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.
We've recently cleaned up the photos for the main page of the Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame. Instead of dirty, dingy photos in my parent's basement, I'm giving each figure a semi-professional photo shoot going forward. And while the results aren't studio quality, exactly.... we have to admit that they are.... WONDERFUL.
Decades before Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary was dubbed "Mr. Wonderful," there was the WWF's Paul Orndorff.
Part of the second series of Wrestling Superstars and released in 1985, the figure doesn't look a whole lot like Orndorff (and how many of the figures did?). Sure, it captured his 80s-era hairstyle and hard, road-weary face pretty well, but the figure was one of the most insanely muscular in wrestling history.
Not to suggest Orndorff didn't have a great physique, but this one is more like Mr. Universe than it is Mr. Wonderful.
Chiseled out of granite (technically rubber), LJN's Orndorff figure certainly wouldn't have passed any Wellness testing back in the day. But hey, the guy LOVED to show his biceps; so much so that literally the only thing he could do was flex his gigantic muscles for the fans.
Beyond picking up the likes of Big John Studd for a bodyslam, there wasn't much else you could do with WBF Bodystar Orndorff.
Let's be honest.... the thing almost any fan remembers most about Paul Orndorff is his 1986 turn on Hulk Hogan, which this very site nominated as its best Heel Turn of all time. Thanks to the LJN Universe, you can recreate Orndorff and new/old manager Bobby Heenan taking their frustrations out on The Hulkster for failing to return Orndorff's phone call at the gym.
In fact.... if one was so inclined, they could also recreate the scene immediately following the heel turn, in which Heenan, his hired goons King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd, along with fellow heels Adorable Adrian Adonis and Jimmy Hart, sang Orndorff's praises in the villian's locker room.
I remember the scene like it was yesterday (which, it clearly wasn't, given half the people in the vignette are no longer alive) - Adonis was shouting "You were Mr. Wonderful!" in encouragement; Heenan was laughing at the coup that he pulled off; Orndorff was mugging for the camera and at one point, even cupped the face of a particularly-nasty looking Bundy.
It's a subtle thing, having the heel acclimate to his new environment, but it isn't done that much anymore. But thanks to the LJN figures, you can easily kind of, sort of, recreate the scene on your own:
I also want to point out the little poster that came rolled up in the bottom of each LJN figure's package. While the artwork is actually excellent, the rosy glow on Orndorff's cheeks always bothered me for some reason. And now that you've noticed it... you probably can't unsee it, am I right?
Welcome to our Hall of Fame, Mr. Wonderful!