New M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures: Gashapon #1



The Kinkeshi Premium figures have been released as complete boxed sets (Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9). Bandai added to the Kinnikuman Kinkeshi Premium figures by releasing a series of figures in vending machines (Gashapon). The capsule has a checklist and single sculpt. The main Gashapon series has six sculpts in three colors: (1) Flesh; (2) Blue; and (3) Red. Some sets have painted chase-figures. Some of the sculpts are two-piece, which was a trait of some original Kinnikuman figures. The third series, fourth series, sixth series, seventh series, eighth series, ninth series, 10th series, and 11th series has already been reviewed.

There are also special “best of” sets. These figures follow the same format, but the colors are Flesh, Green, and Clear. The first and second sets of this special “best of” figures have already been reviewed.

Bandai released yet another special set, “Kinnikuman Wazakeshi Premium.” This new set features two-piece combinations of characters. The sets contain five two-piece sets. They only color that is available is the original keshi/M.U.S.C.L.E.-flesh color. The first and second volumes have already been reviewed. The most recent special edition from Bandai does not seem to have an overarching title or brand. The most recent set is simply called, “Clan Forces Gathered.”

After reviewing 21 various Kinkeshi Premium sets it feels somewhat unusual to look back at the first Gashapon set. It is especially unusual because I don’t know where the set falls chronologically. Did it come out near the second boxed set? I have no idea. Ultimately, it doesn’t make a huge deal. It simply forces me to take a step-back and say, “Remember, this was early.”

Over the course of these Kinkeshi Premium releases I have gone from largely hating two-piece figures to falling in love with, some, of them. These first two two-piece combinations would not have won me over if I bought the sets perfectly chronologically.

As with many of the two-pieces, I am sure this Ashuraman combination is from a famous scene. That doesn’t matter to me. This is not a very fun combination. It doesn’t display especially well, and it can’t stand up on its own – at least mine couldn’t do it.

I think my indifference with both of these two-piece combinations is validated by the figures not reappearing in a “best of” set. While I’m not in love with either of the combinations, I certainly prefer the second two-piece.

Again, this combination is probably from a classic moment. I still don’t care.

The reason that I prefer this two-piece is that it is unexpected, unusual, and feels more “M.U.S.C.L.E.-like.” I really like the look of the Kinniku-character that seems to be delivering the damage. I loved this character when he was originally released in Wave #1. When you compare this second version of the figure to the first there is no comparison.

I think Bandai was still trying to figure out how to best release a variety of characters. I feel like the assortments have, mostly, improved with each release. And the reason is that they seem to be releasing lots of different characters, not just different versions of the same character. (Even if it felt like it to me with Wave #9.)

My favorite sculpt from this set is featured below.

This character first appeared on my radar with Wazakeshi Vol. 2. I was thrilled to see the “Polka-Dot” character in a neutral pose. I understand why they included this character early because he is awesome! It 100% feels like a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure to me.

But now that I have the neutral pose, and a two-piece combination, I don’t want to see him again. What more could they do with this character? As much as I love him, I don’t need a sculpt of him punching.

Finally we have Muscleman, Terri-Bull, and Mongolman/Mongolian Man (#152). These feel like the filler-figures in the set.

I’m not complaining. I 100% understand producing these popular characters, in neutral poses, early in the release schedule. It checks a very logical box. The Terri-Bull is still a clunker in my mind. It took until Gashapon #8 before Bandai created a Terri-Bull that I liked.

Had I purchased this set when it was originally released I might have been more critical. I wouldn’t have liked the two-pieces and I would have hated Terri-Bull. The Polka-Dot man, as much as I love him, wouldn’t have saved the set. Looking at the set today, I’m ok with it. I understand what Bandai was trying to do – and I have the Polka-Dot man I wanted. This set would not have extinguished my excitement over “new M.U.S.C.L.E. figures,” but it certainly would have diminished it ever so slightly.


  1. #1 by Ninth Doctor on August 1, 2019 - 10:52 am

    When did these all come out? Are they made of Muscle material or keshi?

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