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.
Would The Warlord be at the top of anyone's list for 'most important LJN figure of all time'? Probably not. And yet, even though this isn't a top name for most collectors... I would argue The Warlord is one of the most badass and underappreciated creations of the entire line.
Am I being intentionally controversial by picking the fricking Warlord as the next inductee in the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Hall of Fame? Perhaps a bit misguided or silly? Read on and let me know if you agree...
Introduced as part of the elusive sixth series of LJN Wrestling Superstars (and technically, created not by LJN but by a company known as Grand Toys), The Warlord is one of the taller, muscular figs in the line. Grand Toys broke all the rules!
He's also one of the more accurate LJN figures, as his facepaint, tufts of black and orange hair and brown goatee are ridiculously accurate to Warlord's persona at the time, when he was part of The Power of Pain tag team along with (an unreleased) Barbarian.
Of course, this was a very different look to The Warlord who terrorized WWF competitors as a singles wrestler in the early to mid 1990s. Later, he would shed the facepaint and done a silver Phantom Of The Opera style mask (a la his later Hasbro figure). Here, he was simply one half of a tag team and someone who was managed with Mr. Fuji and not by The Doctor Of Style Slick.
And because we never received a compatible figure of The Barbarian, I had to pretend he was simply injured or had missed that weekend's house show loop.
Now.... because LJN never came out with a Barbarian, not to mention a Demolition Smash (see The Great Demolition Smash Action Figure Conspiracy for more on that situation), just about the only reasonable match you could come up with during that era was a Warlord-Demolition Ax one on one bout. Admittedly, that wasn't the same thing, but without it, you had no real way to stage badass facepaint vs. facepaint matches in your basement. You know?
As we know, Warlord did eventually find success as a singles wrestler, so if you wanted to suspend disbelief for a while, you could easily pretend this was the version of the dude in The Phantom Of The Opera mask. As a singles guy, he could easily make mincemeat out of fan favorites such as Jake The Snake Roberts as he (very slowly) climbed his way up the official LJN action figure rankings.
For the most part, though, my LJN career with The Warlord wasn't all that successful. He would spend time crushing jabronies like Tito Santana (or, if he wasn't on the card, perhaps SD Jones or Hillbilly Jim), always looking for better competition but never quite finding it.
What can I say? Some guys are destined to hold WWF gold in the LJN federation of my mind. Some are perennial contenders.
That's not to say I didn't thoroughly appreicate The Warlord, because I certainly did. Buddy was jacked to the gills and looked like he was sent from the future to murder you. It's very hard to argue with a character that imposing.
And if they'd given me an era-appropriate Barbarian to match him with? Who knows what could have happened? Hulk Hogan's WWF Championship probably wouldn't have been safe from an LJN version of The Powers of Pain.
What could have been.... Anyways, welcome to the prestigious Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame. You've earned it!