I have been intending to put another one of my antique toys up on this blog with some background information since a couple of my past blogs about my collection have been popular. But I never thought it would be this toy that would end up featured. Here is how this toy topic aroused my curiosity.
Every Wednesday I spend 45-50 minutes tutoring a 2nd grader in a neighboring community elementary school. The boy has trouble with his reading and writing and also some difficulty with arithmetic. He has already been held back one year and is still struggling. For each of our meetings his teacher gives us something to work on for at least a half hour. Then for the rest of the time we can do what we enjoy doing. Everything must take place on the school grounds. From the very beginning each time I have brought along one of my antique toys to show to my student. We then have some time to play with the toy or discuss its history. I am finding that David (name changed for privacy reasons), like one would expect from most children, is not really interested in long stories or history. He especially enjoys toys that have something to do with current popular toy characters such as Ninja characters and various other Super Heroes or Fantasy characters. My choice for this particular visit produced requests to bring it back for three weeks in a row.
Pictured above is a collectible set of toys popular in the United States from 1985 to 1988. They consisted of a package of 10 little 1 inch high bubble gum pink medium hard PVC figures of various strange mutant beings housed in a translucent small garbage can with a lid. These packets were often placed near the check out counters of Target and Toys R Us stores at that time period. They were collectible and my two sons were always looking for a new set to add a rare figure to their collection.
The name of this toy was M.U.S.C.L.E which stood for Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere. I had never looked into the history before, but as is the case for many of my toys there is lots of information on the Internet. I learned that these little figures originated in Japan and there are called kinkeshi. They still lure many collectors even today and there are several websites which still produce regular newletters about the various creatures. These bubble gum colored ones or flesh colored ones numbered 236 different designs. Later the PVC plastic was dyed various of up to 6 colors and these colored ones were mixed with the flesh ones. Collectors still strive to get all of these various designs and colors. Also the United States toys in this line included a random 4-pack of the monsters, and a 28 pack. Also there was a boardgame, a Nintendo game, a championship belt that would hold the wrestlers, and a plastic wrestling ring that allowed fights between your figures.
The premise of these little toys is fairly straightforward. They represent intergalactic wrestlers striving for dominance in the universe. I didn't know about this premise when I was with David. He thought he recognized various modern characters from various modern fantasy and Super Hero stories. I had to explain that these figures came from another generation, that of my sons' childhood.