Editorial: Get A Grip

Salmon #2 from AW #176

In Auction Watch #176 I mentioned I was curious to see how the auction of a Class B Salmon #2 would end. I never dreamt it would end at $38. I expected it to end around $10. That’s about 117% more than I expected. It sent me reeling.

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.

The once ‘priceless’ X-2 figure.

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.

$6 Class A figures.

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 $7600 Story

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?


  1. #1 by Diego Medina on November 4, 2015 - 11:06 am

    So just because somebody says they “love” collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures that makes the person crazy? Sorry if my question may sound off or dumb, but I don’t understand how loving to collect something is crazy?

  2. #2 by Chad Perry on November 4, 2015 - 12:29 pm

    I never said that, so I don’t know how to respond.

    But I will ask, “Why do you collect M.U.S.C.L.E. figures?”

    My guess is the above question is hard for people to answer. And if pushed to explain their answer further, to provide clarity, they will get frustrated.

  3. #3 by Diego Medina on November 4, 2015 - 12:46 pm

    Sorry about the dumb question then .-.
    But I collect them because I mainly enjoy the show series and I also of course, enjoy the little figures.

  4. #4 by Chad Perry on November 4, 2015 - 1:50 pm

    Ok, good. Your response is a prefect example.

    You don’t need the figures to enjoy watching the show. So that’s not a compelling reason to collect.

    With that said – you enjoy the little figures. Are you trying to collect all of them?

    If the answer is yes, then the next question is, “Why?” (If the answer was no, then…there’s not much to talk about. 😉 )

  5. #5 by Diego Medina on November 4, 2015 - 3:08 pm

    I also like the figures because I really just enjoy toys in general and always will 🙂 and no I’m not trying to collect them all.. I don’t like all the molds in the toy line anyways..

  6. #6 by Chris Krutsinger on November 4, 2015 - 3:20 pm

    Ha! My opinion is this; In a perfect world, where I can afford whatever I want, I would go for the master set. The reason being is that I not only enjoy the figures, but I also enjoy having them in different colors; I like to pose them, and line them up, I like to see them in all the color options I can. Now I could just look at pictures to partially achieve this effect, but it just isn’t the same as having them in your hand. You can’t set up and create a display with pictures online. I’m like this with all the things I collect though; I love different colors; monochromatic toys are my favorite. One other reason to have more valuable figures would be as a investment security blanket. Now, I know people always say collecting toys is a terrible investment, but for me, having something available that I both enjoy and can sell for X amount of dollars at any given time is better than having scrap gold or something like that. I am saddened when I have to let something like this go, but it is nice to have when an emergency arises or you just need more money for something. As it stands, I only plan on collecting class B and below…and I’m not even sure I will be able to pull that off! More realistically will be class C and a few B’s of my favorite figures, and any other i can come across cheap. I also am collecting in the long game. I still haven’t put together a complete flesh set in the 2 years I have been collecting. I have no idea when I even will. I also have a compulsion for letting my figures go to others when they really need them to compete sets/goals, regardless of if I have duplicates of said figures or not. Even if I could afford to buy whatever I want, I honestly think completing your collection too fast ruins the hobby for many, so I would still try to take it slow.

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