Art 200 – Jason Frailey & Marty Hansen: Clawshine

The 'Clawshine' Custom Figure

Packaging is a funny thing. Toy collectors often critique the pros and cons of it. Some collectors have such reverence for it that they are compelled to buy two versions of any item – one to open and one to stay sealed. For custom figure collectors packaging is not an absolute. Very often custom toy figures are sold without any special packaging. And when that happens there are rarely, if ever, any complaints.

When a custom toy does have packaging it is often something simple and aims not to detract from the figure. At its best the packaging actually highlights the toy and helps to sell the product. Sadly, there is a rare exception – when the packaging creates a negative first impression. The packaging of the Clawshine sadly created that situation.

The fault did not rest with the card design – quite the contrary. The front side of the card design evokes a Japanese anime feeling. This creative decision makes it much more representative of the Japanese Kinnikuman figures than of Mattel’s M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. It is also nice that the artists Jason Frailey (sculptor) and Marty Hansen (caster) took the time to sign the header card. It provides a very personalized touch.

The back of the card is very standard for custom figures – especially custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. It provides a list of all of the involved parties and their role.

Header Card - Front

Header Card - Back

Packaged Clawshine Figure

The core problem with the packaging is actually the size of the bag. When the figure was removed from its shipping container – the first impression that is created is, “Wow, this figure is tiny.”

This illusion is created by having a fairly standard size header card with a bag that is far too long. The impression was so strong that it, detracted from the overall quality of the sculpt. Frankly, that negative impression of the figure remained until the Clawshine was placed next to other M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

When the Clawshine was placed need to other M.U.S.C.L.E. figures Jason Frailey’ attention to detail could be fully appreciated. The Clawshine figure was placed next to three different M.U.S.C.L.E. figures: (1) the #153 ‘Claw’; (2) the #38 thinner Sunshine figure; and (3) the #107 pyramid Sunshine figure. These figures were selected for several reasons.

The #153 figure was selected because of the Clawshine’s obvious homage to the figure and popularity of the sculpt. The #38 and #107 figures were selected because they represented two significantly different Sunshine sculpts which serve as the second half of the figure’s inspiration.

#107 Comparison Picture

#153 Comparison Picture

#38 Comparison Picture

Jason Frailey’ precision is truly magnificent. The #107 comparison picture serves as a wonderful example of how accurate the “bricks” are sculpted. It literally looks as if these were cast from the same mold.

The #153 comparison picture is haunting. Jason manages not only to capture the appropriate scale of the figure, but also the absolute minutia of the figure as well. The positioning and spacing of the fingers is perfect. The height of the “wrist” is almost identical. The decision to have the wrist slanted slightly diagonally also works perfectly. It provides a sense of curvature which reflects the original shape of the #153 figure.

The #38 comparison picture provides another interesting perspective. The Clawshine is just a bit smaller than the #153 figure and just a bit taller than the #38 figure. Whether accidental or purposeful, that tiny trait acts as a charming reminder of the combination of figures.

With the devil being in the details, the #38 comparison picture also offers the only potential criticism. The circular Sunshine logo on the chest of the Clawshine appears to be slightly bigger than its #38 counterpart. This in no way detracts from the figure. Instead it reinforces how nearly impervious the final sculpt is to criticism.

Clawshine - Back

The Clawshine sculpt not only combines two of the most popular M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, it provides a humorous acknowledgement to the Kinnikuman creators. Both Kinnikuman and M.U.S.C.L.E. figurers feature the YSNT trademark letters on their back. The Clawshine features JF TGB.

Sadly, the University of M.U.S.C.L.E. made one mistake – ordering a painted figure. The mistake is not because the painting is poorly done. Quite the opposite is true. The painting of the figure is incredibly well done. It provides added depth, texture, and character to the figure. However, M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are not painted. It would have been more appropriate and representative to compare an unpainted Clawshine with unpainted M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

The devil is truly in the details with the Clawshine figure, which makes it absolutely impossible to find any fault with the figure. That is why it felt criminal that the figure should be shortchanged in any way – even if it is with too long of a plastic bag.

The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. also feels as if the Clawshine serves as demarcation line for future custom #153 figures. The #153 figure is unequivocally the most popular M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. However, given the originality and execution of this figure customizers will be forced to push custom #153 figures even further than before. Simply casting and painting #153 figures in new colors may no longer be enough. Creators will be forced to push the #153 figure in new directions – which will only benefit M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors.

The fantastic Clawshine figure can be credited as being the figure that halted the acceptability of mediocre #153 custom figures.


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  1. #1 by THEGODBEAST on June 28, 2011 - 4:18 pm

    Very accurate & fair review/critique. Great job! Thanx 4 the biz & the review Chad.


  2. #2 by Chad Perry on June 29, 2011 - 9:25 am

    I’m glad you liked it! After I saw your post I realized that it may not have been perfectly clear how to buy the Clawshine.

    Collectors san contact Marty through his blog, email, or twitter to purchase Clawshine figures directly from him.

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