Anthropology 200 – MUSCLEMANIA

Did Select bring a Kinnikuman-like figure to the United States before Mattel?

There is no question that M.U.S.C.L.E. figures spawned a small army of imitators and changed the face of collectible figures in the United States. Some of those imitators were literally copies of the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and others attempted to create Frankenstein-like figures using the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. However, one brand took it a step further – MUSCLEMANIA.

For years collectors have often considered MUSCLEMANIA figures to be both a clear imposter and one of many examples of small, monochromatic, unarticulated figures being brought to market after the success of M.U.S.C.L.E. Additionally, most collectors thought Kinnikuman was too obscure for a small American company to try and “rip-off.”

However, with the documentation of a MUSCLEMANIA 4-pack something interesting happened. Collectors realized that MUSCLEMANIA had a 1984 copyright. This would suggest that MUSCLEMANIA predates M.U.S.C.L.E. by, at least, one year.

Musclemania’s manufacturer (or at least distributor) was Select Merchandise, Inc. The 4-pack packaging disclosed New York as potential headquarters location. It was surprisingly easy to find some information about them. The New York Department of State website was able to provide the following information:

Current Entity Name: SELECT MERCHANDISE, INC.
Initial DOS Filing Date: OCTOBER 26, 1982
County: NEW YORK
Jurisdiction: NEW YORK
Entity Type: DOMESTIC BUSINESS CORPORATION
Current Entity Status: ACTIVE

DOS Process (Address to which DOS will mail process if accepted on behalf of the entity):
SELECT MERCHANDISE, INC.
303 E. 57TH ST.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10022

Ideally the organization would have been contacted. However it was not possible to discover a contact phone number and 303 E. 57th St. address did not have any listing of a Select Merchandise, Inc.

Based on the look of the building (Google Maps) it does not suggest that manufacturing took place at that location. It was most likely their office. There is no indication that a new iteration of Select Merchandise, Inc. operates in that location.

Unable to contact the company directly, the best insight into their practices can be gleaned from their other products. Select’s toys appear to be largely inspired by the success of other toy lines (i.e., Transformers, He-Man, etc.). It is incredibly difficult to properly align the dates of all of Select’s products. However, based on their offerings a potential timeline does seem to emerge.

It appears that Select’s Converters were all based on original Takatoku designs. Select appears to have bought many of the smaller molds and rights and Bandai purchased the other ones. Eventually Bandai and Hasbro secured the rights of all of the designs, which is why some Select figures are exact copies of Transformers.

Select most likely created enough capital, from both the sale of figures and the sale of the molds, to start creating their own toys. Having already seen the success of other Japanese brands with American children they may have wanted to be the first to introduce keshi, Kinnikuman-like wrestling figures with MUSCLEMANIA. By creating their own sculpts, which ranged from eerily similar to completely unique, they likely hoped to sidestep the need for licensing Kinnikuman – which would maximize their earnings.

1984 also saw the absolute explosion of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toys. Select probably saw an opportunity to introduce a He-Man-like product (Ninja Assassins and Defenders) which could offer a lower price point and hopefully capture some of the tremendous market developed by Mattel and He-Man.

Select did not limit themselves to only action figures. Select also released a number of children’s books.

What happened next is a mystery. There is no clear indication of Select’s activity after this mid-1980’s window. Only two things remained: (1) the idea that MUSCLEMANIA predates M.U.S.C.L.E.; and (2) the wonderfully unique and interesting MUSCLEMANIA products.

musclemaniastretch Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Photo Credit: Chris

MUSCLEMANIA figures seem to have two general types of rigidity: (1) a more firm M.U.S.C.L.E.-like consistency; and (2) a much more “stretchy” consistency. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. does not have separate photographs for Firm and Stretchy figures.

Because, for so long, little was known about MUSCLEMANIA figures it was impossible to know if the variations in the rigidity were the result of plastic deterioration, manufacturing differences, separate waves or series of figures, and/or some combination of these types of things.

However, based on nearly a decade years of acquiring MUSCLEMANIA figures plus a recent large influx of MUSCLEMANIA figures and 4-packs, a strong hypothesis, based on data, can finally be offered with a strong degree of confidence.

The rigidity and textural differences appear to be the result of changing manufacturers. The Firm figures seem to have been created first, and then those figures were used to create molds with a second manufacturer. Two pieces of data support this idea:

#1 - There is a very small size and mold definition difference between the Firm and Stretchy MUSCLEMANIA figures. It is most notable when two identical figures are held, in-hand, next to each other. It is a bit more difficult to effectively photograph, but below are two attempts:

musclemaniashrink01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#1 Red
Firm (Left) and Stretchy (Right)

musclemaniashrink02t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#10 Green
Firm (Left) and Stretchy (Right)

#2 - The lack of Firm 4-packs. MUSCLEMANIA 4-packs were quite rare for a long time. However, there has been a tsunami of MUSCLEMANIA 4-packs becoming available. All of these 4-packs have had Stretchy figures. It is reasonable to believe that all of the new old stock is from the end of the line, not the start of it.

And if you have any figures, 4-pack, or 12-pack pictures to add to the archive, then please email a high-resolution picture to the University of M.U.S.C.L.E.. Please take the picture on a white background. Thank you!

Packaging

At one time sealed 4-packs of MUSCLEMANIA were very, very rare. Within the small community of MUSCLEMANIA collectors it was an exciting and monumental discovery when the first 4-pack was publically shared on the internet.

The 4-packs continued to be so rare that it was possible, and meaningful, to document the few known examples. The six examples of 4-packs below represent the first six known MUSCLEMANIA 4-packs. However, as stated above, a tsunami of MUSCLEMANIA 4-packs have emerged. It is no longer useful or possible to document all of them.


musclemania4pack01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Example #1

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Example #2

musclemania4pack03t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Example #3


musclemania4pack04t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Example #4

musclemania4pack05t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Example #5

 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Example #6

The 4-pack may no longer be a mysterious MUSCLEMANIA item, but the 12-pack continues to be a bit of an enigma. There is only one documented example of the 12-pack, which can be seen below. The back of the 12-pack is especially notable because it states, “Over 100 different figures available!”

Yet the back of the 12-pack appears to feature the 24 known MUSCLEMANIA sculpts. It seems likely that the “over 100 figures” refers to the total number of sculpts in the various colors. For example, there are 24 different sculpts and there appear to be seven different colors. This would suggest a total of 168 possible figures.


musclemania12pack01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

12-Pack (Front)

musclemania12pack02t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

12-Pack (Back)

Below is a visual archive of the 24 different MUSCLEMANIA sculpts.

Figure #1

musclemaniafigure001 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

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Dark Blue

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Light Blue

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Yellow

musclemaniafigure001rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

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Green

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Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #2

musclemaniafigure002 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

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Dark Blue

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Light Blue

musclemaniafigure002yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure002rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure002gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #3

musclemaniafigure003 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

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Light Blue

musclemaniafigure003yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure003rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure003gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #4

musclemaniafigure004 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

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Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure004lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure004yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure004rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure004gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

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Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #5

musclemaniafigure005 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure005lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure005yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure005rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure005gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure005tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #6

musclemaniafigure006 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure006dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure006lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure006yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure006rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure006gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure006tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #7

musclemaniafigure007 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure007dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure007lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure007yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure007rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure007gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure007tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #8

musclemaniafigure008 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure008dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure008lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure008yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure008rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure008gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure008tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #9

musclemaniafigure009 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure009lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure009yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure009rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure009gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure009tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #10

musclemaniafigure010 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure010lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure010yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure010rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

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Green

musclemaniafigure010tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #11

musclemaniafigure011 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure011lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure011yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure011rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure011gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure011tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #12

musclemaniafigure012 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure012dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

musclemaniafigure012yt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure012rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure012gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

musclemaniafigure012tgt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #13

musclemaniafigure013 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure013dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure013gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #14

musclemaniafigure014 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

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Flesh

Figure #15

musclemaniafigure015 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

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Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

musclemaniafigure015gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

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Flesh

Figure #16

musclemaniafigure016 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure016dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

musclemaniafigure016gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #17

musclemaniafigure017 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure017dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure017rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure017gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

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Flesh

Figure #18

musclemaniafigure018 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure018dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

musclemaniafigure018ft Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #19

musclemaniafigure019 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure019dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

musclemaniafigure019rt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #20

musclemaniafigure020 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure020dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

musclemaniafigure020lbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

musclemaniafigure020gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

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Flesh

Figure #21

musclemaniafigure021 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

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Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

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Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

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Flesh

Figure #22

musclemaniafigure022 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

musclemaniafigure022gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

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Flesh

Figure #23

musclemaniafigure023 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure023dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Red

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

musclemaniafigure023ft Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Flesh

Figure #24

musclemaniafigure024 Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Card Art

musclemaniafigure024dbt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Dark Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Light Blue

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Yellow

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Red

musclemaniafigure024gt Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Green

holder Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Translucent Green

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Flesh

Oddities

musclemaniafigure001odd01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#1
New Green,
Fade, or Error?

musclemaniafigure006odd01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#6
MUSCLEMANIA
Warp?

musclemaniafigure007odd01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#7
New Green,
Fade, or Error?

musclemaniafigure011odd01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#11
New Green,
Fade, or Error?

musclemaniafigure008odd01t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#8
New Green & Yellow,
or Fades and Errors?

musclemaniaerror001t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

#11
Manufacturing Error Figure
(Left Figure)



Collections

musclemaniacollection001t Anthropology 200   MUSCLEMANIA

Kyle Fait's Collection


If you have any figures, 4-pack, or 12-pack pictures to add to the archive, then please email a high-resolution picture to the University of M.U.S.C.L.E.. Please take the picture on a white background. Thank you!

  1. #1 by ANDREA on December 30th, 2012

    hello I wanted to know how to buy this figure thanks andrea by Italy

  2. #2 by Chad Perry on January 3rd, 2013

    ANDREA :

    hello I wanted to know how to buy this figure thanks andrea by Italy

    I’ll assume you are asking, “How do I buy MUSCLEMANIA figures?”

    Right now, and I hate to say it, the best place is eBay. However, there are some people that will sell some of these figures and the best place to find those people are on LittleRubberGuys.com.

(will not be published)