Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E. Figures – Alpha


Details about each of the “Super Rare” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures can be found in History 300. The goal of Philosophy 200 is to examine the mysteries that surround these figures in addition to presenting theories about the source and cause of “Super Rare” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

The non-poster M.U.S.C.L.E. figures seem to fall into three categories:

1. Non-Poster Alpha Figures
These are Drunken Master, Dark Emperor, Satan Cross B, Satan Cross C, Satan Cross D (2-piece), Ramenman with Dragon, Warsman with Spikes, Terryman, Brocken Jr., Buffaloman with Bazooka, Prism Man, Mysterious Partner, Robin Mask, Robin Mask (Blue), Red Geronimo (Shouting), Missileman, Woolman, and Chain Man.

Drunken Master

Dark Emperor

Satan Cross B

Satan Cross C

Satan Cross D

Ramenman with Dragon

Warsman with Spikes

Terryman

Brocken Jr.

Buffaloman with Bazooka
(Placeholder)
Should Be Flesh Version

Prism Man
(Placeholder)
Should Be Flesh Version

Mysterious Partner
(Placeholder)
Should Be Flesh Version

Robin Mask

Robin Mask (Blue)

Red Geronimo (Shouting)

Missileman

Woolman


If King Robin Mask and Devil Ashuraman were ever proven to be authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, then they would also be grouped as Alpha figures. Unfortunately these two figures have never been authenticated and remain total mysterious. These figures unexpectedly and mysteriously showed up on Craigslist only to, just as mysteriously, quickly disappear.

Returning to the other 18 figures, they are incredibly difficult to find. In many cases only one example of each figure is known. Interestingly the market for these figures is incredibly small. The Alpha figures are highly desired by probably every M.U.S.C.L.E. collector. However, only a small number of people ever consider purchasing these figures. The hesitation for many collectors is the price tag these figures often carry.

The Gamma and Beta Non-Poster Figures are unquestionably authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figures – mainly because of their numerous discoveries and authentication by numerous collectors. The sheer obscurity of these Alpha figures does raise the validity question as to whether they are authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. For the sake of discussion, the assumption will be made that they are authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.

In 2007, Soupie put together a very through list of fourteen of the popular hypotheses that had been offered over the years. That list is recreated below, with commentary regarding the feasibility of each of hypothesis.

Authenticity

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures aren’t authentic M.U.S.C.L.E figures.
    • While this theory seems laughable when discussing the Gamma and Beta figures, it must be considered a serious possibility with the Alpha figures. The precise number of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures produced will never be known, but estimates could put the number anywhere from 9 million to 230 million. It seems nearly impossible that only one (0.00001% – based on 9 million figures), or maybe even 100 (.0001% – based on 9 million figures), of these Alpha figures were made. Additionally, Mattel employees have stated that it would have been “highly unlikely” for one, or even a handful, of unintentional figures to be made. A discontinued figure would probably show up in quantities closer to that of the Beta figures.

      The definition of “authentic” could also be up for debate. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. would define an authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figure as one that was released in 4-, 10-, or 28-packs.

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are really Japanese Kinnikuman, or some type of Japanese Kinkeshi, that were sold in Japan and coincidentally were made of M.U.S.C.L.E. plastic.
    • For a number of years the X-2 figure was consider to be a Super Rare M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. Later it was discovered that he was part of Kinnikuman spin-off called Ramenman. This lack of information within the M.U.S.C.L.E. community was likely the result of the internet being in its infancy. The ever expanding growth of the internet and accessibility to more and more information makes this theory less and less likely.

Targeted Audience

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures were only released in Canada.
    • Alpha figures have been found all in both Japan and the United States. There does not seem to be any data that supports this theory.
  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are M.U.S.C.L.E figures that were produced as prototypes and/or salesman samples.
    • This theory was one of the earliest and most popular theories for all “Super Rare” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures for several years. However, it has lost much of its credibility when talking about Gamma and Beta Non-Poster figures – simply because of the volume of figures. With Alpha figures the salesman sample does not seem appropriate, because there are so few Alpha figures.

      It does seem, at least, possible that the figures are prototypes. It is possible that they were cast as figures that went to Mattel’s M.U.S.C.L.E. brand management team. It could explain their absolute exclusivity. And because Mattel employees did not feel much ownership of the brand, coupled with its rather quick discontinuation, employees likely did not want or need keepsakes from their experience working on the brand. The figures could have easily been given away without any special mention. Of course, it should be noted that a story like the previous one has never been shared.

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures were exclusive figures available through the Nestle Quik Promotion.
    • It is possible that some Beta figures were included in the promotion, similar to any other Flesh poster figure. However, there have never been any sealed Beta figures found in the Quik packaging. Additionally, each person that has spoken about M.U.S.C.L.E., because of their professional association with Mattel or the toy industry in the mid-1980’s, stated that cross-promotion exclusives as a collectible had not become that evolved. Many of them have stated how M.U.S.C.L.E. served as the first example of a collectible toy. It was only as sophisticated as offering the poster. All the aspects of collectability and exclusives have evolved since M.U.S.C.L.E.

Recall

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are regular M.U.S.C.L.E figures that were recalled due to small parts.
    • This was another very popular theory, especially when SHA and BHS were the only two “Super Rare” figures. However, with the discovery of subsequent “Super Rare” figures the theory seemed to lose some popularity. It was also discovered that a government recall, due to small parts, had not been issued during the time M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were released. It is possible that Mattel discontinued production of BHS and SHA because of their small parts for a variety of reasons. Evidence of an external recall of BHS and SHA, or any M.U.S.C.L.E. item, by Mattel has not been discovered.

Manufacturing

  • Bandai produced M.U.S.C.L.E figures and kinkeshi Kinnikuman sculpts, belonging to parts 15-26, at the same time – which could account for Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures being produced in M.U.S.C.L.E. plastic.
    • Toy industry professionals have consistently cited Mattel’s quality standards. They have often baulked at the idea of such mix-ups. It is possible, however improbably it seems, that one particular casting of figures had molds that had been incorrectly pulled for use or incorrectly plugged. Bandai workers would have then simply included these figures in with the regular figures.

      An interesting twist to this idea is that some Bandai workers may have cast their own M.U.S.C.L.E. figures in some of their favorite Kinnikuman sculpts. These figures may have been recognition or “trophies” for having worked on M.U.S.C.L.E. However, people more familiar with Japanese etiquette suggest this would have been highly unlikely behavior.

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are the result of molds damaged before and/or during M.U.S.C.L.E. production.
    • This seems like a very simple explanation, and it could be possible for one or two figures – unlikely for all the Non-Poster figures. Sadly, it would be almost impossible to confirm this hypothesis. By all accounts, Bandai no longer has the molds. It would take the astounding memory of a Bandai factory worker. Even if that worker existed it seems even less likely they would remember a singular mold/tool be damaged at work over 20 years ago.
  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are the result of molds being plugged incorrectly resulting in M.U.S.C.L.E. plastic flowing to them, filling properly, and producing figures.
    • Similar to the theory above, this would be difficult to ever fully confirm. However, there does seem to be some anecdotal information that suggests this as a possibility. First, the figures were made using injection molding. When casting it is possible to plug certain sections of the mold to prevent filling or to direct the plastic in a different direction. Because Mattel’s M.U.S.C.L.E. plastic is different than Bandai’s kinkesi plastic they may have discovered certain problems. It is possible that certain parts and trees were creating errors and/or problems. Discontinuing certain figures would have been a simple solution.

Mattel/Bandai Problems

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are the result of a miscommunication between Bandai Japan and Mattel America.
    • This theory could stand on its own, be the root of every other theory, or simply be a part of every theory. Without the input of Joe Morrison the Mattel/Bandai relationship will never fully be understood. It is known that Mattel saw M.U.S.C.L.E. as only a flanker brand to He-Man and a chance to effortlessly attempt to capture the success of another Japanese export – Transformers. Because Mattel had very little design and creative input in the toys, it is not unrealistic to believe the passion was also missing from the project. A few lackadaisical communications may have opened the door for a few early mistakes (e.g., Beta figures).
  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures are the result of an assumed second wave of Flesh M.U.S.C.L.E figures that were quickly replaced by a second wave of colored M.U.S.C.L.E figures.
    • This could be viewed as part of the theory above. However, it is important to separate it given the state of Mattel during the mid-1980’s. While Mattel had a huge success with He-Man, the company was financially in trouble and in 1987 it “maximized its core brands and tried to identify new core brands.” Mattel leadership likely saw the writing on the wall before 1987 and wanted to do everything possible to minimize costs. Releasing a second wave, of the same figures in new colors, was likely the easiest and most cost effective solution for the M.U.S.C.L.E. brand. It is possible the original plan had been to release new figures, which is why some figures were made – but only in limited quantities because production was cancelled.

      This could be one of the most likely scenarios for the Alpha figures because it includes Flesh and Color figures. However, the greatest detractor is the exclusivity of the figures. If the figures were part of a “second wave,” then there should be far more examples of each figure.

  • The Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E figures were produced at the beginning of the line when Bandai and Mattel planned on releasing all Kinnikuman sculpts as M.U.S.C.L.E figures. Later, it was decided not to make every sculpt into a M.U.S.C.L.E figure.
    • While this theory seems very plausible for the Beta figures, it seems incredibly unlikely for the Alpha figures. There are simply too few Alpha figures for this to be considered a realistic possibility.
  • The Non-M.U.S.C.L.E. sculpts are a result of a Mattel/Bandai licensing issue, resulting in some Non-M.U.S.C.L.E. sculpts mistakenly being made into M.U.S.C.L.E figures.
    • Again, this theory could likely be validated or disproven by Joe Morrison. Until then, it seems possible but not very probable. As M.U.S.C.L.E. was only a flanker brand Mattel would not have wanted to engage in any behavior that could potentially have a negative litigious outcome.

Combination

  • There is not one single correct overriding theory for all of the Non-Poster M.U.S.C.L.E. figures – each figure, or Class of figures, is instead the result of parts of several theories. Potentially each Non-Poster figure has its own appropriate theory.
    • This is likely the most realistic scenario. While Non-Poster figures are able to be grouped together for a variety of reasons, they may each be the result of several unconnected actions.

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