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.
JESSE "THE BODY" VENTURA
One of the absolute best figures in the entire LJN Wrestling Superstars line may very well be Jesse "The Body" Ventura. It's time for us to recognize this and place the man who tells it like it is into the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame.
Not only is this figure ridiculously accurate to the character it's meant to represent (something most LJN figures can't exactly brag about), but it's just so damn colorful. I mean... check out those pink tye-dyed tights, the blue boots and do-rag and even the one-bicep flexing pose. This figure represents a man who was always very image conscious and made people take notice.
Introduced as part of the third series of LJN Wrestling Superstars circa 1987, Jesse's pose was actually somewhat practical, a rarity among this line of figures. While posing for the audience, The Body was also able to headlock jabronies like S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones and show the world what a tough guy he was. It was a look that... just worked for Ventura.
If you wanted to get technical about it... Ventura's figure was also perfectly-positioned to execute a Stone Cold Stunner, even if said move hadn't been invented yet. But let's face it -- if Jesse Ventura were able to rock the likes of archrival "Chico" Santana with a Stunner back in the day... he damn sure would have tried to pull it off.
Of course, the match all of us wanted to see but never did (at least, not in the WWF) was Ventura versus WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. The reason this matchup never happened was because Ventura's health took a turn for the worse right around the time Hulkamania was taking over... otherwise this could have headlined a WrestleMania back in the day. Even the way Ventura looks here is quite similar to Hogan's (many LJN customizers have transformed the Ventura figure into a picture-perfect Hollywood Hogan).
Once Ventura retired from the ring, he was transformed into a heel color commentator (which is most fans from that era remember him as). This included a lengthy run where he routinely ran down Vince McMahon between commercial breaks on Saturday Night's Main Event and at the beginning of episodes of WWF Superstars. You can almost picture the tension between these two figures in the picture to the right...
One of the other things Jesse Ventura was known for during his WWF run was The Body Shop, his criminally-underappreciated talk show that always favored the heels during its entire run.
Here, in the WWF of my imagination, The Body is allowing Luscious Johnny Valiant to extol the virtues of his Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake), bragging about how they will run roughshod over The British Bulldogs and The Killer Bees. I can totally picture that promo in my mind, and of course Jesse is the one giving the interview an air of legitimacy.
We've talked before about the posters that were rolled up into the package of each LJN figure, but Ventura's was just tremendous. Not only is he wearing the tie-dye trunks, but he's also got a feather boa and AWA-era Midnight Rockers sunglasses. What a fantastic illustrated poster!
From the man who had a style all his own and likes to tell it like it is... welcome to the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's LJN Wrestling Hall of Fame.