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.
RICKY "THE DRAGON" STEAMBOAT
You may notice in the photo above that Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, our newest inductee in the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame, is missing a fairly large chunk of his nose.
We're not sure why this is, exactly. While our Steamer fig has been sans schnozz for a good 30 years now, we've also noticed that several other LJN figures online seem to have the same plastic surgery problem. Perhaps it was a design flaw that the LJN folks couldn't work around. Perhaps The Dragon really didn't want to smell a sweaty Magnificent Muraco up close. But other than missing part of his nose and some sporadic paint wear and tear on his tights, our Steamboat figure is actually in decent shape.
Nose anomaly aside, Steamboat was one of the most impressive figures in the line of LJN Wrestling Superstars. Released in 1986 as part of the third series in the line, Steamboat actually looked like the wrestler he represented... unlike many others in the collection!
He also cut an imposing figure, whether posing over a prone Nikolai Volkoff or simply entering the ring for a match, getting ready to strike.
One of the best features of the Steamer figure was that he had one outstretched hand that was in actuality larger than most of the figures. He could use that hand to perform a vicious karate chop (illegal, according to Jesse Ventura), rake the eyes (if he were a heel and did that kind of thing) or pull off one hell of a claw hold (as he's doing here to rival Jake "The Snake" Roberts). Steamboat's claw is so impressive, I want to call him Ricky Von Erich.
Want to pull off a really cool party trick?
I may have referenced this in Randy "Macho Man" Savage's CBWLJNWFHOF induction years ago, but if you position your Steamboat figure as though he's being bodyslammed by a Randy Savage figure (as illustrated here) and then nudge the figures forward slightly, Steamboat will propel himself over into a pinning position onto Savage. Yes, EXACTLY like their WrestleMania III match! How friggin' awesome is that?
Another thing that I've done in this space before is fantasy-booked a newly-inducted CBWLJNWFHOF'er against Hulk Hogan... especially if they didn't cross paths in the 1980s. Here, you have a match that would have never happened back in the day (according to the folks at Pro Wrestling Illustrated, it was because "WWF matchmakers refuse to put fan favorites against each other") but how cool would Hogan/Steamboat have been?
Oh shit... The Hulkster just popped Steamboat in the face. THAT'S HOW HE LOST HIS NOSE, I BET!
Here's a cool story to finish things off....
In 2017, Steamboat was performing a one-man show in Toronto. I wrote about it here. Accompanying me, as always, was Stu Stone, a former Manager Of The Year and co-host of the Wrestling Merchandise and Memories podcast (the first episode of which, by the way, was completely dedicated to LJN figures).
After the show, Stu and I went to Steamer's gimmick table and posed for photos with him. Stu asked whether Steamboat would pose like his LJN figure and look what happened.....
In every sense of the word, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is a hall of famer. Welcome to our prestigious HOF, Ricky Steamboat... THE DRAGON!