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Series 1

by yo go re

Once upon a time we wrote about nostalgia and why modern toys are better than the ones you had as a kid. The point still stands, but there's one set of toys I had as a kid that I really wish I still had today: MUSCLE. The Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere. They weren't great toys, but after getting into Hasbro Heroes and their alternate company equivalents, I've come to appreciate them for their designs. That's why when I heard about OMFG, I jumped at it!

Now, online, hearing "OMFG" makes people think of one thing, and you know what it is: that's right, the Olivia Munn Fan Group. But that's not what this OMFG is. This OMFG stands for "Outlandish Mini Figure Guys," and they're a tribute to the lost, lamented MUSCLE style.

The OMFG figures were created through Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced funding site. For just $10, you got the first series of figures. The packaging is a simple blister card, much like the classic MUSCLE four-packs: a bright blue background with yellow lettering. Of course, MUSCLE didn't have a big blue mouth on their packaging, but you've got to allow for some differences, right? But enough about the stuff that gets thrown out: let's get to the figures!

We start with the Crawdad Kid, designed by Daniel Yu from Singapore. Despite the name, he doesn't look too much like a crayfish from the front: his head is large and flat, so he looks more like a mushroom than a crustacean; of course, if you turn him around you'll see a lobster tail draping dowwn his back. He's got a terribly wrinkly little face hidden under that mushroom cap of his, including two squinty eyes (separate from the eyes you see on top of the head). He has three-pronged claws that look nearly mechanical rather than organic, and his oufit appears to have large kneepads - a throwback to MUSCLE's origins as a line of wrestling toys? The first art of Crawdad Kid made him look like a pirate; but seeing the back, with the tail hanging over his shoulders, you kind of get the impression of colonial American garb: think of the lobster tail as a ponytail, and the "mushroom" as a floppy tricorn hat. See it now?

Next we have South Carolina's own Charles Marsh designing Multiskull. Multiskull is... exactly what it says on the tin. A pile of skulls. Multiple skulls, even. Have you ever read the "Church and State" arc of Cerebus? You know the wall of faces in Iest? It's like that, come to life. The skulls are of varying sizes, from the very smallones in the details of his limbs to the huge one that forms his torso - it sticks out both the front and back of the figure, which is a great attention to detail. The conception of this figure isn't startlingly original (it's a monster made up of a pile of skulls - who among us hasn't drawn that on their Trapper Keeper at one point in their lives?), but you have to admire the sculptor's work.

King Castor is the single figure that convinced me to fund this Kickstarter project. Why? Because Dominic Campisi designed a big walking castle. How fun! More than that, though, he made a a walking Castle Grayskull! There's just something about the design of the figure that looks like He-Man's secret clubhouse. Is it the rough, uneven stones? The shape of the crenellations? I don't know, but the instant I saw this I could only think "Grayskull." It's almost enough to make me wish King Castor was done in green instead of pink (there is a set of green exclusives available somewhere, but the green is too vibrant to really capture the MotU feel, so we're left to dream). One hand is open wide, while the other is curled into a fist and has a gun poking out of the wrist. There's a cannon on the roof, and a large boiler on the back that looks like it might provide power for this stone behemoth's perambulation.

The next figure was designed by Kyle Thye from Iowa, and sculpted by Ralph Niese from Germany - the internet is awesome! According to the Kickstarter page, this figure is the Phantom Outhouse, but the packaging calls him the Phantom Shithouse. Honestly, the first name is better: it may have been chosen as a "safe" alternative for a public, SFW site like Kickstarter, but it sounds more natural: nobody uses "shithouse" as a common phrase (outside of being built like a brick one), so it comes across as trying to be shocking. Eh, personal preference. You can call this guy Fanny and Pooey for all anybody cares. Once you buy him, he's yours. And he looks great! The outhouse bit has the texture of rough wooden planks, and the cartoony half-moon on the door. What makes this a "phantom," though, are the flowing limbs of poo-water explodinging through the structure. Gross!

And finally we come to Stroll, the figure created by John "Spanky" Stokes and sculpted by George Gaspar. This is the weakest figure in the set, just being a generic furry monster. Of course, that could just be our prejudices showing: while most of these figures would look right at home in the world of MUSCLE, that wasn't the only minifigure line back in the day. There was also Monster in my Pocket, and Stroll might fit nicely with them. His name seems to come from the word "troll," though there's no immediately obvious reason for the extra S - it's not like he's even sculpted in a walking pose. He looks like what you'd get if you crossbred Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc.: big and furry, but with one giant eye. His chest, feet and butt are completely bare. Ha ha, bare butt!

The OMFG figures range in size from 1½" to 2" tall, and have no points of articulation. The plastic quality is good: it's just a bit rubbery, but the thicker bits feel plenty solid. The pink chosen for the figures isn't an exact match for the old MUSCLE toys, which may be a disappointment to some. OMFG have a bit more yellow in their mix, so they're closer to orange than magenta. Unless you stand MUSCLE and OMFG next to each other, though, you'll never notice.

OMFG Series 1 is very cool, especially if you like "art" figures: they're definitely not toys you can pose and play with a lot of different ways, but they'll also stand up to a kid's abuse. The line was created by someone called October Toys, which we've never heard of before, but they obviously have something going for them. Apparentloy you can even go on their forums and submit your own design for Series 2. The first Kickstarter project generated almost 50% more money than the goal they needed to reach, so the interest is sure to be there for at least one more go-round.

-- 02/09/12

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