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.
King Haku was one of the very last LJN Wrestling Superstars to be created, along with a handful of others in the rare 1989 black card series created by Grand Toys (a Canadian company). While it was a great addition to the line, King Haku probably wasn't among the top 30 or 40 figures your average wrestling fan wanted to see made back then.
The funny thing is, it was almost a completely different figure being advertised on the back of wrestling magazines at the time.
According to those liars at Pro Wrestling Illustrated, King Haku was decked out in his trademark purple short tights. And he was wearing a matching crown, even though the ad clearly stated that he "doesn't come with the crown as illustrated". Talk about a tease!
Still, what we got wasn't a bad figure at all - someone who was big, bad and bearded and seemingly taller than most of the other LJN figures in the collection.
Here's a bit of trivia: King Haku was only the third wrestler in the entire LJN collection to be shown as barefoot. Who were the two others (answer at the end of this column)?
One thing King Haku had in spades was strength. Here, he was easily lifting Koko B. Ware over his head, proving that he earned his crown (even if he wasn't necessarily packaged with one). And while his board shorts were more of a "The Islanders" variety than his years as "The King", it still created a look that showed you that this was a dude who liked to have fun on the beach.... but it was all business in the ring.
Because King Haku came out in the late-1980's, he could be matched up against pretty much anyone on the LJN roster without looking really out of place.
You could match him against Hulk Hogan (recreating their epic Saturday Night's Main Event encounter) or pit him against Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Harley Race and Randy Savage in a "Battle of the Kings" fatal four-way match.
As a master of the martial arts, King Haku could level your opponent with vicious karate chops just as easily as he could deliver a crushing crescent kick (well, you had to bend his leg a bit for that to happen), making him a very tough opponent to beat.
Plus.... you had King Haku's reputation as being a real-life tough guy, even biting someone's nose off in a bar, according to urban legend. If anyone ever asked me about why my Ricky The Dragon Steamboat figure had a missing nose, I'd proudly explain that King Haku bit it off (if I'd heard that story was back when).
Oh, and in case you're still wondering.... Jimmy Superfly Snuka and Kamala were the only other two figures not to be given any footwear.