What exactly are the Non-MUSCLE sculpts? Great question! Before I attempt to answer it, I first need to address the following question.
What exactly are MUSCLEs? As is very well known, thanks largely in part to Jkaris and the American Kinnikuman Information Archive (AKIA), MUSCLEs are the Western version of Japanese Kinnikuman. In Japan, the Kinnikuman toyline was organized and released in 30 sets referred to as "Parts" between the years 1983 and 1987 (Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives). Like MUSCLEs, Kinnikuman were released in multiple colors. However, Japanese Kinnikuman are made of a flexible, eraser-like material.|
From what I can gather, MUSCLE figures derive from Kinnikuman Parts 1 through 21. According to a MUSCLE poster, as seen via Nathan's MUSCLE Page!, and the 1986 Mattel Catalog, as seen via Chad Perry's Web site, only 233 sculpts from Kinnikuman Parts 1-21 were officially made into MUSCLEs. I refer to these 233 scupts as the regular MUSCLEs or the poster MUSCLEs.Furthermore, two figures were included with a MUSCLE wrestling ring released with the toyline. However, these two sculpts appear to have been uniquely created for the MUSCLE toyline. In other words, they do not derive from Kinnikuman Parts 1 through 30.
The following are images of the Kinnikuman sculpts, in order of appearance within parts 1-21, that were not pictured on the MUSCLE poster and apparently not included in the MUSCLE toyline.I refer to the following sculpts as the Non-MUSCLE sculpts.
The above images have been borrowed from Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives.
In general, I find that there appear to be approximately 1-2 sculpts from each Part between 1 and 21 that were not made into MUSCLEs. However, there are several Parts of which all sculpts appear on the poster. According to multiple sources -- packaging, posters, catalogs, etc. -- MUSCLEs were created and distributed in American between the years 1985 and 1987. It is generally believed that they were first produced in the Pink/Flesh color and then in multiple other colors. However, MUSCLE collectors have also speculated that certain colors, usually Red, Purple, and Dark Blue, were introduced before the remaining colors. Jkaris reports that most -- if not all -- MUSCLE products are dated 1985, so it is likely that production of American MUSCLEs began in 1985. On the back of at least the flesh/colored MUSCLE four packs and the colored MUSCLE garbage cans there is a note saying:
Distributed by Mattel, Inc. Hawthorne, CA 90250 U.S.A. MADE IN JAPAN. Manufactured by Bandai.Thanks to the above disclaimer, and research by Chad Perry, we know that MUSCLEs were made in Japan by Bandai and shipped to the U.S. and elsewhere to be distributed.
Image courtesy of Alex Forbes
What exactly are MUSCLE Super Rares? Specifically, they are Non-MUSCLE kinnikuman sculpts -- sculpts not found on the MUSCLE poster but belonging to one of the 30 Kinnikuman Parts -- that are made of the exact same plastic as MUSCLEs and have the exact same trademarkings ( Y/S.N.T w/ a circled C & B) as first generation Kinnikuman and MUSCLE figures. These Super Rare MUSCLEs have typically been introduced to the MUSCLE community via Ebay or Yahoo! Japan, many times appearing with other poster MUSCLEs. According to their owners, the Super Rares are similar to regular MUSCLEs in every way. Because they appear to be real, genuine MUSCLEs, the assumption is that they were made by Bandai at the same time regular MUSCLEs were produced, 1985-1987. Prior to 2006, all the Super Rare MUSCLEs discovered were sculpts from within Kinnikuman Parts 1-21 and were discovered in the U.S. However, in 2006, several sculpts from Kinnikuman Parts 22-28 made of MUSCLE plastic and having MUSCLE trademarkings were discovered via Yahoo! Japan. I've taken to calling these figures Non-Poster MUSCLEs because I think it is a more accurate descriptive term. In other words, these are MUSCLE figures that do not appear on the MUSCLE poster. The Non-Poster MUSCLEs:
Kinnikuman 191, Red
Drunken Master (DM) & Dark Emperor (DE).
Satan Cross (SC), Spinning Head Ashuraman (SHA), Black Hole Sunshine (BHS), & Dr. Bombay.
The following MUSCLE Super Rares, or Non-Poster MUSCLEs, derive from Non-MUSCLE Parts.
(In other words, Parts beyond Kinnikuman Part 21.)
The Magnificent Eleven, 1-6
The Magnificent Eleven, 7-8
Kinnuman 329, 335, and 337, Dark Blue
The Magnificent Eleven, 9-11
The above images of the Flesh figures were taken from this thread over at the AKIA, and the pictures belong to Jkaris. Keep in mind that these are not the actual images of the MUSCLE figures themselves, rather they are simply images of Kinnikuman whose sculpt they share. More info about each of the figures can be found in that thread as well. The above images of the colored figures are of the actual MUSCLE plastic figures. Furthermore, all the colored Non-Poster MUSCLEs pictured above, and most of the Flesh as well, belong to Alex Forbes. What about the Satan Cross figure? The Kinnikuman Part 21, Satan Cross MUSCLE appears to be a special case among the Non-Poster MUSCLEs. Although like the other Non-Poster figures SC does not appear on the poster, oddly enough, the sculpt appears to be no more scarce in Flesh than MUSCLEs appearing on the poster. Satan Cross has also been found in at least three MUSCLE 4-packs. However, strangely enough, the MUSCLE version of SC does not include his back half, and has yet to be found in a color other than Flesh. The MUSCLE version of Satan Cross is truly a mystery. Where do the Non-Poster MUSCLEs come from? Over the years the MUSCLE community has produced a few Origin Theories in an attempt to explain why or how the Non-Poster MUSCLEs from parts 1 and 21 were produced and why they are "rare." (In other words, many of these theories were generally not developed with the Non-Poster MUSCLEs from Parts 22-28 in mind.) These theories have evolved as more data -- pro and con -- has been found in regards to the Non-Poster MUSCLEs. They are as follows: (1) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are regular MUSCLEs that were recalled due to small parts. (2) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are MUSCLEs that were produced as prototypes or salesman samples. (3) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs were exculsive figures available via the Quik Promotion. (4) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs were released only in Canada. (5) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are the result of a miscommunication between Bandai Japan and Mattel America. (6) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs arenít real MUSCLEs. (7) Rather than lumping all the Non-Poster MUSCLEs together, each must be approached on an individual basis, or at least by the Kinnikuman Parts they belong to. (In other words, although one of these listed theories may not apply to all of the Non-Poster MUSCLEs, one theory may correctly explain the origin of one or two of the Non-Poster MUSCLEs, while a seperate theory may explain the origin of the others.) (8) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are the result of a second wave of MUSCLEs that was quickly replaced by a second wave consisting of colored MUSCLEs. (9) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are really Japanese Kinnikuman or some type of Japanese Kinkeshi that were sold in Japan that happen to be made of MUSCLE plastic. (10) There is a high probability that MUSCLEs and Kinkeshi scupts belonging to parts 15-26 were being produced at the same time, which could somehow account for Non-Poster MUSCLEs being produced in MUSCLE plastic. (11) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs are figures produced at the beginning of the line when Bandai and Mattel planned on releasing all Kinnukuman scupts as MUSCLEs. Later, it was decided not to make every sculpt into a MUSCLE. (12) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs and Non-MUSCLE sculpts are the result of molds damaged before, or during, MUSCLE production. (13) The Non-Poster MUSCLEs and Non-MUSCLE sculpts are the result of molds being plugged due to complications with the MUSCLE plastic flowing to them and filling them properly. (14) The Non-MUSCLE sculpts are a result of a Mattel/Bandia licensing issue, resulting in the Non-MUSCLE sculpts not being made into MUSCLEs. However, mistakes were made, allowing some Non-Poster MUSCLEs to be found as MUSCLEs. I'm not claiming any special credit for creating these theories. If any little shred of what I've written is false or misleading, by all means let me know. I hope you have found this page to be helpful in understanding the Non-MUSCLE sculpts, and MUSCLE Super Rares (Non-Poster MUSCLEs). Much more information about Non-Poster MUSCLEs can be found at the AKIA Forums, particually in this thread devoted entirely to discussion of Super Rare MUSCLEs!