Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Octobersbest: M.U.S.C.L.E.!

Welcome to the first post of Octobersbest!  It's like Oktoberfest, except with less beer and lederhosen.   And not at all like Oktoberfest.

Octobersbest is my little celebration of October - because it's the best!  Why?  Well, I was born in October, more than a couple of my friends were ALSO born in October, it's in the fall (best weather ever), the trees look way cooler, and it's the only month powerful enough to contain the might of HALLOWEEN!

So these are posts where I'll use very loose reasoning as to why I'm covering this-or-that for October.  Speaking of which: The bag you see above is an old sack of little creatures called M.U.S.C.L.E., or as I called them while growing up: Muscle Creatures.  Such a variable bunch of beasts are perfect for October, because who among them wouldn't fit in on Halloween?

Now, you probably noticed that the name is an acronym.  These little buggers came out in the mid-80's and were brought over from the Japanese Kinnikuman franchise; Kinniku meaning "muscle."  So...it's was a natural choice!  What wasn't so natural was having it be an acronym that stood for "Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere."  Sounds like a name for a Monster In My Pocket type toyline.  These guys are wrestlers!  Ridiculous and incredibly varied wrestlers, but still wrestlers.   You'd think something like....oh, say, "Muscle Champions" or something like that would have worked a little better.

That doesn't matter so much, though.  I'm gona drop a little info on you when I find it interesting, but for the most part I'll be going over these in the way that I remember them.  I would have been 4 to 5 when I played with these (any packaging with names of characters would have been long gone by the time I was old enough to recognize those things) so they've all gotten their own stories and arbitrary alliances.  If you want pure info on who and what they are, check out Nathan's M.U.S.C.L.E. Blog!  That's where all my info is coming from, anyway.

Lets start with the favorites!  These ones were played with the most (it's more obvious on some than on others).  I don't fully remember what I did with them, but I remember faves and strange teams that I made.

What I loved the most about these, is the WIDE range of types that you'd find.  You seriously never knew what you were going to get.  Just for the favorites, I put together a little spotlight to really bring out the details (and, apparently, the dust accumulated from....sitting in a bag?):

This guy is the original Muscleman, or Kinnikuman.  There's a "blade" (or something) on the back of his head, but it's been mostly chewed off.  I think this guy got a LOT of use.  This guy was one of my main heroes - I assume it was because he was on the front of the packages.

It's Turbo!  You can tell you because it says it on his armor!  So handy!  You can also see the dust that I couldn't see until I sat down to edit these pictures.

Look at this guy!  I love it!  There's some speakers, looks like a....microwave, maybe a TV.  His crotch is probably a radio or something!  The other arm was originally a microphone-looking thing, so I assume he was a walking recording studio.

They weren't all winners, but of course, to me, that makes them winners.  How could you not love TEA?  It's TEA!  You can't mistake him for anyone else.  Literally.  You can't.  No one else is TEA.

It's always 2:11 on this guy's mouth!  I...I don't know what he is.  I always assumed he was a dryer or a washer.  It's possible his head is a watch.  So...uh, wave back to him!

It's the Michelin Man's brother, or cousin, or something!  Like...the Goodyear Man.  Is it just me, or does he look tired? *RIMSHOT*

Also WHERE IS THIS DUST COMING FROM?!  They've been in the same bag for years!  Is this mid-90's dust? (or whenever I opened this last).

One of the BEST, tenouttaten, I tell ya.  You gotta love a giant monster hand.

That chain goes from his arm to his head.  He swings his own head at you.  Then he's got to awkwardly play that ball-and-cup game to get it back on again.  Magnificent.

Another top favorite!  Loved this guy!  I'm surprised he made it back in the bag - I know I had in sitting in various places through the years.

Found out this guy is called Warsman, and he was another big favorite.  Thankfully, it looks like they're making an SH Figuarts of him (along with a few others).

If you couldn't tell: These two are the same guy in different armor.  My little kid brain didn't figure that out, and I used the blue one as the boss and the pink one as an underling.

This hammerhead guy hammered a lot of things!  So many things.  He's also got mysterious black marks on him (the same marks are on some of the other figures).  Can't figure out what it is.

Another top favorite!  (I shoulda made a top 5 or something.)  I found out later that this guy's name was Robin Mask, and I actually managed to get his articulated figure when the Ultimate MUSCLE toyline was out and about in the early 2000's.

Of course, back in the day, I thought he had a monoeye in the mask (maybe you can tell, from the pic) but I still think he's cool without it.


I hope ya'll appreciate this one.  Look at this...this majesty.  Had to look up his name: It's Pinchman.  PINCHMAN.  You can't improve on this.  Perfection.

THIS GUY.  You can probably tell he's well used.  When you're the only guy with a sword, you tend to get used a bunch when you're around child me.  He's scuffed, chewed, bent, and kinda faded.  I think he's been in the dirt, on a shelf, on the floor, lost under a dresser, etc, etc.  This guy has seen some shit.

And speaking of shit: This is a toilet.  A Japanese toilet, upright, though you could see it as a sort of urinal, for the US.  I used to think it was a fountain you'd see built into a wall.  I mean, there's a guy with a teacup for a head and someone made of appliances - I didn't think it was much of a stretch to see a walking wall-fountain.  But NOOOO...he's a toilet.  And yes, that's a coil of poop on his head.  It's a toilet man with a poop hat.

According to Wikipedia: Anyone that gets flushed down this guy's toilet never returns.  Kinnikuman was flushed, but apparently he only survived by stuffing his wrestling shorts down the hole and plugging him up.

You can't make this stuff up.  It has to be found material - like - they dug it up somewhere in the Library of Ashurbanipal where they found parts of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Okay, last of the favorites, and possibly my TOP fave: Hole Head.  Or, what I only recently found out: Black Hole.  You'd think I would have made that connection with the big "B" and "H" on his chest, but I was like, 5 or something, whatdoyawant from me?

I assumed that, if there's a hole, there has to be something in it....so I stuffed that broken yo-yo ball string in there.  I think I had him whip that around and capture people with the ring?  I can't remember what my thought process was.

WELP....end of an era!

Off it goes.  Thanks for the idea, little me.  I'm sure it seemed cool at the time.  Now I just want him to have a hole in his head.  OH, and this one is getting a Revoltech Mini figure soon, so I'm lookin' forward to that!

Now, for the second part of this post: The Teams!  Part of having a TON of little figures like this, is making teams.  When you're a kid, you tend to look for patterns more often than not, so I naturally teamed up figures that had similar features.  Often times, these figures were actually just different versions of the same characters!  But...I knew nothing of the characters - just the fact that they were little monsters.

So here's what I can remember about what my little brain put together, back then:

These were usually the heroes.  I think because they were generally favorites - I don't think they were technically a team, but these are the ones where I pick them up and my brain juices up with nostalgia to maximum amounts.  If there were badguys to beat, then one or more of these guys was administering the beatdown.

And these guys were my go-to badguys!  The horned ones in the center were usually the BIG badguys: Either the pink one worked for the blue one, or - if I remember it right - I would sometimes use the blue one as a powered up version of the pink one.    The pink guy (Robin Mask) was a also a constant favorite for doing villainous things.  Turns out he's pretty important in the Kinnikuman story, so I guessed right!  Except that he seems to be a goodguy, later on, after he's done being a main rival.

Okay okay, NOW we're on to the main teams:

I'm just coming up with names off the top of my head - no idea what I called these things, back then.  I put these guys together often because they looked the same.  If it wasn't obvious: The three in front ARE the same.  They're a guy called Sunshine, and he can transform into other stuff.  The top version really works!  The one in the back is called Tile Man, and I guess he....uh....washes in the morning with Scubbing Bubbles?  I dunno.

DUH, what kid wouldn't put these guys together?  I remember this team the most, because I must have done it often.  You HAVE to put the tool guys together.  It's too bad the screw guy wasn't a nail, though.

And there's Pinchman, being the best.


Stuff you'd find in a house, along with the roller guy, over there.  I think I associated him with these guys because of old Looney Toons or Tom and Jerry cartoons where people put clothes through rollers like that.  I assumed he was a household appliance.

Yep, you guessed it: These are all either versions of Kinnikuman, or part of his family or circle of friends.  One way or another, they all have the blade-thing on their heads, and I made them all family members.  I think I may have used the one right next to the classic Kinnikuman as a powered up version, but my brain wants me to think that - a majority of the time - I used them all as extended family.  There was lots of "Oh no, my family member is hurt!  I must get revenge" going on.

Well, the whole group aren't brothers.  I just grouped together three duos that I used as brothers, rather than, once again, the obvious fact that they're just different versions of the same guy.  The horned guys were very common as brothers.  They popped up a LOT!  One with a jacket and one without just gives them separate personalities, to me.  The guys with the "t" on the chest were obvious brothers to me as well; mostly because the spiked one is a bit smaller.

You see it, don't you?  I mean, one is made of tires, the other is a hose!  Naturally, I had it that the hose guy kept the tire guy filled with air!  You can take that wherever you like, but that was as far as my mind went, back then.  Turns out the hose guy is a spring.  Go figure.

The orange guy was some sorta demon lord, obviously.  Look at him!  It also helped that he was my only orange guy, so he felt kinda special and golden.  I had him lead all my special fuglies.  Interesting fact: I guess the hand and the blue guy are the SAME CHARACTER.  It's a shapeshifter called Sunigator.  He has another form that I shoved into another team; you'll see.

The only thing these two have in common is multiple faces.

See, there's a face on the back of the paddle-hands guy's head.  Lots of faces!  The three armed Ashura guys in the "bros" pic have multiple faces, but since there were two of those, they went to bros!  Chances are, they made it in with these two often enough.  I know I was a fan of those patterns!

Gotta pinpoint my robots!  TURBO over there is obvious.  He just screams "COOL" and also "I WAS ONCE A MAAAN" or something like that.  Probably muffled.  The middle guy was my underwater guys, because pipes.  Does he looks like an underwater guy to you?  Seemed like it to me.  I remember having him in the bathtub a lot, along with the last guy.  I think the last one is supposed to have a bell for a head, but it looked like a diving helmet, to me.

One way or another, you gotta have your robots.  There was a surprising lack of 'em in this series, though, and some of the best I just didn't have (I would have gone CRAZY for this one.  And it's also Warsman, who was already a favorite...not that I would have figured out he was the same as the purple Warsman I had).

Speaks for itself.  However, I teamed these up because - once again - the I thought the toilet guy was a fountain, so he filled the TEA guy with water and he would...splash it....on guys.  I guess.  Maybe I thought the TEA guy could heat the water up?  All I remember is that "fountain" guy filled up TEA guy.  Logic!

Also: That's poo water in your head, TEA guy.  Sorry to have to tell you this after all these years.  If you had a nose, you would have known.

No-facers.  They're all wearing masks, but since everyone was a freak in this series, I remember assuming that these guys just didn't have faces.  Took me forever to realize that the second from the left has an American flag mask - he's Mr. America (of course).  The rest are....strange.  I'm sure I came up with things that ICBM stood for, but I can't remember any of them.  So how about Ice Cream Bowel Movement.  You're welcome.

WHY ARE YOU GUYS SO HAPPY?!  Turns out the blue guy and purple guy are the same character!  He's just called The Hawkman.  He apparently doesn't care where the wings are; just so long as there are wings on his person.  The other one is just playing along, I guess.  When in Rome, right?

There was no way these two wouldn't end up together.  The left one is my Warsman and a big favorite, and the right one is some guy.  Considering their similarity, I probably used Warsman as an unmasked version of the other guy, but who knows?

That's pretty much it.  Amazingly enough: These two are NOT the same character!  These things are nuts, man!

They all look like statues that come to life!  I'm sure others were used this way (like the Ashura bros) but these were statues more often than the rest.  I'm pretty sure the red dragon guy probably ended up fighting the orange demon guy at some point, though.  Somethin'....some sorta memory of that in the back of my mind.  Or maybe I just want that to happen now....hmmm...

Who's hungry?  Anyone?  Somebody break me off a part of the left guy.  Looks good.

Bald guys; no blades on their heads.  They got saved from the "boring pile" by having something in common with each other.

It's just like the Three Amigos!  The far left is Chevy Chase, the middle is Steve Martin, and the right is Martin Short.  Can you tell?

Y-yeah.  Thanks for taking away my reason to write anything, picture caption!  Alright fine: Take a guess.  Are these guys the same character?  Hover over the picture to find out!

I know these two were together...I have no idea why.  Similar...clothes?  Sorta?  What are they?  Well the one on the left is King Cobra...which is disappointing, considering all the monsters in this line.  The one on the right is Curry Cook.  That's it.  I assume that's a plate of curry on his head.  Top form, you two!  You had one job - be as crazy as possible - and you freakin' blew it.

YEAH, there we go!  These are leftover that I don't remember as well or didn't make it into teams.  Scared Bear just cracks me up - back then AND now - and he only gets better.  Turns out he's Pandaman, and he's not even a wrestler.  Just a park mascot that Kinnikuman mistook for a wrestler and challenged him to a match.

The middle guy is - I'm so sorry - Canadianman.  I don't know why.  It's not even Mr. Canada or Canada Man.  He's just Canadianman.  Like, not even special or anything.  I think I've mentioned before that Japan just has NO idea what to do with Canada, when it comes to themes.  Either there's the Lumberjack Gundam or this crazy SOB he looks like he should be screaming.  This is just what a Canadian man looks like to Japan.

The final guy, oh man, you'll never guess.  IT'S SUNIGATOR AGAIN!  The guy who was the giant hand and the blue lizard thing?  Yeah, he's this, too!  Shoelace cobra gator.  I love this freaking thing, but I still don't want that looney toons in my house.  I'm afraid I'll put my shoes on and they'll suddenly be monster hands.  "FOOT MASSAGE MR. ALEXX?"  Ah!  No!  NOO!  GET OUT OF HERE WHO LET YOU IN?!

And here's the "WAMP-WAAA" team!  You can also insert the failure sound from The Price is Right.  These guys didn't interest me or I didn't know what to do with them, like the guy on the far left.  Turns out he's a cactus man.  Everyone else?  Meh.  Normal dudes, or not crazy enough to take my attention.  And what's up with the middle guy?  He's not ready for anything!  He's like "Whoa, whoa, wait a second.  What am I fighting, again?  A Shoelace Cobra Gator?  Hey, can I opt out?"

I may have pointed out in past posts that I'm not a huge fan of non-articulated figures.  Perhaps I still am, but I feel like each year I pass regresses me a bit.  I find myself looking at the little rubber figures more and more - and trust me, stuff like this is still going very strong.  Going back to these guys dug up a lot of memories.  Granted, they're VERY young memories from when I wasn't as picky, but I can tap into that a little now and see a new appeal to these, wrapped up in my old thoughts.  They're simple, collectible, and interesting!  There were so many that you were almost guaranteed to get something new, AND maybe a different color?

I'm not as into these as I was, but I'm getting closer.  If you want something in a similar vein that's out now, check out Mutant Mania.  I found it recently at TRU, and they brought back a lot of memories, which lead to this post.

Now, how about we end on a comic (since there just were NOT enough picture in here!):

Remember, all you MUSCLE creatures out there: Love who you are.  You could always have it worse.  You could be toilet-chest-crap-head man.  Because he exists, and he must have pissed off God, or something.

So maybe don't piss of whoever you consider to be God?

G'night folks!


  1. I feel like the tire guy is either giving me a "COME OOOOOOONNN!!" or a "Whad'ya want from me!?" in a sort of Don Knotts voice.

    1. A good chunk of these guys all seem to be doing that, or protesting something. I realize they're supposed to be "ready to wrestle", but the faces just don't line up with it, sometimes. It's all "WHAT, NO, I DON'T WANA MESS WITH HIM!" or like you said. "COME OOON!! WHAT IS THAT? WHAT EVEN IS THAT?!"

  2. Ah yeah! I love MUSCLE. I had a little phase where I was a bit obsessed with them - it was actually high school for me, in the early 2000s, after I found a few unopened packs of them at a local fleamarket. I spent a lot of time drawing pictures of them in my notebooks and so forth. I also wrote out bios and personalities for a lot of 'em. The sequel, called "Ultimate Muscle," in the U.S., was on TV around that time.

    A few observations:

    - I think Kinnikuman originated as a parody of Ultraman, and that's where the "head-blade" thing comes from.

    - The guy with the speakers and whatnot is actually supposed to be a karaoke machine, IIRC.

    - "Sunigator" could be more accurately transliterated as "Sneagator," as in "Sneakers." Because he wears them, you see.

    1. Yeah, Ultimate Muscle was kinda neat, and that's where that figure of Robin Mask came from. I shoulda got more of those figures! Anyway:

      - Ah, I shoulda made the Ultraman connection! It's so obvious, now.

      - Well that makes sense! The microphone arm, all the sound equipment, and I suppose the head is to record all the terrible singing?

      - MIND BLOWN. Of course! A Sneaker Gator! I mean, he's still the product of utter insanity, but now his name makes sense, at least; even if nothing about him will ever make sense, ever.

    2. Another thing I remembered is that there's an alternate figure of the guy with the ball 'n chain for a head where it's resting on the ground. He has a tiny little nub where his head should be, and it's adorable. I had that one, but not the other one, so it took me a very long time to realize that his weapon was also his head.

    3. I just looked him up: That's hilarious! There were so many variations of characters; it's ridiculous.

  3. This post has inspired me to start digging out my MUSCLE guys. I've already got some on my nightstand because of it. It's also inspired me to do my own spotlight on them. At some point. Eventually. Who knows when.

    I like how even the most obscure figures in this line still look awesome. They could have been one-off or even background characters in Kinnikuman, but they still make for great little figures. Oh yeah, and I think that hand-shaped Sneagator of yours is one of the most sought after MUSCLE guys, so good job there.

    I don't know if I have any of my original figures, but I've made a decent collection over the years since. There's still a ton I want. I did get into Ultimate Muscle in a big way though. I think I have everyone. Maybe not in each colour, but they're all there.

    Point is: I love these li'l guys!

    1. Yay! Now I can play the game of: "See if I can guess which ones will be your favorites." When you get to it. At some point. Eventually.

      But yeah, I was reading up on some of these guys and it seems like some were just one-offs! Even then, like you said, they stand out and become something more than what they were. Especially toilet guy! And yeah, I'm not surprised the hand guy is sought after. He's pretty freakin' great.

      I wish I would have gotten into Ultimate Muscle a bit more than I did. I think it was around a time when I was keeping toy buying to a minimum. Still...I dunno how the heck I passed up Warsman.