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.
Tito Santana is one of the most influential wrestlers of the early Rock 'n' Wrestling Era. He held the Intercontinental and Tag Team Champions twice each and later was inducted into the WWE Hall of..... wait a second.
Is it just me, or does this figure of Tito look like he's, like, seriously constipated?
Yeah, no..... it's not just me. Tito's proclaiming he's number one while he's straining to go number two.
What the hell?!? Who would even design a wrestling figure to look like that?
I know Bobby Heenan used to joke about it, but was the cooking at Mama Santana's REALLY that bad? If you check out Constipated Chico's face, I'd have to say it was. Even his ribcage is kind of straining here!
This entire figure - while certainly not a terrible rendering by LJN standards - seems to project the idea of Tito badly needing Pepto-Bismol more than a pinfall.
The initial figure with purple trunks came out in 1986 but thankfully, LJN realized the error of its ways when releasing the next Tito Santana in 1988 (as part of a Strike Force two-pack with Rick Martel):
Wait...... that's ALL they changed??? They kept the same mold, the same pose, the same poo face.... but they changed the color of his ring gear?
Don't get me wrong; I'm glad they thought to add the Strike Force lightning bolt to his boots and ass.... but that clearly wasn't the biggest problem at play here!
Stomach issues aside.... the real reason anyone ever purchased a Tito Santana figure (purple or white trunk version) was because you needed a solid Jobber To The Stars that could perform in the ring and make his opponents look damn good in the process.
Santana is small and wiry enough to be subservient to Big John Studd or King Kong Bundy while not looking totally out of place when against, say, The Iron Sheik or Randy Savage.
Bottom line - you need a JTTS? Better call Constipated Chico.
One thing I always liked about the Santana figure was that his legs were just skinny enough to put his opponent in a makeshift figure-four leglock, or vice versa. Plus, Tito briefly used the F-4 briefly as his finishing move (think back to his feud with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine" in 84/85). You couldn't deliver his patented Flying Jalapeno without a whole lot of suspension of disbelief, but you could do this:
Below, we see Santana going up against The Warlord (a badass figure that DEFINITELY deserves a CBWLJNWFHOF induction down the road), but Warlord is occupying the generic referee. So while that's going on - WHAM! - Warlord's manager Mr. Fuji clobbers Tito with his cane and leaves him laying... all behind the poor ref's back.
If the photo (tableau?) below doesn't earn me some sort of prestigious international photography award, I have no idea what would.
So is there potential for the Tito Santana figure (or, if you're a mark with money to burn and can afford both different versions of pretty much the exact same figure)? Absolutely.
The kid takes some decent bumps, is posed ready to fight (unlike some others in the LJN line - *cough*Koko B. Ware*cough*cough*) and, in a pinch, could pretend to be another middle-of-the-card wrestler that wasn't represented elsewhere in the LJN line. You need to add a Constipated Paul Roma or Constipated Pedro Morales to your show? Boom - done.
I wish they would have worked a little harder on his facial expression but so many other LJN figures were flawed (see also Squatting Andre The Giant). At least when your imaginary card has a match that's the so-called "drizzling shits", you know who's to blame.