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LJN Wrestling Figures 1984-1989
LJN Wrestling figures were produced from 1984, and it is commonly believed that they were the first WWF Wrestling figures produced.
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However I have been told that there was a series of wrestling figures released prior to these by a Japanese company, but I have been unable to clarify this or find any further information.
With the phenomenal success of the wrestling industry in the 1980's, particularly the WWF, which was (and still is) owned by Vince McMahon, the WWF contracted LJN to create a line of wrestling figures based on the sports Superstars, and so LJN's WWF Wrestling Superstars line was born.
These figures, however, bear little resemblance to today's modern action figures as they had no articulation and were made from solid rubber but they were very accurate in appearance to the actual wrestlers and therefore remain popular even today.
Much of the WWF'S success in the mid-80's was due to Hulk Hogan, a household name even today. Returning to the World Wrestling Federation in late 1983 and quickly rose to the top of the promotion, making short work of The Iron Sheik when he won the WWF Heavyweight title in January 1984.
These 8-inch LJN wrestling figures have become very collectible, partly due to wrestling's continuing success through the 80's and 90's and the current nostalgia boom in wrestling collectibles.
LJN's first series of WWF wrestling figures stood anywhere from nine-to-12 inches in height and hit toy stores in 1984 and consisted of nine figures including such stars as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Junk Yard Dog, and of course, the Hulkster. Each of these figures also came with a clip-n-save bio card and mini-poster.
Standing and made up of a sturdy rubber material, the first series of WWF figures hit the pegs in 1984, courtesy of LJNToday, these items can fetch quite a few bucks on their own, especially ones from later in the line's run.
Probably the only significant, or variant, figure from these series was JYD's chain which has three different color variations, i.e. silver, red and black. The silver chain is thought to be the most common and the black the rarest but finding ANY JYD figure with a chain is quite a challenge and as a result these can fetch a very good price on the secondary market, especially if carded in mint condition.
The only other variation in this series was the color of Roddy Piper's boots. Most of the LJN Hot Rod figures have him wearing red boots, however, a deeper red boot also exists. It has also been rumored that there are a handful of Piper figures out there with a shirt that displayed a panther head, as opposed to the words "Hot Rod" but this has never been as being an official figure or to even exist!
There was also a variant Iron Sheik that could be found with either a yellow or orange pattern on his pants but it is difficult to differentiate between them and there doesn't seem to be any difference in their rarity.
There are others, as with any line of figures produced in the 80's, that have minor variations and generally don't affect the figures value.
The second series of LJN's WWF Wrestling Superstars figures was released in 1985 and consisted of only five figures, compared to the nine released in the first series.
The most interesting figure from this series is the King Kong Bundy figure, the other figures in this series were Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, George "The Animal" Steele and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff.
It is rumored that there are two variations of the George Steele figure in circulation one with his trademark body hair and a variation with his hair darkened but it is unclear whether these, like the previous figure, are true variations or customized figures.
The third series of LJN's wrestling figures had a phenomenal 16 figures in the series! These series had a good mix of figures including managers, short lived characters and even some of the less popular wrestlers. The most notable, and popular, figures in this series were "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk.
This series also had an unprecedented number of variations which, along with the large number of figures in the series, made it a difficult set to complete.
Some of the variations included in this series were Hart, who could be found with a megaphone that was either a solid red or peppered with white hearts, the Heenan's figure's shoulders were either plain or had an elaborate sequenced design, the figure was released were either clean-shaven, had stubble or a full beard. Ventura with had either blonde or brownish-red hair and Albano's shirt had either an animated version of himself on it or red or white lapels, and Jones was available in his red or more festive Hawaiian shirt.
This trend continued with series 4 which had 17 figures, however by this time most of the Superstars had been covered so there were a lot more of the secondary stars in this series which also meant lower production runs. This combination has resulted in many of the figures from the latter series commanding much higher prices on the secondary market.
This series also included Miss Elizabeth, the lone female figure from the line, and the first figures to include their pets, e.g. Jake "The Snake" Roberts, with a bendable version of Damien, and Koko B. Ware with his sidekick Frankie.
Variations in this series include Elizabeth in a gold or purple skirt and Mean Gene's microphone either having the WWF logo or nothing at all on it, also The Hart Foundation had three tight color variations: purple, deep purple and hot pink. The Killer Bees could also be found with tan skin or a pale tone.
This series was followed by series 5 in 1988 which included two new Hulk Hogan figures, one in all white and the other in his classic yellow trunks and red Hulkamania shirt. These figures have no become highly sought after collectibles, especially the harder to find red shirt version.
Series five also introduced several new faces with Demolition Ax, Bam Bam Bigelow, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Rick Martel, The One Man Gang, Ted Dibiase and others all making their debut with this line. The highlight of this series though has to be the figure of Vince McMahon in one of classic hideous suits.
This line had fewer variations than the previous series with the most significant probably being the referee who came in either a blue or white shirt.
This series also marked the end of LJN's line of WWF wrestling figures as it was the final one distributed by LJN and they sold the rights to a Canadian company called Grand Toys.
The sixth series was therefore only available via mail orderand is often referred to as the "black card series" as all the previous series had come on blue cards.
This series was made up of six new wrestling figures, The Ultimate Warrior, Warlord, Big Boss Man, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Andre the Giant (with black strap), and Haku. As a result of the short production and limited availability of this line they have become highly-desired and collectible wrestling figures and pieces of the collection it is quite common to see them go for two or three times their book value on venues like eBay either when not in pristine condition.
Grand Toys also had a seventh series in the works, but things folded up before anything could ever come of it. For what it's worth, the figures that were slated to be part of this series included: The Bushwhackers, Brother Love, Bad News Brown, The Barbarian and Demolition Smash.
Many of the wrestling figures from the fifth series were also re-released by Grand Toys on the black cards and these tend to sell for much higher prices than the original blu-carded figures. The cards feature bi-lingual text and it's not uncommon to find other figures on bi-lingual cards that also came on English-only cards but generally they hold the same value as their bi-lingual counterparts.
LJN also released several tag team packs but all of these figures could also be found on single cards but the tag team packs came with championship belts and a tag team poster not found in the single releases and as a result can sell for several hundreds of dollars a piece, regardless of box condition.
On the whole LJN's Wrestling Superstars have become highly collectible and difficult to find them in good condition as the paint on the figures easily chipped off during play, leaving most opened figures in poor shape. The price for "loose" mint figures therefore can range from $10-$75.
Mint-carded figures therefore can fetch much higher prices. A good condition, "mint on card" figure can range from about $20 for a Mean Gene Okerlund figure to $500-$800 or more for a Bret Hart figure. Other popular carded figures that can sell for hundreds of dollars are Warlord, Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid, and the Hart Foundation tag-team box set.
Thumb LJN Wrestling Figures Figures
Back in the mid-80s, 'LJN' sought to capitalize on the one children's sport nobody else ever thought they could profit from: thumb wrestling!!
Each set of these came with two figures, and most of the popular wrestlers of the time were represented. Some of the collections came with highly sought characters, like Hulk Hogan, and former adversary 'Big' John Studd.
The thumb holes are actually located above the ass, so no smelly thumbs here! Quite how you're supposed to decide on a winner I'm not sure as maybe you just wrestled till somebody got bored and forfeited the match.
Despite being very gimmicky, and the lack of any real "likeness" to most of the characters portrayed, Thumb LJN Wrestling Figures didn't last long on the store shelves and were popular with the kids.
LJN Wrestling Prototypes, rarities, and errors
Various different LJN Wrestling Figures prototypes were photographed in various LJN advertising and packaging, such as: an Adrian Adonis with scarves, Rick Steamboat with red trunks, Tito Santana with an entirely different mold, Fred Blassie with a painted cane and glittered jacket, Hillbilly Jim with a black undershirt, Jimmy Hart with a pink megaphone, Kamala with an alternate paint job, Haku as 'King Haku', Rick Rude with green tights and unproduced bendie figures of the British Bulldogs among others.
Photographed prototype versions of George Steele with painted on chest hair, as well as a Roddy Piper figure with a panther shirt are rumored to have actually been produced.
LJN also produced a kid size WrestleMania Championship Belt. The packaging for the title belt featured pictures of unproduced large size "Wrestling Superstars Muscle Grip" action figures of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage complete with title belts.
There were also Canadian release 2 pack LJN Wrestling Figures "Value Packs" which contained a totally random assortment of any 2 figures generally from (but not limited to) the first 3 series of the line.
The final series of figures that were scheduled but never produced included: Bad News Brown, Brother Love, Bushwhacker Luke, Bushwhacker Butch, Demolition Smash and The Barbarian.
Photographs of these wrestlers appeared on the backs of the black Series 6 Superstars '89 cards and they were mentioned in various ads by a company called The Wrestling Ring contained in 1989 issues of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and their various publications, but photographs of the actual figures have never been seen.
An 8" Sgt. Slaughter figure was made by LJN. Slaughter had a contract dispute with then WWF over merchandising, and left the company. The figure was never released to stores and was instead purchased by Hasbro. Hasbro then made the 8" Sarge figure available as a mail order tie-in with their G.I. Joe action figure line. The 1st design of the figure was a re-molded body of Jimmy Snuka.
There were 2 prominent misspellings on the red stickers affixed to the figures' packaging. Vince McMahon's name was spelled "Vince McMann" and Bret Hart's was spelled "Brett Hart." Neither werewas ever corrected.
The original Sling 'Em-Fling 'Em Wrestling Ring was recalled due to children impaling themselves by falling on the corner ring posts. The posts had no give and would not budge if weight was applied.
Regrettably LJN closed its toy division in 1989 and stopped producing LJN Wrestling Figures, the WWF license (by now called the WWE) was awarded to Hasbro who produced WWE figures from 1990 to 1994.
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14" LJN Wrestling Figures(1980)
4" LJN Wrestling Bendies (1984)
Big John Studd
Captain Lou Albano
Hulk Hogan (Blue Knee Pads)
Hulk Hogan (Red Knee Pads)
Junk Yard Dog
King Kong Bundy
Rowdy Roddy PiperLJN's WWF Wrestling Superstars Checklist
LJN Wrestling Figures Tag Team 2 Packs
Hulk Hogan & Junkyard Dog
Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
George Steele & Captain Lou Albano
King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd
Randy Savage & Jesse Ventura
Ricky Steamboat & Corporal Kirchner
LJN Wrestling Figures Series 1 (1984)
Andre the Giant (long hair)
Big John Studd
Iron Sheik (with yellow pants pattern)
Iron Sheik (with orange pants pattern)
Junk Yard Dog (with silver chain)
Junk Yard Dog (with red chain)
Junk Yard Dog (with black chain)
Rowdy Roddy Piper (with red boots)
Rowdy Roddy Piper (with brown boots)
Series 2 (1985)
George Steele (no chest hair color)
George Steele (dark chest hair)*
Greg Valentine (light blonde hair)
Greg Valentine (dark blonde hair)
King King Bundy
LJN Wrestling Figures Series 3 (1986)
Andre the Giant (short hair)
Bobby Heenan (with scrolls)
Bobby Heenan (without scrolls)
Captain Lou Albano (with white lapels)
Captain Lou Albano (with red lapels)
Corporal Kirschner (clean shaven)
Corporal Kirschner (with stubble)
Corporal Kirschner (full beard)
Davey Boy Smith
Classy Freddie Blassie
Jesse Ventura (with blonde hair)
Jesse Ventura (with red hair)
Jimmy Hart (with hearts on megaphone)
Jimmy Hart (without hearts on megaphone)
S.D. Jones (with red shirt)
S.D. Jones (with Hawaiian shirt)
LJN Wrestling Figures Series 4 (1987)
Billy Jack Haynes
Bret Hart (with pinkish-purple tights)
Bret Hart (with deep purple tights)
Bret Hart (with hot pink tights)
Brian Blair (with pale skin)
Brian Blair (with tan skin)
Cowboy Bob Orton
Elizabeth (with gold skirt)
Elizabeth (with purple skirt)
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jim Brunzell (with pale skin)
Jim Brunzell (with tan skin)
Jim Neidhart (with pinkish-purple tights)
Jim Neidhart (with deep purple tights)
Jim Neidhart (with hot pink tights)
King Harley Race
Koko B. Ware
Mean Gene Okerlund (with WWF logo)
Mean Gene Okerlund (without WWF logo)
LJN Wrestling Figures Series 5 (1988)
Bam Bam Bigelow
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Honky Tonk Man
Hulk Hogan (white shirt)
Hulk Hogan (red shirt)
One Man Gang
Referee (with white shirt)
Referee (with blue shirt)
Tito Santana (with Strike Force trunks)
LJN Wrestling Figures Series 6 (1989)
Andre the Giant (with black strap)
Big Boss Man
LJN Wrestling Figures Tag Teams (1986)
The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake)
Hulk Hogan & Hillbilly Jim
Iron Sheik & Nikolia Volkoff
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)
The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart)
Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana)
The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell & Brian Blair)
LJN Wrestling Figures Thumb Wrestlers
Hulk Hogan vs. Big John Studd
Hulk Hogan vs. Iron Sheik
Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
Hulk Hogan vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Hulk Hogan vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Hulk Hogan vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Hillbilly Jim vs. Iron Sheik
Hillbilly Jim vs. Big John Studd
Hillbilly Jim vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Hillbilly Jim vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Hillbilly Jim vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Junkyard Dog vs. Iron Sheik
Junkyard Dog vs. Big John Studd
Junkyard Dog vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Junkyard Dog vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs. Big John Studd
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs. King Kong Bundy
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
LJN Wrestling Figures 16" Series (1985)
Hulk Hogan (with title belt & Hulkamania shirt)
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper (with kilt, belt & Hot-Rod shirt)
LJN Wrestling Figures Stretch Wrestlers (1987)
George "The Animal" Steele
King Kong Bundy
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
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