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.
THE IRON SHEIK
Since opening this prestigious Hall of Fame in April, we've inducted several action figures that deserved inclusion because of their unique or unusual qualities - why use a generic wrestling figure in your make-believe battles when you can have someone who looks like, say, King Kong Bundy or Corporal Kirchner?
And while we certainly plan on upholding that rich tradition here at the Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame (official motto: "It's better than your stupid Hall of Fame, wiseass!"), we've also realized that we have never inducted a legitimate World Champion.
It's time to respect the legend.
The Iron Sheik was one of the very first figures LJN released in its Wrestling Superstars line in 1984, along with an anorexic Hulk Hogan, a lion-haired Andre The Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Junkyard Dog, Big John Studd, Hillbilly Jim and Sheikie's partner-in-crime Nikolai Volkoff.
Sure, The Sheik's pants have seen better days, but consider that this guy has been dragged around and punished by the biggest and baddest folks WWF has to offer - your pants would probably be a little worn out, too! And while his infamous pointy-toed boots and handlebar 'stache are both in bad need of a paint job, it's still quite obvious that this particular figure is one bad mutha.
First, there's his physique. It's far more impressive than, say, the Hogan figure, and honestly only rivals Snuka's in the initial series. This is one piece of plastic that has put in considerable time in the gym.
Then there's the arrogance factor. No, not arrogance as in "Rick Martel's cologne", but rather him looking at you as if to say "I don't care if we're here on a busy street corner (or a desk, as the case may be), I'm going to flex my muscles."
In addition to being muscular and arrogant, intelligent wrestling fans know that The Iron Sheik was capable of giving his opponents a wrestling LESSON, and his action figure counterpart was able to do pretty much the same.
Take the photo to the right, for example. To some, it appear as Sheik is delivering a simple running powerslam to that no good, bleached-blond jabroni The Hulk Hogan. But no - he's doing it with just ONE ARM!
Amazingly, the figure was able to do this to another figure with NO additional leverage! You would think holding a figure of equal weight would make the first figure tip over, but Sheikie is sturdy as anything here. Can you imagine the actual Sheik doing that? Hell, can you imagine Brock Lesnar doing that?
You can also prepare other figures for suplexes using The Sheik's arm positions, but.... well, that's not nearly as much fun as balancing an opponent on a single effing shoulder.
And as awesome as having The Iron Sheik of 1984 to do your evil bidding was.... imagine The Sheik of today, knowing everything we do now?
For example, I had a Sheik figure and a B. Brian Blair figure back in the day. I knew they competed at WrestleMania III sure, but that match was nothing special.
But if we knew the whole "break his back/make him humble" story? DAMN! That would be a main event in any arena in the country, as Gorilla Monsoon was so often fond of saying.
By the way, do you have any idea how difficult it is to stage a camel clutch picture with two slightly-bendable-but-not-actually-bendable wrestling toys?? Granted, this isn't a legit camel clutch or anything... in fact, it kind of looks like Sheik and Blair are at a pub after a few too many beers.
Although.... I'm not sure how, in that scenario, one would explain why both guys are topless.
The final thing I'll say about The Iron Sheik's LJN figure is how well it can cut a promo. Well.... virtual promo; it's not like the doll can talk or anything; but you know what I mean.
Just look at him telling Kennedy Mac-Mahon about how things are. Iran is number one. USA? Hock-ptooey! There's no doubt in my mind that he's already instructed Mister Cameraman to zoom in on those abs, too.
Maybe he's cutting a promo on how Hogan is a no-good (expletive deleted) like The Justin Bieber? Or perhaps he's following through on one of his many threats issued via Twitter on a daily basis. With The Sheik, you just never know.
One thing is for sure - your LJN collection wasn't quite complete without the addition of the Champion of the Olympics, used to be bodyguard for Shah of Iran, WWF World Champion, man who defeated Howdy Doody Bob Backlund in Mad'son Square Garden.... The Iron Sheik.
Welcome to the Hall of Fame, bubba.