I can pinpoint the year when collecting became a way of life. This year was 1985. Toys up until this point were just part of the day and were just what they were, TOYS! I was completely fine getting toys and if I got more, great, and if not, great.
It was the summer of 1985 that the collecting bug bit me. Now collecting was a way of life in our house growing up. My father had his WWII collection, coins and various other history related items and my mother had her sewing items and pins. So many pins and enlisted mens shirts and tanker boots as well as antiques. I could go on and on but that would take way too much time and I don't want to start on the aesthetics milk glass or demitasse cups. I did start to have quite a few GI Joes and Masters of the Universe figures but something came out and changed the way I viewed my toys. It wasn't even expensive, or the most detailed or articulated. These toys were only one color, didn't move and there were a lot of them.
This toy line was "M.U.S.C.L.E." (Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) licensed by Mattel in 1985 from Bandai and was a simple group of pink immovable wrestlers from the planet MUSCLE with Kid Muscle, aka Muscleman, being the number one lucha libra styled wrestler that would protect Earth from Terri-Bull.
Unlike today where small figures come in blind bags where you never know what you are going to get, Muscle came on a card with a clear bubble so you know what you are going to get. This was good and bad. Yes you could see what you were getting, but you may need only one figure and the other two would give you doubles. This was good for trading with your friends but in my school the kids were into Garbage Pail Kids trading. This was bad because now I needed to collect those too? I mean, Adam Bomb and Blasted Billy were cool but they were stickers.
The first three pack I got was from the A&P by our house. I stumbled upon them as we were passing from the frozen food section then through the isle of Generica. I still remember those yellow boxes with Helvetica text stating what was in the box: Noodles, Red Stuff, Not a Quaker Granola Bar. I can smell the store now, old recycled air with hint of pine-sol, and how I got Mr. T and G.I. Joe cereal from this very same store. This three pack led to another and another and another until I saw the nine pack. Oh my, a new world had opened up like a sinkhole in the earth. A complete collection? Quicker? Only our local Kmart had this and was a bit more pricey. Then there was a 27 pack!! TWENTY-SEVEN!!! Your could potentially buy 4 packs and have the entire set! This was great, but the price point was a bit too much for my little allowance to handle.
With shoebox full in hand, how on earth was I going to keep track of all these figures? A checklist would be great but who wants to look at a piece of paper? Then it dawned on me. I kept all of the card backs and eventually noticed that there was a poster checklist that could be gotten for a few proofs of purchase! I sent off for the poster right away. Now, there was the wait. Like Ralph in a Christmas Story, I checked the mail everyday hoping that each passing day would be the day. The poster finally arrived and was promptly put up next to my Goonies and Michael Jackson posters and check marks were placed by which figures I had.