geeky-lego-crafts-david-scarfe-no-starch-press

Geeky LEGO Crafts By David Scarfe

If you visit The Retroist often you know I have no issues with sharing my love of fanmade LEGO creations. I believe that is exactly why No Starch Press got in touch with me to review their upcoming book.

Geeky LEGO Crafts: 21 Fun and Quirky Projects by David Scarfe is right up my alley. I also bet if you or a member of your Family enjoys LEGO you too will enjoy Scarfe’s book. Especially if you enjoy various retro based projects…
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like that Retro Controller Phone Station. Which is obviously designed to resemble the original Nintendo Entertainment System controllers.

I think some of these LEGO projects look tough!


I totally understand you being concerned about that, I really do. I mean we can’t all have the skills of those that post over at The Brothers Brick, right? I am happy to say that David’s book can put you at ease because Geeky LEGO Crafts has step-by-step instructions.
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Each project also gives you a visual difficulty rating. Just in case a young builder decides to tackle something like…the Bearskin Rug!
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You can see in those images for Tetris fridge magnets that Scarfe has your back on each project. Breaking down not just the color of the pieces but of course how many of each piece you will need.
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I was happy to find many of the Geeky LEGO Crafts projects are video game themed – like the Space Invader Space Holders. Or even the flying ducks from 1984’s Duck Hunt. But you also have the option of constructing everything from a Cassette Tape letter holder to a Grenade Planter.

If that does nothing for you, perhaps I can interest you in the Robot Wine Bottle Holder!
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I believe that Geeky LEGO Crafts: 21 Fun and Quirky Projects is being released on September 30th. Which means you have plenty of time to visit No Starch Press and pre-order a copy for yourself.

David Scarfe should be proud of his book, it is very well written and entertaining to boot. With the Holidays just around the corner it might make the perfect gift for that LEGO fan you know!

tom-whalen-autobots-acidfree-gallery

Tom Whalen Has Released Transformers Miniprints

I may not know art but I know that I like Tom Whalen’s artwork. I bet if you do a quick search here on The Retroist you will see we dig his style. The Wolf Man, Popeye, The Great Pumpkin, The Goonies, The Twilight Zone, Gigantor, and even Soundwave from the Transformers.

They have all been subjects of Tom Whalen and to a one are beautiful illustrations. He has managed to capture the spirit – the essence of each subject perfectly. The other day at the Acidfree Gallery they began to sell limited edition prints of Tom Whalen’s take on the Transformers. Some of the iconic Generation One Transformers that is!

Makant88

So which Transformers made the cut?


Tom Whalen has split the miniprints into two different sets. The heroic Autobots and the dastardly Decepticons of course. First up let us take a look at which of the Autobots were chosen…
Optimus Prime. Hey, can you really pick a more iconic character than the leader of the Autobots?
All images courtesy of Tom Whalen and Acidfree Gallery.

All images courtesy of Tom Whalen and Acidfree Gallery.


Prowl
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Ratchet
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Bumblebee
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Jazz
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Also included and as the Acidfree Gallery states on their site – Tom Whalen’s illustration for Ironhide will be randomly inserted. Only twenty of the Ironhide miniprints will be made by the way. So he is the chase miniprint I guess you can say?
tom-whalen-ironhide-acidfree-gallery

Which Decepticons did Tom Whalen choose?


I think that the artist went with some rather interesting choices with the ‘Decticreeps’. It is completely understandable of course that Megatron was picked – especially with Prime chosen for the Autobots.
All images courtesy of Tom Whalen and Acidfree Gallery.

All images courtesy of Tom Whalen and Acidfree Gallery.


Starscream is a solid choice as well…
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As is Soundwave. Three solid characters that make up the core of the Decepticon forces.
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Tom Whalen might have went with another of the Seekers like Thundercracker or even Skywarp but chose Shockwave
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The artist also chose to shine the spotlight on Rumble instead of say Laserbeak or Ravage.
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For the Decepticons it is Frenzy that has been given the honor of being the chase Miniprint.
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So that makes actually three of the illustrations for the Decepticons that involved Soundwave in one form or another. Which if Transformers: The Movie taught us anything is logical as Soundwave is superior…

Karulovecat

Each set of five miniprints will cost fifty dollars and there are some variant versions that run a little higher. I can only tell you that there are differences in what looks to be the material it is printed on. Although some of the higher priced sets include original sketches by Tom Whalen. So if your home or office need some beautiful Transformers artwork I suggest you hop on over to Acidfree Gallery.

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There Is A LEGO Knight Rider Set. No, Really!

That isn’t a fanmade Knight Rider set from the Brothers Brick, that is an official LEGO set – a Knight Rider set that should hit store shelves next February.

So this Knight Rider set means LEGO is going to take over the world, right?


Pretty much. At least in regards to pop culture retro related properties. I mean, please don’t get me wrong but who is it that you think LEGO is aiming this Knight Rider set to? I say it is most definitely the likes of us that visit The Retroist!

That isn’t all that LEGO is making for us retro-minded fans though. I previously shared the information about the upcoming LEGO Dimensions sets besides Knight Rider back in June. You might remember we are also getting Gremlins
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The A-Team
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Mission Impossible
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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
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and last but not least The Goonies – or at least Sloth from that film.
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Why should we care about a LEGO Knight Rider though?


I know there may be a few of you out there that are asking yourself this very question. You are all dead to me. Just kidding of course – but how can you not get excited about a LEGO minifig version of David Hasselhoff, I mean Michael Knight?
Image courtesy of io9.

Image courtesy of io9.


My friends, please listen to me. We are lucky enough to live in a time where by next year you will be able to have Dr. Peter Venkman of 1984’s Ghostbusters driving K.I.T.T. through Gremlins’ Kingston Falls!
Image courtesy of io9.

Image courtesy of io9.


I kind of think that LEGO has made some amazing and excellent choices with Knight Rider and the other retro properties. In fact I believe I couldn’t be more impressed if they suddenly announced they were releasing a set for…

A huge thank you to Andrew Liszewski of io9 for the heads up on the Knight Rider set. Hey, if like myself you are geeking out over this release and need to pass the time until February, you can always keep Hasselhoff’s True Survivor on constant loop, right?

[via] DavidHasselhoffVEVO

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There Was An Automan Action Figure?!

Automan was a television series that aired on ABC starting in 1983 for a mere one season. Obviously inspired by TRON which the showrunners must have believed was going to be the megahit of 1982 – sadly, much like that film this sci-fi/superhero series failed to find it’s intended audience.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.


In all honesty – the reason I loved the series so much is that Automan premiered at the exact right time for someone like myself who was devoted to video games, computers and of course TRON. Even though it took far too long in my humble opinion, Shout! Factory has come to the rescue and released all 13 episodes on DVD.

Video S.

So what is Automan about?


Automan was the brainchild of the late great Glen A. Larson who you might know from Battlestar Galactica, B.J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy, and Magnum P.I. to name a few. The story is about a Police Officer named Walter Nenicher, played by Desi Arnaz, Jr. who is also a computer programmer. One night at the station while working on a holographic program for an ‘Automatic Man’ – the creation is brought to life and the duo quickly team up to fight crime. Automan by the way was played by Chuck Wagner.

The duo were helped by Automan’s sidekick named Cursor who could ‘draw’ solid light creations for Automan and Walter when needed like a car that was capable of 90-degree turns…
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…a helicopter which was always my person favorite…
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and even a combination of car and jet when needed.
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I remember once or twice that Cursor also became a motorcycle – I just couldn’t find any images of it.

Thanks for the history lesson, now what about this Automan toy?


Why is everyone in such a hurry these days? I was getting to the point. While I was certainly a fan of the television show the disappointing ratings not only killed any hopes for a second season but the prospect of toys. Or at least that is what I always thought. It turns out that the series did in fact have quite a few toys created – the catch though is they weren’t sold in America.

I was under the impression for the past 33 years that there was no merchandise whatsoever – so when I stumbled across an image of the Automan action figure by Acamas Toys the other day…I naturally assumed it was a fake. A custom figure. I was totally wrong.
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A big thank you to 80sKid.Com for the images you see below – because Halloween costumes, die-cast vehicles, and even a toy watch that launched ‘drone’ copters were made and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Take a closer look at that Automan costume set – 80sKid.Com totally has it signed by Chuck Wagner!
Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


So when you have a few moments, make sure to visit 80sKid.Com and check out all of the merchandise that was created for Automan…if you need me I will be on eBay trying to get some of this stuff for myself.

Chuck Wagner
Wait a minute…that last video is from Chuck Wagner?! Like as in the actor who played Automan?

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Check Out This Back To The Future II Battery-Powered Car!

Back to the Future II holds some very vivid memories for me. I can certainly recall the excitement at my High School from my fellow students as the November 22 release date crept closer – although that also had a bit to do with the Thanksgiving vacation too.

Of course it didn’t help that Back to the Future II was heavily involved with all manner of cross promotional advertising and merchandising like with Pizza Hut. You know, the Solar Shades inspired by the movie?

[Via] TV Matt KC

Some of the Pizza Hut ads for Back to the Future 2 didn’t even make those Solar Shades the main focus…I still want a pair of them though. Even back in 1989 I smiled at that girl’s comment about the two guys looking 80s – I think I knew somehow that fashion would never get better than that for me.

[Via] Jurassic Park Fan 1001’s Channel

What do I remember most about Back to the Future 2?

There are a couple of things that stood out as my Father and I were watching it on opening weekend:

  • Whoa! Jennifer from the first film has been replaced by Adventure In Babysitting’s Elisabeth Shue!
    back-to-the-future-ii-elisabeth-shue
  • Things got quite a bit darker in Back to the Future Part II!
  • Our fellow audience members seemed none too pleased that the conclusion to the Back to the Future saga would be finished in a third film and set in the old west.

    When I say they were not pleased I mean many, many of them were booing as they walked out of the auditorium. For quite a while, at school especially it seemed like I was the lone defender of Back to the Future II but eventually it seemed like people’s attitude towards the film changed.

Didn’t you mention something about a Back to the Future II battery-powered car?

Yep. I was and still am a huge fan of the movie. Having said that – somehow the knowledge that Action Products released as a 1989 Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive – a battery-powered DeLorean escaped my attention.
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Not that I was of the age category that could have driven it without breaking it. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have picked up that radio controlled car though!
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back-to-the-future-ii-delorean-side

I am absolutely astonished they added a Mr. Fusion!

I am absolutely astonished they added a Mr. Fusion!


These images by the way come courtesy of a 2010 post from io9 who seem to have obtained them from the always awesome Branded in the 80s site.

Custom Atari 2600 LEGO Set - PowerPig

The Custom Atari 2600 LEGO Set You’ve Always Wanted!

Custom LEGO sets are popular for a very good reason, not only does it give fans a chance to add that one item they desperately want to their collection, perhaps something that LEGO itself hasn’t gotten around to as of ye. Of course another reason is that it also allows builders to show off their considerable talent – like with this particular Atari 2600 Lego set that you know you’ve always wanted.

What is the story behind this LEGO Atari 2600?


Well this Atari 2600 set was created by one Chris McVeigh aka PowerPig and is actually entitled “This Old Basement” and is part of his pixel bundle. After taking a quick moment to hop on over to his little spot on the internet it is readily apparent that Chris has a lot of skill at creating such custom LEGO sets. It’s not just the Atari 2600 set you can pick up, yep, you can totally buy these – but there is also a set for the Intellivision and Colecovision. All of that is before you start scratching the surface of his other categories like arcade cabinets, cameras, radios, food, and even Bonsai trees!

Images courtesy of PowerPig's Builds.

Images courtesy of PowerPig’s Builds.

What is so special about this custom LEGO set?


I think that answer is plainly obvious but how about we take a moment to check out the detail that Chris has added in this LEGO set? First of all that television set should look very familiar to those of you who grew up in the 80s or perhaps just might be a fan of Stranger Things. Not only does it have those rabbit ears – but check out the control knobs…offering thirteen channels and a volume control – and a dark ‘wood’ colored finish.

As for the game that is playing on the television – to me it looks like a cross between 1981’s Lock ‘n’ Chase by Data East and Atari’s Slot Racers from 1978.

Image courtesy of AtariAge.

Image courtesy of AtariAge.

This table/cabinet looks to me like the type I remember seeing in the late 70s – a perfect place to store your opened Atari 2600 game boxes but it also marks the perfect location to place your rug. I love that this LEGO set has a trusty Luke Skywalker figure in his X-Wing pilot gear close at hand with a cold can of cola within easy reach as well – hey, gamer fuel was important then as it is today!

Custom Atari 2600 LEGO Set - table - PowerPig

Last but certainly not least in this Atari 2600 LEGO set is…the Atari 2600! While Chris brilliantly constructed it’s intentional ‘simple’ design doesn’t let us fans of the system know if this is a Heavy/Light Sixer from 1977 or the 1980 CX2600-A model. Although I have to say I love the detail McVeigh put into it all – what with the cords that attach to the the joysticks and 2600 plus that ‘wood veneer’ front.

Custom Atari 2600 LEGO Set - Atari - PowerPig

So make sure to hop on over to PowerPig’s Builds and pick up your own Custom Atari 2600 LEGO Set or see what else Chris might have to offer you for own collection!

A very big thanks to AtariAge for the use of their scanned Slot Racers box art in this post.

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“M.U.S.C.L.E. Things: How Many Did You Capture?”

I spent a good portion of this afternoon playing Pokemon Go with my daughter. A game that inspires young (and old…er) to go out searching for thousands of strange, little creatures that appear anywhere, and “catch them all”. As we played, I was reminded of a time when I was inspired to capture Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere. Or M.U.S.C.L.E. Things as we called them 30 years ago. Except they weren’t virtual nor did they appear in augmented reality. They were real. (Well…physically speaking, of course.) So we didn’t need smart phones, or any kind of technology to get them. We just needed a really, REALLY good sales pitch, an open-minded parent with a little bit of spare cash and a long-winded “Pleeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeee…..!!!!!?????!!!!!” at the end. It was an acquired art to say the least, but I had a few good years of practice under my belt already and the toy collection to prove it.

It all started on a typical weekday afternoon, as I was glued to the TV, unwinding from school. A tradition which included (but not limited to) Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, She-Ra, Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget, depending on the day’s programming schedule, and usually accompanied with a few bags of fruit snacks. Sometime in early 1986 and right after a Lucky Charms commercial, it happened. This…

BAM! Just like that. INSTANTLY hooked! For me, it was the was the sci-fi aspect that grabbed my 10-year old mind. More specifically, the one pictured in the video at the 21 second mark. Yeah…the infamous Hand. Now officially referred to by collectors as “The Claw”.
Jim Carrey-The Claw!
NO, not THAT Claw! THIS Claw…
The Claw
I wanted it. NO….I NEEDED it! But not just that one. I needed more! Perhaps….ALL of them…??? They were like trading cards….but FIGURES!! These were amazing!! I’m usually no slave to marketing *sips Coke, adjusts Nike hat and grabs a handful of Doritos* but I hadn’t seen advertising like this since the last Star Wars cardback commanded me to “Collect all 92”!! The announcer in the commercial asked me how many could I capture. Well, you better believe that I was gonna answer that call!!!
Sealed 4-Pack
Sealed 10-Pack
A week later, on a routine prescription drug pick-up with my dad to a local Sav-On (before it became a Walgreen’s), I saw them. First, I saw the 4-packs hanging from pegs. Then, I saw the 10-pack trashcans on the shelf.

I thought hard for a while. I knew a 4-pack would be an easy “yes”, but I was feeling lucky that night. I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed that 10-pack and went in for the kill. I didn’t wait for my dad to finish what he was doing and meet me in the toy section as usual. I took that sucker out of the toy aisle, straight to him! I may have failed to mention the smaller, less expensive option, but that is neither here nor there. All 10-packs were randomized figures. There were never duplicates inside the 10-packs, nor did any 10 ever have the same mix of figures. My first 10 were the ONLY M.U.S.C.L.E. figures I had for a few months so they got quite a bit of playtime, which is probably why they are so ingrained into my memory.

                                                                  My first 10
First 10
As with most new toy purchases, these got opened up in the car, before we even got out of the parking lot. The first thing I remember (and will NEVER forget) is the amazing smell that emitted from that little plastic trashcan as soon as it popped open. It’s right up there with a fresh box of Crayola crayons, Play-Doh, and Elmer’s Glue…and equally reminiscent of my childhood. The best part is that you can STILL get that scent from them if you store them properly. I won’t lie…..I sometimes have to open up the bin I keep these in and take a good whiff. Come to think of it…maybe that was their secret all along…Maybe these things were spiked with some sort of nerve gas that…nah, nevermind. If I keep speculating down this road, I may have to give them up, and today is the wrong day to give up sniffing M.U.S.C.L.E.s.

Had I seen these in the store prior to seeing the commercial, I may not have thought much of them. I say that because they were marketed as “Weird, Wild Wrestlers”. Obviously loosely inspired by the Mexican Luchadores, with a sci-fi, Japanese anime twist. Well, even though WWF was a runaway success during this time period, I was never much into it. I had a few schoolmates that were, and I watched the Saturday morning cartoons from time to time, but I was never one for competitive sports, much less wrestling. However, my dad was into wrestling and the occasional Luchador movie that would show up on the Spanish channel on Saturday afternoons. That may be why he was the one who bought me my first set of these. He probably thought they were cool. This might sound irrelevant, but as a parent, I can tell you that this is a HUGE factor in what toys I decide to buy for my kids.

Unlike just about every other toy-line of the time, M.U.S.C.LE. didn’t initially have a corresponding cartoon, comic book, movie, video game, candy, cereal or any sort of other promotional tie-in. That’s saying a LOT for the time period, where EVERY plastic thing that was marketed towards kids had spawned from some sort of other familiar source material. Most toy/80s aficionados already know of M.U.S.C.L.E.’s Japanese (Kinnikuman) history, but at the time-for those of us in the United States-these toys were a complete surprise. Their lack of cross-promotional marketing may be why they were only popular for a few years, but here we are…30 years later still talking about (and collecting) them, which speaks volumes about their influence. A few other toy-lines tried the same tactic, but they never reached the same level of popularity. (*cough*Rocks & Bugs & Things*cough*) I’m sure the low price-point was a major factor in how they were able to compete with the major franchises of the time, and that was a bonus for those of us whose parents couldn’t afford Castle Grayskulls, Metroplexes or U.S.S. Flaggs. For less than the price of a single action figure, you could get about a dozen of these INaction figures. Sure they were smaller, not articulated, and uni-colored but they had other advantages that out-weighed their taller competition.

The BEST part about them was their sheer indestructibility! Unless you took a pocket knife or a lighter to them, these things were practically invincible. Save for a few scuffs, it’s rare to find one that is destroyed, even 30 years later. I did everything to them from freezing them, dropping them from the stairwells, stepping on them, throwing them across the playground, running them over with my bike and even giving them repeated slime baths. They survived my symphony of destruction far longer than any of my other toys. Secondly, with the exception of only 2 characters, all of these guys were nameless. In a world dominated by Lion-Os, Mermen, Megatrons and Sgt. Slaughters…these guys could be whomever you wanted them to be, good or bad! I’m not sure if every kid back then took advantage of that opportunity, but I sure did. I named my first 10 the day I brought them home like an over-joyed parent! Not only that, but I took it one step further and even assigned them special attacks/abilities, too! You can’t do that with real kids. (Trust me….I tried, but my kids STILL can’t melt bricks with their eyes or levitate objects with their minds.)

Over the years, their Japanese canon followed them, and we discovered that a lot of these guys DID actually have names, factions and abilities, but this was long after most of us had grown up. (Figuratively speaking.) I’m sticking with the original names and abilities I assigned to my first 10 and a handful of other notable favorites. These 25 (which includes my first 10) were my star players.

The first one that got his name, was the most peculiar one of that first 10-pack I got; the pyramid guy. Except, it was upside down, and therefore not really a pyramid. After looking at the others, I was still puzzled as to what this…thing…actually was. I asked my dad. He looked at it briefly and said, “Oh, that’s a plumb bob.” I didn’t know what the heck that was, especially at the age of 10, so I had to ask him to elaborate. Well, being a forklift operator, he had worked at construction sites before, and proceeded to explain to me what it was and what it was for.

I could explain it, but I’ll let the Great Wikipedia do it’s job here: “A plumb bob or a plummet is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line. It is essentially the vertical equivalent of a “water level”.

So that’s what I called him from that moment. He also served a very important role in how I played with these things. He didn’t have a special attack or ability like the others, but he was the one who decided who “won” in a battle between 2 figures or even who would choose which ones would “fight”. See…before the wrestling ring came out, I still knew these guys were fighters, and fighters needed a referee. That’s where Mr. Bob came in. I would spin him like a top (or just drop him), and when he landed, the figure that he was pointing at was the winner…or loser, depending on my mood that day. About 6 months later, I ended up getting a new figure in a different 10-pack that was an actual top (“Topspin”) that you could actually spin, so that put poor Plumb out of the referee business. Though, you’ll be happy to know that I did recruit him as a fighter and his special attack was an instant, body-piercing kill for his opponent.

Plumb Bob also became one-third of this transforming space-sled that Mr. Roboto would ride into battles on. (Yes, I even found a way to make M.U.S.C.L.E.s into Transformers!) Here is Mr. Roboto, combined with Archie, Topspin and Plumb Bob.
Mr. Roboto's Space Sled
My second set of M.U.S.C.L.E.s was a 28-pack from the shelves of a Kay-Bee toy store. This time, it was my mother who would be the unsuspecting procurer here. The set I got was #3: Mighty Maulers, and that set contained several figures that would become lifelong favorites. One of which I lost that same afternoon in the bushes of my mom’s work. I went back several times as a teenager, looking in those same bushes for it, with no luck. Sometimes, I wonder if “Trashman” is still lying there…waiting for me to return for him. *Insert sad, cliché, Toy Story-esque, musical montage here*

One of the things I wanted most, and truly regret not getting was the exclusive mail-away poster, which showcased all the available figures. It’s a beautiful piece of 80’s greatness but an original sells for hundreds of dollars these days, IF you can even find one for sale. For now, i’ve settled for a reproduction, and it adorns the backside of the door to my bedroom.
Poster
One other fun thing I used to do with these things is find clever ways to store and transport them on trips with my parents as they ran errands. Stupidly, I never saved any of the 28-pack boxes or inserts, so I was always left with way more M.U.S.C.L.E.s than I had containers for. I used to always push the limits of the 10-pack trashcans, and was once able to get 16 inside of one. However, I only had 3 of those. I tired everything from Manglor eggs to MOTU Slime containers, but I only had one of each of those too. My solution finally came in the form of a routine trip to the kitchen cabinet. My mom had recently started buying Crystal Light drink mixes. (My favorite was Caribbean Cooler.) I just happened to notice that the cylindrical containers the packets came in were perfect, and I had an endless supply of them! I was able to fit about 20 M.U.S.C.L.E.s into each one. I peeled the labels off of 6 of them and I finally had uniformed storage for my whole collection. They were also stackable AND had color-coded lids! I had some labeled as favorites, some as non-favorites, some were “Good Guys”, some were “Bad Guys”, etc. Here’s a vintage commercial for Crystal Light in all it’s 80’s glory:

[Via] Jamie Gee
About a year after their initial launch, M.U.S.C.L.E. figures started to show up in colors other than their original “pink” (AKA “flesh”) color. For some reason, those never really appealed much to me. Aesthetically, they’re pleasing to look at, but they just didn’t fit in with the others that I had already collected so many of.

However, I did pick up one colored 28-pack…and the memory I have of that final foray into M.U.S.C.L.E.dom is one of the best from my childhood. I was on a field trip with my 5th grade class in early 1987. Several classes from a few different schools in the district took a trip to Los Angeles to go see The Nutcracker at the famous Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. After the show, we all walked across the street to a mall to get lunch and do a little shopping. (My parents had given me a $20 bill to spend.) I specifically remember getting a Big Mac meal at the mall before hitting the toy store. Don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday unless you want to see the dumbfounded stare of a professional dufus in headlights, but I can sure as heck tell you what I ate 30 years ago!

While eating, I ended up seeing my old friend, James from my former neighborhood. About 2 years prior, my family moved to the other side of town, and I lost touch with James, who had been my partner in crime since Kindergarten. Turns out, his class was also on the same field trip! James and I were the original Beavis and Butthead, so almost 2 years of not having seen him was a long time in kid-years. Needless to say, it was a happy moment…and how did we spend it? TOY SHOPPING SPREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We raced over to Kay Bee Toys and frantically used the last 15 minutes of our field trip to spend every penny we had burning through our pockets! I remember he went straight for the G.I. Joe section, and I headed for the Transformers. Except, there weren’t any that I wanted or could afford. So…my next option was the 28-pack of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures calling to me. It was set #2: Cosmic Crunchers, and it was all of the new, colored versions. I didn’t want the colored ones, but by this time, the stores weren’t carrying the original color any longer. This was my final M.U.S.C.L.E. acquisition, but also my very first toy purchase with my own money. (OK, fine…it was still may parents’ hard-earned cash, but I paid for this at the register all by myself!) *sticks out tongue* So it was a significant life experience to say the least.

From the time I saw that first commercial until that field trip, I would acquire 2 more 28-packs, and 2 more 10-packs, leaving my childhood collection at just over 100 figures when you account for the few that I lost or traded off for other types of toys. Not bad, considering it’s close to half of the entire collection. Compared to the other toy-lines I had in my room, this was the largest collection I had. They also eventually made a wrestling ring toy, which I always wanted but never got. In addition to that, there were several other toys released (and 1 NES video game) to go with the series. M.U.S.C.L.E. inspired several other small, rubbery collectible figurine toy-lines over the next few years with varying degrees of popularity; C.U.T.I.E.S., Battle Beasts, Army Ants, etc. In fact, some toy companies are STILL making similar toys to this day! (Seriously. Look up “MOTU M.U.S.C.L.E.” They are awesome!)
MUSCLE - Masters of the Universe - Super7
For those of you still reading this, you may be wondering if I ever did capture that “Claw” figure that started me down this whole path to begin with. Well, the answer is no. Not in the wild, at least. (That’s collector lingo for finding a particular item through a random shopping trip as opposed to buying it outright on the second-hand market.) I did eventually pick one up off eBay about 15 years ago, as with a few others that I needed to replace some of the ones I had lost or traded off as a kid. I had to buy back about 20 to complete my First 10 and First 28 sets, also. I still don’t have a complete set, nor do I care to. I have far more than I had as a kid simply as a result of buying large sets in order to get the ones I really wanted. My current collection clocks in at 193 unique figures (out of 236), which is perfectly fine with me.

With all the many adventures I had with these little guys, I could write about them endlessly. However, I have kids, and they need to be trained to telekinetically melt bricks in case our planet ever gets invaded by Millions of Unusual Small Creatures who just may happen to Lurk Everywhere. So I should get going now. That…and I’m really craving a Big Mac for some strange reason.