LJN's Wrestling Superstars action figures are generally considered the first series of wrestling toys to be marketed to the mainstream internationally. And I'm lucky to have collected them all back in the 1980s! Each month, I'll look at one classic figure and explain what made them so special.
BILLY JACK HAYNES
Every once in a while, a wrestler will come along and you have to sit down and think "Hmmm, wonder why THEY got their own LJN action figure?". Never more is that the case than with Billy Jack Haynes, the pride of Portland, Oregon and the World Wrestling Federation mid-carder from mid-1986 until almost 1988.
Don't get us wrong: the action figure itself was a work of art, or else it wouldn't be inducted into this very prestigious Hall of Fame (well.... it may have once we'd run out of really cool ones to induct.)
The Billy Jack figure is incredibly detailed, as far as these things go. He has a tattoo on his right arm (an absolute rarity for WWF wrestlers back then; today I can't think of too many wrestlers that don't have tats - maybe Cena); green wristbands; a green neck.... thingy; yellow trunks; and white boots with green trim. The word "Oregon" is printed on his boots and ass, just in case he gets lost, I suppose. Plus, BJH has.... get ready for this... a REMOVABLE BOWLER HAT!!!
If you could fault the Billy Jack Haynes wrestling figure for anything, it's that his moveset was extremely limited. Basically, he could cock his elbow and either punch a guy or drop the elbow, as he's soon doing here to fellow CBWLJNWFHOF alumni King Kong Bundy.
For those who remember, Haynes's signature move was a full nelson, which, with this particular figure, he couldn't pull off. Believe me, I looked at the photo above and REALLY wanted to re-create the "Battle of the Full Nelsons" between Haynes and Hercules from WrestleMania III. But neither of them can do anything close that.
Still, buddy delivers a killer elbow.
Another thing the Billy Jack Haynes figure was great for was actually taking punishment. Here he is, trapped in Greg The Hammer Valentine's patented figure-four leglock... and he's grinning from ear to ear!
His entire expression seems to say "That's the best you can throw at me, Hammer? Bring it on, son - I'm just gonna be bearded and smiling and showin' off my six-pack."
The only thing cooler would be if he'd take the move while wearing his bowler hat.
And although Billy Jack Haynes looked both cool and badass at the same time... no one knew at the time what a hothead he would turn out to be. Heck, it would only be some thirty years later that he would sue Vince McMahon for personally giving him concussions or steroids or Hep C or something.
Still, can you imagine 1987-awesome-bowler-hat-full-nelson-challenge-drooling-on-the-back-of-Hercules-at-WrestleMania era Billy Jack Haynes going nuts on Vince McMahon? Although McMahon (much like Billy Jack) is acting faily nonchalant about the test of strength, you have to believe that, deep down, he's still a little scared.
Even though I'm not sure WHY Billy Jack Haynes had his own LJN action figure while, say, Butch Reed never did.... I can certainly appreciate his inclusion into such a line.
On the "good guy" side of things, we had S.D. Jones and Outback Jack as jobbers; The Killer Bees, Ted Arcidi and Koko B. Ware as jobbers to the stars; Tito Santana and Jake Roberts as mid-carders; and Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage as main eventers. But there's still a certain level of good guy that is under-represented, and that's exactly where a Billy Jack figure fits in.
Congrats on your inclusion into the Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame, Billy Jack Haynes! Now please don't sue us.