WWF Wrestling Superstars Bendies are kind of the red-headed stepchild of the LJN figure era. Most people don't talk about them with the same kind of reverence they do about their 8" rubber counterparts; some refer to the larger models as "LJNs" without giving a second thought to their tinier cousins, whereas some don't even remember Bendies existed.
Yet they're definitely worth taking a closer look at.
To get one common misconception out of the way... the "bend" aspect to Bendies was kind of bullshit.
Sure, you could twist their limbs a little bit and, with a great deal of imagination, pretend that Anorexic Hulk Hogan was legitimately legdropping Rowdy Roddy Piper.... but assuming these guys were the second coming of Stretch Armstrong was kind of, well, a stretch.
But flexibility-wise, they were certainly an improvement over the larger LJNs.
What should be commended is how damned close these figures look to their larger counterparts. From their outfits to their general poses, to even small things like George The Animal Steele's chest hair being transparent bumps on the outside of his skin (which he should probably get checked out), these things are near-perfect copies of the "main" LJNs (see, now I'm doing it myself!).
Now that we've established that Bendies are exact f*cking replicas of the 8" LJN figures, the question must be asked: what can you do with them? I'm glad you asked, because the answer is... pretty much nothing. Unless you were lucky enough to get Junkyard Dog (with chains) to rest atop the gigantic arms of Paul Orndorff while Captain Lou Albano watched on in awe... your play choices were limited.
Back in the day, I only had two figures from the Bendies line: the above-pictured Rowdy Roddy Piper, and my all-time favorite wrestler (in 1986, at least), King Kong Bundy. At one point, my brother and I drew all over The Bundster with permanent black marker, ensuring that I would need to re-buy these figure again in my 40s, when they are typically much, more expensive than they were circa '86.
In re-buying the WWF Wrestling Superstars Bendies line, I've noticed a few interesting things. For one, they completely bypassed the long-haired version of Andre The Giant and started with the short-haired version that, today, is an almost impossible-to-find figure in the larger form factor. Given the non-hippie version of Andre is a far more iconic look, I'm hardly complaining about the Bendies decision.
The other thing I've learned? There were way more Bendies on the market than I remembered back in the day! In addition to the baker's dozen I have in the top photo on this page, there were also Bobby The Brain Heenan, Brutus Beefcake, Corporal Kirschner, Jesse The Body Ventura and Macho Man Randy Savage. Plus, there are unreleased prototypes of Terry Funk, Magnificent Muraco, The British Bulldogs (no relation), Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana. So I have a ton of catching up to do!
While WWF Wrestling Superstars Bendies weren't exactly a game changer, they were a kind of Rock & Wrestling Era legacy toy line that doesn't get talked about often enough. So, if you don't mind.... please spread the word about Bendies.