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 second wave of LJN's Wrestling Superstars line hit toy stores everywhere in 1985. It was an important collection, historically speaking, because unlike the first wave, this proved that these wacky 'rasslin toys were here to stay.
It can (and will) be argued that Brutus Beefcake was, at the time, the least prestigious figure in the line. After all, he hadn't competed at the level of Paul Orndorff, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Andre The Giant w/short hair or fellow CBWLJNWFHOF'ers King Kong Bundy and George "The Animal" Steele. His biggest moment at that point was a stinking double-disqualification at the original WrestleMania against Bruno Sammartino's punk-ass kid. Brutus Beefcake - take him or leave him.
But there definitely were some very reasons for including him in that second wave - and now, in the prestigious Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame.
Beefcake was a great addition to anyone's figure collection for a variety of reasons.
For beginners, he was tall. Not as tall as Andre w/short hair, but tall enough to literally tower over the likes of Hillbilly Jim here, all while kind of giving Jim his patented sleeper (I say "kind of" because it wasn't his finisher yet. Also, he's clearly not applying it properly).
Second, Beefcake is colorful. Between his studded, black, arm-length gloves and his "only in the 80's" purple trunks with black accents, it was clear he wasn't your typical wrestler. He made a fashion statement every time he stepped in the ring -- that's important when you're pitting 8" pieces of inflexible rubber against each other.
You may also notice that the paint on Beefcake's ass is not there. This was in preparation for his future role as The Booty Man.
Let's be honest here -- much like his real-life counterpart, the LJN Brutus Beefcake figure wasn't exactly known for his technical wrestling skills.
Here, he does just about the only move he's capable of executing -- a jumping elbow drop over a prone "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka (and, in case you're wondering, YES, sometimes I would pretend my Snuka was also a Siva Afi figure).
But one thing I should point out -- look at the finesse he's doing said elbow drop with. He's got a smirk on his face, one of his thumbs are pointed to him (which I'm 99 percent sure is where Rob Van Dam got the idea), and you could just tell that if Beefer wanted to end the match right there with a jumping elbow drop, he's damn sure ending it with an elbow drop.
Even if it ends up being on Siva Afi.
There was less than a year in between the time that I (technically, it was my brother, now that I think about it....) purchased Beefcake, and him turning babyface at WrestleMania III, after which he remained a good guy for years and years - at least as long as I was still playing with wrestling figures.
But fear not! Heel Brutus Beefcake could still be the babyface Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, with a little imagination. See the tears in his pants? Those are the Barber-esque cuts he had in his trunks. And while his hair was certainly a lot longer while attending Sal Fedora's barbering school.... you could certainly pretend that he'd slicked it back for the night.
In the following interview, The Megamaniacs (Beefcake and Hulk Hogan) are telling "Mean" Gene Okerlund what they plan to do during their SummerSlam '89 rematch against "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Zeus.
And if Zeus isn't available, it will be Savage and Hillbilly Jim.
I think if we're all being honest with ourselves, Brutus Beefcake was never anyone's top choice to play as within the LJN Universe.
Would you team him with Greg Valentine in a tag team war against The British Bulldogs or Killer Bees? Sure. Could you see him chasing The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart around the ring? Absolutely. Why not?
But Beefcake was more useful as a utility player than a main event guy, and that was just fine. After all, you can't book a WrestleMania for your LJN figures unless you have a mid-card to go leading up to the show.
Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Beefcake. Make sure to introduce yourself to The Fake Siva Afi.