We've spoken before about how ToyBiz gave its WCW line legs by creating lots of repaints and variants, and through the use of themed sublines. Today's figure comes from one such subline, "Ring Masters."
The gimmick of the WCW Ring Masters was, well, gimmicks. Every wrestler has a nickname either for themselves or their finishing move (at least, every wrestler who matters; Barry Horowitz may have been
famous for patting himself on the back, but he was always just "Barry Horowitz"), so Ring Masters brought us figures designed to capitalize on those nicknames. We got Bret "The Hitman" Hart as an old-fashioned gangster; "Jackhammer" Goldberg as a construction worker; Chris "The Lionheart" Jericho as a lion tamer (actually a housecat wearing a fake mane); and "Torture Rack" Lex Luger.
Lex Luger was one of those wrestlers brought into the industry for their physique more than their skills - his standard nickname, "The Total Package," was allegedly a jab at the fact that he didn't even know how to do a small package (a standard and easy pin). He often feuded with Ric Flair and was an ally of Sting, and after a disappointing sojourn in the WWF, jumped ship to appear on the first episode of Monday Nitro.
Luger's look could best be described as "roided-up MacGuyver" - not just because of his '80s hockey hair, his face actually resembled Richard Dean Anderson. This toy is from the '90s, so he's got his hair pulled back in a ponytail, but even though the sculpt of the face is a bit cartoonish, this sour expression is still recognizable as who it's meant to be.
The body? Not so much. We're spoiled now, with fairly realistic-looking human figures, but a ToyBiz figure in 1999 was going to have
comicbooky proportions. The chest on the toy is nearly as ripped as Lex was in real life, but it's decidedly wider. Plus, his arms are too big for his body. He's wearing black boots, black pants (not trunks), and has black bands around his wrists and his upper arms. The pants are sculpted with wrinkles around the joints, and they poof out a little where they're tucked into his boots. If this is where we stopped, this could very easily pass for an nWo Lex Luger - but there's more to be had!
The accessories are what this more than the average wrestling figure. Lex's finishing move was the Torture Rack, a backbreaker in
which he would lift his opponent up onto his shoulders, then pull down on their leg and head to flex their back. It's not a dynamic move, relying more on power, which suits both Lex's wrestling ablity and the articulation toys had back then; the figure has a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, a swivel waist, T-crotch, hinged knees and hinged ankles; since all he needs to do is raise his arms to perform the move, that's enough. As usual, it's more about the articulation on the toy he's doing it to that matters.
Anyway, for the Ringmasters line, ToyBiz took the "Torture Rack" name and cast Lex as a medieval executioner. He comes with a black hood with large grey stitches holding it together - it's PVC and slips over his head, allowing his eyes to peek out the holes. He also carries a large axe, a black pole with two asymmetrical silver blades. The figure's right hand is molded to hold the axe, but that's still not enough to finish off this figure - after all, the name is "Torture Rack," not "Executioner," so he comes with a torture rack!
The rack is a truly massive accessory, 4¾" wide by 10¼" tall after a bit of assembly. It's sculpted to look like wood that's been assembled using medieval techniques, and features plastic chains to clamp on a figure's ankles and wrists. The wrist shackles are attached to a crank wheel, allowing them to be wound up, stretching the figure. In case that's not enough distance to adequately torture your victim, the bottom half of the rack can extend, allowing the whole thing to break the 13" mark.
If you flip the rack over, the support that held it at an angle is revealed to be a stocks! There's a hinge on one side and a big silver padlock on the other, and a suitably flexible figure can be locked with his hands and head inside. While we often think of dirty medieval peasants throwing tomatoes at someone in the stocks, the fact that they were restrained meant you didn't really need to throw anything - you could walk right up to them, meaning that something as simple as tickling a prisoner was entirely common. The pillory reaches 7½" tall, which requires a pretty substantial figure to fit inside.
By current standards, Torture Rack Lex Luger isn't a good wrestling figure; more like the knockoff you'd get at a lower-end Market Six store. You know, a drug store or local grocery store. But you're not getting just a figure, you're getting an incredibly cool accessory - and where the heck else are you going to get a toy this good of a hooded executioner?