Carpazine: Can you share the inspiration that led to the birth of Musculoids?
Frank Russo: Since I was a child, I looked at a toy store like a museum and I dreamt of creating my own. I was inspired by the masters of the universe, and even more by the various bizarre knock off lines at the dollar store. As an adult I envisioned something even bigger… a toy that had more muscles than what’s humanly possible… I wanted a toy that didn’t exist and I created that toy for myself and for other collectors.
Carpazine: Is there an ethos in the world of Musculoids?
Frank Russo: Planet Musculon is a post-apocalyptic battle frontier land in outer space with a 1980s psychedelic warrior aesthetic. Beastlords and medieval tyrants battle it out with oversized muscle dudes and mutant barbarians alike.
Carpazine: How are the figures made?
Frank Russo: Since the early 2000s I have been experimenting with molds and casting my own toys. Musculoids first appeared in 2015 at the 13th annual MF Gallery Toy Show. I sculpt all the bodies and characters.
When we first started we were hand casting the figures out of hard rubber. The demand eventually outgrew the supply possibilities so we had to outsource the production to a soft vinyl factory in Brazil. The process still begins with my sculptures, which are then 3D scanned and tooled for optimal vinyl casting. We assemble and hand paint them in our studio, and also give them capes, accessories and packaging. The original rubber Musculoids have become a highly sought after collectible on the secondary market. We do still make small runs of rubber figures, but they are very limited and tend to sell out quickly.
Carpazine: Do you have a team or is each piece from your hands to the collector?
Frank Russo: The Musculoids team is myself and my wife Martina. Each piece is from our hands straight to the collector!
Carpazine: How many figures have you created so far? Which is your favorite?
Frank Russo: There are well over 100 different characters in the Musculoids Universe. It’s hard to say which one’s my favorite- it changes day to day, as I create newer and wilder characters all the time!
Carpazine: Is there anything unique about the packaging?
Frank Russo: The packaging for the 6” vinyl figures is a resealable foil bag with a fold over card top. The bag has a semi-opaque window, so you see what character you’re getting but some of the details are obscured. That way you still get a surprise when you open the package!
Carpazine: Have the Musculoids invaded any toy shows or art fairs?
Frank Russo: Musculoids debuted in 2018 at Zolocon, which is a huge toy convention, hosted inside an actual decommissioned NASA centrifuge! We’ve done several other art / toy fairs, but this one has been our favorite. This summer Musculoids will be appearing at Power-Con for the first time.
Carpazine: Where can people buy Musculoids? Is distribution expanding?
Frank Russo: Musculoids figures were recently picked up by Big Bad Toy Store, which makes them available to a much wider audience! As always, you can purchase them from our website www.musculoids.com or by direct messaging us through Instagram.
Carpazine: Tell us about your upcoming projects.
Frank Russo: Series 3 and 4 of the 6 inch vinyl figures are coming out soon, featuring such characters as Masterbrain, a giant brain with legs intent on world domination, and Paracidicron, a parasitic organism from a transdimensional portal! Series 3 of the jumbo figures is also coming later this year.
Carpazine: We are looking forward to that, thanks a lot for the interview!
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Carpazine Art Magazine Issue Number 39 Featuring Lana Gentry! More: Jeffrey Wengrofsky, Abdul Vas, Danny Licul, Akira Usagi, Ductape "Echo Drama", Fear at Brooklyn Monarch, Interview with Dar Stellabota, Perfect 10 at The Long Island Museum , 14th Annual Figurative Art Exhibition at Lore Degensten Gallery, and more!