Tuesday, October 11, 2022


 Sometimes - not often, but sometimes - I like to customize or fix up old, beat-up action figures.  Sometimes, I just fix up some scuffs to make the figure look like new, but once in a while, I'll buy an old "beater" just to do something cool with.  I'm not great at it, as I only started a couple of years ago, but it's a great hobby, lots of fun and very relaxing.  I highly recommend it.

A great way to get good at painting figures is to start with something not very complicated, something with a lot of wide open space and solid colors, and not much (if any) articulation.  That way you don't have to worry about joint rub or stuff like that and can just focus on brushwork.  

One of the best action figure lines to work on, consequently, is the old LJN WWF Superstars line.

If you're a wrestling fan of a certain age, you either remember or had at least some of these.  They're rare and expensive in any kind of decent shape Now, but in the mid- to late-1980s these things were everywhere, and you could still find tons of them in decent condition in flea market bins all over the world.  Sadly, as a kid I had no interest in toys that didn't move, so I skipped them and am now paying a heavy price on the secondary market, as they are no longer easy to come by... at least, not unless you don't mind buying them in a condition that is less "Near Mint" and more "Nearly Mangled In A Truck Accident."

Since I don't plan to ever sell my toys, I'm perfectly fine buying beat-up LJNs because it gives me a chance to both practice my painting skills and restore these big rubber statues to their former glory.  I know this is blasphemy to some people who insist that only a "pure" LJN WWF figure is worth having, but I don't shit gold bricks.  If I can get Honky Tonk Man for $50 instead of $500 and all I have to do is put some Flesh Tone on his face and hands, I'm perfectly fine with that.

As of now, I have a little more than half of the line, and I've gotten most of them fixed up to look as-good or better than new.  We'll look at some of them here in time; some of them actually need a drop of touch-up here or there since I last looked at them.  But overall, it's easy to restore an LJN to "factory fresh" condition because they're extremely easy to paint, so they're good practice if you're learning or just want to work on something very simple and stress-free.

One of the easiest figures in the line to find is the Series 1 Hulk Hogan.  As he was WWF World Champion for almost the entire duration of the line, they produced millions and millions of this figure.  To this day, go into any flea market wrestling store on the planet and they'll have dozens of Series 1 Hulk Hogans in various degrees of rough shape.

This one isn't mine, but it's a good general idea of what you'll find for about five bucks anywhere you go:

Since I already had one of these restored to "mint" condition and as close to the original factory colors as possible, a while back I decided to get another one just to try and do something fun with.  It's cool that the default Hogan was released in his most iconic yellow and red attire, and a later figure was released in his white attire, but one of his more noteworthy looks from that era was never immortalized in LJN form, and that would be his blue and white attire:

Several companies would go on to release figures of Hogan in this attire, including Jakks, Mattel, and even Storm Collectibles.  But oddly enough, LJN never bothered, even though it was a look Hogan wore often in that period before switching to the red and yellow look "permanently" in 1986.

So I went out on one of my weekend excursions to Englishtown Flea Market and hit up my favorite shop, Funkenstein Wrestling Superstore, and along with my other purchases I bought the shittiest Hogan figure they had that still had all his parts intact.  A tiny bit of the hair on the left side of his head was shorn off somehow, but it's barely noticeable.  I paid like three bucks, if anything; it was covered in black grime and had almost no paint left.  I didn't take any Before pictures because it was too hideous.  It took a long, hot soak in a bubble bath, a full scrub with rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover, but I managed to get it sparkling clean, eventually.

A couple hours and a few coats of paint later, and this is what I ended up with:

I was really happy with how this came out.  As you can see by looking at the above photograph, I was able to match the colors nearly perfectly to what he actually wore back then.  I also added some extra detail; rather than just paint a solid flat yellow blob on his head, I painted the hair and mustache in gold and then dry-brushed it with yellow for some highlights.  This added more texture to the hair and comes closer to the way he actually looked in his younger days when he was "regular blonde", not "bleached-white" blonde.

The headband is one of the things I'm most proud of, as like everything else it was 100% by hand.  Getting the "Hulkster" on there in such tiny script was not easy, but also not as difficult as I was expecting.  It pretty much went on in one shot with no need for touch-ups; I was so scared to make a mistake I ended up being super careful with it and as a result it came out perfect on the first try.

I actually haven't seen a ton of people do this specific Hogan attire for the LJN figure; I've seen a lot of him as Rip from the movie No Holds Barred, and people do a great job with that, but it's not quite the same outfit after all.  And I've seen a few of him in this attire, but modesty aside I think mine is better than most or all of those; a lot of those folks either skipped the headband deco, or didn't bother painting his boot laces white.  I went for full 100% accuracy and am very thrilled with the result.

All I need now is a white, cloth-goods "American Made" shirt and a custom silver WWF Title belt in '85 style and he'll be 100%!

Here's a video I did for my YouTube channel that looks at the Before, During, and After of this project:

While you're there, check out some of my other action figure content, be it Hogan-related or otherwise.  And let me know what you thought of this one!  One of these days I'll look at some of my other LJN restorations; I just wanted to show this one off first since it's part-restoration and part-custom.


  1. Amazing work, and it's odd that LJN never went for the blue look since it was what he was commonly wearing at the time.

    1. Thankfully it's an easy figure to find and an easy figure to customize! I look forward to doing more, and I have a few things already in the early stages.



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