WAR! The headline for each of Kyle’s M.U.S.C.L.E. playtimes. The different sculpts and colors of figures would battle for supremacy. With new, more intense, battles breaking out each time new figures were introduced.
Kyle’s M.U.S.C.L.E. wars were not the only M.U.S.C.L.E. activity from childhood. His brother also shared an interest in M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. When the two brothers played with their M.U.S.C.L.E. figures together it was more of a showcase of M.U.S.C.L.E. ingenuity and power.
Each brother would select a figure. And instead of angrily smashing them into each other they would take turns showing each other the most devastating punches, kicks, or other M.U.S.C.L.E. combat techniques. Those special techniques often involved launching figures off dressers or the top of the stairs.
Kyle’s time with M.U.S.C.L.E. figures lasted for one or two years. As he continued to get bigger his interested in action figures seemed to evolve to larger action figures. However the figures weren’t thrown away – only packed away for some other day.
That “other day” was sometime in February of 2010.
I was sitting at school and I was just surfing the web between classes and I was watching the movie “Dawn of the Dead” and for some weird reason it made me think about the MUSCLE figures!? I hadn’t thought about them in literally years and years. So, I did a quick search and like many others, I came across Nathan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. Page. I was shocked that someone had a website dedicated to them. After that I found the U of M.U.S.C.L.E. and LRG.After seeing the M.U.S.C.L.E. websites Kyle returned to his parents’ house, looking for his childhood figures. He found approximately 50 figures and knew immediately they were his, not his brother’s, figures.
I had to separate our MUSCLE’s with a black dot on the foot of the figure. This was a way to keep us from arguing over what figure belonged to who.
Kyle had been awestruck by the variety of colors and sculpts M.U.S.C.L.E. figures as a child. That same feeling was revived as he started collecting. His first goal was to complete a set of Flesh M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.
To help him achieve that goal he reached out to the collectors of LittleRubberGuys.com. He was surprised to see another collector nearby in Utah. He arranged a meeting with the other collector to purchase the figures. He thought, “Since he lives in Utah I don’t have much to lose to look at them and make sure they are what I want.”The pair of collectors met in a movie theater parking lot, talked a little bit, and made their M.U.S.C.L.E. transaction. Kyle was excited not only to increase his M.U.S.C.L.E. collection but to meet another board member and have a positive first transaction to begin his new collection.
Exchanging M.U.S.C.L.E. figures with an equally excited M.U.S.C.L.E. collector was not much different from his childhood experience receiving figures.
I would get my figures from my mom. If my brother and I were good and did our chores she would give us a 4-pack or 10-pack. I mostly remember the 10-packs because of the excitement involved in not knowing what figures were inside. I remember opening the 10-packs and then my brother and I would show each other what figures we had and would trade if we had a double or wanted one that the other had. Recently I asked my mom where she bought them and she said it was either K-Mart or Wal-Mart, or both.
As Kyle continued his collecting he was amazed to learn about the various M.U.S.C.L.E. accessories that had been available. He had only known about the figures as a child, and as an adult that same interest seemed to continue. His favorite figures are the same ones from his childhood: #15, #107, and #195.While Kyle is almost exclusively focused on M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, there is one item that bridges his love of figures with the discovery of new M.U.S.C.L.E. items – The M.U.S.C.L.E. Mega-Match Game. The Grape colored figures and game board restricted Terri-Bull figure are fascinating to Kyle. He also takes great pride in having a board game with a complete, unused sticker sheet.
Kyle’s focus on almost exclusively M.U.S.C.L.E. figures has made his a stickler for quality. Every time he receives new figures they are given a warm, soapy bath and scrubbed with a toothbrush. Then each figure is individually inspected. If it is in better condition than the current version in his collection, then he swaps the figures.
He is so concerned with the quality of the figure that he won’t keep any marked or damaged figures. He will try his best to scrub the figure clean, but if it isn’t perfect in his opinion – it’s put into the sell/trade pile of figures. Of course, he admits that when a harder to find figure comes through his collection he finds himself lowering his standards.Kyle’s standards for the quality M.U.S.C.L.E. might be very high, but he takes a very relaxed approach to owning the figures. Some of his favorite pieces are displayed in his home office, with his Flesh and Color set displayed in cookie jars. However the rest of the figures are kept in a set of plastic drawers – drawers that that are the perfect height for kids.
Anytime my nieces or nephews are over they can play with any of the loose figures that they want. They usually look at them and organize them according to color, or just throw them wildly into the air. Some people value their collections more than others and won’t even touch their figures once they have been displayed or acquired. I will always consider the figures as toys and not collectibles so I have no problem allowing people touch them and play with them, that’s what they are for.
It may be hard for some collectors to imagine using Kyle’s system of storage. It might be even harder for them to imagine tracking such a collection. However, Kyle takes a very organized approach to tracking his collection.
Unhappy with all of the tracking resources that he could find, Kyle set out to create one that worked best for his personal preferences. He took the data from the Rough Draft Version of the UofMUSCLE.com Figure Guide plus the pictures from Nathan’s M.U.S.C.L.E. Blog.One specific figure has haunted him from his guide – Purple #15. This is his most coveted figure.
I think that it is a realistic goal to have one and this is one of the very, very few figures I would overpay for. My obsession with this sculpt comes from my childhood and I have always thought he was one of the coolest figures mainly because he is so different from all the others. I hope to one day obtain the elusive purple #15 but until then I will enjoy every second of hunting for it.
There is not a set dollar amount that Kyle assigns to his Purple #15. However he does see M.U.S.C.L.E. figures having a pretty consistent value and that value really shouldn’t exceed one dollar. More specifically, he sees the average value of a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure to be between $0.45 and $0.60. He does admit that any purchase made at less than $0.50 per figure is a pretty good deal.
Kyle’s opinion is based on his involvement within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community. A community he sees as, “people who are, at least, semi-active in doing anything in any aspect with respect to the MUSCLE toy line. That includes: buying, trading, collecting, customs, art, even plain old personal contributions through questions, answers, and constructive comments about the M.U.S.C.L.E. toy line.”
He is also impressed with the community’s welcoming nature and commitment to watching out for each other. The camaraderie is certainly one of its greatest strengths.Kyle also sees room for improvement:
I would like to see more pictures!!! To me part of collecting is seeing other’s collections in creative and new ways. It can be a little overwhelming to see shelves that have literally hundreds and hundreds of figures on it, so, I like to try and display my figures creatively and neatly so that others can view it without feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of the collection. I also think that if someone is going to spend money on this toy line then they might as well show it off a little. I am fascinated by the numerous ways to display M.U.S.C.L.E.s and other accessories. I would also like to see more pictures of hard to find figures and items.
Kyle, along with every other M.U.S.C.L.E. collector, is unsure of what the future holds for M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and the M.U.S.C.L.E. community. Kyle can see both the possibility of new collectors continuing to find M.U.S.C.L.E. and the potential disappearance of M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors.
Either way Kyle is happy that he is a part of M.U.S.C.L.E. community. And he offers some advice to new and existing M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors:
- Ask questions, this will help you from getting burned or taken advantage of. It will also help you to learn more, be a better member of the M.U.S.C.L.E. community, and make friends with other M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors.
- Don’t overpay, overpaying for instant gratification will lead to a short lived interest in M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting and it’s just plain dumb to foolishly waste your money.
- Be patient, there is plenty for everyone. If you see something you want, go for it, but keep in mind that the hunt is more gratifying than the kill.
- Enjoy it! I have learned through experience that if it makes you happy then that’s all that matters.
- My final piece of advice comes from secondary experience and it is not to get totally consumed in trying to complete your collection. As fun as it can be and as time consuming it may be, don’t forget to live your life and put what matters most in highest priority.
Just a quick THANK YOU to all of those who have helped in my collection, those in the M.U.S.C.L.E. community who have befriended me, and those who have created such great websites to help build the M.U.S.C.L.E. community. I couldn’t enjoy it without them.
The entire M.U.S.C.L.E. community thanks Kyle for sharing his 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..