Wrestling Superstars

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Wrestling Superstars were the first action figures based on the wrestlers of the WWF. They were made by the toy and video game company LJN from 1984 to 1989. The figures were made of solid rubber and paint and were very accurate in appearance to their real life counterparts.


LJN closed its toy division in 1989, cancelling the Wrestling Superstars line with it. The last 6 figures produced were only distributed by Grand Toys of Canada making them rarer than most of the other figures. The series has become very popular in the collectable market. Due their great abundance and often poor condition most of the figures out of their original package are worth little but figures that remain carded or boxed can command high prices.


"8" Series[edit]

The 8" series was the main line in the Wrestling Superstars collection. Each superstar came with a biography card on the packaging and a poster inside. There are 64 figures with unique molds, plus and additional 6 major repaints that change the figures look significantly. The major repaints are Hulk Hogan in a white shirt (red shirt), Tito Santana in Strike Force attire (purple trunks), S.D Jones in a Hawaiian shirt (red shirt), André the Giant (short hair version) with black strap attire (blue trunks), Corporal Kirchner with a painted beard, and the Referee in a white shirt (blue shirt). There are also numerous minor repaints, a few accessory variations and several minor mold changes.


Series 1 (1984)



Series 2 (1985)



Series 3 (1986)



Series 4 (1987)



Series 5 (1988)



Series 6 (1989)



(Re-released on series 6 black cards)


Tag Team Box Sets (each set came packed with a poster, and 2 brown tag team champion belts)



Value Packs (includes 2 posters) (usually Series 1-3 overstock)


Two random figures


Accessories

Bendies[edit]

The Bendies line was fashioned after the original 8" series using the same paint scheme and pose as their taller version. The difference was that they were much smaller and had metal wire inside allowing the toys to bend. There were 18 figures with unique molds plus one major and several minor variations. The only major variant is the Hulk Hogan which has blue knee pads instead of red and is a taller mold than the rest of the line.


Single Figures



Tag Team 2 Packs


Accessories

  • Cage Match Challenge (Includes Hulk Hogan with blue knee pads)

Thumb Wrestlers[edit]


They came in these two packs:



16" Series[edit]


Stretch Wrestlers[edit]

Prototypes, rarities, and errors[edit]

Various different prototypes were photographed in various LJN advertising and packaging, such as, 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, Koko B.Ware with light blue tights, Haku as 'King Haku', and Rick Rude with green tights among others.

As for the Bendies Series, there are documented issues of the LJN Toy Catalog for retailers in the year 1987 that show prototype bendies for Tito Santana, Magnificent Muraco, Bruno Sammartino, and Terry Funk. There have never been any documented showings of anyone possessing these figures.

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 child 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 "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 the 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. Miss Elizabeth was also pictured on the back of the black cards as an available re release. To date there has not been any verifiable proof that it was released as one has yet to turn up in circulation.

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", though Hart's wasn't really an error as "Brett" was the spelling used on every episode of Championship Wrestling.

The original Sling 'Em-Fling 'Em Wrestling Ring was recalled on November 4, 1991, due to 4 cases of children seriously injuring themselves falling on the corner ring posts. In one of those cases, a plastic ring post penetrated the child's body causing severe damage. The posts had very little give and would not budge much if weight was applied. 1.4 million rings were sold.