Kinnikuman / M.U.S.C.L.E. Romando Page
Below this text is a photo gallery of the Kinnikuman action figures made by Romando that I have in my collection. Kinnikuman was a Japanese anime/manga series about galactic wrestlers that became somewhat familiar to kids in the United States during the 1980s when small rubber figurines of the strange Kinnikuman wrestlers (called Kinkeshi) were imported and repurposed as a toyline called M.U.S.C.L.E. The American toyline ditched the story but kept the wrestling conceit. This collection of little pink wrestlers, made out of harder rubber than their eraser-like predecessors in Japan, was known for having some very bizarre, imaginatively-designed characters.
Some time later in Japan, a toy company called Romando (or Romandou or Romandoh) began making larger-sized, articulated action figures of these characters, and it might be shocking to fans of the original M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline to see their favorite little wrestlers realized in this form. Romando went out of business after producing a wide selection of Kinnikuman characters, many of which are now pretty hard to find. And there aren’t many online sources that have information on the toys. I by no means have anywhere near a complete collection of Romando Kinnikuman and never will, but I thought I could offer photos of the ones I do own to give visitors an idea of what this toyline was about. For good measure and comparison’s sake, I’ve included the original M.U.S.C.L.E. figurines in the photos. Please be aware that some of these Romando figures have accessories that I didn’t include in the photos, mainly because I’m going more for artistic shots than catalogue photos. There are also a few Kinnikuman action figures featured here that were made by companies other than Romando. Enjoy! – K.
Latest Update: Added Black Hole and The Hawkman!
Click on the name of each character below to see a photo and review:
Ashuraman (Another Arm version)
When I first saw this trippy version of Ashuraman, I knew I had to have it! Something about him is both horrific and comical. What I hadn’t realized was that Ashuraman apparently has the ability to steal his opponent’s arms and use them as his own. In this case, he has both of Terryman’s arms, which for the record are better than the arms on the actual Terryman figure and even feature painted stars (gasp!). I’m not 100% certain, but I think the other arms belong to Black Hole, Atlantis, Iwao and Mister Carmen. The basic body here is Romando’s second version of Ashurman that is more articulated. The shoulder ball joints don’t match the colors of his individual arms, although this Ashuraman is such a hodgepodge of arms that it doesn’t really matter. The one quibble I have is that the thin neck peg of this figure is too long, making it look like he has a major pencil-neck unless you pose his head downward to hide it like I did in the photo. I don’t know why this happened, as it’s not an issue with the standard version of this figure. The particular Romando also came in blue. Although there is no M.U.S.C.L.E. figure of Ashuraman depicting his foray into eclectic arms accessorizing, I included the figurine with one arm in a sling, as I always thought that was a similarly quirky choice for a figure.
Ashuraman (solid blue)
Of Romando’s original Ashuraman figures, I prefer this one the most. The translucent blue version’s plastic is kind of gummy – one of the arms on mine pops off way too easily. I also like the blue skin better than the natural skin tone on this character. He’s pictured here with a Spinning Head Ashuraman Kinkeshi figure from Japan. There apparently was a Spinning Head Ashuraman released in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline, but it ultra-rare and expensive.
Ashuraman (translucent green)
I own more Romando action figures of Ashuraman than of any other character, and it’s not because he’s my absolute favorite Choujin (superpowered wrestler). He is certainly one of my favorites because his look is so distinctive, but my collection of Ashura-men has more to do with me buying one figure of him and then finding another that I think is even cooler. Romando was no slouch in depicting this guy in plastic. This version of Ashuraman is the first I purchased, mainly because he’s the one I was able to find at the time. The translucent green is nice, but not as cool as the solid blue version of him. This figure, the first Romando made of Ashuraman, came in the two color schemes I just mentioned, as well as in flesh-tone (which I don’t have). I like the figure, although the arm articulation is kind of wonky. It’s more like a semi-moving mass of upper arms with some oddly articulated forearms. I don’t know if it’s just my version of this figure, but the forearm swivels got pretty loose in no time at all. It was a strain for him to hold his M.U.S.C.L.E. counterpart in this photo without dropping him. However, Ashuraman’s three faces are present and his head does rotate. This is probably the most common and cheapest version of Ashuraman you’ll find, and it’s not a terrible buy if you just want a representation of him. But Romando later released more articulated versions of Ashuraman which were much nicer; I’ll review some of those separately.
To me, the action figures of this aquatic Choujin (superpowered wrestler) will always instead be plastic representation of The Amazon, the similar, head-biting villain from the original Nintendo “Pro Wrestling” game! I loved playing as that guy, but man was he a jerk when you were on the other side of his cheating tactics! Anyway, this figure of The Amaz- I mean Atlantis – is quite a visual feast with his glossy, bright green and orange color scheme and giant red eyes. Even my girlfriend thinks he’s pretty. LOL A lot of the secondary characters Romando released were hollow (compared to the solid bulk of characters like Kinnikuman and Robin Mask) and Atlantis is no different. His leg articulation is also limited by his loincloth, and like many Romandos he lacks waist articulation. But for me, the fact that this is a striking figure of a scaly, bug-eyed fishman more than makes up for it. Atlantis came with some translucent blue accessories depicting a spout of water or something like that, but I’ve never been 100% sure what to do with them.
There are a lot of screwed-up characters in the Kinnikuman saga, but I think Benkiman wins the prize for the most bizarre. He’s a human toilet, capable of rolling his opponents up into little spheres and flushing them, as demonstrated by the rolled-up balls of Kinnikuman and Tileman that the Romando figure comes with. Kinnikuman managed to escape this fate and defeat Benkiman by clogging him up with his wrestling trunks. Benkiman has a faucet on his head in the anime, but in the original manga he wears a hat MADE OF POO. And the Romando comes with both options, although be very careful when switching them out because the pieces don’t pop out of his head easily. The faucet broke clean off my Benkiman’s head the first time I tried to replace it with the poo hat. I was so distraught that I bought another Benkiman. There are two figures of Benkiman in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline, depicting both his manga and anime appearances. Bet most western world kids in the ’80s had no idea they were playing with Japanese toilets!
I love my Kinnikuman figures, I really do. But they unfortunately take up way too much space in my apartment, and I’ve slowly made the decision that I need to sell a lot of them. It’s difficult to narrow down my collection to a handful of favorites, and it certainly won’t be easy to locate some of them again if I ever desire to have them back. Even worse, they don’t typically sell for much on eBay. The demand just isn’t there, at least in the United States, and I think the S.H. Figuarts figures have drawn away a lot of potential Romano collectors. I know I’ll take a loss, and have already witnessed some figures sell for abysmally low prices. The only consolation is that the Romandos are likely going to someone who appreciates them. Case in point was this Black Hole figure, which I really liked but listed on eBay and basically sold for a few dollars. After shipping him off, I realized I hadn’t photographed the figure for this site and immediately regretted it. I was able to make use of one of the auction photos, even though it’s got my dining room as a background and I had to insert a picture of the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. The lesson learned here was that no matter which figures I sell, I want to document them first for this website. A virtual collection of figures certainly takes up a lot less space than a physical collection.
Buffaloman (EX Type C)
Buffaloman here is one of my favorite Romando figures. He was also my first figure from this toyline. Buffaloman has a dynamic sculpt, is as heavy as a brick, and sports a wonderful cocky grin. It’s just too bad that his pinkish thigh ball joints don’t match the rest of his brown color. He almost looks indecent! (Now you can’t unsee it.) In the western world’s M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline, Buffaloman was renamed Terri-Bull and led the evil Cosmic Crunchers wrestling team.
The hero of Canada and a lumberjack (of course), Canadianman looks a bit like Guardian from Alpha Flight with an expression frozen on his face after walking in on Snowbird in the shower. Apparently, this Romando figure is pretty rare and goes for somewhat high prices theses days. (I got mine fairly reasonably awhile back.) I love Canadianman and have always been a fan of his M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. His Romando figures looks good, but… its quality leaves a little bit to be desired. The figure is rotocast and therefore very lightweight. His arms and legs are attached a tad precariously on these round pin joints and the limbs pop off constantly. And when his arms are attached, they tend to sag a little oddly halfway down his chest. Not to mention, the light blue paintwash used on my figure appears to have exploded on the back of one of his legs like a ballpoint pen leaked in his pocket. Well, at least it wasn’t on the front.
Iwao, the tough little rock monster, is a fun character in the Kinnikuman fiction. He’s Kinkotsuman’s sidekick but enjoys taking sarcastic jabs at his master, and might be the slightly more intelligent of the two. Romando Iwao comes in a two-pack with Kinkotsuman, placed obstructed in the back, but he might be the nicer of the pair of toys. Iwao is painted beautifully to look like real rock, textured and mottled. He has articulation in his shoulders and – unlike most Romandos – sports waist articulation! That’s it, but it’s all he really needs. Iwao’s face is beautifully sculpted with a very feline mouth and eyes. He also has a nifty accessory – a removable cap that, when on, makes him look like a New York city cab driver! The M.U.S.C.L.E. version of Iwao (who is without cap) has always been one one of my favorites. Just like the Romando version, he is nicely textured and has an expressive face. I definitely recommend tracking down Romando Kinkotsuman and Iwao if you can find them!
Kendaman is the living representation of kendama, a Japanese cup-and-ball game. Precariously, he swings his own head around on a chain as a weapon against his opponents. If kendama is anything like those cheap paddleball games many of us had as kids, poor Kendaman risks a very embarrassing fate of having the chain break and his head go rolling down the aisles of the wrestling arena. This problem must have been anticipated, as there is even a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure of the character depicting him after having lost his head! The Romando version of the character is excellent, hollow but sturdy and large, and the head on actual metal chain is nicely realized. As you can see in the photo, it sits perfectly in his hand for an unsettling pose. You can also rest the head on the pin atop the figure’s chest. Kendaman is painted in metallic colors, making this a very sleek figure.
King the 100-Ton
King the 100-Ton (who I’ve also seen called “King 100 Tons” and “King the Tons”) is absolutely my favorite Romando (although he tends to frequently switch places with Buffaloman). He was also one of my favorite characters in M.U.S.C.L.E., where he could also be had in a bumpy version that looked like a Dalek with legs. I don’t even know exactly why he’s my favorite; there’s just something about his odd design, his mass and his bottle-cap like head that appeals to me. In the Kinnikuman story, he literally weighs 100 tons and is made of metal parts that allow him to adjust his weight and even shapeshift into other metal objects like barbells. The Romando seems to emulate this by allowing you to remove his torso and arms, leaving a narrow body with just a head and legs. I’m not sure I get this, so I just leave his torso on. He also comes with a differently-posed extra hand you can switch out. He’s a rotocast figure, meaning he’s hollow and lightweight. While I would prefer he be solid and heavy, it does nothing to deter his awesome appearance. The king’s paint job is phenomenal, with paintwash on his fleshy limbs that really brings out the detail, and beautiful metallic detailing on his “metal” parts that is very convincing. As an added feature, his torso spins around in a complete circle so he can punch anyone approaching. Now, admittedly, this makes his torso feel loose and the toy seem floppy and even a little fragile. But these points don’t detract from an overall fantastic-looking toy. Had be been solid, the price tag would have been even higher (and he wasn’t cheap). King the 100-Ton was part of a series of larger, rotocast Romando that came in simple, brown cardboard boxes. There’s something mysterious about those boxes, especially as the toy isn’t pictured on the packaging and you wonder what’s inside (especially if you can’t read the Japanese writing on the box). There were actually two different versions of the king released by Romando. This one is Type B, and the other seemingly rarer one was Type A, or anime colors. That version had dark blue “metal” parts and “flesh” parts colored lighter blue, with a red “100t” written on his chest instead of just “t”. While I prefer the version of King the 100-Ton that I have, I would love to get my hands on the other, too. I’ve seen a picture of a King 100-Ton prototype that Romando was going to release in its smaller, more articulated G-Muscle line, but sadly the company went out of business before this release apparently saw the light of day.
The scraggly, screaming skeleton man in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline scared the bejesus out of me when I was small, and he still looks more terrifying than the character he depicts. Kinkotsuman, who really is a skeleton man prone to falling to pieces, is more of a comical character in the Kinnikuman story. He’s actually Kinnikuman’s arch-nemesis, but is just as inept as his opponent and concocts schemes that usually fail miserably. The Romando figure is pretty cool and comes with his trademark pistol, which plugs into his right hand. He also has a holster, although it’s a little too short for the gun. Romando Kinkotsuman isn’t the greatest likeness of the character from the manga and anime; the face isn’t quite right, although manages a striking appearance. But the figure does capture the character’s flair. The dramatic pose of Kinkotsuman’s left hand is perfect for melodramatic proclamations! The raised, textured bones are also a nice detail, as Romando could easily have painted them on and called it a day. Kinkotsuman came in a two-pack with his partner, Iwao. They’re both excellent figures, so it’s a great value if you can find them.
Kinnikuman is one of my favorite kinds of fictional heroes. He doesn’t ride immediately onto the scene fully formed and ready to kick everyone’s butt. Quite the opposite, actually; he starts off as a lazy, somewhat cowardly and lecherous, wannabe superhero whose desire for fame and glory more often than not results in utter defeat and complete embarrassment. Only when he learns that he’s the lost prince of the planet Kinniku and must prove himself does he start to gain a modicum of determination and focus, finding his inner strength and victory in the Choujin wrestling ring. Even then he’s still never far from his old ways, more eager to devour multiple bowls of the meaty treat Gyudon than bother with training. Kinnikuman is pretty much the everyman that most of us can relate to, only perhaps a little worse, lol. Above is the basic Romando figure of Kinnikuman. He’s not bad – solidly built, although with legs that are a little bulbous (like most early Romando Kinnikuman figures) and lacking in waist articulation. I feel that few of the Romando Kinnikuman figures really capture Kinnikuman’s look or personality, but again, this figure is pretty decent. He was also available in red trunks, and there are other versions wearing Kinnikuman’s various wrestling outfits, including armor. In the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline, Kinnikuman was retained as the main hero, made the leader of the Thug Busters and renamed Muscle Man, which has the same meaning as his Japanese name, I believe. There were multiple M.U.S.C.L.E. figures of Muscle Man, of course, although many of the figures that had his trademark crested mask were not actually him (like Kinnikuman Zebra and Kinnikuman Great, for example), which I didn’t know until I started learning about the Kinnikuman story many years later.
Kinnikuman (DX version)
Romando released this limited version of Kinnikuman that was super-articulated and came with a Nakano-san figure, and I can’t for the life of me understand why this toy wasn’t more widespread. It’s really fantastic, a much better action figure than the standard Romando Kinnikuman. The articulation is achieved in a way I’ve never quite seen before; many of the muscles are actually separate pieces screwed together, creating the illusion that those muscle are flexing as you move the toy around. There are some odd choices like having the outer edges of his collar bones/underarms as loose brackets, but it’s acceptable since it gives him fuller shoulder articulation. Kinnikuman is still cursed with the dreaded Romando lack of waist articulation, but he has an upper torso swivel to make up for it. He comes with two sets of hands, one set spread open and the other in a Kung-Fu grip. As usual with these things, the hands and removable wristbands are slightly prone to popping off. Interestingly, this version of Kinnikuman is sporting cloth trunks! Horrifically, he seems to be packing exceptional endowment underneath! I have not dared peered under the trunks to see what’s there. I bought the version of Kinnikuman with yellow wrestling gear because I like the color on him, even if I’m more familiar with him in a red outfit from the anime. A red uniform version of this Kinnikuman was released as well, and I believe that one had a head with a closed mouth (as opposed to the slightly agape mouth of this version). I’ll review Nakano-san separately.
Kinnikuman Zebra is one of the”Five Fated Princes” who competes for the throne of planet Kinniku, one of five wrestlers (including Kinnikuman himself) who were mixed up as babies in the hospital and might be the actual heir. I love the zebra pattern of this character, as it takes the basic Kinnikuman design and makes it a whole lot more interesting. What’s neat about this Romando figure is that it’s actually a little better made then the original figure of Kinnikuman, with more realistic proportions and nice poseability. He also comes with a lot of accessories including an alternate unmasked ahead, a metal medallion necklace depicting his pet zebra, and some other various weapons of which I’m honestly not sure what they are. Kinnikuman Zebra is not too uncommon and definitely worth seeking out. He also comes in some darker shades than this figure, and as a larger figure in the EX series.
Mongolman is actually Ramenman in disguise. In this costume, he partnered with Buffaloman as the “20 Million Powers.” This figure came with shoulder armor and alternate horns for the original Buffaloman mold released by Romando. Mongolman was later released with a new mold and soft goods pants in the EX series, in two-packs with a newer Buffaloman.
Mysterious Partner might not be much of a toy – he’s just a hollow rotocast piece with an air-hole at the bottom, what some action figure collectors call a “salt shaker” – but he certainly looks cool. Effectively creepy and indeed mysterious, he is nicely sculpted to suggest the muscular wrestler underneath, with a light blue wash that brings out the details in his white cloak. The hood, shadowed face and glowing eyes are almost nightmare material. Romando sold several versions of this toy, some with interchangeable heads that revealed who the partner might be – characters like Kinnikuman Zebra, Big Body and Super Phoenix. The version I have didn’t come with any extra heads, just an extra piece that seems to depict the hood in a down position. I assume this means that you can remove the hooded head and place another character’s head on the body, but I haven’t tried it since my Mysterious Partner’s head doesn’t seem to want to budge. I don’t want to break it! While there was a version of Mysterious Partner in M.U.S.C.L.E., it wasn’t the cloaked version. Pictured here is the Kinkeshi version.
Parthenon, the living form of the famous Greek temple, towers over his opponents and is filled with statues and the remains of animals killed by the deadly methane gas he emits (*snicker*). I haven’t seen the actual Kinnikuman anime or manga yet that he appears in, but perhaps this means Parthenon is bigger on the inside than the outside, like the TARDIS on Doctor Who? He doesn’t look THAT much bigger than the other Choujin in pictures I’ve seen. The Romando toy captures Parthenon’s relative immensity, though, as he is one of the larger figures in the toyline. Although made of rotocast plastic like all the big Romandos, he still feels pretty solid, and he has two rows of pillars in his chest so he does seem like an actual building come to life. One killer detail is the bas-relief of Robin Mask on the central front pillar, depicting the time that Parthenon trapped Robin inside a pillar and tried to gas him to death. The gold highlights and sculpted cracks are also lovely details in this figure, and his sandals and bearded face suggest Heracles. I can’t recommend this toy enough. For some reason, Parthenon also comes with a large gas pump with an alternate hand attached to the nozzle that plugs into Parthenon’s wrist and makes it appear that he’s dispensing petrol. My mind kind of boggles at this odd accessory, but I’m sure there’s an instance of it in the manga and/or anime. Parthenon comes in a few variations; I’ve seen one that is painted like he’s covered in blown sand, and another with an awful translucent reddish color scheme. There is also a completely different anime version of Parthenon that Romando released, which I’ll review separately.
Pentagon also reminds me of the classic NES game “Pro Wrestling” – specifically the wrestler named Starface in the game. In the Kinnikuman story, Pentagon can twist the star on his face to manipulate space and time. His tag team partner is Black Hole. I’m honestly not crazy about this figure. Romando released better versions of him later on.
Ramenman (Ultimate Muscle)
Ramenman is one of the main characters in the Kinnikuman story and even became as popular (or more so!) than Kinnikuman himself. This smaller toy is actually from the Ultimate Muscle series, but he truly looks great. And he comes with cooking utensils!
Robin Mask is the British superhero and reigning world champion that Kinnikuman faces in the finals of the 19th Choujin Olympics. While slightly arrogant, Robin is a deeply honorable Choujin who ultimately becomes Kinnikuman’s ally. This is the standard Romando Robin Mask figure; it’s solidly built and looks great, but is a little too beefy in the legs and restricted by zero waist articulation. This figure also depicts Robin with his natural skin tone, whereas he is often seen wearing tights that make him appear to have blue skin. As for M.U.S.C.L.E., Robin had many figures in the toyline (as well as Kinkeshi in Japan, of course). In fact, the one seen here is just the skinner version of an otherwise similar Robin Mask figure that was available.
Robin Mask (removable armor)
Romando went all-out with this Robin Mask figure. It includes removable chest armor and gauntlets, a coiled whip accessory that plugs into his right hand, an unmasked head, a masked head, and three swappable visors for his helmet – pristine, damaged and with a giant horn. Romando made a good choice in later figures like this one of slimming down the legs a bit. It makes for a better overall aesthetic. Unfortunately, he has some minor flaws. The chest armor, which is two pieces, doesn’t latch together perfectly. It’ll stay on, but usually one side won’t entirely connect. Robin’s hands detach so you can slip on his gauntlets, but that means that the hands sometimes pop off a little too easily. My Robin Mask arrived, in the package, already sporting paint wear on his chest and legs, although that could just be my luck, lol. The unmasked head is cool if a little small. It is strange, if accurate, for his head to be flesh-toned while the rest of his body is blue; that’s because he wears blue tights. The whip is a solid piece that doesn’t actually uncoil but it looks nice. I’m not sure if most kids figured out that the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure shown here depicts Robin Mask unmasked, which must have been a cool realization.
Robin Mask (Medicos First Color)
Romando no longer makes Kinnikuman figures, but Medicos has since then put out some nice, hyper-articulated figures like this version of Robin Mask in his blue tights. The Medicos figures are in a slightly smaller scale that Romando; this Robin Mask is about 6 inches tall compared to the approximately 7.5 inches of his Romando counterpart. While he might look too small on your shelf next to, say, your Romando Kinnikuman, he doesn’t look bad next to larger figures like his nemesis, Parthenon. The articulation of this Robin Mask is incredible, and he is solidly built and strikingly sculpted. His paints are also neat and beautifully done, with shiny armor and shaded tones on his tights. Overall, this is one stunning figure. He also comes with a a large set of alternate hands, a battle-damaged visor for his helmet, and a mini-wrestling ring stand that has a various cardboard insets from which to choose. If only we could get figures like this in slightly larger scale… Romando came close with some figures in its EX line like Buffaloman and a separate, more articulated Kinnikuman that was released, but the company didn’t get to make a new Robin Mask in this vein before closing its doors.
The “claw” version of Sneagator (who I’ve also seen with the anglicized names of Snigator and Sunigator) is probably the most popular and in-demand M.U.S.C.L.E. figure. That warty, disembodied hand with four fingers and a wicked face was just too bizarre and horrific not to be endearing. He was like a feverish nightmare version of Thing from The Addams Family. I remember him being the prize of any M.U.S.C.L.E. collection back in my playground days in the 1980s (and yes, I had him, and even made him a black construction paper box to live in) and he still commands high prices on eBay. In the original Kinnikuman story, Sneagator was a shapeshifting reptile who ultimately turned into this freakish hand (only to be swiftly defeated by Kinnikuman, sadly). This figure came in a two-pack with a bipedal lizard version of Sneagator, which is also reviewed on this page. The Romando version of the claw isn’t the most amazing toy; it’s hollow, unarticulated and the fingers pop off a little too easily. But just having a full-sized version of this character, a long-time favorite, in my collection is enough to make it one of my favorites.
Shapeshifting Sneagator had a few different bipedal reptilian forms in addition to the infamous hand he turned into, and many fans of M.U.S.C.L.E. probably didn’t even realize that the same character appeared multiple times in the toyline in his different guises. One of my favorites was the form that looked like a frill-necked lizard, and another was the one that looked like a reptilian aardvark, which is the (I think, default) form Romando chose when creating a figure of Sneagator. Aside from when he became a giant hand, Sneagator always had a common motif – the integration of shoelaces into his body, and the odd style choice of red and white sneakers on his feet. So, “Sneaker-gator,” get it? At one point in the original fiction, Sneagator even turned into a giant sneaker! There was no M.U.S.C.L.E. depiction of this, although the Japanese Kinkeshi and later the Ultimate Muscle toyline included minifigures of this form. (It might have actually been Sneagator’s son, Sneagator, Jr., in the Ultimate Muscle toyline, but I’m not certain.) The Romando figure is pretty nice and looks great. It is hollow and lightweight, but has enough articulation to get some poses. Just be careful with the head. It seems to be on a joint, but the head of my first Sneagator easily broke off when I tried to turn it. I have since bought another, and he stays eyes forward!
Specialman (white uniform)
For the longest time, I just thought that Specialman was “special” and liked to advertise that on his shirt. I didn’t know. It turns out that in the Kinnikuman story he is the superhero representing the northern United States and is obviously based on an American footballer. He is good friends with Terryman, who represents the southern United States, and his Romando toy comes packaged with his “Big Bombers” tag-team partner, Canadianman. There are two different Romando versions of this toy, the white-uniformed one you see here and one with a blue uniform. The figure is okay, articulated adequately at the shoulders and hips, with a slight proneness to his legs popping off. He’s more of an accessory to Canadianman, lol.
Okay, this is admittedly a bit of a cheat. Stecasseking (aka Stereo-Cassette King) was tragically never released as a figure in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline. Don’t get excited about some lost or mega-rare figure that you never found, for that is just the Kinkeshi version pictured above. It’s really a shame he didn’t get included in M.U.S.C.L.E., for an anthropomorphic Walkman would have been a huge hit with western world kids in the ’80s. This guy could have been the next Soundwave from Transformers! In the Kinnikuman story, Stecasseking carries around tapes that contain recordings of his opponents’ wrestling moves. This is a major advantage, but backfires when he loads up an outdated tape of Kinnikuman that was recorded when the hero was at a less experienced period in his career. The Romando Stecasseking is loaded with accessories. He’s got a whole set of tapes, which are hollow and most terribly don’t fit into his opening cassette player door! So much for the Soundwave comparison. The tapes, however, are able to rest on a shelf built into his back. As long as you don’t tip the figure, anyway; they’re not locked in. He also comes with four different heads with different facial expressions that can be interchanged on a post between his shoulders. That feature is really awesome. Stecasseking has additional nice detail in the way his feet are actually headphones; you can see the audio holes when you look underneath. The most unfortunate part of this toy, at least with mine, is that he just will not stand up. No matter what I try, he falls over, sending his cassettes scattering across the table. That’s not usually a problem with Romandos, but I guess the design of this character just didn’t lead to easy balance. In any case, he’s still a very weird and cool figure to have.
Shapeshifting villain Sunshine made for some of the coolest M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Along with his humanoid forms, he appeared as a spinning top, a pyramid and a rectangular archway. Romando released different versions of the humanoid Sunshine, but also came out with the archway version in a special set that also included Sunshine’s opponent, Geronimo. (In the manga and anime, Sunshine would use the archway form to simply crush those who faced him.) The Romando figure of Sunshine in his golden arch form is massive, with the sheer size making up for the fact that there are no moving parts aside from his head. Romando did make one strange decision with this toy. The bottom few inches of each leg of the arch are separate pieces, popping off as removable cubes. I’m not sure what the purpose of this is – maybe just a practical production reason? – but it’s kind of annoying. They stay on well enough, but are slightly loose and take away from what otherwise would be a literally solid figure.
The Hawkman (EX Type A)
Kinnikuman’s bird-themed opponent, The Hawkman, had multiple figurines in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline, all of them reminiscent of either DC Comic’s Hawkman or Thor. The Romando figure looks nice but suffers from the same problem that plagues some of the later figures in the toyline – an abundance of articulation that unfortunately makes the figure a bit of a floppy mess. His bird accessory is nice, though! There is a version of this figure in brown armor, as well. I think I prefer the blue armor seen here, and this variant seems harder to find.
The Ninja had a decent number of figures in the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline. The Romando version, which is nice and solid, includes swanky spiked shoulder pads that the smaller figures of the character lacked. He also includes the scarf featured prominently on the M.U.S.C.L.E. figurines, but it’s hanging down his back. This has always been one of my favorite Romandos and was always a favorite M.U.S.C.L.E. character, too. I’m not even a big fan of ninjas, but I think this guy’s cocky grin and flamboyant style won me over. The Romando figure also was released in a red-outfit version, but it’s not one I’ve seen often for sale and I prefer the blue variant, anyway.
There are a number of Kinnikuman characters that I wish Romando had made as action figures before going under, and right at the top of my list was Tileman. Tileman was a minor character in the Kinnikuman story, but I always loved his simplistic yet hulking design as a square-headed behemoth made completely of tile. It wasn’t until I had been collecting Romando figures for a couple of years that I learned there WAS a Tileman figure. The reason I hadn’t uncovered it sooner was that he was part of a line of exclusive figures made by Romando for a Japanese store called Kaikodo. And each figure was limited (I believe) to only 100 pieces, but I could be mistaken on that. I figured there was no way I was getting a Tileman, but the Nama Kinku Kinnikuman News page posted instructions on how to order directly from Kaikodo. The owner of the shop, Yutaka-san, speaks English and ordering was super-easy. Before I knew it, Tileman had arrived on my doorstep. I knew the Romando x Kaikodo exclusives were handpainted soft vinyl figures and many of them looked like they lacked articulation, so I expected Tileman to be more of a statue. I didn’t care because he looked so cool. But to my pleasant surprise, his shoulders and thighs are fully articulated with swivel joints and his head and waist also move, but they’re tight and I don’t want to force them much. Knowing Tileman was an honest-to-goodness action figure, I was even more in love. The orb he comes with represents Tileman after he was rolled up into a ball and flushed by Benkiman, the human toilet. Oh, the indignity. LOL
Warsman (EX metallic version)
Romando released a lot of versions of the popular, vicious cyborg Warsman, but this one is my favorite. The EX version of Warsman comes with a multitude of accessories, including alternate clawed feet and hands; removable chest armor and plating that reveals a removable heart inside; and a whole series of alternate faces including Warsman’s own in various states of repair and other Choujin including Kinnikuman, Robin Mask, Terryman, Geronimo, and Brocken, Jr. I’m also partial to the metallic color scheme, which crisply brings out this figure’s excellent detail.
More to come…
Featured Characters: Ashuraman, Atlantis, Benkiman, Black Hole, Buffaloman, Canadianman, Iwao, Kendaman, King the 100-Ton, Kinkotsuman, Kinnikuman, Kinnikuman Zebra, Mongolman, Mysterious Partner, Parthenon, Pentagon, Ramenman, Robin Mask, Sneagator, Specialman, Stecasseking, Sunshine, The Hawkman, The Ninja, Tileman, Warsman