Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wrestling MarketWatch: WWF Wrestling Superstars '89

The legendary final series. The "black cards." Or, as they were deemed on the cardbacks, "Wrestling Superstars '89." They were the last hurrah of the legendary WWF Wrestling Superstars line by LJN. "Those big, rubber wrestlers" as they have been referred to so many times. The last series, distributed by Grand Toys of Canada, made it here and there but certainly not everywhere. I can recall seeing some of them at a Circus World store at Ross Park Mall outside of Pittsburgh. Others were only able to obtain them through "The Wrestling Ring" mail order store that famously advertised in the wrestling magazines of the era.

The limited distribution has caused their value to only rise over the years. The astronomical prices for carded examples are well-documented, but how about loose versions? This time in MarketWatch we look at recent selling prices for five of the figures in out-of-the-package status.


*As it was just as his rise to the top began, many fans recall searching far and wide for the first action figure of The Ultimate Warrior back in 1989. Just as all versions have since, this first Warrior figure reflects the color and intensity of the character. What kid wouldn't want this one? Best of all, it's in a pose that could easily recreate slams, clotheslines, and body tackles just as the Warrior was known for. The future WWF World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion recently sold for $250.


*Though they were frequently on the opposite sides of the ring, the Warrior and rival Ravishing Rick Rude also saw very different debuts in the figure world. While both saw their first figures in this series and were highly detailed, the comparisons end there. As mentioned above, the Warrior's figure was easy to play with thanks to the pose. Rude's figure, due to the way it was sculpted, was more of a statue. With his hands at his hips, Rude just stood there. The addition of the tattoo, however, is very cool. Rude's lack of playability may still affect his pricing, as it recently sold for between $60-$100.


*Another great ring villain debuted as a figure here, that being the Polynesian superstar Haku. Prototype pictures, as well as the included poster, indicate that this was originally planned as a figure of King Haku. The crown and royal-themed trunks were dropped before production. It would be almost two decades before Haku received another figure, at which time he became part of the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line as both King Haku and Meng. This original Haku has always been one of my favorites and was sculpted to appear as if he was about to drop one of his legendary headbutts. You may have to drop more than that to own him, as the former king recently sold for $230.


*Just as Ax was released around a year earlier as the only LJN produced member of Demolition, The Warlord follows here without Powers of Pain partner The Barbarian. LJN also seemed to predict the future as they inexplicably put The Warlord in short trunks which he would not begin actually wearing for a few more years. The paint on the figure is fantastic and makes you wonder what an LJN version of The Barbarian would have looked like. Both The Barbarian and Smash along with Brother Love, Bad News Brown, and The Bushwhackers were planned per cardbacks. The Warlord recently sold for between $100-$200.


*Then a new enemy for Hulk Hogan, most famously in a cage on Saturday Night's Main Event, the Big Boss Man is a true gem of the entire LJN line. He carries a big stick and towers over many of the other figures. His sunglasses are on, but he can definitely mix it up with the best of them. The blue of the shirt is very vibrant and the paint detail truly stands out. Although One Man Gang had been produced, it's a shame that an LJN version of Akeem did not happen to create The Twin Towers. The Slickster is there to manage, however, stylish hat and all. The Boss Man recently sold for $250.

Rounded out by Andre the Giant wearing his one-strap black singlet, the final series of LJN was a great way to go out. Later in 1989 the Hasbro WWF action figures would begin being designed thus launching a new generation for wrestling toys. Still, it's a shame that both couldn't have continued in some way. After all, they were completely different scales.

Some would not even deem the LJN Wrestling Superstars as action figures. I certainly would. Any kid of the '80s could tell you that these were figures that saw plenty of action. Most, even missing some paint, have survived as mementos of a great era and some great childhood play times.

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