2016 M.U.S.C.L.E. Year in Review


I wondered what M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors thought were some of the important M.U.S.C.L.E. events this year. Based on the lack of responses, maybe nothing was important this year.

That’s not true. I believe the M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby is at a crossroads. 2016 may be a turning point in the hobby. It was either the beginning of the end or the moment that the insanity started to disappear. Maybe it could be both? It may be a few years before either statement rings true. Please come back in four years and check out the 2020 Year in Review.

Classic Collector Auction Starts The Year

Until then, I’ll try and keep the tradition alive and ask he question, “What happened in the M.U.S.C.L.E. community this year?”

January

January started with two notable auctions. The first auction, M.U.S.C.L.E. figures Mattel Kinnikumen Muscle Men Lot 196 vintage Ft. blue claw, had collectors planning on working together. The discussion to collectively buy the lot and split it up sound like classic old-school M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting. There was also a fair amount of interest in the odd white figure – likely a counterfeit figure. Sadly the plan didn’t work and a mystery winner purchased the lot.

The other big event of January saw 50 Nestle Quik figures sell for $129.63. Actually, it was 49 – one of the figures was loose. I was absolutely sure I had featured this lot in an Auction Watch or Epilogue, but I didn’t.

Huge Lot of Quik Figures

It kind of made me crazy because I could clearly remember this auction. It finally dawned on me. I had save the auction pictures with the intention of adding them to the Quik archive. I never did it. Looks like a project for 2017.

I genuinely appreciate when people are confounded by these figures. They are 100% correct when they say, “They’re just Flesh figures in plastic wrap and white cardboard.” But I’ve always found the figures charm to be its tangible relation to the Quik promotion.

I really liked this lot because they sold for $2.65 per figure (I didn’t count the loose figure). These figures may have demanded a premium 10 years ago, but the market is flooded today. I can appreciate paying $2 for charm and $0.65 for a mint Flesh figure.

The other exciting event of January was the discovery of counterfeit MUSCLEMANIA figures.

Some M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors dislike MUSCLEMANIA figures, but they certainly have an interestingly intertwined history with M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Discovering counterfeit figures, for the first time, over 30 years later is supremely bizarre. Whether these are more recent creations or much older copies of knock-offs it is shocking to see these figures.

If I was forced to make a guess, then I would guess they are more recent creations. I base that guess on the Dodo and Uniao Festas figures. Without the discovery of those figures I would have passionately argued these colorful counterfeit MUSCLEMANIA figures were from near the time of the original MUSCLEMANIA release.

The Dodo and Uniao Festas figures literally prove anything is possible. I think the coloring of the figures feels much more contemporary too. The coloring reminds me of many of the modern quarter-machine figures.

February

Personally, February was a huge relief for me. In January of 2015 I openly admitted that I was worried I had lost the Ramenman with Dragon figure. It was not a joke. It was just the first time I could openly admit it. I had been worried for some time prior to my admission.

I had fears that I had accidently mailed it to some random person. There was a tiny piece of me that hoped someone would see the post and say, “Oh, I thought you were just being cool by sending it to me. I’ll send it back.” I was nearing hysterical panic.

Thankfully the Ramenman with Dragon was rediscovered and, in the same post, one of the greatest AOTW’s ever was discovered. When this AOTW showed up I felt like AOTW could have its two original Hall of Fame members. Do you guys like that idea? It seems brutally cruel, but some of these people genuinely deserve it.

Another cool February even was the one minute review of a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. My feelings from that original post still apply. Love the idea and want to steal it, but there was certainly room for improvement.

I’ve been giving some serious consideration to stealing it. My hesitation is fueled by fear of repetition. Sixty seconds can be filled by any dummy. But do I really have, at least, 233 original and interesting commentaries? Does anyone?

Class A #179 Salmon
Sold for $0.70

The other noteworthy even in February was a Class A #179 selling for $0.70. I don’t point out that sale as proof that Class A figures should sell for a few dollars. Only a complete idiot would take an outlier and use it as comprehensive evidence.

However, M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors have seen many Class A auction ranging from, very broadly, $10 to $50 this year. This could possibly suggest that the number of collectors chasing the Master Set is, rightfully, declining (there’s no greater quixotic task). Perhaps the number of Class A figures that invite an insane sale price is starting to dwindle.

It is arguable that we saw more trumpeted Class A auctions in 2016 than ever. Will that continue in 2017?

And what will happen to prices? Rise? Fall?

Or avoid predictability altogether?

March

As 2016 comes to an end I’ve seen many people reflecting on the feeling that lots of notable people have died this year. The most notable death to me, was the death of M.U.S.C.L.E. at Mattel.

As 2016 comes to an end I’ve seen many people reflecting on the feeling that lots of notable people have died this year. The most notable death to me, was the death of M.U.S.C.L.E. at Mattel.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I don’t think this was as bad as it felt at the time. I would have felt initial excitement seeing the M.U.S.C.L.E. logo again, but I don’t care about Hacksaw Jim Duggan as a keshi figure. I don’t want to rant too much because I would just be repeating this post.

There is a big caveat that I haven’t mentioned before. If Mattel had reused the exact recipe and the figures had “the M.U.S.C.L.E. smell,” then I would have bought packs exclusively to smell. I would have huffed 10-packs with tears joy streaming down my face.

Super7 could pry money out of my stingy hand with authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. smell. (I’m sure they’re reading this and have their people contacting Mattel and Bandai as we speak.)

Fresh off the original discovery of counterfeit MUSCLEMANIA figures in January a second set was discovered in March.

Fresh off the original discovery of counterfeit MUSCLEMANIA figures in January a second set was discovered in March.

As one of the largest MUSCLEMANIA fans I feel guilty admitting that I was less excited for the second discovery. I can’t really articulate the reason for my lack of excitement – or lesser excitement. Perhaps it was too much too soon, but I don’t really believe that.

Maybe it made the other discovery feel less special? Did anyone else feel the same way?

I’m happy anytime there is a cool MUSCLEMANIA discovery, but why wasn’t I happier?

Best Custom Ever?

April

I may be slightly off on the date, but I’m basing the timing on when I posted the review.

The review was for what is arguably the best custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure ever created. I feel nervous making a proclamation like that, but I do believe a valid, defensible argument could be made.

We have seen lots of high quality customs. We have seen lots of inspired kit-bashed figures. And most of them feel aligned to the original M.U.S.C.L.E. line. However, this figure feels like it could have been an original Kinnikuman figure set. It feels like Mattel could have approved this figure for a second wave of figures.

Before I felt comfortable moving on from this topic I needed to quickly scan all of the custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures I’ve reviewed. I know it is not a comprehensive list of every custom ever created, but it did solidify my feelings.

The Super Fast Experiment

Do you guys agree?

Many collectors may have overlooked this post – which I totally understand. If I was reading this site, then I probably would have just skimmed past it.

However, I think this is an interesting answer to a question that has not been answered in over 30 years.

“Are bubbles a legitimate error?” Finally, we know they are legitimate manufacturing errors and not the result of childhood M.U.S.C.L.E. torture.

Speaking of easily overlooked M.U.S.C.L.E. items April had another one. I feel that childhood pictures featuring M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are even more valuable than Non-Poster figures. Our present culture makes pictures disposable, but in the mid-1980s taking a picture was special. There had to be a good reason to take a picture. I don’t think many parents felt that they needed to snap pictures of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures in a Book

Thankfully there were some very rare exceptions. One of the exceptions was discovered in a book called In My Room: Teenagers in their Bedrooms by Adrienne Salinger.

The picture features several M.U.S.C.L.E. figures on the shelf mixed in among other treasures. If M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are considering adding the book to their collection, then it is important to know that it won’t be cheap.

May

I can’t find anything for May.

This was during the dark period for this website. And I could find anything on Facebook, Instagram, or LRG.

I was feeling frustrated, but maybe nothing notable happened in May. It is possible.

Can you prove me wrong?

Picture from: Toynewsi.com

June

M.O.T.U.S.C.L.E. was announced. I know I’m in the minority with my indifference. I can’t fake excitement.

The MOTU keshi are great, but I don’t really care about He-Man. Aside from the M.U.S.C.L.E. logo I don’t understand what is “M.U.S.C.L.E.-ly” about the figures.

Super7 has continued to slap the M.U.S.C.L.E. logo onto other properties. But I continue to see nice keshi figures that are completely unrelated to M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

July

Sorry. Once again, I’ve got nothing. I couldn’t find a single thing.

August

It pains me even more that I must leave back-to-back months empty.

Two Types of Future Strength Cards

Two Types of Future Strength Cards

September

If you were betting, then a good bet would have been that counterfeit MUSCLEMANIA figures would be the most obscure discovery in 2016. Shockingly, you would have lost that bet. There was an even more obscure discovery.

The King of Counterfeit, Lucas Rage, found variant Future Strength packaging.

Casual fans of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures wouldn’t care about this discovery. They probably wouldn’t read this website either. But for the hardcore minutia obsessed collectors this is an amazing discovery.

My favorite part of the discovery is that it further showcased the haphazard way these figures were thrown together. That careless rush to market only further highlights the extremely temporary but significant impact M.U.S.C.L.E. had on toys in the 80’s.

October

The Dr. Bombay 10-Pack saga ended in my opinion. Maybe the use of “saga” overblows the story. Maybe not.

The Dr. Bombay 10-Pack has always been interesting, for many reasons, when it first appeared. I thought it was nice to have someone that really wanted to try to prove its validity.

I would guess there are probably collectors that still doubt its authenticity. I understand that too.

But I’m left with the feeling that the pack is authentic.

I like that this story is the most contentious M.U.S.C.L.E. story of the year. There have been years where members of the M.U.S.C.L.E. community have acted in terrible ways – some events that may have even approached criminal. If this is the “worst” event, then maybe they M.U.S.C.L.E. community is getting better than anyone realized.

I didn’t feel like M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were relaunched in June. They were unrelated keshi figures that happened to have the M.U.S.C.L.E. name. In October, the opposite happened. New M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were created, but didn’t have the name.

There has already been a second series announced.

Did anybody buy these? Can anyone help me buy them?

November

The headless SHA auction really surprised me this year. Hell, it would have surprised me any year at that price. I had expected that the figure would sell for around $125. It sold for $273.57.

I knew the replacement head would help, but I never expected the heads to have that kind of impact.

Do you think there is any other reason the figure sold for that much?

I don’t. I think someone saw an opportunity to get an authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. SHA at a cheaper price (with perfectly serviceable heads) and then got sucked into the eBay game.

I have recently been told that high BIN’s are the key to selling M.U.S.C.L.E. items for top dollar. I would point to this auction as evidence that M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are an auction driven group.

A counter argument to auctions could be some of the lower Class A prices we’ve seen this year (these prices for example). But, even from the beginning, I stated that Class A figures are not automatically valuable. The value of any figure is ultimately driven by some combination of: Impatience, Funding, Desire, Competitiveness, and Ignorance. Each potential buyer will have different levels of each factor.

Was 2016 the year of MUSCLEMANIA?

If the answer is negative, then there is probably never going to be another year for MUSCLEMANIA.

The counterfeit figures were amazing discoveries, but finally getting to see the elusive 12-pack clearly was exhilarating for MUSCLEMANIA collectors.

The MUSCLEMANIA 4-pack was once an item that showed up so infrequently that it made sense to document each on that was found. Then, almost magically, eBay was flooded with 4-packs. It felt like in the blink of an eye a rare item became unattractively over-abundant.

I wish that would happen with the 12-pack. The 12-pack in the picture is currently the only documented example in the world.

DB, LB, G, O

4-Pack Minutia

December

UofM was built on minutia. December saw the minutia of 4-packs revisited.

A handful of new color combination 4-packs were added to the archive. Those additions pushed the count to 35 different combinations. By itself that number does not seem very exciting.

But there are 70 different combinations possible. That means 50% of the possible combinations have been documented. My guess is that one more 4-pack discovery means that all of the combinations are possible.

And finally, December also saw a second eBay Entrepreneur Exchange.

eBay Entrepreneur Exchange#2

This might not be a major event to some M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors. I found it as interesting as any of the other discoveries this year. Like I said in the original post I never meant to vilify the seller. I believed that the conversation offered insight into eBay behavior we rarely understand as collectors.

This year I’ve shared concerns I have about the state of M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting. I still have plenty of concerns, but looking back at 2016 I am left feeling pretty good. There’s certainly room for improvement, but there isn’t a shameful black-eye on the community.

There isn’t a scam, argument, or other mischievous event that we can easily point to in 2016. That might be the greatest accomplishment for a community that has struggled with petulant behavior for years.

Hopefully 2017 is filled with more fun discoveries and happy memories.

And if not, fuck it. It’s been shitty before.

  1. #1 by Terry on December 26th, 2016

    I agree, this year has showed not all is lost in the world of M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting and looking forward to continuing my posts in 2017!
    On another note I’d like help in buying the new Keshi/M.U.S.C.L.E. figures as well please

(will not be published)

  1. No trackbacks yet.