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.
JAKE "THE SNAKE" ROBERTS
The World Wrestling Federation must have known that Jake "The Snake" Roberts was going to be a huge star, because they created an action figure for the master of the DDT relatively early on in his WWF career.
Roberts came out in the fourth incarnation of LJN's Wrestling Superstars line in early 1987, meaning it must have been at least mid-1986 when the process of him being molded into LJN rubber began.
Roberts had a unique (yet character-faithful) pose to his LJN figure, holding his hands up in the air as to clearly show that he gave exactly zero f*cks, particularly in 1986/7.
Truth be told, this pose was made to accomodate a flexible rubber snake (Damien) that I no longer own, though one could certainly use that pose to intimidate Mean Gene Okerlund if they so chose. Gene looks utterly terrified!
While Jake's snake-supporting stance was, admittedly, kind of badass, it didn't help him very much in the wrestling department.
While most of the LJN guys were posed to slam someone to the ground or deliver a bone-crunching punch to their opponent's skull.... Jake's kind of shrug made it very difficult to do much of anything. Sure, he could give S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones a back body drop... but you can tell that neither competitor is really into it.
Without much in the way of offensive moves, Jake The Snake was more built for punishment, particularly against the likes of his arch-rival Ricky The Dragon Steamboat.
Roberts' 1986 feud with Steamer is criminally underappreciated, and I'd often have my LJN figures do a role-reversal where The Dragon would put Jake in his own DDT. Oh, the irony!
By the time Roberts' LJN figure came out, The Snake was a solid babyface, issuing insults on his Snake Pit talk show and ending up on the receiving end of a non-gimmicked Honky Tonk Man guitar. And while many have fond memories of his rivalries with the likes of The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase... I found the heel Jake The Snake much more intimidating. Still, Jake Roberts doesn't need to take Ted DiBiase's dirty money as a bribe, brother!
Even if Jake The Snake Roberts' action figure wasn't the most compelling fig in the entire LJN line (and really, it's hard to name a definitive winner in that group), I will admit that the little poster that was rolled up into the bottom of the package is among the top five best in the entire series.
Between the menacing way he strokes Damien (spelled "Damian" here), the eeeeeeevil look on his face, and the bad-ass snakeskin boots (would have been nice if LJN had sprung for those instead of the lame-ass purple ones), viewing this poster instantly makes you a Jake The Snake Roberts fan for life. If he was appearing "at the Coliseum" that night, chances are pretty good we'd pay good money to see him, especially if he posed like that!
In any event, it's a pleasure to witness the resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts with his induction in the Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame. He definitely belongs here!