M.U.S.C.L.E Toys were a range of collectible toys produced by Mattel during the 1980s.
Introduction and History
M.U.S.C.L.E (or, Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) was a brand of approximately 2 inch tall plastic figures depicting ‘intergalactic wrestlers’ that were produced by Mattel in the United States between 1985 and 1988.
The units in the original wave of toys were notable for their distinctive pink (or ‘flesh’) colouring and were initially based on a similar Japanese line called Kinkeshi. Kinkeshi itself was based on a then popular series of Manga and Anime named Kinnikuman.
M.U.S.C.L.E Men were traditionally purchased in blister packs of 4, 10 or 28 figures, which typically contained an entirely random selection from a total of 236 official pieces. This nature of distribution inevitably resulted in collectors obtaining repeat figures, whilst some rarer pieces became highly desirable by any who wished to collect a full and complete set.
Following the first wave of M.U.S.C.L.E figures, two further generations were released: the second containing a mix of ‘flesh’ and other colours, whilst the third contained no ‘flesh’ variants at all. The first wave is considered the more highly prized to collectors.
In addition to the figures, other merchandise included a poster (obtainable only by post), a “Battlin’ Belt” display case and an NES video games | video game]]]. Two games were also released that utilised the figures; the “Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring” and the official M.U.S.C.L.E board game. The former came packaged with two exclusive ‘flesh’ figures, whilst the latter contained five figures in exclusive grape or light purple colouring.
Information for Collectors
Today there are no official groups for fans and collectors of M.U.S.C.L.E toys to join. There are, however, a variety of fan sites dedicated to discussion and collection of the figures and their associated accessories.
One of the largest such site is Little Rubber Guys, a forum-based fan site dedicated to any related discussion of the M.U.S.C.L.E franchise. Of particular note, this site has several forums dedicated to want-ads and the private sale of figures and accessories. There are also forums here for the sole purpose of spotting rarer units in circulation, such as the Satan Cross, Claw and X-2 figures.
Another large fan site that collectors may be interested in visiting is The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. This site is full of information for fans and collectors alike, including several interesting articles surrounding the M.U.S.C.L.E franchise, price guides for collectors and a regular “Auction Watch” feature, where notable online auctions are posted.
In general, there are two main avenues that collectors would be advised to follow if they were interested in beginning or continuing a M.U.S.C.L.E collection.
Firstly, websites such as Little Rubber Guys do have specialist forums for private sale or trade of figures and accessories, which as it is carefully moderated, will largely reflect real-value prices for the units. This is a fine option for those interested in obtaining both individual figures and bulk collections.
Collectors who are interested in obtaining M.U.S.C.L.E figures through auction would be best off using eBay, which regularly houses auctions for large collections of figures.
Would-be buyers would be advised to note that, whilst some bargains can be found on eBay, there are also many auctions with Buy It Now options that are significantly higher than the actual market value of the figures.
In general, individual units are valued at between $0.50 and $1.00 each. Rarer pieces, such as the Satan Cross are considered more valuable and can usually be found to sell for a range of prices. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E has found that on eBay alone, between April 2003 and April 2007, there were 235 separate auctions containing Satan Cross figures (often in bulk with other units). The site has concluded that the average price for this particular unit is $14.18, which has been calculated as a mean selling price across these auctions. It should be noted that prices will vary from auction to auction, depending on the size of the lot.
Collectors would also be advised to note that there are regularly many auctions on eBay attempting to sell unopened 10-packs of M.U.S.C.L.E figures. Since 2009, the Buy It Now prices for these units has fallen from around $500 (where they remained unsold) to under $100 today. In general, these lots only tend to sell for under $50, which reflects their actual value.
Also of note on eBay are many auctions for large lots of figures (usually 100 – 300 units per auction). Again, these auctions usually have Buy It Now prices at around the $300 mark, which reflects the value of $1/unit.
In general, collection of M.U.S.C.L.E toys is a relatively inexpensive hobby and a great homage to an extremely popular toy range from the 1980s. As the auctions are largely on eBay, the actual value of the units is not always reflected in the Buy It Now price and so collectors would be advised to shop around before making any bids.
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