M.U.S.C.L.E. 28-packs


28-packs cost $6.99 in the 80s (according to scans of the 1986 Sears Wishbook at Action Figure Archive; I also saw a 28-pack with a Bradlee's price tag with the same price). Four 28-packs were offered: Thug Busters, Cosmic Crunchers, Mighty Maulers, and Cosmic Showdown.

The MUSCLE packaging states, "The 28-packs contain figures not available in the other two sets." Whether that statement is intended to mean all the figures in the 28-packs were exclusive or just a portion is somewhat unclear. Goriki and Darrin Garrison may have found some 28-pack figures in sealed 4-packs (assuming the 4-packs weren't tampered with), so the latter may be true.

The only difference in the packaging of the 28 packs were the colors of the "explosion" behind Muscleman on the front and the colors of the sides of the box. For instance, the Thug Busters set had a green explosion and green sides. Also, there's a packaging variation: the Muscleman illustration on the front of some 28-packs had a Kinniku-symbol on the forehead, while others don't (see the Cosmic Crunchers scan below for an example of a set without the Kinniku-symbol).

As with any other MUSCLE set, the 28-packs were first available with all-pink MUSCLEs, then with half-pink and half-colored MUSCLEs, and in the final wave, with all-colored MUSCLEs. This awesome thread over at the Little Rubber Guys forums has a discussion on which colors were available in the 28-packs.

As can be expected, the MUSCLEs available in the 28-packs were from specific Kinnikuman Parts. Trees within those parts were not broken up for different 28-packs. So, for example, all figures from Part 2, Tree 1 were included with the Thug Busters. (For an explanation of MUSCLE trees, check out the "Which M.U.S.C.L.E.s were available in which colors?" question in the Collecting FAQs.) A listing of the 28-pack contents broken down by Kinnikuman Parts follows (thanks to Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive).

#1 Thug Busters set



MUSCLEs Included: 10, 13, 17, 21, 24, 25, 26, 38, 43, 44, 48, 49, 51, 53, 54, 64, 67, 70, 72, 76, 78, 84, 90, 91, 95, 103, 161, 232 (To view all the Thug Busters, click here.)
Packaging Color: Green

Kinnikuman Trees and Parts: (compiled using Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive)
Part 2, Tree 1 - 17, 21, 26, 43, 44, 54, 67, 103
Part 2, Tree 2 - 10, 13, 24, 25, 38, 48, 49, 51, 53
Part 3, Tree 3 - 161
Part 5, Tree 3 - 64, 72, 76, 90, 232
Part 6, Tree 1 - 70, 78, 91
Part 7, Tree 1 - 84, 95



#2 Cosmic Crunchers Set

(Notice the Muscleman illustration does not have the Kinniku symbol on his forehead.)


MUSCLEs Included: 18, 45, 47, 79, 81, 83, 86, 88, 89, 92, 97, 105, 114, 120, 128, 129, 132, 144, 184, 188, 192, 196, 198, 200, 201, 202, 203, 205 (To view all the Cosmic Crunchers, click here.)
Packaging Color: Red

Kinnikuman Trees and Parts: (compiled using Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive)
Part 5, Tree 2 - 45, 83, 88, 89
Part 5, Tree 4 - 79, 81, 132, 144
Part 7, Tree 3 - 18, 47, 86, 92, 97, 114
Part 10, Tree 1 - 120, 128, 129, 184
Part 19, Tree 1 - 105, 188, 192, 196, 198, 200, 201, 202, 203, 205

#3 Mighty Maulers Set



MUSCLEs Included: 5, 6, 12, 52, 57, 59, 63, 74, 80, 87, 94, 115, 169, 170, 171, 173, 175, 176, 193, 194, 204, 207, 209, 212, 214, 218, 226, 230 (To view all the Mighty Maulers, click here.)
Packaging Color: Purple

Kinnikuman Trees and Parts: (compiled using Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive)
Part 4, Tree 1 - 5, 6, 12, 52, 57, 59, 63, 74, 226, 230
Part 6, Tree 2 - 80, 94
Part 7, Tree 2 - 87, 115
Part 17, Tree 2 - 169, 170, 171, 173, 175, 176
Part 18, Tree 1 - 193, 194, 204, 207
Part 20, Tree 2 - 209, 212, 214, 218

#4 Cosmic Showdown

(no Kinniku-symbol)


MUSCLEs Included: 4, 7, 8, 9, 32, 37, 62, 65, 66, 69, 98, 99, 119, 121, 122, 127, 130, 137, 142, 146, 147, 148, 150, 158, 159, 160, 162, 233 (To view all the Cosmic Showdown figures, click here.)
Packaging Color: Yellow

Kinnikuman Trees and Parts: (compiled using Soupie's MUSCLE Colors Image Archive)
Part 3, Tree 1 - 4, 7, 8, 62, 122
Part 3, Tree 2 - 65, 66, 69, 130, 233
Part 8, Tree 2 - 98, 99, 148, 150
Part 8, Tree 4 - 37, 158, 160, 162
Part 9, Tree 2 - 9, 146, 147, 159
Part 12, Tree 1 - 32, 119, 121, 127, 137, 142

More on the 28-pack Packaging...


The back of the box had a M.U.S.C.L.E. comic strip with the title, "The M.U.S.C.L.E. Story! Now it can be told!" On an interesting note, in the last panel of the strip you can see Brokken Man in the upper-left hand corner. Brokken Man is a Japanese Kinnikuman character that was never made as a figure in the American M.U.S.C.L.E. line.

Also, the back of the box featured an ad for the MUSCLE Wrestling Ring, as well as an offer for the M.U.S.C.L.E. poster with a picture of it. But it was different from the poster that we all know and love! See below for details.



More on the 28-pack poster...

The poster shown on the back of the 28-pack was drastically different from the one that was produced. First, the design is less "explosion" oriented, and more like a wrestling ring. Second, the number of figures on the poster is completely different. While the normal poster only showed 233 MUSCLEs, the 28-pack poster seems to feature 20 columns of MUSCLEs with 20 rows, for a total of 400 MUSCLEs! That number seems to reflect the number of Japanese Kinnikuman Kinkeshi, so it's possible that Mattel had planned on releasing the entire Kinkeshi line as MUSCLEs in America at one time.

So what figures exactly are shown on the 28-pack poster? Alas, we may never know. While it appears that there are definite figures on the 28-pack poster, when it's scanned at high resolution, you don't see much additional detail. Rather, you see more of that dot-printing technique than anything. This picture of the poster seems to be best viewed at a distance, but if you're curious, here's a high-resolution scan.

Credits and Acknowledgements

The Cosmic Crunchers, Mighty Maulers, and Cosmic Showdown sets are correctly numbered because they came from a factory sealed case... thanks to Tyler Larkins for his help with these sets. Thanks also to Scott Andrew Hutchins for his help with The Thug Busters set numbers. And thanks once more to Soupie of MuscleCIA for providing the data to find the numbers for the Kinnikuman parts. And although I worked through finding the MUSCLE numbers in each Kinnikuman part and tree myself, Universal Ruler Supreme did so a few months beforehand on the Little Rubber Guys forums.