an Asian man himself, he “can tell when Asian faces don’t look right” on action figures, so it was extremely important to him to recreate Yohshitatsu’s likeness as accurately as possible. For these sorts of details, Ng makes sure to give credit to his creative team. Ng’s own wife is responsible for concept art, while Jordan Davidson works on prototypes, Daniel Rodas does head details, and 3X Studio completes “decos.” 

Yoshi Tatsu action figure prototypes

Over a series of social media posts this past April and May 2023, Ng shared some early looks at Yoshitatsu’s figure, and all of its variants. Variants and chase figures are an essential part of Ng’s journey as a collector, and he wanted to make sure that his line of figures has collectibility and rarity. Ng said that he won’t measure success merely by how many figures he sells. If they sell their pre-production minimum, and a wrestling figure is created, then that is a success. Ng said that these figures will be made to order, and once the pre-production minimum is met and orders have closed, they’re not going to be made again.

One of the special details he said will be included in the final product is that each figure will state on the packaging (or card) how many of each figure were made, and he thanked Jeremy Padawer, formerly of Jakks (WWE) and now with Jazwares (AEW), for the idea. Going a step further, Ng said they will include the actual prototypes and “test shots” as chase figures, randomly inserted into boxes, so lucky collectors will have a chance of receiving an extremely rare, or even one of a kind, figure when they order a KWK Kayfabe Hero.

Yoshi Tatsu action figure with dragon tights

That is how Ng planned to differentiate KWK Kayfabe Heroes from other lines of contemporary wrestling figures. Ng said that he already has two strikes against him in the wrestling figure landscape. First, he’s a small business. Second, he’s a foreign company, and Ng said, “China is not the best selling point.” So Ng decided to go back to his roots of collecting and bring “a bit of flavor that only KWK can bring.”

Ng also acknowledged that he must rely a lot on his distribution partners (The Asylum Wrestling Store, Wrestling Collectibles NZ, Rasslin Merch Machine, Rock and Roll Collectibles), who were “willing to help a new company and really trust him with this and support him through the ups and downs.” He said these partners were willing to have faith in him and his vision, and for that, he can’t thank them enough, but one of the ways he specifically wanted to thank his distribution partners was to provide them with continent exclusive variants, and encourage more trading among collectors.

Unfortunately, Ng realized he wouldn’t be able to provide exclusive variants for every continent, but he did ensure that there would be an Asia/Asia Pacific exclusive variant, because he has first-hand experience of the lack of wrestling products in that region. “Living in China doesn’t mean you’re going to get everything, just because it’s made there,” said Ng, so he wants to give back to wrestling fans and collectors in the area, and create something they can be proud of and have some “bragging rights” over other collectors. 

Yoshi Tatsu action figure with mask

Ng reminisced on some of his ventures as a wrestling collector. He said it took over 14 years to acquire a 2005 WWE Jakks Pacific Classic Superstars Employee Special Edition Ric Flair. He said he didn’t get a mailaway Hulk Hogan Hasbro until three years ago. He has a patient, “old school collector mindset” that’s all about the waiting game, and he’s bringing that mindset to KWK Kayfabe Heroes action figures, because it’s “such a sweet moment” when you finally get that collectible you’ve been hunting, or when you finally score that rare variant figure, and he wants the KWK Kayfabe Heroes collectors to experience those moments of joy and elation when they open a delivery from ShopKWK.com.    

Pre-orders for series one of KWK Kayfabe Heroes, featuring Yoshitatsu, Mantaur, PN News, and another name to be soon announced will open soon, so follow Shawn Ng on Facebook at KWK Kayfabe Wrestling Kollector and Instagram (@kwk_shawn) for updates on ShopKWK and KWK Kayfabe Heroes.