I don’t remember who gave me my first MUSCLE man. I just remember having a collection of them that I cherished: flesh-colored, dark orange, neon green, deep purple, and red. Mostly flesh. They are about an inch tall. There is a series with mohawks and a series with horns and capes. Some robots. Some half man and half beast. Others half man and half hand-tool. Some are half man and half medieval weapon. Some winged. Other are simply muscular, or grotesque and really cool-looking. They came in plastic four-packs or in small rubber garbage cans, which could hold eight. I have many, many fond memories with my MUSCLE men. They remind me a lot of my grandma’s and grandpa’s house in Bakersfield. I remember the large rounded cement steps at their back door and the Blue Room. I had an hour-long timeout in the Blue Room once, but I had a bright green robot MUSCLE man with me. I loved to categorize them, put them on teams, dramatize story-lines. In one episode they encountered Jenny’s My Little Ponies, animated by Jenny herself, and I couldn’t recount the narrative to you here because I only remember it having to do with a literal buffet and a literal court, which led to the incarceration of the majority of my MUSCLE men. They were tricked into it by way of the buffet.
I kept them. And on one day not long ago I gave them all to Soren. He was pretty excited. He keeps them in a traditional Star Wars metal lunchbox.
The other day we were looking at them together and pointing out features that were cool or unbelievable.
Me: Look! This one has needle-nose pliers for his head and arms, instead of a head and arms!
Soren: Look! This one is just an arch with a little head!
Me: Look! This one has six arms!
Soren: He must have six kids!