Monday Morning M.U.S.C.L.E. Musings #143

I know some people read the last Stir Up Saturday because I can see the traffic, and more importantly, I saw the votes. It left me very confused.

I have always said, “I’ve always felt that I was screaming into an empty abyss.”

And jokingly added, “Maybe, past where the abyss ends, there are collectors kneeling, chanting, and waiting for whatever I scream next.”

I thought the overwhelming results of the poll would either be “God-Like Control and Influence” or “Zero Influence.” And both results being either a joke or an intended-insult. That wasn’t the case.

How could ‘Some,’ ‘Moderate,’ and ‘Very’ make up the majority of the responses?

How could ‘Very’ be the top vote-getter?

I am asking a 100% genuine question, “What the hell do I influence?”

There is no snark with this question. There is no sarcasm. There is no agenda. I am literally confused.

If the question had been, “Do I have a loud voice in the M.U.S.C.L.E. community?” Then I could understand people saying, “Yes, you have a loud voice.” I am the only M.U.S.C.L.E. website in the world trying to do daily posts. That could be a loud voice in our tiny, tiny polluted pond.

But actually influencing people? How? Where is the evidence?

“Dummy, your Class system fucked up prices!”

There was always something to blame for fucking up prices. Pure, early-days-of-collecting ignorance. The MUSCLE Database. Soupie’s CIA. And people that would suggest $15 for a Flesh #195 (right, Brian DeMars?).

The Class system is just the most recent.

What else could I possibly influence?

I tried to think of my most consistent collecting opinions. Here they are:

  • Start M.U.S.C.L.E. Listings at $0.99
    • Well, that certainly hasn’t ever taken hold. Oh, sure – occasionally we see it. But random chance is probably equally responsible.
  • Don’t Overpay for M.U.S.C.L.E. Stuff
    • Again, it doesn’t seem like M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors want to buy-in here either. I have always suggested that M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are worth a buck – at most. Have you seen eBay? I certainly didn’t influence any of those assholes. What about private sales? I see Color figures given an extra price bump routinely. Why? Because it is Purple? I could go on and on. M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors seem to love overpaying. I like to suggest patience, but people will still pay $2 for a Flesh figure (right, Brian DeMars?)
  • Class A Doesn’t Equal Rare
    • I don’t have the energy to rehash this concept.
  • The M.U.S.C.L.E. Community is Tiny
    • I think I recognized almost every name of the people that bought the French-Canadian 4-Packs. The M.U.S.C.L.E. community has always had its passer-throughs – it always will. But the people that stick around, YOU can probably name them. And that brings me to my next point.
  • No Secrets / Total Transparency
    • I don’t know why M.U.S.C.L.E. attracts so many scammers and liars. Maybe the percentage seems higher because we’re so small. Or maybe it seems like more people because we learn of the bullshit so quickly. Being honest has always been easy for me because I don’t need anything from M.U.S.C.L.E collectors. Plus, I was never trying to scam my way into a deal. There’s no relationship juggling in the pursuit of stuff. But I see plenty of collectors doing it – some work really, really hard at it. That’s why people don’t like when I talk about messy situations. It blows-up their juggle. Scammers always have an excuse; always have a defense. And do you know why the, “Well, he’s always been cool to me” defense has always been so popular? The juggle. Some collectors put their collection before decency. Buying, selling, trading stuff is more important than warning others. I disagree. Most people don’t. This is probably the one I care the most about, and I certainly haven’t influenced others.
  • eBay Sucks
    • Ok, many people agree with this. It’s basically reality these days. But I think the extra M.U.S.C.L.E. collector behavior is bullshit. Just let listings run their course. “Warning” a seller is a dick move in my book. Trying to end the auction early is a dick move in my book. But collectors still do it. Why? Seriously reflect on it for a moment.
      • What was your conclusion? I’ll share mine. People are selfish. Take the eBay “coach.” Do you really care about some random eBay stranger selling their junk? You don’t. The motivation is the prevention of someone else getting something – especially if you wanted it. But sometimes just to be a dick. Sometimes both. It’s the same with the offline deal trying to end the auction early. You selfishly want to insure you get the item. Collectors love to throw out a cliché like, “It’s a dog eat dog world.” Sure, if you choose to make it that way. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a tiny community. Our choices can make a difference.
  • Sellers Are Assholes
    • Admittedly, that’s a pretty broad statement. But it’s the rule. There are only exceptions to the rule (e.g., lint-speed). Has the threat of Asshole of the Week deterred any seller? No. What about a fact-based explanation of a terrible price? No (specifically the Green #168). Hell, Brian DeMars tried to sell a Flesh #195 for $15 to another collector. Sellers are assholes. There are only exceptions.

But none of these things have changed. I am left with infinite examples to talk about daily. So what am I influencing?

If this silly website influences anything, then I want it to be collectors being smarter. A collector can’t be taken advantage of if they are informed. If they know what looks “wrong” or seems odd, then they can protect themselves. Or not. It becomes their choice.

I can never influence the people that would take advantage of others. I can only hope to help reduce the number of people that can be taken advantage of by predatory sellers.

So again, I’ll ask a 100% genuine question, “What the hell do I influence?”

  1. #1 by Trashcandream on December 14, 2020 - 11:37 am

    Your creation of the class system had a profound impact on collecting. You helped collectors know if something was rare or not, or if it was worth paying a premium for. I would like a purple #15 and a red #136. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t obtain them; your system straightened that out. Similarly, I tried to sell some figures and asked too much because I saw other figures for high prices, not knowing some were easier to obtain than others. You have shown reasonable people how to behave in buying and selling these figures. And you have kept a 30 year old hobby alive as a living thing rather than a few isolated people trying to gather up a few toys on Ebay to add to their collection on a shelf. I never imagined there was going to be websites about M.U.S.C.L.E. when I decided to buy a few figures to fill out my collection on Ebay. Who would have thought there would continue to be new stories like the recent French-Canadian 4 packs? You are an information hub, even if by default, and information is everything.

  2. #2 by GreyEagle06 on December 14, 2020 - 12:51 pm

    Sorry to be a nag, but did you get any of the final four you need from the french-canadian 4-packs? If so, which ones?

  3. #3 by Chad Perry on December 14, 2020 - 1:13 pm

    Then don’t. 😉

  4. #4 by Chad Perry on December 14, 2020 - 2:17 pm

    Thank you for the kind words Trashcandream. But you’re kind of proving my point.

    The Class system may have had a “profound impact,” but after the pure ignorance phase of the hobby – there was always something, for better or worse, informing collectors.

    I can’t take too much credit for keeping M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting alive either. A few websites started it. LRG carried the crown for many, many years, and social media gave everyone a voice and platform.

    Even if I centralized the information, what has been the actual impact? Where is the influence?

    Based on your comments, I guess I could suggest I have influenced you. Maybe the influence is simply providing information to collectors? I guess that makes logical sense.

    It would also explain why scammers, predators, and moralless dealers hate me and this website.

  5. #5 by Trashcandream on December 14, 2020 - 9:19 pm

    Sure, there was Netscape Navigator, Yahoo, and Webcrawler before. They all gathered and provided information on the web. But for all intents and purposes, you are currently the Google of the M.U.S.C.L.E. world. Where is there as much information about M.U.S.C.L.E. in one place, particularly that is being updated? Put another way, you may not be the best TV show now or of all time, but you are probably currently the highest rated TV show being broadcast. And that means you have influence.

  6. #6 by Jason Pratt on December 15, 2020 - 1:09 am

    I also opted for some level of influence in my choice. I suppose I as well did not think about whether this meant only me as an individual or a greater number of people. What you write does not influence, for example, how much I would pay on eBay as I never use it. However, this site has spurred my interest in the back story of the product, not just of the characters. For all who have contributed to the information collected, for all who have done similar, your site has been the one I opt to read as I enjoy how it is presented and your style of writing. Finally, your reviews of other figures outside of the muscle figures has inspired me to make purchases of items I would not have looked for myself. Perhaps that last one is a bit outside of what you are asking. Nonetheless, this is one of the few sites I regularly check on the web and I appreciate all you do.

  7. #7 by Walker26 on December 15, 2020 - 8:45 am

    Influence, No. Place to get information, Yes. Your website didn’t influence the high price of all the recent 12 packs going over $3000. People wanting to complete their master set and/or wanting to add another piece of M.U.S.C.L.E. story to their collection did. French-Canadian Claw 4 pack…. yes please. That is something unique that we don’t see a lot of.

  8. #8 by Chad Perry on December 15, 2020 - 10:41 am

    Thank you all for the unnecessary, but appreciated, kind words. It seems like I can distill all of these notes to the most simple idea: I’m loud and (mostly) consistent.

    That works for me. Get back to bowing and chanting. 🙂

  9. #9 by Walker26 on December 15, 2020 - 4:35 pm

    Correction to my previous post….price of all the recent 4 packs….. obviously my brain wasn’t functioning when I typed 12. lol

  10. #10 by Jon K. on January 8, 2021 - 11:07 am

    Well, I’ve not been here long enough to know your influence, and I’m more of a Kinnikuman collector – but your site has helped tremendously, and so if the site helps is that influence? Maybe it influenced me to think about (once I’m satisfied with Kinnikuman) adding M.U.S.C.L.E. to the shelves – seeing as that’s where this started back in the mid-80’s with me as a kid.

(will not be published)