I love MUSCLE. We have gone over this before. I LOVE MUSCLE!!! And the thing is, even with all the spiritual successors MUSCLE gets, there’s nothing like the original. Nothing can really compete with a ripped-off Japanese line…
…Or can it?
A few years ago, Mattel showed off some WWE-styled MUSCLE figures. They have not been produced. But apparently the idea remained, because in a recent bid to actually use the He-Man license, Mattel allowed Super7 to produce a whole ton of weird retro stuff at once – He-Man shot glasses, Kenner-style fake-prototypes, and MOTUSCLE. MOTUSCLE is… well, it’s He-Man MUSCLEs. They produced twelve in four three-packs, sold them at SDCC, and put them up on their site. The flesh color will be constantly reprinted, though the con had an exclusive purple Skeletor. The only way to get the Con figure was with a Skeletoken, which would lead you to their off-site store.
And with that, we have MOTUSCLE! The three-packs are non-random, ad designed to cleverly fuse the designs of the old classic MUSCLE packaging with MOTU sensibilities.
Okay, that is hilarious. And on the back…
BAHAHAHAHAHA… but anyway. They cost about $6 for each pack, which makes sense. Half are heroes and half are villain, which also makes sense. So, before we go forward and take a lovingly detailed look at each and every figure, let’s lay out a list of pros and cons. Before I list the negatives, I want to state plainly that I love these figures to pieces, and they are fantastic.
-The material is not MUSCLE plastic. MUSCLEs were firm, a little moreso than OMFG. These figures are a semi-squishy rubber, not quite as bad as Trash Pack, but almost as flexible as GPK Minikins. They don’t feel right with normal MUSCLEs.
-The proportions are off. MUSCLE was slightly chibi-esque, with subtly enlarged heads. These figures lack that, and often end up too skinny, as well – there are skinny MUSCLE, but only for characters who were thin as rails. He-Man should be burly.
-MUSCLE texture often includes a stippled porous surface to imply shading. These figures lack it, which is kind of sad.
-The copyright info on their backs is embossed, not carved in, and normal, not weird like the famous Y/S N*T. They could at least have written Super7 China as S/7 C*N for nostalgia purposes. So close!
-Wait… three-packs? not four? COME ON, SUPER7. Accuracy!
-After so many year, we really do have new MUSCLEs. These are MUSCLEs! Aside from the things I listed, they really do get the MUSCLE format better than even the Ultimate Muscle minifigures from about ten years ago.
-The posing is fantastically MUSCLEish, including the famous “arms out” pose.
-Most of the figures have clear MUSCLE parallels. It didn’t take me long to find them.
-The figures show great attention to MOTU detail, as well.
-I can’t criticize the card art.
And now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look!
Here’s our hero, He-Man! He’s a little skinny, which is kind of a drawback, but Super7 has a great attention to detail, even with his slighter build
The only Muscleman skinny enough to fit in with He-Man is actually Kinnikuman Great, another guy with a similar mask, but it’s close!
Next up is Skeletor, who also ran through the Skinny Machine. He’s got some great detailing, though.
Hilariously, there is a skeletal MUSCLE who’s about the same size, but I had to include Terri-Bull!
And this is the purple SDCC exclusive.
And here he is with a strangely appropriate purple weapons-wielder!
Next up is He-Man’s paramour, Teela! She’s based on the toy and not the cartoon, though it should be noted that she has a disturbing aount of sideoob for a MUSCLE.
Since the female Kinnikuman figures never made it stateside as MUSCLE, the Sheikh will have to sub in. He works, though.
Next up is Beast Man, whose hulking form translated into something a little top-heavy. He’s got some great detail, though.
And here he is next to his nearest MUSCLE equivalent.
Man-At-Arms is next on the list, with a mask carefully designed to hide whether or not he is wearing a moustache!
These two seemed appropriate together.
Trap-Jaw looks a little skinny in this format, and could have really benefited from some bulking.
For his counterpart, I went with the executioner.
Of course, Man-E Faces can’t have his rotating-head gimmick, but he looks great nonetheless.
In fact, he reminds me a lot of this MUSCLE.
Mer-Man fits into the MUSCLE aesthetic so well that it’s uncanny.
He even has a direct parallel, though this illustrates the differences in proportion more.
Buzz-Off is the bigest and most monstrous of the group! He really translated well, though he could have used some of that stippled texture I mentioned.
No bugs in MUSCLE, but I found some claws!
Whiplash just looks great as a MUSCLE. A few of them even had tails, too!
Man, these guys look like they came out of the same mold. Sorta.
Ram-Man is a little irregular in size and shape, but that matches him.
I couldn’t find a perfect Ram-Man parallel, but he looks great with Sunshine!
And finally, Tri-Klops is a little flat in pose, but he’s overall good – accurate to the original, and he looks like he would fit in with MUSCLE.
See? He fits!
They need to change the material to something more MUSCLE-esque, but MOTUSCLE is a hit! Even with its little inaccuracies, it’s like being a small child again. And did I see an Aliens MUSCLE announcement? SQUEE!