The M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were things kids in the 1980s seemed to get, somehow. I got several through Nestle Quik, a few as gifts, and some from people who were just unloading extras. Unlike most of my toys, these didn't survive all the purges of old stuff and Amolman is one of maybe under a dozen still in my toy boxes.
While today people know about the Japanese "Kinnikuman" franchise and its toys, for kids of the 1980s these were largely just weird unpainted figures which got an NES game for some reason. Some were clearly wrestlers, and the line was marketed as such, but like with Monster in my Pocket a few were just weird little funky flights of fancy. After all, you can't come up with hundreds-- let alone millions-- of these without getting into some pretty strange territory. Amolman stuck around because he looks like he comes from Easter Island.
These figures were cast in numerous colors, and sold for as little as a buck for a pack of four-- or so my research says. Even in the 1980s, that's cheap-- today a similar figure would probably cost at least $1 each, and the closest mass-market thing like them are Hasbro's "Handful of Heroes" figures based on the Marvel Universe. The closest actual product to these are October Toys' O.M.F.G. Outlandish Mini-Figure Guys, which I find to be delightful and will be talking about here as much as possible. Anyway... Amolman. If that is his real name, I had to look it up.
With no joints, no paint, and no height, this 1 3/4-inch pink plastic figure becomes significant largely because of the collecting aspect and, of course, the cult. M.U.S.C.L.E. fans are a dedicated lot, with some rare figures selling for north of a thousand dollars. (This is not one of those figures.)
Today, this looks like a figure some guy sculpted quickly in his garage and molded himself. It has lots of personality with rocky joints, creased wrestling shorts, big fists, and an amazing head sculpt. His build is very simple, and could best be considered a sketch compared to the paintings that were action figures of the day. This guy looked big and tough, capable of doing some serious damage in play-wrestling fights. He-- and the whole line-- are oozing with personality and are another great example of a Japanese toy succeeding in the USA during the 1980s. It's no wonder they tried to revive it under the original Japanese name a few years ago.
The little plastic nub on his head is actually a molding defect, as some of these guys were cheap and had malformed hands or other bits of plastic hanging off them. As a kid I was pretty particular about trying to keep a figure exactly as I got it, so it stayed. I like it, I wouldn't suggest starting on this line unless you like severe disappointment. These are awesome little guys, but collecting them all is not possible-- if you're cool buying them here and there when they're cheap, it's a rewarding line and should go well with your Dino-Mites (of which I have many) and Monster in my Pocket (which I never got-- send me some!)
I'm rambling, but it's worth pointing out that M.U.S.C.L.E. figures represent something missing from today's major toy companies-- cheap toys. Hasbro and LEGO won't make anything less than three bucks, and Mattel's claim to fame-- the Hot Wheels car-- sells for as little as eighty cents in some stores. Mattel understands the need for an impulse buy, something so cheap no parent would bat an eye about giving their kids a few dimes to get it. Sadly, there are very few of this kind of item being made by major toy companies, although I've heard numerous rumors (and facts) that some companies will be attempting to revive this style of figure-- if not this price point-- at Toy Fair 2012. I guess we'll wait and see if it comes to be!
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