I started out by contacting Mattel. Since they don’t just hand out email addresses on their site I used the “Contact Us”-thingy. This got me in touch with their Director of Customer Service. She was unable to help me so she passed my questions on to her boss. She however was able to tell me that the toys were produced at Bandai Japan, and were only in their catalog for the years 1986 and 1987.
I found this interesting. Perhaps the toys were only manufactured for 2 years? Year one flesh. Year two colors. If a toy was dropped from the catalog, then I think it is safe to assume they weren’t making any more figures.
After I got this information I figured I was on track to get more information. I emailed the Director of Customer Service’s boss again, and said I already knew all of this information. I said I was looking for much more specific information. Since she could no longer answer my questions I got transferred to the VP of International Marketing. He said,
“Unfortunately Mattel's records relating to the specifics of the M.U.S.C.L.E. line are no longer accessible, so we are unable to answer your specific questions.
Similarly, in discussing your questions with Bandai today, they too no longer have information to hand that would address your enquiry.
I regret that neither Mattel nor Bandai can assist you.”
I figured I was now at a dead end with Mattel. But I still had hope because now that I knew Bandai Japan had produced the figures I switched my attention to Bandai.
At first I contacted Bandai USA through their email. Surprisingly their Marketing Director called me. She told me that Bandai Japan had in fact been the creator (obviously) and manufacturer of the toy. Mattel only released the toys in the US. However Bandai USA did release the MUSCLE toys during the 80’s in Latin America.
I found this piece of information to be especially interesting because of Kenner’s relationship with Latin America. When Star Wars line was dying in the US, Brazil received a figure that was not part of the American release. Perhaps our Super Rares are exclusive to Latin America?
She also suggested two last options. The first was a product supervisor that is currently in charge of the Ultimate MUSCLE line. She gave me his name and contact information. However he only speaks Japanese, so I haven’t contacted him yet. I will as soon as my friend translates my letter to Japanese.
The second contact she suggested was 4KidsEntertainment. I contacted them immediately, but they never returned my emails. She doubted that they would be much help.
Having run into dead ends with Mattel, Bandai USA, and 4KidsEntertainment I figured I had one last chance. So I contacted Bandai Japan. Fairly soon after I had mailed the letter I got a response from their “Global Affairs”-person (I can’t remember the actual title, the letter is at home). She, in fairly broken English, stated that Bandai Japan no longer had any information about that product. She apologized, and wished me luck in finding the information I was looking for.
So there’s my story. I know I didn’t get GREAT information, but I think there were at least a few gems of information. Hopefully this information helps us figure out a more accurate history and origin of MUSCLE’s.