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 KILLER BEES
Jumpin' Jim Brunzell
B. Brian Blair
As part of Tag Team Appreciation Month every year, we typically try to induct a tag team into the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame. And because we've already inducted both The Hart Foundation and The British Bulldogs (and because Strike Force have been inducted separately)... it's time for The Killer Bees to get their shot.
We're of course not belittling our favorite insect-based tag team. They're just a little different because, while The Bulldogs and The Harts had expressions on their rubbery faces like they were all business... The Bees looked like they were living it up and enjoying life.
Just look at the "thumbs up" molding of Jumpin' Jim Brunzell's hand (and yes, Hacksaw Jim Duggan also did that, but he looked like a psychopath doing so). Just look at B. Brian Blair's nerdy, moustached face.
These guys didn't really come across as being as dangerous as other tag teams in the LJN Universe. In fact, they looked like they might be your uncle's "cool" friends that showed up at the cottage over the summer to party on the beach.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it meant that The Bees weren't likely going over their arch-rivals in The Hart Foundation, let alone going home with the prestigious brown LJN tag team straps any time soon.
The biggest thing Brunzell and Blair had in their arsenal (besides Jumpin' Jim's record-setting dropkick, which is VERY hard to replicate in figure photography form) is "Masked Confusion."
For the uninitiated, this was where both Bees would don masks and, because of their similar uniforms and body types, would be able to pull the old "switcheroo" without the referee ever noticing. And because they were perennial babyfaces, no one seemed to mind.
How hard would it have been for LJN to furnish their two-pack with a pair of small, cloth masks? It would have made these figures one of the top ones in my collection, that's for damn sure.
Without their masks? Well, there's no easy way to say this... but Jumpin' Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair were quickly relegated to Jobbers To The Stars status in my personal LJN adventures back in the day.
Sure, they'd team up sometimes in the opening match (fun fact: I also paired them once with Junkyard Dog in my federation against The Hart Foundation and Adrian Adonis - inspired booking, no?)... but for the most part, Brunzell and Blair joined the likes of S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones and Outback Jack on enhancement talent patrol.
And hey, they looked perfectly good doing that. Brunzell even gave the thumbs up on the way to jobbing for One Man Gang.