Sociology 300 – Bill Raeth


Framed M.U.S.C.L.E. Collection

Framed M.U.S.C.L.E. Collection

Collector: Bill Raeth

“What ever happened to…?” It’s a question that gets addressed to romances, bands, people, and even toys. In 2008 Bill Raeth, known as vette88 on LittleRubberGuys.com, wondered, “What ever happened to M.U.S.C.L.E. figures?”

That simple question, paired with a Google search, took Bill to Nathan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. Page and ultimately led him back to collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Bill had originally collected M.U.S.C.L.E. figures as a child in Escanaba, Michigan. He remembers buying his first figures at a K-Mart.

The weird designs of the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were too interesting to pass up. While Mattel may have focused on the wrestling aspect of the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, this was inconsequential to Bill. He was one of many children that enjoyed the ambiguity of the figures. In fact, Bill and his friends barely used them as action figures at all. Instead the figures were participants in a Hide and Seek-type game. Bill and his friends would hide the figures while the lone remaining friends counted. He remembered that trees were often the favorite hiding spot for the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

Framed Figures - Close-Up

Framed Figures - Close-Up

As Bill got older his attention shifted away from M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. When Bill’s attention shifted back to M.U.S.C.L.E. it was furiously focused. Instead of slowly constructing a set through small purchases and trades he immediately bought a set of Flesh figures and a Satan Cross. As Bill continued to learn more and more about M.U.S.C.L.E. figures he became more and more interested in purchasing M.U.S.C.L.E. items.

As the scope of Mattel’s M.U.S.C.L.E. line is quite limited Bill had to look to more creative means of securing new M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. He satiates his need for new figures by reaching out to creative individuals within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community – specifically the figures that are cast by Marty Hansen and the painted figures created by Luke Harris.

Mart and Luke both created two of Bill’s favorite pieces. Marty created a Red #153 with a Corvette logo and Luke painted a Rubix cube inspired #24. Bill is very passionate about #153. Those figures are the main focus of his collection, specifically the Purple #153.

Flesh Poster

Flesh Poster

Color Poster

Color Poster

While Bill’s passion for M.U.S.C.L.E. and collecting focus are both laser-like, his method for tracking his collection is the polar opposite. Bill simply does not keep track of his collection. Instead his collection is prominently displayed.

The Flesh set, along with his some of his other favorite figures, are displayed in a cabinet. Alongside his figures are framed versions of the Flesh and Color M.U.S.C.L.E. posters. The remainders of his collection, mostly Color figures, have been put into Ziploc bags.

Bill’s intense interest has made him an active part of the M.U.S.C.L.E. community. Bill values having both the people and website resources that make the hobby enjoyable, but ultimately he has fun with both collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and being part of the M.U.S.C.L.E. community.

Shelf of M.U.S.C.L.E. Items

Shelf of M.U.S.C.L.E. Items

Bill also tries to help new collectors by guiding them to sites like The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. and Nathan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. Page . He also offers collectors tips:

1. Have fun
2. Be creative
3. Help others
4. Ask questions

And while the entire M.U.S.C.L.E. community thanks Bill for sharing his personal story, Bill also wanted to say:

Thanks to the people who have developed the sights that I visit.

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..

Sociology 300 Questionnaire (Word Version) – Click to Download
Sociology 300 Questionnaire (.txt version) – Right Click and Save

Bill also wanted to share some additional information about himself.

Bill's 49ers Autograph Collection

Bill's 49ers Autograph Collection

My 49ers’ autographs have a special meaning. When I was either 16 or 17, my parents and I were at the Pine Mountain restaurant in Iron Mountain, Michigan. On the ceiling I noticed a 49er flag autographed by then head coach Steve Mariucci (home town is Iron Mountain). I casually said: “I would do anything to get a flag like that.” I didn’t think my parents would take action. Some how my mom knew that his parents still lived in Iron Mountain. My mom wrote them a letter of what happened at the restaurant. For that year’s Christmas (also my birthday) I received a surprise: Flag autographed by Steve Mariucci, color picture autographed by Steve, black and whites autographed by Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Bryant Young, and JJ Stokes, a pendant autographed by Steve. Over the years I received jackets, calendars, magazines, magnets, and a Detroit Lion hat autographed by Steve. I did get to say thanks to his parents in person, and while at their house was able to say thanks to Steve over the phone.

Bill's Rock Collection

Bill's Rock Collection

The rocks also have a special meaning. The rocks that you see were mostly found by my Grandpa in Upper Michigan. The top left one is part of a hatchet. There are several arrowheads (I found the small red one on the right in Upper Michigan). The bottom right is a crystallized bee hive my Grandpa found. The brown, long, thin rock on left was tool the Indians used to scrap the hide off an animal. The red rock below is was used at the end of a spear. The rock with a hole in it might have been used as some kind of weapon or to cut wood. It has a slight ridge.

, , ,

  1. #1 by Biffard on June 12th, 2010

    Nice collection vette! I especially enjoy the creative setup. I look at your collection constantly because it is organized and shows each individual figure. IMO this is one of the best ways to display/share a MUSCLE collection that allows others to see everything without feeling a little overwhelmed by a mass of figures. Sweet collection and keep up the good work!

(will not be published)