Editorial: WWE, M.U.S.C.L.E., Mini-Figures, and a Campaign


Fact: If these WWE mini-figures have “the M.U.S.C.L.E. smell,” then they will be a huge hit.

The M.U.S.C.L.E. smell is so distinct that you will have non-toy collectors buying the figures just to remember that smell. You’ll have people that never experienced “the smell” who want to discover it.

Picture #1
From: WrestlingFigures.com

Admittedly, “the smell” buying audience will be temporary. The only permanent smell audience will be M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors trying to re-infuse their figures’ smell by storing WWE figures with their M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

But what if they don’t have the M.U.S.C.L.E. smell? Then, as Soupie from MiniFigureXD requested, there needs to be a frank look at if the WWE M.U.S.C.L.E.-inspired figures could be a successful mini-figure brand.

Defining a “successful” mini-figure line can actually be quite a challenge. Validate arguments could be made regarding the success or failure of brands like M.U.S.C.L.E., Fistful of Power, Monster in My Pocket, and other similar lines of figures.

The key becomes properly categorizing the mini-figure itself. M.U.S.C.L.E. was an unarticulated, monochromatic figure. These types of figures have historically been pack-ins to existing toys or cheap gumball machine fare. Through this lens it becomes incredibly difficult to argue against M.U.S.C.L.E. figures being the all-time most successful unarticulated, monochromatic figures.

Picture #2
From: WrestlingFigures.com

Even though the toy industry has changed since M.U.S.C.L.E. was originally released there are three things Mattel could do to help position a M.U.S.C.L.E.-inspired WWE line for success.

#1 – Cost
A large part of the M.U.S.C.L.E. brand’s success was due to its low price point. The core figures, in 4-packs, were accessible. The larger 10- and 28-packs were more expensive, but priced at great “gifting” prices. Mattel’s Hot Wheels are an excellent example of a nearly zero barrier to entry. Many Moms and Dads would be happy to spend roughly $1 to quiet their kids on a shopping trip. The WWE figures would be most successful trying to fill this niche.

Even if the WWE figures ended up on MattlyCollector.com aimed at adult collectors, there needs to be an irresistibly low price point. WWE collectors already have lots of collecting choices; this product has to be too inexpensive to pass up. Non-WWE collectors need the price to be worth the experiment.

Picture #3
From: WrestlingFigures.com

#2 – Playability
Adult collectors often start to focus on articulation or the accuracy of the sculpting. It’s really playability that sparks the imagination and draws adults and children to a toy. It is also the playability that keeps bringing them back and sustains the brand. These figures need to be successful toys first. The first two pictures of the WWE figures have a wonderful playability to them. The figures are interesting and posed in playable positions. The third picture of Randy Savage is the least playable of the group. This figure feels like a collectible, statuesque figure. There are already a multitude of statuesque figures. Bringing that style to an unarticulated, monochromatic one-inch line of figures is unnecessary and ultimately unsuccessful.

#3 – Collectability
The collectability factor that M.U.S.C.L.E. helped to usher in has become a refined, calculated, and sometimes very tired process. The WWE figures need to be attainable. It can’t be impossible, or even very difficult, to complete a set. The Mega Bloks HALO figures are a modern and perfect example of how to handle the collectability. It states a figure is “ultra rare” but my son had no problem getting two of them as he worked to collect the set.

Words like rare and ultra-rare are all that is really needed. Collectors just need the perception of rarity. Satan Cross is probably the all-time best example of this idea.

As probably the world’s most detail obsessed M.U.S.C.L.E. collector I have lots of other thoughts about the possibility of a M.U.S.C.L.E.-inspired line of WWE figures. Frankly, as I wrote this I found it difficult to organize my thoughts. Each idea and feeling snowballed into another and another. I hope these figures excite Mattel as much as they have excited me.

Enrique Ruvalcaba, Director of Marketing at Mattel, said that he wanted to hear what we thought. We need to make sure he hears our collective voice. I suggest two methods:

#1 – Click “Like” on the WWE M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures Facebook page.
#2 – Re-Tweet this message on Twitter or use the hash tag #EnriqueRuvalcaba and tweet the message, “We want our WWE M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures!” to anyone who will listen.

Hopefully our collective voices can bring back M.U.S.C.L.E. in some way. And maybe even that smell too.

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  1. #1 by Charlou on August 1st, 2012

    the interviewer annoyed me as soon as the camera zoomed in on the “MUSCLE” figure, he blocked it. Plus he was dull. HOWEVER, the thought of MUSCLE-like collectibles hitting store shelves is awesome! I was hoping that was going to happen with Jakks pacific ZOMBIE line, but have not seen them anywhere brick-n-mortar. I pray that will not be the case with these WWE Muscle toys. p.s. I think the Macho Man is in a fine pose: like he is about to jump off the top turnbuckle or doing a very stylistic drop-kick! It works for me!

  2. #2 by muscle things on August 3rd, 2012

    Great news and great editorial!

  3. #3 by Mince VcMahon on September 22nd, 2012

    This is a great idea for a toy-line, but nostalgic adult collectors’ petitions won’t convince Mattel to put these into production.

    It’s the kids who will be moving units, and I can imagine it will be a lot. Tell Enrique Ruvalcaba that this line will be a huge hit because it’s cost effective for production and consumers, and the collectibility will factor into continuous sales. DO IT!

  4. #4 by Dr Bo on October 25th, 2012

    Mixing WWE, WWF Legends and pushing some to the extreme as monster / beast / superheroes or else (like the Bull-headed The Rock) could sure tap both into nostalgia fans (both of wrestling, M.U.S.C.L.E. or outlandish 1980’s antics) and get some kids hooked since those are cheap, fun and zany figures.

    After all the original M.U.S.C.L.E. had a complex backstories based on the Japanese Kinnikuman Manga but were imported as almost generic weirdo wrestler. Only the name of the good guys and bad guys boss were named, and the whole “story” was set on 1 to 4 panels comics on the backer cards. Still, they were cheap, fun and were a good success for such a little cash-in line and are still fondly liked today from collector and 1980’s kids who had them.
    Mattel having the WWE license and using it to bring back outrageous brawler mini figure in bucket of cheapo bubblegum-colored rubber figs is just perfect.

    Bringing back Muscleman and Buffaloman design-wise would surely mean getting back to Bandai for the likeness, both otherwise the whole packaging, team name and (little) backstory all come from Mattel so they must have kept it.
    I could see them start of simply as M.U.S.C.L.E. using WWE guy, and either re-licence Kinnikuman design to build on the line or simply re-design Muscleman and Buffaloman to have “in-house” characters to solidify this brand and expand it further on their own.

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