Wrestling was a big deal in the 1980s, but M.U.S.C.L.E. seemed to have very little to do with the sport as a product. Sure, there was a wrestling ring, and yeah, there was a wrestling-based video game, but the real excitement from this line and its other 1.75-inch toy companions were the creatures. Heck, it's in the name-- the small creatures are what made it awesome, which is why this, Monster in my Pocket, and a few others really achieved some major success while others didn't. Of course, Mattel's and Matchbox' marketing efforts didn't hurt either, which is why kids had figures like Springman for no good reason. Another part of what made this line work-- if you ask me-- was that it was its own thing, and not an inferior version of another, larger, more complex line like the Hasbro Marvel Handful of Heroes to its 3 3/4-inch juggernaut. This kind of thing works because it is what it is, not a lesser-version of what it isn't, if you catch my meaning.
Sold cheaply, Springman came in a big boxed set of other figures and, for all I know, came in with Nestle Quik as a premium. (Most of my figures did, but I have no real record of my purchases pre-1991.) While some figures in the line were unquestionably wrestler-esque, Springman could have just as easily been an unused Mega Man boss concept, or a villain on some TV show. One arm is a spike, the other has a fist, and the entire body is made up of these weird coils. The eyes are clearly derived from manga, giving him a lot of personality for a figure lacking much of a face. Seriously, it's just a flat surface with eyes carved in it.
This kind of product-- the super-cheap figural impulse-buy product-- has waned a lot in recent years, with Hot Wheels being the main cheap toy for boys these days. You could buy about four of these guys for a buck, today a single LEGO minifigure is about $3 and few if any unpainted figures like this are still sold. Randomly-packed collectible figures like this are in short supply, and it's my hope that the Outlandish Mini-Figure Guys (O.M.F.G.) line and others inspire more fans to demand them, or, more appropriately, forge their own. This guy is pretty cool and pretty cheap on the secondary market, so if you can, and you dig it, get one.
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