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My Search for MUSCLE Answers


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#1 General Veers

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 10:45 AM

After taking part in all of our discussions I decided I would try and go right to the source. I knew that people had attempted this before, but I decided to get answers or die trying. Well, I almost died.

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.
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#2 Rokk

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 11:05 AM

Good detective work, Veers. I think you found some good gems of information. Hopefully you will get more info from the gentleman who is in charge of the current Ultimate Muscle line.

I find your suggestion that some of the super rares were figures made for Latin America to be rather intriguing. It is also interesting that Mattel only had MUSCLEs in their catalog for 2 years.
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#3 doc_moore_j

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 11:17 AM

WOW!!! Impressive, most Impressive. (I was trying to quote Vader there, not sure if I did it right). That is pretty sweet, and obviously you have put a lot of thought into this. Great work Veers and thanks for the information. Considering your theory is right about the latin America super rares, that means I will be spending some time in Latin America chat rooms for awhile. That one super rare Star Wars dude you wanted is from there too isn't he? What up with them hogging all the cool shizznit. Man oh man oh man. Sweet post. I hope we can muster up something from what you have already started for us. Thanks!
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#4 THEGODBEAST

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:09 PM

Veers I think you are on to something!!!

Here is my NEW theory!!!

BB and LB.

Once the BB line was ending they released the #77-#88 LB in the USA as a last ditch effort (not as many LB were produced as the BB). This we call "tail enders."

Ok, so in Japan it was still fairly strong, so they realease #89-#112 LB in Japan only!

With one HUGE exception.

This is a FACT! Takara decided to take #89-#100 and card them with guns, shields, and small sleds and dump them in Europe (Primarily from what we know ONLY FRANCE). These are literally Holy Grail MOC!!!

They also had a small either test market of USA carded ones or simply some salesman samples MOC that ended up in the USA! They were NOT in French.

So, my correlation is this. There is also a good chance since much of Canada is French too, there could have been some French carded ones or even the English carded ones in Canada.

My point is this:

Bandai has done a lot of toys in Canada. Canada has a big Asian community Toronto for sure! SO do we know where all the Super Rares have originated? Auction wise or other? Phil said his auction was out of Boston (not too far from Canada). This last auction for the SHA w/o head isn't it from Maryland? (once again not far from Canada).

So could the SUPER RARES been Canadian rather than South American?

I really think that this could be a direction to follow.

None the less, lets all keep our eyes peeled on Canadian auctions.

Heck even the MIMP Shreddies exclusives were Canadian only! ALso the BB bootlegs originated in Canada too!!!

Just an educated guess.

Good work Veers!

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#5 max powerz

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:19 PM

(in a singing voice) BLAME CANADA! BLAME CANADA! (lol)
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#6 General Veers

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:49 PM

Thanks guys. Hopefully this information helps us figure out some of the mysteries of MUSCLE.
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#7 ironmask

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:46 PM

interesting to say the least...
that these were in their catalogues so late into the eighties...
weren't they released in '84 or '85?
but still, any new knowledge is good knowledge...
good work.
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#8 General Veers

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:49 PM

Nope. We now know their offical release dates.
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#9 AmoiMan

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 01:56 PM

I was thinking of searching for answers the other day, but I was too lazy to act on it. Good job, Veers!

I think the Latin America and Canada stuff is really interesting....
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#10 ironmask

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:23 PM

i remeber having them when i lived in kenton ohio... i was 5 when we moved to virginia from there... i was born in '81. so it could have been '86.
that's crazy.
veers, you should make a sort of 'almanac' on your findings. good shizznit.
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#11 arforbes

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 02:53 PM

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?

This is a very interesting explanation, and it makes sense enough to me to be fact. It is quite possible that you have found the roots to our answers to the mystery of Super Rares. Satancross could also be Latin American/Canadian. All wee need now is proof.

Nice work Veers! ^_^

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#12 Adamantiumwulf

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 05:19 AM

If they were a Latin American/Canadian or both release then the super rares may not be super rare at all. Just semi rare.

When sc was first spotted years ago no one knew anything about it and he was hard to come by. Now about 6 years later he is looked upon as being uncommon and not rare. Who knows what the next 6 years will hold.

Great work Detective Veers the M.u.s.c.l.e. sluth.

Here is a questoin though. Has anyone seen ANY M.u.s.c.l.e. packaging in spanish or french?
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#13 doc_moore_j

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 05:52 AM

Here is a questoin though. Has anyone seen ANY M.u.s.c.l.e. packaging in spanish or french?

Good point,
My SC four pack is totally English, I will look and see if there is any sign of world wide distribution on it. I have not inspected it thoroughly. However, I am once again on a nice 24 hour shift, so it will have to be tomorrow I look at it. I actually do not have planned this weekend, so I may finally get some site work done that i have been promising for months now. I hope adamantiumwulf is correct, six years from now we will all own BHS and SHA and DM etc... I think since they are taking longer to come out they will still hold a slight price advantage compared to SC who I ahve seen as low as $15.
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#14 General Veers

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 05:58 AM

Here is a questoin though. Has anyone seen ANY M.u.s.c.l.e. packaging in spanish or french?

I’m just guessing but I don’t think we’ll see any. The MUSCLE packaging is quite plain. A 4 or 10 pack could be sold all over the world with almost no need for translation. However the 28 pack would need some translation. BUT, we know that the super rares didn’t come in the 28 pack. Foreign distribution could have easily skipped the 28 packs.
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#15 Tortle

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 06:07 AM

Has anyone seen ANY M.u.s.c.l.e. packaging in spanish or french?


Yup, I have a Canadian card back, and it has both English text and a French translation:

How to trash talk in French, MUSCLE style!

As I remember, there was no poster offer on the back, and the figures were all pink (so the pack was from the first release of the figures). Since the Satan Cross 4-pack does not have French, that would probably negate the Canadian theory.

-Nathan

Edited by Tortle, 11 July 2003 - 06:08 AM.

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#16 General Veers

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 06:16 AM

Since the Satan Cross 4-pack does not have French, that would probably negate the Canadian theory.

Wouldn’t that actually support it? The SC was in an English pack, but other figures could have been packaged in English/French packs.
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#17 Tortle

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 07:00 AM

Oh... I thought you guys were saying all the cancelled figures (which would include Satan Cross) were from Canada. Of course, the fact that SC was in English packaging doesn't really support the Canadian theory because we don't know what packaging the super-rares were in when they were purchased.

A seller of one of the SHAs said that it was purchased "in the Western New York area (near Buffalo)" and bought in "Toys R Us, Child World (out of business for several years), or Hills Dept Store (also out of business)".

Maybe Buffalo got some surplus from Canada. But Maryland (which was another super-rare location) is actually pretty far from Canada, so I don't think that supports the theory either.

I just think we're over-thinking the issue. The simplest, most likely scenario (to me, at least) is that the super-rares were cancelled early and recalled. I mean, products are recalled all the time for safety reasons. Other scenarios explaining the super-rares are not as likely: When has a prototype or a salesmen sample ended up in production packaging? When has product from Canada or Mexico filtered its way all the way to Maryland? Why would it even do so?

I think that DM, SHA, and BHS were recalled because of health risks (small parts, sharp points) and Satan Cross was discontinued because he didn't have his other half (which would have been a health risk as well). Nice and simple...

-Nathan
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#18 General Veers

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 07:42 AM

When has product from Canada or Mexico filtered its way all the way to Maryland?  Why would it even do so?

I think that DM, SHA, and BHS were recalled because of health risks (small parts, sharp points) and Satan Cross was discontinued because he didn't have his other half (which would have been a health risk as well).  Nice and simple...

You’re probably right. The simplest explanation is usually the right answer. But I think that this is some interesting information. It could help us to understand our MUSCLE past.

As for the toys filtering I think the answer is easy. People move. Let’s say my Dad works in Mexico City. We live there for a couple of years, I buy a few packs of MUSCLE’s, and then we move to Maryland. Years later I decide to sell my MUSCLE’s. I wouldn’t think anything was rare, I would just sell it as a lot. Since this doesn’t happen all of the time (moving with MUSCLE’s), it would only introduce a few of the “regional” figures.

Edited by General Veers, 11 July 2003 - 07:44 AM.

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#19 Tortle

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 08:50 AM

As for the toys filtering I think the answer is easy. People move.

That's true. Although that wouldn't comply with the SHA testimony... but, then again, who can really remember where exactly they bought something 20 years ago? And Buffalo, NY is pretty close to the Canadian border, so who knows...

By the way, you did a great job with your research! I doubt we'll get more detailed information than this, unless we manage to interview somebody who was directly involved with the MUSCLE line at the time. Could Mattel give out contact information regarding former employees, I wonder...?

-Nathan
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#20 THEGODBEAST

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 08:59 AM

Nathan,
To be respectful, I think you are being a little too skeptical.

Veers is right people do move all over. I have!

My buddy who is now in Iraq, was a military kid. They lived all over the world! I am ashamed to admit this, however, when I first met him 10 years ago, he traded me a ton of rare Japanese candy box muscles and the first huge bag of muscles I ever had, (which later in college I sold since I needed cash). He had the coolest shizznit! Tons of rare Japan shogun stuff, muscles, mirconauts, etc.... He traded all this to me in Lincoln Nebraska, I in turned sold it in Lincoln Nebrasksa and Omaha Nebraska. Some of it I traded to my cousin who moved to Las Vegas Nevada and his dad gave it to a thrift store there! So toys end up all over!

I really think that the S. American (Mexico) and Canadian theories are valid and a real possiblity! Seriously Maryland isn't that far from the coast of Canada and people in the Buffalo area are close to Canada! So do we know where the other SHA and the BHS came from? General area of the USA?

Let's just keep our eyes peeled on where auctions are being sold and especially foreign auctions like Canada!

Bandai has has great distribution to Canada in the past, maybe even more so than the USA. So I really think that this is just as concrete a theory as the whole choking hazard thing. To be honest, I don't buy the choking hazard theory now that the DM has surfaced. Also, Veers did you happen to ask the Japanese man if he knew whether or not the molds were single molds or several characters per mold? I think they did have several figures per mold, however, I would almost bet they were several of the same exact figure per mold. So example, a mold of 12 #15's and a separate mold of 12 #195's. Not a mold of 12 different figures. Most companies produce figures this way.

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#21 THEGODBEAST

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:02 AM

Could Mattel give out contact information regarding former employees, I wonder...?

-Nathan

Yeah right!

With the new privacy laws!?!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

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#22 Tortle

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:55 AM

Nathan,
To be respectful, I think you are being a little too skeptical.

Wha...? Me? Skeptical? :woot:

Of course, all of our theories are possible, including this one. Please don't take offense, I don't mean to sound like I'm ripping into your theory or anything. It's futile to debate the origins of super-rares because all of our theories (especially mine) are absolute conjecture.

I just think it's more likely that they were recalled because SHA and BHS have small chokable parts and DM has a nice, sharp point in his cane. Some Kinkeshi had canes and such that came to a point, but they weren't dangerous because Kinkeshi are so soft. In hard MUSCLE plastic, Mattel may have viewed these canes as a hazard ("You'll put your eye out, kid! Ho, ho ho..."), and maybe that's why the Kinkeshi figures with canes (like King Robin Mask) weren't released over here.

Maybe the cane figures weren't a poking-hazard, but the canes were too brittle and broke too easily, with the broken piece causing a choking hazard.

Anyway, without seeing the figures in the packaging, or interviewing someone from Mattel, we will probably never know for sure.

-Nathan
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#23 General Veers

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:56 AM

Could Mattel give out contact information regarding former employees, I wonder...?

-Nathan

Yeah right!

With the new privacy laws!?!

Godbeast,
I haven’t spoken with the Japanese product developer. But I will certainly add that question.

Both of you,
Actually I asked about this. I actually forgot. The lady I spoke with at Mattel said that most of the people that were “higher up” in the organization had either retired or moved on. As for “lower level” employees she said it would be almost impossible to know who worked on MUSCLE without knowing who the “higher ups” were.

But it’s kind of a pipe dream to think they would have detailed personal records, after 20 years, for such a small line of toys, especially since they weren’t the manufacturer.
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#24 WhoDatMuscle

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:58 AM

Great job researching all that, Veers. Definately something new to think about, and I think a real possibility. I don't think I was around when the seller of the SHA told where he had originally bought it, so I don't know who he was or who bought it. I'm sure he told it like he remembered it (I'm certainly not calling the guy a liar) but who's to say for sure that he didn't get that particular MUSCLE in a trade or at a garage sale? Like Nathan said, that was 20 years ago. I can tell you the stores where I bought my MUSCLES, but I also got some from garage sales, and probably some from friends, and there's no way I could ever sort out which is which.

On a side note, I've never really gone for the choking hazard theory personally. Would SHA's head and BHS's chest insert really be that much of a choking risk? It seems like those parts are small enough that they would have a better chance of being swallowed without incident. Of course, maybe they just look like that to me since I'm now a small child. I don't own either so maybe Alex could tell us better about the size of those parts.
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#25 jkaris

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 10:03 AM

I have a bi-lingual 28 pack.

p.s. Nice work Veers!
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