This LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars card back is from early in the toy’s run, as it still pictures the likes of Hulk Hogan, Hillbilly Jim, Big John Studd, and others that were part of series 1. But it also features Paul Orndorff, Brutus Beefcake, and King Kong Bundy, which would place this card back as being from series 2.
While technically these were “action figures”, a more accurate name for these would be “inaction figures”. They featured no articulation and were comprised of stiff rubber. They were absolutely fantastic as display pieces to show your love for wrestling in general, and the magical era of Hulk Hogan and the WWF in particular.
But when it came to playing with them, it took a lot of imagination to pretend you were pitting them in wrestling combat with each other. But what kids out there wanted to display them and not play with them? Not this guy.
But I wasn’t into them in the beginning. One reason was the fact that they were hard to find in the rural area I live in, and when they were to be found, they were expensive versus other action figures I was into at the time, namely GI Joe and Masters of the Universe. But when I would go to my grandmother’s house, her neighbor’s kid would bring them over and we’d play with them. That was almost enough to make me succumb to the power of the LJN figures, but not quite. What put me over the top was my cousin had the ring. Once I got to play with that thing I was hooked. I told my parents that I wanted some. And you know who they chose as the first figure to buy for me? “Mean” Gene Okerlund. What the heck was I supposed to do with an announcer as the only figure in my collection.
I ended up also getting Junkyard Dog and Nikolai Volkoff but trying to play wrestling with the same two figures over and over, and the fact that it was so hard to do so with their lack of articulation doomed it all for me and I called it quits on the line. But looking back at it now, I wish I had been more involved with it. I likely wouldn’t still have any of them, but being able to put them up on display today would be pretty cool.
Now while I’m on the subject of the LJN WWF figures, I want to take just a second and mention the knock-off Sgt. Slaughter figure.
The ad above is for a Sgt. Slaughter action figure that was produced independently from LJN to mimic their line of figures and capitalize on both the popularity of those figures and the popularity of St. Slaughter himself. For years, the rumor was that an official LJN figure of Sarge was in the cards, but after he cut his own personal deal with Hasbro to appear in the GI Joe line of 3 3/4″ figures and wasn’t going to cut Vince McMahon in for a share of the loot, he was fired from the WWF and his planned LJN figure fell thru.
Rumors also persist that this particular figure was made from the original prototype mold that LJN had produced and was later purchased from them by Hasbro. So this figure was actually independent of the LJN line but fit with those figures perfectly.
As you can see from this ad, Hasbro made no bones about the fact that their figure was superior to the LJN ones, as the advertising focuses on the Sarge figure standing tall over LJN figures that had succumbed to his awesomeness.
Now whether the story about the mold is true or not, I really have no idea. But this figure got made and was sold through direct ads I believe. I remember seeing ads for the figure in various wrestling magazines in the late 1980s, and even though I wasn’t really into the LJN figures by that point, I still wanted this Sarge figure. I guess I just thought it would be cool to buy a wrestling action figure from a wrestling magazine. Through the years I saw numerous things in those magazines that I had dreams of purchasing, but to this day, I’ve never purchased a single thing from one.