The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. has spotlighted Halfbad Toyz several times. The figures have always been exemplar in terms of creativity and quality. One special grouping of Halfbad Toyz figures were especially intriguing and featured in Auction Watch #58. The grouping was a 10-pack of “Custom M.U.S.C.L.E Yama-Bito Keshi” figures.
The 10-pack of custom figures was purchased at a stunning low price point of $6.60 per figure. Comparable Yama-Bito figures had sold for approximately $11 per figure. This lower price point was most likely the result of an auction picture that did not properly showcase the figures. Trying to capture a fully representative picture of the 10 figures proved to be more difficult than expected. As showcased by the two pictures below:
For the 10-pack of Yama-Bito figures to be fully appreciated they must be broken down into smaller groups, which allow for viewers of the picture to more fully appreciate the quality and creativity. However, the absolute best way to appreciate the figures is too look at each figure individually.The first figure to be examined is the “Silver Robot.” There were two silver figures included in the 10-pack. The Silver Robot, which is much more “gun metal gray,” is clearly one of the standout figures among a stunning group of figures. Whether at first glance or through continued scrutiny this figure appears as if it could have been an original M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.
The aspect of the figure that probably creates that true M.U.S.C.L.E. feelings is the “specific ambiguity.” The figure could easily be a robot, or a walking TV and VCR, or maybe even some form of transforming “brick guy.” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures allowed children to use their imagination and this figure certainly fuels the imagination.
The figure is also technically superb – seamless, creative, and original. A wonderful balance is struck between using identifiable M.U.S.C.L.E. parts (the legs of #39) and wholly original pieces. The color choice is also perfect for this figure. Although almost any color would probably showcase this figure – which only strengthens the overall quality of the figure.The second figure is the “Blastin’ Silver #179.” This is the second silver figure from the 10-pack. This silver figure differs significantly from the first silver figure. However, the difference isn’t a difference is quality or attractiveness.
This figure showcases the power in subtlety. The #179 figure is in a state nearly identical to the original version – with one major difference, the hands. The figures hands have been replaced by two new hands gripping blasters. The new blasters completely turn this figure upside down.
The figure goes from having a very humanistic-animal feel to a futuristic-space-alien feel. The figure still retains its M.U.S.C.L.E. quality, but could just as easily fit into a group of Buck Rogers, Star Trek, or Galaxy Laser Team figures.
The silver paint only enhances the sci-fi aspect of the figure. It captures the episodic cliffhanger feel that George Lucas often references (but no longer achieves).The next figure is the “Red Claw Head.” This is the only red figure from the group of 10 figures. It also the only figure the clearly combines two easily identifiable figures. The figure takes the entire body of #58 and combines it with the face-finger of #153.
This is the type of figure that could easily be loved or hated. The easiest criticism would be to suggest that the figure is simply two figures combined. However, making that criticism probably means the intricacy of the figure is being overlooked.
First, the face-finger of the #153 figure has been technically joined to the #153 simply masterfully. It doesn’t appear as if it was hastily placed atop the figure, like a coffee maker hastily connected to a Delorean.
Second, the creative decision to have the “face” looking away gives an entirely different feel to the figure. That simple turn creates a feeling of movement, action, and even imbalance. It almost seems as if the figure was caught off-guard or just about to react. Once again, a creative decision has led to a figure that fuels the imagination – a hallmark of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.The next set of figures to dissect are the two blue figures from the 10-pack. The first blue figure is a “Weapon Wielding #56.” Once again, Halfbad Toyz has found a way to make relatively minor changes have major impact.
At first glance it appears that only a club has been added to the left hand of the #56 figure. This addition might be the most noticeable, but it is not the only change. A ponytail has also been added to the back of the figure.
The combination of these two changes does not create a “new” M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. Instead, the result feels more like the #56 figure is finally completed. The stone and twine club is simply a perfect choice. Whether this was taken from another figure or newly created it is an inspired choice. It is the ideal size for one of the sturdiest looking M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. The club adds far more depth and interest to the character.The depth and interest may not necessarily be aided by the addition of the ponytail, but it certainly brings a feeling of completion to the figure. The ponytail seems so natural that it could easily be overlooked.
The second blue figure is certainly one of the most visually striking figures of the group. It appears almost as a “Cyborg Swordsman #71.”
The original #71 has been reduced to only its head, torso, and upper part of both arms. The figure now sports new robotic legs, new arms, and a large sword. Breaking the figure down by its pieces oversimplifies the changes.
The choice of having the figure twisting at the waist with the sword in a seemingly defensive sideways position creates a great deal of character. Even the choice of having the left hand in an open, upward position gives the figure a unique composition.
The positioning, styling, and changes to the #71 create a figure that walks a razor thin line. The line the separates M.U.S.C.L.E. figure from other monochromatic miniature figures.
The next figure may have been one of the reasons the original auction had a comparatively low final price. Collectors may have assumed that this Flesh Apple was an extra Flesh Apple from The Fruit Fighters. Those collectors would be wrong.The “Apple M.U.S.C.L.E.” certainly shares a great deal of similarities with his Fruit Fighter brother. Because he shares so many similarities, he also shares much of the joy and charm that accompanied the Apple Fruit Fighter. As stated in the original Fruit Fighter review:
The scaling of the legs and angling of the arms give the feeling of quick movement to the figure. It is easy to imagine the figure moving like a young wobbly child or, perhaps, an Ewok running. The only potential drawback with this figure is that the leaf, at the top of the Apple, feels very delicate. There is no indication that it would easily break, but it does give the impression that extra care should be taken with that part.
The change that has taken place with the Apple M.U.S.C.L.E. is that the right hand now sports a tiny fist. The tiny fist coupled with the figure evokes the feeling of a far smaller little brother threatening a punch – intense, but utterly unthreatening.The next grouping of figures was the largest color grouping in the 10-pack. The purple figures are interesting to because they feature arguably the strongest and weakest figures.
The first purple figure is the “Alien #11.” The #11 figure already had an alien-like quality to him. However, the amazing changes to this figure create a H. R. Giger-like end result. If Halfbad Toyz was able to make the Weapon Wielding #56 feel complete, then their work on the Alien #11 make the original #11 utterly forgettable.
The #11 figure serves as the base. The changes take place near the elbows of the figure. The right hand has been replaced by an eerily extending monstrous hand. The left hand has been replaced by something that literally looks like a monster – evoking thoughts of Star Wars’ space slug, Alien, and perhaps even Tremors.Interestingly, it is probably the spikes added to the left shoulder that full complete the new figures transformation. Because of the actual size difference between the new left and right hands the figure could have visually been seen as uneven or off-balance. The addition of the spikes provides a visual counterweight to the large left hand.
This figure’s transformation is so complete and all-encompassing that it is a disservice to only show it head-on. To fully appreciate the figure it needs to be rotated 360-degrees, however a second angle is provided to help further showcase one of the best M.U.S.C.L.E. custom figures ever.
The second purple figure, the “Heady Hand,” is arguably the weakest of the 10 figures. This suggestion is likely to anger proponents of the #153 figure. The #153 figure has an intense following, which often support any and all incarnations of the figure – regardless of quality or creativity.
The Heady Hand is certainly not a “bad” figure, but it simply lacks the originality and charm the other 10-pack figures possess. Probably the greatest challenge that the figure faces is actually the head attached to the #153 figure.The head has already been used on another Yama-Bito figure. It was used on a custom #141 figure. While the custom #141 Yama-Bito figure is not technically part of the 10-pack set, it is disappointing to see the redundancy.
The quality and construction of the Heady Hand are impeccable, but this is, sadly, the weakest figure in the group.
The last purple figure once again showcases the brilliance of Halfbad Toyz. The #148 M.U.S.C.L.E. figure has been reconstructed as a “Robotic War-Machine.” It is remarkable how removing the arms completely from the #148 figure and replacing them with weapons has a profound impact on the entire figure.
The #148 M.U.S.C.L.E. figure is rather forgettable. The quality that is most noticeable is the large, round head. However, the changes made by Halfbad Toyz not only change the overall appearance of the figure but bring attention to the small existing details – like the spiked legs.
This is another figure that needs to be rotated 360-degrees to full appreciate it. Seeing the figure from multiple angles allows the viewer to not only appreciate the details and quality of work – but also observe how perfectly the weapon-arms have been placed. Having the arms uneven (in terms of moving up and down) brings a reality to the figure. Having the arms perfectly even with each other would have greatly reduced the feeling of “reality” and motion.
Given that the “Heady Hand” was considered the weakest of the 10-pack, collectors may be shocked that the Custom #153 is not equally considered as the weak link. In fact, the Custom #153 is a wonderful choice for three reasons: (1) it appeals to a large number of collectors; (2) it provides a very linear connection to M.U.S.C.L.E. 10-packs; and (3) it is a rather unique creation.
The uniqueness of the Custom #153 is not in the casting, but rather the color and features. The #153 has been cast in thousands of combinations at this point. However, this figure is unique because it has been cast in a stark white without any transparency. Custom white figures often have a degree of transparency. This stark and simple choice is rather attractive.
The Custom #153 also has a glow-in-the-dark (GITD) feature. The GITD feature, like many of the figures, is best observed in person. The picture of the glowing figure does not properly capture the unique look and coloring. It’s as if the figure actually glows in an odd greenish-white color.
Truly, the only downside to these figures is that they are one-of-a-kinds. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. feels that these figures are so stunning and utterly fantastic that more collectors should be able to own a copy.
Until Halfbad Toyz finally relents and allows these masterpieces to be cast collectors will have to wait for new creations. While nothing official has been established, the University of M.U.S.C.L.E. has spoken to Halfbad Toyz about offering a few custom creations in The School Store.
Whether or not an agreement can be reach regarding new figures, it does not take any of the love and adoration for these figures away. The Yama-Bito 10-pack is simply the best collection of custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures that has ever been offered. And many of the figures could be argued as some of the best custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures ever created.