UPDATE: MARCH 2015
As posted by mesteve on the WrestlingFigs.com forum, an 8″ bendable prototype of Sgt. Slaughter exists. Because it’s a “bendie”, the theory is that LJN toyed with the idea of making the bendies 8″ before going with the 4-5″ versions and making the 8″ figures solid with no “bendies” wiring inside.
Check out the full WrestlingFigs.com post here.
In early 1984, Sgt. Slaughter was one of the top babyfaces in the WWF, arguably as popular as the emerging Hulk Hogan. Slaughter’s red, white and blue patriotic gimmick was a massive hit with the WWF’s predominantly American fanbase, and some of his matches with the Iron Sheik are considered classics. The Hasbro toy company took notice, and signed Slaughter to a contract related to their G.I. Joe brand, developing a Sgt. Slaughter G.I. Joe action figure, as well as making him a character in their cartoons. WWF kingpin Vince McMahon didn’t appreciate Slaughter cutting himself the Hasbro deal without their involvement (i.e. without their cut) and so the two sides ended up parting ways.
With respect to the WWF’s LJN partnership, this Slaughter situation had some interesting repercussions. First, with the WWF’s 80’s boom peaking in 1987, and the LJN line subsequently peaking in popularity that same year, Hasbro decided to capitalize on it – not to mention Slaughter’s popularity from the G.I. Joe brand – by creating an 8″ Sgt. Slaughter rubber figure that closely resembled the LJN series. The figure was available via mail-order (and came in bubble wrap as opposed to branded packaging), and was blatantly marketed by Hasbro as an LJN figure, with the ads showing the Slaughter figure standing victorious over the LJN dolls.
There have long been rumors that LJN actually produced that doll, or created the mold and sold it to Hasbro. All of that is untrue. Hasbro created the mold and the doll, utilizing a different type of rubber than was used with the LJNs. As a result, over the years the Slaughter figures have developed discolored “age spots”, and every figure that exists today has at least one of those spots. Today, that Hasbro Slaughter figure is considered by LJN enthusiasts to be part of the overall LJN collection, even though it technically isn’t. As a collector myself, I’ve always found the Hasbro Slaughter doll to be interesting and I’ve got two of them as part of my LJN collection.
In 1990, Sgt. Slaughter sent a letter to Vince McMahon expressing his interest in returning to the WWF, and McMahon subsequently signed him and turned him heel as an Iraqi sympathizer who went on to battle Hulk Hogan over the WWF Title. Based on that turn of events, Hasbro released Slaughter from their G.I. Joe contract. And of course by then, the WWF’s deal with LJN and Grand Toys had been scrapped, so no Slaughter LJN doll was officially made. But as irony would have it, WWF’s next toy deal was with Hasbro, and so Slaughter’s first official WWF action figure was from the Hasbro line.
Another little controversy that’s come up in recent years has to do with a supposed Slaughter mold that was made in 1984 by LJN before he left the WWF. Rubber figures using this rumored LJN mold, both painted and unpainted, have shown up online and for sale on eBay. Personally, I consider this figure to be a custom job and nothing more until proven otherwise, but I’ll admit that whoever made it did a quality job on it.