"As a child, there was nothing to me more fantastic than than the M.U.S.C.L.E. toys
. I don't know if it's just my love for the weird, or the fact that I like pro-wrestling that makes it so special to me, but there's something about a guy from outer space with a fin on his head who would fight against a walking, talking urinal. That's right, a urinal.
" In the US, they were known as Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere, or M.U.S.C.L.E.
, but they were basically bendable plastic duplicates
, a line of collectable erasers from Japan
. More than peachy-salmon colored minifigs, they were based on the world of Kinnikuman
, which started as manga
in 1979, then an anime series
, and more
, and more
, and more
The creation of M.U.S.C.L.E. toys stems from two lines of Japanese products. On one side were keshigomu
, Japanese erasers, as seen at the IWAKO USA Japanese Eraser Museum
and the World of Japanese Erasers blog
. The other side was that of the Kinnikuman manga
, original created as something of a spoof on Ultraman and mainstream US comics (the first issue found unnamed "American super heroes"
busy spending quality time with their families). With the move from print to video
in 1983, along with merchandising including Kinnikuman Keshigumi, often abbreviated as Kinkeshi
Two years later, Kinkeshi came to the United States as M.U.S.C.L.E., focusing on the costumed wrestling aspect that became the setting of the Kinnikuman world as the series progressed. The word is that Mattel wanted a low-cost Japanese import toy
, and Kinnikuman fit the bill, with a lengthy list of characters
to port to kids who wanted ugly, weird, terrible, tiny
collectible toys (along with a wrestling belt and stage
, seen here
). Mattel was able to specify materials and Bandai would produce the toys, and Bandai had the facilities in Japan or China to create M.U.S.C.L.E. men in a similar fashion to the Kinkeshi. Enough of these scholarly articles
, onto the plastic dudes!
Nathan's Muscle Blog
provide quality images of the 236 standard run figures, as well as specifications of how they were originally packaged, and has the characters tagged by characteristics, plus other M.U.S.C.L.E. merch like the mail-away poster of 233 characters
. 233? Yes, the poster didn't include 3 characters, two
who were packaged
with the wrestling ring, and Satan's Cross
, who might have been too pointy, too "evil," or just fell off the map. And then there are the really rare characters
, whose history his hazy at best. The M.U.S.C.L.E. Men (MUSCLE) Collectors Archive
has more product photos, and Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive
is just that - images of all known color variants of M.U.S.C.L.E. characters by MUSCLE numbers and Kinnikuman parts. And if this is all too serious, I-Mockery made their own character names and bios
But you want more? How about the NES game
from 1985 (GameFAQs review
, Something Aweful takedown
, or try it yourself at Nintendo8.com
), Famicom game
from 1987, or the overly difficult
(warning: lots of complaining) Kinnikuman: Dirty Challenger
). And there are even more!
But wait, have you seen the live fight
between (Kid Muscle) Kinnikuman and Bob Sapp
? Now you can!
If that's not enough Kinnikuman/M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestling for you, some fans have made their own wrestling storylines
And for the girls? There were the C.U.T.I.E.S.
(acronym for "coolest ultra tiny individuals on earth," though they were generally the same scale as M.U.S.C.L.E. men, not as small as Polly Pockets
). Some M.U.S.C.L.E. scholars don't include C.U.T.I.E.S. in the MUSCLE Men universe
, but other fans have included cross-overs in homemade M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestling videos
If this has left you with more questions than answers, check out the M.U.S.C.L.E., Exogini, Cosmix, etc. board
on the LittleRubberGuys forum
. (FYI: Cosmix
were lines of Kinkeshi/M.U.S.C.L.E. knock-offs from France and Italy, respectively.)