In 1994, a company called JusToys released a series of WWF action figures that were kind of, ever-so-slightly bendable, particularly with their limbs. The idea, I suppose, was to twist your opponents into all kinds of crazy configurations... although you were quite limited as to how much you could do with them. I first wrote about the Bend-Ems phenomenon in 2014, although I was calling them "Bend 'Ems" at the time. Perhaps that was what the cool kids were referring to them way back when?
Anyways, each package came with a collectable card that you could carefully (or not so carefully) cut from the back of the cardboard backing to make for an interesting keepsake.
Some of these cards appeared to be more fan art than legitimate trading cards, as though someone in the JusToys marketing department was too lazy to ask the WWF for a photo of each superstar.
For example, take a look at Ahmed Johnson. Not to say that the former Intercontinental Champion wasn't jacked.... he wasn't THAT jacked!
This illustration assumes that Mr. Johnson allegedly used the same sort of 'enhancements' that the LJN Wrestling Superstars version of Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff allegedly used about 10 years earlier. And... it's entirely possible they did, but this is not the time or the place to discuss that.
Mind you.... not all of the card's illustrations looked like they were crappy fan art. Some of them were quite loyal to the character's original.... HOLY CRAP! Kane is wearing a cape!
You guys.... this is huge. A couple of years ago, photos began to surface of how Kane wore a red cape for some of his earliest matches in 1997, but by the time he took on Mankind at that year's Survivor Series, the accessory had completely disappeared. Only a handful of photos and videos exist out there of The Big Red Machine wearing his Big Red Cape.... but this action figure's trading card captures that look!
I mean, how cool is this? Forget Demon Kane and Corporate Kane. JusToys gave us a trading card for friggin' Cape-wearing Kane!
On the flip side of the coin, you've got a trading card for "Too Sexy" Brian Christopher, who looks -- how do I put this? -- like his nickname should have been "Too Creepy".
Look, I know the poor guy has passed away and mean NO disrespect, but this card is just next-level weird. His facial expression reminds me of Bugs Bunny for some reason.
Plus... the multicolored tights Christopher had on the time (which may or may not have been accurate to that era) , but his Bend-Ems action figure has plain green tights and a green vest that says "Too Sexy" across the back.
Methinks someone at JusToys should have done a quick scan in the name of quality assurance.
In addition to sketchy sketches of the superstars, each trading card came with some tidbits of useful information. For example, did you know that:
Mankind shows "signs of a madman who may have spilled over from the realm of genius. A Hannibal Lector so to speak."? Which means Mick Foley may be a serial killer.
Vince McMahon's "combination of sports and entertainment gave the Federation an appeal that attracted a much broader audience than before"?
Ahmed Johnson is "well on his way to becoming the most successful African-American ever to compete in the ranks of the Federation"?
These cards had fun facts out the wazoo. They clearly helped fans get better acquainted with WWF superstars such as Chyna, Road Dogg and Val Venis (although you would think one would know a wrestler fairly well if they were going to to the trouble of purcashing their action figure).
Still, these made for a very nice souvenir for fans of both WWF action figures and DIY trading cards.