Websites: Ryan’s Deviantart.com page and Facebook profile
Ryan Searles, known as Scumdogg on LittleRubberGuys.com, is an interesting and prominent collector within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community for a variety of reasons – most notably because of his incredible M.U.S.C.L.E.-related artwork. He is the next collector to be featured in Sociology 300 and, unlike many other modern collectors, Ryan’s fondness for M.U.S.C.L.E. figures is not rooted in his past.
Ryan did not have many M.U.S.C.L.E. figures as a child. His focus was squarely on the action figure-orientated toys of the mid-80s: He-Man, GI Joe, etc. Even with his focus elsewhere, some M.U.S.C.L.E. figures managed to sneak into his childhood toy box.
As Ryan got older, he actually surprised himself. Some of his childhood belongings included 14 M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.
“I don’t remember when or where they were purchased, but they were one of the few things from my childhood toy collection to not get sold in my early teens. I still have them. Based on what was in the bag it seems like all I ever got was an all-color 10-pack and a mixed 4-pack.”
Ryan’s interest in M.U.S.C.L.E. figures seemed to spring from a growing disinterest in the overly articulated, overly engineered action figures offerings of his childhood and from modern toy companies. He became more interested in monochromatic plastic and rubber figures. Battle Beasts, Monster in my Pocket, Mini Boglins, and whatever grabbed his interest became objections of his affection as he shifted towards “LRG’s.”As an artist, he felt that the minimalism often associated with the toys created a more fertile ground for his own creativity. He was no longer burdened with intricate details and convoluted back stories.Ryan’s re-discovery of M.U.S.C.L.E. took place in the fall of 2007. While at a flea market he discovered a small bag of roughly a dozen figures priced at an irresistible price of one dollar. The seller was liquidating a large chunk of his toy collection and asked if Ryan would be interested in purchasing more figures. The next week Ryan returned to the flea market to purchase a bigger bag of figures and the Hard Knockin Wrestling Ring from the seller.
The acquisition of these M.U.S.C.L.E. figures drove him to the internet for a better understanding of the figures. Naturally he discovered Nathan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. Page which eventually led him to LittleRubberGuys.com. Soon Ryan became enchanted with all the mystery and research surrounding the M.U.S.C.L.E. brand, as well as the M.U.S.C.L.E. community in general.
“I really don’t think there’s anything else like it in toy collecting, especially when you look at LRG collectors as a whole. I’m not sure what makes these kinds of figures attract mostly awesome people.”
Ryan, like fellow collector Lucas Rage, has a laissez-faire approach to his M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting.
“Right now I guess I’m just casually going for a full color set, like most people seem to end up doing. I have no problem with it taking years though, so I’m on and off with my purchases. Right now when I get things I like to trade and I’m actively pursuing my favorite sculpts in certain colors first. I kind of want this to be something I always do, rather than a hobby with an end goal in sight.”Ryan’s favorite M.U.S.C.L.E. pieces in his collection are the two 4-packs, and his Oilman (#12) figures. While he can’t pinpoint his love for #12, he does recognize there’s just something intrinsically appealing to him about the M.U.S.C.L.E. packaging. And while he admits he’d love to have a Purple #153 he has consciously stepped away from having items placed onto pedestals and becoming “holy grails.”
His collection, which once overflowed out of an entire room dedicated to it, can now easily fit into a few small boxes. He would prefer the collection to be less about size and more focused on clean, controlled displays. Allowing both himself and others greater enjoyment when viewing it.
It was after some significant life changes that Ryan believes he has some meaningful advice for other collectors:
“Take it slow…as much fun as it is to have a huge M.U.S.C.L.E. collection, it’s a lot more fun putting it together. Be patient, wait for trades. The friends you’ll make in the process will prove to be more valuable than any toys ever could.”Ryan feels some frustration, because of his intense interest, that he has been unable to help further the research into the minutia and mystery of M.U.S.C.L.E. toys. In a somewhat comical role reversal, it is probably safe to assume that many other collectors feel even more frustrated than Ryan because of their inability to contribute such high quality little rubber guy-inspired art.
His arrival, along with a few other incredible artists, into the M.U.S.C.L.E. community could arguably be hailed as the M.U.S.C.L.E. Fan Art renaissance. It was a period of unparalleled quality and quality which seemed to elicit more excitement and participation from both artists and art connoisseurs.
Ryan’s inspiration come from the various M.U.S.C.L.E. figures he likes to have readily available. Most figures are in clear plastic totes, but typically he likes to keep a few figures out on his drawing desk and in various containers and things on shelves. Ryan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. art will be featured within Art 300.
Ryan had this closing thought:
“My sincere thanks to everyone who keeps LRG and the rest of the online M.U.S.C.L.E. community up to date and thriving…I know it can’t always be an easy task, but it is definitely appreciated!”
All M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors offer a huge thank you to Ryan for sharing his personal story.
If you would like to be a featured collector, please complete a questionnaire and provide photojournalistic pictures of your collection. Again, the focus of the pictures are not to solely highlight M.U.S.C.L.E. pieces, but rather how those pieces actually exist within the collector’s life. If you: (1) have any questions about the questionnaire or pictures; or (2) would like to submit your questionnaire and pictures, please email the University of M.U.S.C.L.E..