Art 200 – David Healey: “MUSCLE MASK MASK MUSCLE”

Original eBay Auction Picture

In March of 2011 a large group of custom figures were examined. Among those figures were two He-Man customs. These figures had the heads of He-Man and Skeletor, from the vintage Mattel Masters of the Universe figures, and they were placed atop M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. The end result was playful and fun.

David Healey’s “MUSCLE MASK MASK MUSCLE” custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure shares the trait of combining two successful toys from the 80’s. He has taken a #109 M.U.S.C.L.E. figure and placed the “mask” from Cliff Dagger (a villain from the Kenner M.A.S.K. line of toys) over its head.

Explaining the figure is incredibly unsophisticated. However, the end result is far more refined and impressive.


The Cliff Dagger mask is interesting because there are actually two variations. The first, which was used on the custom figure, has a closed mask. The second mask features open eyes and mouth which was changed as a safety measure if a child swallowed the mask.

The first mask is certainly the best choice for the figure, as its design seems more aligned with the M.U.S.C.L.E. designs. It seems unlikely that this was a specific choice as many people that are familiar with M.A.S.K. are unaware of mask variations.

David Healey’s simple choice has a profound effect on the figure. Many of the custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures that have been unveiled lately have been able to make small but impactful changes to figures. These minimalist-like alterations achieve both an original figure and prevent the figure from being “over-worked.”

This is not meant to suggest that every custom figure that features large scale changes and/or massive amounts of additions is unattractive. However, these figures are the ones that feel as if the artist simply tried too hard. It can also feel as if the over-worked figures are a customizing exercise instead of a piece of art or action figure with a specific point of view.

Interestingly, it seems that many of David’s pieces fit in the opposite ends of change. Many pieces are minimalistic and many pieces are extensively and meticulously crafted. His custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure is far more minimalistic. It would be very interesting to see what one of his custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures would look like at the other extreme of alterations.

Packaged with Header Card

The minimalistic approach is also applied to the packaging – and it works perfectly. The key may be the rivet that is used to seal the cardboard header. So often a simple staple is used, probably because of cost and ease. The choice to use the rivet is not only function but an inspired creative design. Its refinement complements the white block letter H’s on the black header card. The end result is truly striking and unique.

The header card is the perfect compliant to the figure and vice versa.

The construction of the figure is simply flawless. The mask is paired with the figure so perfectly that it looks like it is part of the original sculpture. The construction of the figure is not the only flawless element of the figure.

The figure has been perfectly cast in a spectacularly clear resin. Not only is the figure free from any defects its clarity is simply unmatched. Suggesting that the figure is clear seems disrespectful. It should be called “air” or something far more beautiful and creative so that the proper reverence is shown.

David Healey’s
Custom M.U.S.C.L.E. Figure

The world of custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures has never been so diverse and wonderful. Collectors are treated to everything from the playful and fun of Wolf Voigt’s accessible He-Man customs to the utterly imaginative one-of-a-kind Yamo-Bito custom figures from Halfbad Toyz. David Healey’s “MUSCLE MASK MASK MUSCLE” custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure captures nearly all of the same qualities. He has created a fun, artistic, refined, and accessible custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.

If collectors would like to purchase one of David Healey’s custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, then keep an eye on his eBay account (healeymade) as he has been selling these figures lately. You can also contact David Healy through his website.

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