I found myself genuinely wondering, “What has really happened to collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures? What has changed? How did it happen?”
The sale of the Salmon #2 genuinely mystified me. I had the figure laying around when I did the 409/Simple Green experiment. I specifically remember grabbing the #2 figures for comparison out of a plastic grocery bag filled with figures. They were just extras from lots I had won. Because I had the figure in a grocery bag doesn’t mean that much – I needed to look further back.When I started collecting around 2002 M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting was literally in the dark ages. There was no information. Figures like X-2 and the Light Bulb Guy could sell for nearly as much as a SHA.
Within three years I was serious about collecting all of the known M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, which was based on the mistake ridden M.U.S.C.L.E. database. The M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby was growing and information was being exchanged. Soon collectors understood what made up a Master Set and it was possible to responsibly speculate how many M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were made (6 to 336 million figures).
But even as the knowledge expanded only a handful of collectors were willing to embark on the quixotic task of collecting a Master Set. I really don’t know why I wanted to do it. I certainly can’t explain it now. But this handful of collectors, me included, are the ones that started to ruin the hobby by acting insane.
I remember the moment, and specific auction, that changed my approach to collecting. It was a lot of highly coveted M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. The bidding got insane. I remember the feeling of shame and relief (when I didn’t win). I swore I would never behave like that again.I haven’t. I believe, since that day, I have approached collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures responsibly, calmly, and without overpaying. Even as recent as 2010 I lost an auction with some $6 Class A figures. That approach has led to only needing 12 figures for a Master Set. Of course, that has taken over ten years – without a finish line in sight. I don’t believe anyone else is willing to do that.
More and more collectors are taking on the impossible task of collecting a Master Set. But I don’t know why. I would bet that they don’t know either. And I think that is why people are acting crazy and losing their grip on the reality of these figures.
Don’t believe me? Let’s talk about the #2 Terri-Bull figure. In 2013 a Class A Purple #2 sold for $54 and the Class B Dark Blue #2 went unsold for $25. Then in September of this year (2015) two Purple #2 figures sold for $26 each (assuming $0.50 for the 33 other figures, and dividing the 7 Class A figures equally). Why would someone overpay for a Salmon #2 like that? Because collectors are inexplicably losing their minds.The hobby will always have $7600 stories, but those should be the truly rare exception – not the rule, which is happening. If you are collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures I would encourage you to ask yourself, “Why?”
If your answer is something along the lines, “I love them.” You are probably a big part of the problem. Loving M.U.S.C.L.E. figures is not a reason to collect them. Hell, there is no good reason to collect all of them.
“What has really happened to collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures? What has changed? How did it happen?”
I think the answer is that nobody is acknowledging the Master Set is a stupid goal. It has become a “real” goal. How it happened? That’s harder to say. Maybe UofM is part of the problem. Maybe nobody wants to point out that you can quickly get to only needing about 100 figures. Maybe nobody wants to say there is no prize for collecting all of them.
How do you think it happened?