Kinkeshi (キン消し, lit. "KinnikuEraser") is an extensive and popular line of collectible erasers, an instance of the modern Japanese popular culture institution of keshi. The keshi it includes are monochromatic and derived from the Kinnikuman (キン肉マン) anime and manga franchise, whose primary motif is professional wrestling.
The line was launched in Japan in 1983, and licensed in 1985 for the American market as M.U.S.C.L.E. (reflecting Kinnikuman's English title of Muscleman). M.U.S.C.L.E. used a harder rubber than Kinkeshi; its U.S. sequel, Ultimate Muscle, had a small release of about twenty Kinkeshi, though a larger run of figures using a plastic softer than M.U.S.C.L.E. but not eraser-like was released exclusively in the USA.
Starting in Japan in 1983, Bandai's Kinkeshi line was two years later licensed to Mattel for exportation in United States and Canada where wrestling is popular; the line became "M.U.S.C.L.E." in North America.
However, France was the only country with Japan, to broadcast the Kinnikuman TV series (localized as Muscleman) by that time. Later, a dubbed Kinnikuman version was broadcast in Catalonia (Spain) as Musculman in the '90s. Its sequel, Kinnikuman Nisei, appeared in the United States (Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy) in the early '00s. In South Korea, where the manga was early published by King Comics, Kinnukuman is known as "근육맨".
Few years later, a third Kinkeshi category appeared in the United States as Alien Wrestler and was available in Italy, were these Kinkeshi were freely included in a crisps brand's special offer. This Taiwan made bootleg line was an inferior gum quality compared to the first bootleg generation and featured the late "PART" series of the Kinkeshi line.
In 2003, Bandai America launched a new Kinkeshi series extension exclusively for the North American market. Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy, the American dubbed version of Kinnikuman Second Generations, is actually more successful overseas than in Japan.
- Naochin's Kinkeshi Archives Japanese site based on Kinkeshi/M.U.S.C.L.E. and other related Kinnikuman toys.
- Tortle's Muscle UK figure photo archive
- The American Kinnikuman Information Archive
- The AKIA forum, home of the Muscle community
- Exogini Italian collector's tribute site