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Animal

Classic Superstars
by yo go re

When he began wrestling, Joeseph Lauriantis dressed in biker gear and called himself the Road Warrior, playing on the Mad Max movie. Eventually he was paired with an old friend who had been wrestling in Vancouver as Crusher Von Haig, and the Road Warrior name was applied to their new team - as individuals, they took the names Animal and Hawk, respectively.

Road Warrior Animal The Road Warriors were then part of a stable known as the Legion of Doom. But as more and more folks left, the name came to refer to just the Warriors, giving them two "official" tag team names, which were used more or less interchangeably over the years. Maybe that's why they were so dominant: their opponents were confused about who it was that would be kicking their butts that week.

No matter what name they used, though, there was no mistaking Hawk and Animal. They may have been the first monster faces in wrestling, squashing their opponents in remarkably short matches and earning multiple Tag Team Championships in every major wrestling promotion of their day.

Hawk and Animal have both seen release a few times before in the Classic Superstars line, beginning with a TRU-exclusive two-pack that sells on the secondary market in the $200 range. Prices like that make you appreciate Jakks' policy of re-releasing older figures - even if this isn't your absolute favorite version of Animal, at least you don't have to drop a Franklin to pick him up.

stare at Animal's package The odd thing about this series is that while we got new releases of both Hawk and Animal, they're not wearing matching costumes. Animal is in his LOD 2000 getup, as evidenced by the "2000" on his trunks. Well, that and the fact that it's the only time he wore little bike shorts instead of big-boy pants. At least Jakks gave him his shoulder pads (even if they were a different style in the LOD 2000 era). He's wearing detailed wrestling shoes rather than the boots most of these guys traipse around in.

you wish your hair was this awesome Animal pretty much always wore the same facepaint - a full mask in black, red and white, with a spider on his forehead. Taking crazy haircuts to a new level, he's got a mohawk that leads into some kind of ponytail, then goes around the base of his head and up over his ears to connect to his sideburns. Wow. That's a haircut. Anyone who cuts their hair like that is a badass. A 30-year-old working the counter at Burger King would be a badass with that haircut. And he can't even pick up a grown man and hold him above his head. Animal can. So there.

LOD 2000 Hawk and Animal were one of the "two guys, one style" tag teams - they were both big, muscular bruisers - but the figures don't use the same body. Animal is a little less defined than his partner, but that actually makes him look more realistic. In an effort to appease egos, Jakks' often uses a generic body that's bigger and burlier than the actual person - the way they want to be remembered vs. the way they really are. It's the action figure equivalent of claiming that Hulk Hogan is 6'7" when he's actually a a few inches shorter. These guys are characters, so they're exagerrated.

Animal's only accessory now that's more like it is his removable set of shoulder pads, which is a much better choice than Hawk's chair. Part of their gimmick was a set of football pads with metal spikes jutting out all over. The spikes are silver, making them the third color we've seen so far: the original set was red, and the variants and original re-releases were blue. The pads are rubber, so you don't poke your eye out, and the inside is molded to fit the figure tightly. Now where can I get one for Hawk?

Beginning with Classic Superstars 9, all the figures come with a reproduction WrestleMania ticket - collect them all and you can send away for an exclusive figure. Animal has the exact same ticket as Hawk, which helps explain how they're going to get 22 tickets into four seven-figure series. The Legion of Doom (yes, they were named after the villains on Super Friends) particpated at WrestleMania 13 and 14, winning both times - shame they couldn't have had a ticket from one of those events.

After Hawk's death, Animal slowly phased out the familiar face paint and shoulder pads, after trying a few different tag partners. Eventually he was back to wrestling in biker-style leathers, just as he had when he started out as the Road Warrior. But really, he'll always be remembered as one half of the greatest powerhouse tag teams of all time.


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