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.
CAPTAIN LOU ALBANO
There was never anything subtle about Captain Lou Albano during his wrestling/managing career, and the same can be said about his LJN action figure that first appeared on toy store shelves in 1986.
Unlike many figures in the LJN line, Albano actually looked like the character he was patterned after, right down to the rubber bands and homemade tee-shirt. And that was a very good thing for fans back in the day.
Sure, there are arguments that can be made for Bobby "The Brain" Heenan being the greatest wrestling manager in history, and these days Paul Heyman definitely acts the part, but there can also be an argument made for Captain Lou getting a seat at that proverbial table.
Look at his track record, for example: He led 15 tag teams to WWF gold, as well as managed Ivan Koloff when The Russian Bear ended the seven year title reign of Bruno Sammartino.
They called Captain Lou "The Guiding Light" for a reason; if you listen to him, your career will be guided in a whole new direction.
One other great thing about the Captain Lou figure is, he was the perfect counterbalance against the assortment of heel managers that would get together and conspire against the babyfaces.
But if The Captain was around, chances were pretty damn good he could even out the odds for your client. Just look here: he's got Luscious Johnny Valiant in a side headlock while preparing to powerslam Bobby Heenan, and he's fending off the devious Mr. Fuji. ALL AT ONCE!
The other beautiful thing about Captain Lou is that, even in his twilight years, he still very much looks like he belongs in the ring.
Granted, he's not as tall or muscular as some of the other LJN figures, but he's certainly.... well, bulky enough to take on the Kamalas or Adrian Adonis's of your collection. Plus, look - The Captain is suplexing fellow CBWLJNWFHOF'er King Kong Bundy - with only one arm!
I'm not suggesting Super Mario would or should be WWF Champion in your imaginary league. But if, say, Hillbilly Jim was unavailable for your make-believe house show one night, why not use Captain Lou as a substitute instead?
Between his overall bulk, his "man of the people" costume and his "face that only a mother could love" mug, with eyes practically bulging out of his skull, Captain Lou Albano was definitely a force to be reckoned with in the LJN Universe.
Was he the most cherished part of anyone's collection? Probably not. But at the same time.... if you wanted your Andre The Giant, George Steele or British Bulldog features to get over, this was the man you should have had to set up matches, marching around grouchily at ringsside, grumbling about his connections to Cyndi Lauper, et cetera.
Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Captain Lou!