LJN Toys was founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, who later founded THQ
and Jakks Pacific. The name LJN came from the initials of Lewis J. Norman, the reverse of Norman J. Lewis, whose toy company had employed Friedman as a sales representative in the 1960s. Lewis initially backed the company financially, but later sold his interest to a Chinese investor.
In 1985, MCA, which had been actively acquiring companies in the mid-1980s, acquired LJN for $66 million or $67 million in an effort to retain more profits from the merchandising of its film properties.
In 1986, LJN started publishing video games, nearly all of them for the Nintendo Entertainment System
, but its games have been notorious
for having abysmal design flaws such as lack of recovery time, limited attack range, etc. Most of the studio's games were outsourced, sometimes to studios who would go on to make top notch games like Atlus
, Just Before The End Shin Megami Tensei
, etc.), Westone
(the Wonder Boy
studio) and Rare
(Golden Eye 1997
, Conkers Bad Fur Day
Also in 1986, LJN created a subsidiary, Entertech, to sell a new line of battery-powered water guns, as well as a home version of the Photon laser-tag game (which debuted at the same time Worlds of Wonder launched their "Lazer Tag" line
). The Entertech water guns were heavily marketed for their realistic appearance
(The Look! The Feel! The Sound! So Real! EN-TER-TECH!
), and even put out a sub-line with a Rambo
license, but it all backfired spectacularly when police officers mistook the toy guns for real weapons in several incidents, resulting in kids getting shot and killed by mistake. Despite remaking the guns in bright neon colors, Entertech never fully recovered, and found its market share waning in favor of less-realistic, but more powerful, water guns such as the Super Soaker line.
In 1990, MCA sold LJN to Acclaim Entertainment
. Acclaim phased out the toy lines and liquidated the Entertech brand, so they could use the LJN brand to increase the number of games they could publish for the NES. Even after Nintendo dropped the publishing limitations, LJN continued to publish games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
and Game Boy
as late as 1995, when the division was folded into Acclaim proper. For reasons unknown, Acclaim revived the brand in 2000 to publish one Sega Dreamcast
title, Spirit of Speed '37
. This is likely because they knew they had a bad game on their hands and figured they may as well put the LJN logo on it.
The company is probably best known today as a frequent target of The Angry Video Game Nerd
's outrage (he's joked that the name must stand for "laughing joking numbnuts").
Games published by LJN:
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six
- The Amazing Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers
- Wolverine: Adamantium Rage
- Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball
- WWF Superstars 2
- Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
- Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
- The Incredible Crash Dummies
- The Incredible Crash Dummies
- WWF King of the Ring
Rocket Science Productions
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure
Unknown developer (could be either Both Tec or Pixel)
Toys and action figures made by LJN: