Super-Rare M.U.S.C.L.E.s

A few figures have stirred up some controversy amongst MUSCLEheads. These figures are not shown on the poster nor on any other official MUSCLE item, yet they have the same MUSCLE-like plastic and feature the Y/S*N*T trademark. They are periodically found in MUSCLE lots from both the US and Japan. Are they truly MUSCLEs?

These strangely uncommon MUSCLEs are grouped into two categories: Super-Rare (in which more than a few of the figures are known to exist) and Super-Duper-Rare (in which only one or two are known to exist).

Black Hole Sunshine (Super-Rare)

(From the collection of Arforbes)

One Mystery MUSCLE is a version of Sunshine, deemed "Black Hole Sunshine", which has a hole in its chest where the sun symbol is located. The peg attached to the figure is designed to be taken off and inserted into the hole so that kids can have another MUSCLE "punch out" his chest.

Black Hole Sunshine is the next most common of the Super-Rares. Thanks to Arforbes for his pictures and testimony and to Msugarman for his account of his Super-Rare! You can see the Kinkeshi version of this figure here courtesy of Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives. See below for more pics courtesy of Msugarman!

  • Arforbes: As soon as I saw it through the plastic of the bubble wrap, I knew it was a legit MUSCLE figure. Upon opening it, I noticed the tell tale Y/S.N.T American MUSCLE figure markings on its back. The plastic is 100% completely authentic MUSCLE plastic. The color of the figure is the exact flesh color that the original MUSCLE figures are. The thing that convinced me the most was the following fact. The MUSCLE smell is still intact on this figure. It smells exactly like a MUSCLE making it unmistakably real. I am convinced completely of its authenticity. You do not get closer to MUSCLE than this! (The fact that the figure smells like a MUSCLE is significant. Kinkeshi have somewhat of a "fishy" smell that is difficult to eradicate, so this MUSCLE smell indicates that this BH Sunshine is probably not a Kinkeshi. You can see here that the back of the figure clearly displays the Y/S*N*T trademark. -N)
  • Msugarman: I have one from when i was a kid. I remember ripping the hole off the side... now, my son found the hole in my box of muscles.
  • Robert: I had one of these black hole sunshines as a kid too. I lived in Fremont, CA at the time.

The above pictures, some of which are just wrong on so many levels, are courtesy of Msugarpants.

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Dr. Bonbe (Super-Rare)

Yet another Super-Rare in the collection of Arforbes! The tale of this Super-Rare can be found at this thread at the Little Rubber Guys Forums.

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Spinning Head Ashura Man (Super-Rare)

Courtesy of from Dave, a.k.a. jax0n.

A few people have come across this strange Ashura Man figure, and it's difficult to determine its origin. It looks pretty similar to most Kinnikuman/MUSCLE figures of the character. However, it has a feature that is different from all the Ashura Man figures in the American line!

Courtesy of EBednarik

As you can see, this Ashura Man has a rotatable and removable head! You can pop off his head, and rotate it to display the different faces! I always wanted to be able to turn Ashura Man's head so that his different personalities can shine through, and that's finally possible with this figure!

The figure has the usual "Y/S*N*T" (EBednarik) that all Kinnikuman/MUSCLE toys have. The seller of this figure says he bought it in American MUSCLE packaging, and the winner of another SHA from eBay, DomaJedah, assures that the figure is very MUSCLE-like in plastic and color.

Courtesy of jax0n and Justin.

Spinning Head Ashuraman is the most common of the Super-Rares. You can see more pics of SHA in Arforbes' Collection. Thanks to EBednarik and jax0n for the pics of Ashura Man, and to Jay and DomaJedah for their Ashura Man testimonies! You can see the Kinkeshi version of this figure here courtesy of Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives.

  • Jay (JShurt): He is made with the same plastic as the U.S. muscles, not the softer 'eraser-like' plastic/rubber of the Japanese Kinnikumans. This reinforces the seller's memories of getting this figure in a domestic package of MUSCLEs. I have seen photos of [Kinnikuman] Ashura man figures that had the head attached to the body by a spur. This would allow the manufacturer to mold the figure as one piece then the purchaser could break the head free of the spur much like a piece from a model kit. I don't know if all Ashura man figures were distributed like this. I was curious if this was how the figure I got was distributed when new. So I asked the seller what he could remember about when he bought it. To the best he could remember the head was in place, in the hole on its shoulders and not connected by a spur.
  • Justin: I originally bought the figure in a 4-pack (as a kid). I’m pretty sure I got it at a Boston Store in Milwaukee.
  • Seller of the eBay auction for which DomaJedah was winner: Please understand that [the owner] considered these Muscle guys a toy for his son that were purchased over ten years ago. His son had them in a bag in his room for years and probably hasn't touched them in quite some time. They basically have been just sitting there. He had absolutely no idea that they would sell for more than a few dollars. To be truthful, he is somewhat skeptical that he will be paid for them!

    Both he and his wife agree that they were purchased in the Western New York area (near Buffalo) for his son along with a "million" other little action figures for his son -- MUSCLES, Monsters in my Pocket, etc. They bought most of these figures in Toys R Us, Child World (out of business for several years), or Hills Dept Store (also out of business). He has absolutely no idea which store he bought these in nor does he know how they were packaged. All the knows is that he was fortunate enough to give them to me to sell and he is happy that they got the response they did. I am sorry I am not able to give you more specific information about these figures.

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Chain Man (Super-Duper-Rare)

This curious little dude (in the middle of the back row above) was discovered on eBay by l.designs. It appears to be a legitimate Super-Rare.

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Colored Super-Rares (Super-Duper-Rare)

Courtesy of Arforbes.

This is yet another Super-Rare discovery by Arforbes, this time of the first known instances of colored Super-Rares: Red Geronimo, Blue Robinmask, Blue Missileman, and Blue Woolman! The Red Geronimo was discovered in an American eBay auction, from a seller in Rochester, New York (the auction pic is shown below). The blues were discovered on Yahoo Japan (Alex explains his discovery on the Little Rubber Guys Forums).

Interestingly enough, the Blue Robinmask is the same sculpt as the pink Magnificent Eleven Robinmask, both of which were from Japan. Check out the pics below, from the Collection of Arforbes. Only one of each of these Super-Rares is known to exist.

Courtesy of Arforbes.

  • Arforbes: These came to me as a shocker. I bid on them on Yahoo Japan because they had a glossy look to them and I thought by slim chance they may be M.U.S.C.L.E. Super Rares. When I won them I was exited to receive them because of the picture the seller added to the auction. They turned out to actually be Super Rares which was amazing!

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Dark Emperor (Super-Duper-Rare)

This discovery comes from Arforbes, who noticed an oddly-shaped MUSCLE in the auction pic below. Only one Dark Emperor Super-Rare is known to exist. You can see the Kinkeshi version of this figure here courtesy of Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives.

  • Arforbes: Well, the Super Rare arrived today and it is 100% M.U.S.C.L.E.!!! It has the Y/S.N.T on the back, the same M.U.S.C.L.E. feel and texture and color, and the smell is intact!!! Another interesting thing I noticed is that it had what appeared to me to be a tiny blue speck on the back of the left blade of his head. As soon as I saw this I thought "4-Pack remnants!!!" The blue spec is common among figures that have rested on the cardboard backs of the 4-Packs for extended amounts of time. The tiny speck flaked off while I was cleaning the figure, but it looked just like a 4-Pack spec, which may be significant! (Like BHS below, the MUSCLE smell is significant in that Kinkeshi have a distinctly different odor. Also, the "blue speck" is likely a significant clue as to its possible 4-pack origins. -N)

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Drunken Master (Super-Duper-Rare)

This curious little guy was purchased by Philly Madison in a MUSCLE lot on eBay. Shown below is the auction pic (with the Drunken Master indicated with an arrow). The sculpt of this figure does, in fact, come from the Kinnikuman line, so it is a legitimate Toei/Yudetamago mold. The character's name is Horumon Yahki... click here to see the kinkeshi version of the figure (courtesy of Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives). Thanks to Philly Madison for the pics and the testimony! If you have any questions, you can contact him at

  • Philly: ...I received the MUSCLEs and when I was going through them, I found a MUSCLE that I never seen before and it is not on the poster. I searched a few other sites to see if anyone has any history on him and I found nothing.

    I dont think he is a bootleg because he has the Y/S*N*T mark on his back (little hard to see in the pic but in person its really clear). He is made out of the same plastic and everything like all the other MUSCLES. Same color, too.

    The guy I bought them off from lives in Boston. All the other MUSCLES that were in the auction were plain MUSCLEs I've seen already, nothing special. When I saw this guy I thought it was a fake but then I checked his back and the Y/S N T mark was there. Plus he was the same plastic as the other MUSCLES (not the soft plastic like some of the fakes). To me he looks like a Japanese "Drunken Master". He can also stand on his head perfectly. I learned this because I wasn't paying attention when I was puting him down and I rested him upside down. This is just adding to my "Druken Master" aspect of him.

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The Magnificent Eleven (Super-Duper-Rare)

This incredible find comes from Johnny Karis, of fame! Johnny found an auction on Yahoo! Japan for a MUSCLE 28-pack. The pack was the #2 Cosmic Crunchers set. After asking the seller for more detailed pictures, he received pictures showing 17 normal MUSCLEs along with eleven that were clearly not normal! After Johnny bought out the auction and received the figures, he realized that they were, in fact, the same feeling plastic as MUSCLEs... thus bringing the total number of Super-Rares to 15! Only one of each of these Super-Rares is known to exist. If you'd like to discuss this find, be sure to check out this thread at Little Rubber Guys.

Here are more detailed pictures of the Magnificent Eleven. Snow is great for MUSCLE photography!

Thanks to Johnny for the show pics above. Individual shots of Camo Buffaloman, Mysterious Partner, Satan Cross back half, Terry Man, and Wars Man courtesy of Arforbes.

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King Robin Mask (UNCONFIRMED)

Bellatrix101 found a Craig's List auction with a figure of Robin Mask's dad (from Kinnikuman Part 21) cast in suspiciously MUSCLE-like plastic. The winner of this auction was never found, so this figure can't be 100% confirmed to be a Super-Rare and the real story behind it continues to be a mystery. Check out the discussion over at!

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Are they truly MUSCLEs?

So are these figures really MUSCLEs? It seems very likely, but why are there are SO few of them around? Many thousands of MUSCLEs exist in the online collecting community, and only one or two of each of these guys has shown up. Why would Mattel make them in such extremely limited quantities?

Many theories have surfaced from plenty of different "conspiracy theorists" to explain the rarity of these figures (assuming they're true MUSCLEs), including:
  • The MUSCLE line may have included many more figures in the beginning and the super-rares may have been cancelled early on.
  • The figures may have been part of a second wave of MUSCLEs that was cancelled early in favor of the multiple colors.
  • The super-rares may have been available only in different countries (similar to POTF85 Yakface).
  • They might be prototypes or salesmen samples that somehow made it on the production line.
  • They may have been the result of some sort of miscommunication between Japanese Bandai and American Mattel.
  • The figures may have been part of a product recall.
All the above theories are based on very little evidence that is entirely circumstantial, and frankly, we all lack any sort of working knowledge of the toy industry and how toy lines are produced. In truth, we really don't know the real story behind these guys and we may never know. We won't even know for sure if these guys are true MUSCLEs until they show up in American MUSCLE packaging! Whether or not these figures truly are MUSCLEs, or whether or not you need them for a complete MUSCLE collection, is entirely up to you.

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Super-Rare Links

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