Advertising & Promotion 300 – M.U.S.C.L.E. and Nestle Quik

Advertising is a constantly evolving beast. There is always a new method to sell goods: celebrity spokespeople, product placements, viral marketing campaigns, etc. One of the simplest promotions is to incentivize a product. If you buy this, then you get that. Perhaps the most widely recognizable example of this is Cracker Jack. If you buy a box of Cracker Jack, then you get a prize inside of the box. The cereal industry masterfully used this practice from the late fifties through the late eighties. Modern offers more often require a customer to mail-in to receive their prize.

Quik Ad

Quik Ad

During M.U.S.C.L.E.’s release Mattel partnered with Nestle Quik to run a similar promotion. While an official answer has not been uncovered, several sources suggested that Mattel would have likely gone to Nestle with their promotional idea. The focal point of the promotion was inside of a Nestle Quik can a customer would receive a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. The advertising was not limited to only the tin can. There was also the printed advertisement, which appeared in children’s magazines, and the promotional tube, which was given to schoolchildren.

The printed advertisement is probably the most recognizable, or at least most accessible, remnant from the Nestle/M.U.S.C.L.E. connection. Like the M.U.S.C.L.E. Pre-Pack the printed advertisement, and the Nestle Quik tin, feature original M.U.S.C.L.E. art.

The advertisement featured a background grid of 48 M.U.S.C.L.E. characters. The majority of the figures were obscured by a central cartoon featuring Muscleman seemingly beating-up Terri-Bull. The majority of the 48 cells are covered, but several characters can be seen multiple times. Figures #38, #153, #204, and #209 are the only figures that clearly appear once in the advertisement.

Color Coded

Color Coded

Eight figures are clearly repeated in the advertisement and have been color coded for easier matching:

  • Gray – #19
  • Green – #179
  • Brown – #157
  • Magenta – #50
  • Purple – #74
  • Blue – #99
  • Red – #1
  • Black – #169

Two figures underwent minor changes in an effort to hide their duplicity:

  • Yellow – #2
    • The horn of Terri-Bull has been slightly extended in the picture at the top of the page.
  • White – #27
    • The two bottom arms on the right and left side of the higher picture have been removed

The repetition of characters is likely due to the Nestle Quik tin being the original source for the art. The background grid from the tin was simply repeated and altered very slightly to allow for an easy, low-cost solution to the need for a print advertisement.

The advertisement also suggests there are 233 figures to collect. This is the figure count from the poster, which excludes SC, the ring figures, and any potential Super Rare figures.

Go-Bots Cover

Go-Bots Cover

The copyright of the advertisement says Nestle Foods Corporation 1986. This suggests that the advertisement did not print until 1986, which gives some specificity to the time of this promotion. Further pinpointing of the promotion can take place because the advertisement appeared in the Spring 1986 issue of Go-Bots magazine.

The advertisement likely appeared in more magazines and possibly comic books, however it has yet to be found in any other magazines or comics. The window for the advertisement appearing should be very late 1985 through very early 1987. Below is a list of comics and magazines confirmed to not have the advertisement:

  • DC Comics – Green Arrow (1985-1988)
Front - Left

Front - Left

Front

Front

If the Nestle Quik M.U.S.C.L.E. advertisement is found in any publications, please email the University of M.U.S.C.L.E..

If the advertisement is the most recognizable and/or accessible, then the Nestle Quik tin canister is the most revered remnant from the Nestle/M.U.S.C.L.E. connection. The front appears to follow the format Nestle used with all their promotions – a regular front, with a splash showcasing the prize/promotion in the bottom corner. The splash appears to be 100% new M.U.S.C.L.E. art that was not seen on anything else.

Back - Right

Back - Right

Back

Back

Back - Left

Back - Left

The back of the Nestle Quik tin is likely the original version of the grid of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. This was likely stretched and slightly changed to produce the print advertisement. Here there are only single pictures of figures #1, #2, #19, #27, #38, #50, #74, #99, #153, #157, #169, #204, and #209.

Inside of the tin was the catalyst for the entire promotion, the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. There is no indication anywhere that special or promotion figures were released in the tins. Based on the figures below, there does not appear to be any specific logic regarding what figures were promotional figures. Based on the sample below it appears that simply any Flesh figures could have been used. The various figures come from all of the packaging formats (4-, 10-, and each of the 28-packs). The tins simply contained regular, individually wrapped M.U.S.C.L.E. figures on a white cardboard backer.

Inside

Inside
of Tin

Tin w/ Original Figure

Tin w/ Original Enclosed Figure

Close-Up

Close-Up of Original Enclosed Figure

Below are additional Nestle Quik figures that remained sealed in their original packaging. These samples were discovered without the Nestle Quik tin.

Figure #1

Figure #3

Figure #3

Figure #6

Figure #6

Figure #8

Figure #9

Figure #12

Figure #15

Figure #15

Figure #20

Figure #20

Figure #21

Figure #21

Figure #32

Figure #35

Figure #38

Figure #38

Figure #41

Figure #41

Figure #48

Figure #51

Figure #53

Figure #53

Figure #60

Figure #60

Figure #64

Figure #64

Figure #93

Figure #93

Figure #95

Figure #98

Figure #98

Figure #107

Figure #114

Figure #117

#119

Figure #122

Figure #122

Figure #124

Figure #129

Figure #137

Figure #137

Figure #138

Figure #143

Figure #145

Figure #152

Figure #152

Figure #153

Figure #157

Figure #174

Figure #183

Figure #186

Figure #186

Figure #194

Figure #195

Figure #199

Figure #199

Figure #227

Figure #229

Figure #229


The promotional tube is the most mysterious part of the promotion. For a number of years the only known example of this piece belonged to Darrin Vindiola, and the single picture was courtesy of his, now retired, website – The MUSCLE Preservation Society. Based on his account, he was given the tube at a public elementary school with ten figures inside. There have been corroborating reports from other collectors, but little information regarding these tubes has every surfaced.

Nestle Tube

Nestle Tube

Then, in early 2014, Peter Hernández has provided the next great update. Peter Hernández provided a number of new images of the tubes, plus some interesting news about where he got them.

He grew up in Anasco, Puerto Rico and got both tubes in his elementary school in that same town. This is interesting because other anecdotal memories are scattered throughout the continental United States. Learning that these M.U.S.C.L.E./Quik tubes were also distributed outside of the continental United States suggests a much more structured approach to the promotion. Sadly, the question still remains, “What was their plan?”

Below are all of the pictures provided by Peter Hernández.

Roughly a month after Peter Hernández provided the next great update Marie Soulet-Messina had more to add to the story.

She submitted the comment below to Advertising & Promotion 300:

I was the one that originally contacted the M.U.S.C.L.E. preservation society about my nestle promo tube. I contacted Darrin and sent him pictures of my tube, one of the ones he showcased with my name in photo credits (maiden name). I still have the tube and I’m interested in selling the item.

After some initial communications she sent the following picture:

Marie’s Tube

Peter’s Tubes

It is interesting that Marie’s tube is much brighter and whiter than Peter’s two tubes.

Did Nestle use different cardboard?

Is it simply deterioration?

Deterioration seems the most logical answer, but the list of questions without definitive answers for the Nestle Tube continues to grow.

She was able to add the following information:

I originally got the tube as a child in the 80’s, in Rio Piedras Puerto Rico. I went to my friend’s school for an event, and the Nestle people were giving away the tubes with a few figures in them.

Two things are immediately interesting: (1) another tube from Puerto Rico; and (2) it was received at school – but not her school.

Given that there may be less than five of these tubes currently in collections, the fact that they continue to originate from Puerto Rico is fascinating. What was Nestle and Mattel’s plan?

It is also interesting that the Tube was at school, but not Marie’s own school.

I can only speak from my personal experience. I was in elementary school when this promotion originally took place. Going to other schools when I was in elementary school was very rare. I can’t think of a single trip – besides to the junior high as we prepared to change schools.

With that personal lens, I am left to think that the promotion took place aside from normal school hours or was part of a “district” wide event/campaign. But what would that have been?

And why was Nestle/Mattel there?

More information continues to simply fuel new questions.

M.U.S.C.L.E. also had television advertising (Advertising & Promotion 400), but nothing connected to the Nestle Quik promotion has ever been uncovered.

Full Collection

Full
UofMUSCLE.com
Collection

  1. #1 by Kris on August 17th, 2011

    Just wanted to add, I’m not sure if the image above is supposed to represent the only figures that were available in Quik tins, but I remember vividly getting a #36 Kinkotsuman (Skullduggery) in one. Now I can’t prove this because the cardboard backing and plastic wrap are long gone, but it might be something to look into.

  2. #2 by Chad Perry on August 17th, 2011

    Given that 21 sealed M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are documented on this website and only ~12 M.U.S.C.L.E. figures can be clearly identified in the advertisement it seems unlikely that the list was intended to be any type of checklist.

    Additionally checklists are usually designed to be an easy to use reference. The print add repeats figures and obscures figure which does not make it an easy to use tool for reference.

  3. #3 by Marie Soulet-Messina on April 9th, 2014

    I was the one that originally contacted the M.U.S.C.L.E. preservation society about my nestle promo tube. I contacted Darrin and sent him pictures of my tube, one of the ones he showcased with my name in photo credits (maiden name). I still have the tube and I’m interested in selling the item.

(will not be published)