Top Ten Thursday #5

The Top Ten Thursday relaunch continues. Last week I tried a post without pictures. I don’t know what I was expecting? This week I decided I should do the opposite. Again, I don’t know what I’m expecting.

Of course, if I want to do the opposite I don’t want to be too cliché. I don’t want to just say, “Here are my Top Ten Favorite M.U.S.C.L.E. figures!”

Instead I drew some inspiration from AW #326. I wondered if we were seeing new collector behavior. More specifically, I wondered why anybody would start a Master Set in the current M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting landscape.

As I was staring at my printer trays (one of my favorite thinking places), I had a thought, “Maybe the lack of custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures is leaving collectors desperate for interesting purchases?”

I’ve often mentioned the Golden Age of custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. I never thought about it at the time, but I think these figures were filling a collector need. Artists were creating “new” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures that collectors wanted to add to their collections.

Without these “new” figures, collectors are deciding Purple #109 is special – because they need something to be special. I never thought about it that way when I was buying the figures, but my own hindsight really validates that idea. The artists were giving me something to be excited about and collect while I glacially writhed towards 1,528.

My Top Ten Custom M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures

ashurashine custom brownnoize productions

#10 – Ashurashine

You can love or hate this figure (actually I can’t imagine hating it, but I guess it’s possible), but you certainly can’t argue about the technical achievement. If you put YSNT on the back, then you would have novices talking about the new M.U.S.C.L.E. figure they discovered.

The only option to obtain this figure, as of writing, is an $86 metal version. That’s going to be a hard pass for me – especially since the original sold for $20.

Once, unsuccessfully, I joked that I should start bootlegging figures like Ashurashine. But, in all seriousness, if creators aren’t going to make figures this incredible available, then I don’t think bootlegging is too bad (as I have said before).

Adam Pratt Custom Figures

#9 – The Strawberry

This is the first of two figures from Adam Pratt on the list.

If any figure could be construed as “controversial”, then it is probably this selection. However, this figure’s level of fun seems perfect for a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. If a figure based on a blender can be a M.U.S.C.L.E., then a strawberry shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, it’s built with #208 parts! Many collectors hate the #208 figure, but he was one of my favorites as a kid (here’s the oldest public declaration I could find – my #153 feelings have changed 😉).

Making a cool looking custom from #208 can’t be an easy task. In fact, has there ever been another custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figure that heavily used the #208 sculpt?

Adam Pratt Art Painting

#8 – Tommy Tanker

If you don’t know, there’s a complex history with me and Tommy Tanker. But I wouldn’t have done all those things if I didn’t truly love the figure – which I still do.

I looked back at the original review and it reads too cold and disconnected. I should have said, “This is the #121 variant we have always needed.”

I think that’s really the reason I love it so much. It fits the M.U.S.C.L.E. aesthetic and, in my humble opinion, is a better version of that tank character. I think my love for the figure also shows in the stupid pictures and gif I took of this figure. The absolute lack of sales suggests this will not be a popular choice. But if you really love him, then please email me. I have some Tommy’s that deserve a proper home.


#7 – Brute Squad

If I felt the Tommy review was subpar, then the Brute Squad review is what I should strive for with every review. I really don’t have much to add. I think this figure is a marvel both creatively and technically.

This is another figure that should be recast. People might not clamor for The Strawberry and Tommy, but they would for this figure. Resin seems to be less popular today (as a casting material), but that would be a great way to bring a lower cost version to life.

I think it is also incredible that this figure creates its own M.U.S.C.L.E. category. There have been labels like Small/Baby and Skinny. There was never a need for a “Huge” label because the figures were either “normal” or the smaller type. This would, in my opinion, be the first huge, hulking M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.

Godzilla Minifigure Monster Toy

#6 – Manzilla 2

Adam Pratt has two figures show up on this top ten list, but Nama Niku (Tyler) has three and Manzilla 2 is the second entry.

Tyler probably deserves the title for the greatest M.U.S.C.L.E. customizer ever. I can’t think of another person that put out the same volume and quality. Hell, he’s still doing it – even if they aren’t all minifigures.

Not only would I like to see this figure sold again, but I’d even like the original, but lesser, Manzilla. I would also love to get a M.U.S.C.L.E. Flesh version of the figure. I love the Purple, and it shows the details, but I’m a purist. I love that original M.U.S.C.L.E. color. The Manzilla 2 figure would look amazing in M.U.S.C.L.E. Flesh.

Namu Niku Custom Figures

#5 – Meatgrinder

Once I started writing about Tyler and his figures it just made sense to group them together.

The Meatgrinder review is buried in a huge write-up. I have no idea why I did it this way. Minimally they should have been four different posts. Whatever.

I could have selected any of the figures from that write-up, but I landed on the Meatgrinder for a very important reason: it didn’t go too far. I hate when customizers just add gore and/or blood splatter because it doesn’t fit with the original M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

I would have argued that you can’t make this figure any better. Tyler found a way to make it better by continuing the figure’s story.

Puripuriman Monsieur Cheeks Kinnikuman

#4 – Puripuriman

If this was an Art 300 list, then you would be seeing the name Luke Harris much more often. Luke didn’t delve into custom M.U.S.C.L.E. too often – which is a shame when you see Puripuriman.

Luke dug back into the Kinnikuman character vault to create this figure. I’m not 100% certain, but it is the only example of doing this that I can think of seeing.

While I always really liked the figures; my love of it intensified when I saw the new version. I liked Luke’s version better.

There may be a purist who argues about the comic accuracy between the versions. Who really cares? Luke was able to craft an amazing M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. And I didn’t even mention one of my favorite header cards ever.

Robot MUSCLE Figure Rare

#3 – Silver Robot

The only thing I expect collectors to recognize about this figure is the name of the creator: Adam Pratt. (And honestly, maybe that’s not true – has anybody heard from him?)

I will be surprised if anybody remembers this figure. And that’s a shame to me because I think this might be the greatest kitbashed M.U.S.C.L.E. figure ever. Identifiable pieces are used, but it creates a 100% original and M.U.S.C.L.E.-appropriate character.

In a kitbashing world that too often swaps heads and adds spikes or weapons, this figure showcases the highest art of kitbashing.

As much as I try to avoid it, I know that I can lament about the “good old days” of M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting. This is why. This is the kind of stuff people were sharing and creating. Today it feels like collectors post a Purple #180 and say, “Check out this awesome find!” And everyone responds, “Awesome!”

Clawshine Sunshine Sunigator MUSCLE

#2 – Clawshine

Oh God how I hate a customized #153 figure. Let me guess: (1) longer nails; (2) flipping the middle finger; and/or (3) new/bigger head. They are the worst.

That’s why doing something truly original and with the highest quality is so amazing. This figure wasn’t sewn together from other M.U.S.C.L.E. pieces to make a new M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. This figure was a 100% new figure, but still 100% a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.

I have always seen this figure as an escalation point in M.U.S.C.L.E. history. This was the figure that showed collectors there was a next step in creating custom M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. And the reason it holds that position is the unbelievable quality. It became the new high bar to hit.

MUSCLE Cars ARM Custom

#1 – M.U.S.C.L.E. C.A.R.S.

If Clawshine said raised the bar, then M.U.S.C.L.E. C.A.R.S. said, “I win. Stop trying.”

I say that mostly joking, but part of me does honestly wonder, “Is this why we’re not seeing as many custom figures?”

In those damn “good old days” even I had the delusion to try and make custom figures. Luckily I knew they sucked and didn’t try to sell them for $15 on eBay. But I wouldn’t even dare today. Seriously, look at the figure to the right. I can’t do that.

And maybe people don’t want to cut up their Purple #180’s anymore? Maybe they are too worried about damaging their investment? I don’t know if any of that is true. I can only guess.

I do know that a figure like M.U.S.C.L.E. C.A.R.S., or any figure on this list, should inspire us. It should inspire us to cut up our figures, try something new, and acknowledge that screwing a keychain into a figure is just the worst.

In that spirit, I’ll share some of my customizing failure. I know mine suck, but that means you can do better. I believe there are M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors dying for something fun and interesting to spend their money on. I hope the artists on this list bring back their figures. I hope new artists learn to mold some of the classics. I hope we get more M.U.S.C.L.E. creations from artists we love, and meet an entirely new crop of artists too!

You won’t do any worse than this. There’s no pressure.

If you would like to share a Top Ten list on Thursday, then email me your write-up. Thank you in advance to anyone that wants to share a list!

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