The Sunday Paper

The Sunday Paper returns thanks to the third entry from Peter Vander Haeghe. He sent his write-up to and, thankfully for me, he followed the guidelines. Thanks Peter!

Remember the Sunday Paper is open to anybody! If you have a M.U.S.C.L.E. topic/question/rant that you want the world to see, then please feel free to send it in. I know M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors would love an extra day of content.

M.U.S.C.L.E. 4 Sale
By Peter Vander Haeghe


A recreation for the article.

During the past few years, I’ve taken the time to jot down stories from my youth. For today’s article, I will be reminiscing about selling M.U.S.C.L.E. figures during the 1980’s and my observations of the line’s last gasps at retail.

Taking toys into school to sell was originally my dad’s idea. It gave me a little extra money to, well, buy more toys! I would, also, trade them, often times for older ones that I had missed out on getting. There were so many good lines in the 80’s that it was hard to keep up. Even the most obscure lines had some merit to them. One day in the late 80’s, I decided to take my M.U.S.C.L.E. figures to school in a plastic grocery bag and sell them. I had given up on trying to collect a full set and was into collecting other toys. I had received a poster in the mail sometime earlier. After matching up my figures with it, I was only missing two figures: the mammoth guy and the football guy. I didn’t have the ones that came with the ring, but I’m not even sure if I knew they were unique. And, I didn’t know about SC. It was frustrating because prior to getting the poster, I was sure that I had them all – I had so many. Even more frustrating was knowing that it wouldn’t be cost effective to keep buying 10-Packs in order to get the last two that I needed. I don’t recall seeing those two in 4-Packs. To make matters worse, I had lost some figures between then and when I made my decision to sell my collection. Most memorable was having my turtle figure chucked into a tree after an argument with a friend. Being exclusive the 28-Pack, there was no way I could get another one back then.


An undramatic recreation of turtle being lost.


The actual tree my original turtle was lost in. Is he still in there embedded in it?

I entered the school with a bag full of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures every morning and sold them in the hallway for a quarter each before class began. It was a huge success! Kids from my class, as well as ones in younger grades tore through the bag looking for ones they wanted. What surprised me was that most of them didn’t know about the line. I had introduced them to it and kick-started a mini episode of M.U.S.C.L.E. mania! My theory as to why my classmates generally weren’t in the know was because most of them were a year younger than me since I had repeated the second grade due to missing a lot of school thanks to things like chickenpox and pneumonia. I thought it was odd that they were oblivious to things like Garbage Pail Kids, too. As the quarters rolled in, I would head to Toys ‘R Us after school and use them to buy more toys. I had sold my M.U.S.C.L.E.s down to around a couple dozen figures that no one seemed to want. And, well, my claws, which I planned to hold onto. But the story didn’t end there…

Sometime during my sales, my interest in M.U.S.C.L.E. was rekindled thanks to the kids I was selling them to. Some of them had brought colored ones to school to show off. They were something that I had pretty much missed out on. My only memory of buying any colored ones prior was when I saw a bunch of 4-Packs in a pile inside of a Hills department store. They were of the mixed color and flesh variety. I snapped up one with a red claw. What really piqued my interest in the later colored ones was a kid in a younger grade bringing in an orange mammoth guy to school to trade me for a flesh figure. I thought the figure was awesome not only because of the sculpt and color, but because it was one of the ones that I hadn’t owned. My friends thought the figure was cool and I begrudgingly sold it to a frenemy after he had offered me $2.50. He was the type of kid that if he wanted something, he’d try and get it by making ridiculous offers and you’d seldom hear the end of it! He’d trade video games to me for sports cards. And, not good cards either. 90’s manufactured “rare” cards. It was like, “I want that card.” “I don’t want to trade it.” “How about for Ninja Gaiden?” “Done!” But I digress… This leads me to my observations of the remnants of the once mighty M.U.S.C.L.E. line.

So, there I was… The majority of my M.U.S.C.L.E. collection had been sold off and I had been left with a mighty need to start collecting them again. M.U.S.C.L.E. will do that to you! The real breaking point came when a friend and our frenemy got some colored 28-Packs at a KB Toys. I was dazzled by the colors. I remember playing with them at my friend’s house. Some of which was us being silly like launching them down a stairwell into his living-room using the ropes on his LJN wrestling ring, which annoyed his sister. His mom would call him by first name, middle name, and last name when she was mad at him. “First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, you cut that out right now!” So began my journey to collect what I could get my hands on at retail. The first of which came from a trip with my dad when we decided to take one heck of a walk to a Gold Circle that was in its death throes. Then I went to multiple Hills and an Ames with my mom to buy up as much as I could. All that I could find were 4-Packs, something of which I never bought while collecting flesh ones. It dawned on me that it was too little, too late to try to build much of a collection, but I could still get colored versions of some of my favorite sculpts and take my dupes to school to sell and help finance my rekindled collecting habit. The last hurrah would come sometime later when I was vacationing with my parents in Erie, PA. They had two boxes of colored 10-Packs, which was the only time I saw them in a store. I sat down on the floor and held the cans up to the light in an attempt to find claws and got two green ones that way. Those were the last M.U.S.C.L.E.s I got at retail. Besides a really weird encounter with seeing a ton of flesh 4-Packs for sale in a dollar store inside of a mall in the 90’s, it was the last time I would see them in a store. On a related note, I ended up with a light blue football guy, which was bittersweet. It was at least to cool to have owned every figure on the poster at some point, but I remembered holding it while sitting out on my sidewalk and lamenting about not having a full set.

Selling off my collection was a lot of fun and it wasn’t a bad way to part with it. I made a lot of kids happy and brought M.U.S.C.L.E. mania back, if ever so briefly. Years later, when I was collecting again using the Internet, the colored ones from my childhood, including my red claw would help pay for my flesh set when I auctioned most of them off on eBay. After I completed my set, I bought some more colored ones – go figure!


Witnesses to my 80’s M.U.S.C.L.E. selloff and part of my flesh set that I completed in 2001.
These two made it through all that and are still a part of my collection today.

Thank you Peter!

When you first sent me the article I was actually a little bit nervous. I didn’t read it, but I saw you included four odd pictures. After reading your article, those pictures that had me concerned were my favorite part. They added so much – especially the final picture. It’s amazing those two figures made it through your entire journey. Very cool.

If you’re feeling inspired, then please sent in your article and pictures to

Hard Hitting MUSCLE News

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)