Born in Brooklyn, New York during the mid 1970s, Frank Russo has spent his life immersed in the underground creative scene – growing up as a comic and toy loving kid; getting into punk rock and skateboarding as a teen; playing in the band DETHRACE and plying his artistic skills as a propmaker for legendary music group GWAR during his twenties; to running much loved MF Gallery from 2003 to 2020 with his now wife Martina.
Currently, Frank is head of Musculoids, an independent toy company founded in 2015 making over the top, loving tributes to the muscled-up toys of the 1980s. Originally made entirely in house, Frank has recently also begun producing his toys in larger, factory made runs, in addition to his hand made creations. Enabling him to drastically increase the Musculoid global invasion!

With all of Franks works being imbued with a DIY, take no prisoners, metal-as-fukk aesthetic that we absolutely adore!

Various 12inch vinyl Musculoids figures.

Wanting to get to know him better, we sent Frank some questions to answer over email.
Flex those reading muscles, get oiled up, and jump into it below…

Getting Acquainted

Name + D.O.B?

Frank Russo


City, State and Country you currently call home?

Manahawkin, NJ (USA)

City, State and Country you’re from?

Brooklyn, NY (USA)

The ‘Torg’ figure from Musculoids; in both hand made and soft vinyl versions.

Please describe some memories – such as art, music, comics, friendships, adventures, study, romance, politics, work, crime, religion… anything really – from the stages of your life noted below:

* Your childhood:

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but my family always made sure that there was plenty of toys under the Christmas tree.
My uncle also taught me a neat trick where you could pinch the Star Wars figure packaging, and let the figure drop down into your sleeve.

Frank as a kid hanging out with Skeletor in the toy aisle.

* Your teenage years:

This is when I really got into skateboarding and punk rock.
My friends and I would shovel snow in the winter to get a few bucks together for the CBGB’s Sunday Matinee and a six pack. However, I was still very much into toys; probably embarrassingly so I would get very excited Christmas morning way into my teens….
And still do! I love the idea of Santa Claus!

A painting by Frank.

* Your 20s:

This is when I met my wife Martina we have been inseparable ever since. We lived in California in the late 90s and this is where I first learned about mold making and started making my own toys. My first silicone mold was a Hordak knock off with my own sculpted head and it was a disaster. It almost put me off from mold making, but I persevered.

During my 20’s I also did some work for GWAR, working alongside Dave Brockie. Among other props, I am most proud to say that I sculpted the holt for his sword, UntLick.
I also had my own band of 9 foot tall death metal robots called DETHRACE. I was the frontman, I built all the costumes out of fiberglass and co-wrote the songs with my brother Justin.

Franks old band DETHRACE.

* Your 30s:

From 2003 to 2020 my wife and I owned MF Gallery in New York City’s Lower East side, and in Brooklyn, NY; and we also had a gallery in Genova, Italy for a few years.
Among numerous themed art shows including music and multimedia performances, we helped Dave Brockie produce and host GWAR’s crack-a-thon: a variety show featuring music, comedy and celebrities such as Lloyd Kaufman (Troma), Jimmy Gestapo (Murphy’s Law), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God), Alex Skolnick (Testament), Andrew W.K., The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and many more.
We also curated a yearly toy show where we gathered the best underground toy makers long before “toy art” galleries were even a “thing”.

Frank, his wife Martina, and members of GWAR at MF Gallery a few years back.

* Your 40s so far:

In my 40s, I’m realizing my dreams are finally coming true. I have a successful toy line with which I’ve been able to support myself and my family. We produced over 50 different characters in soft vinyl in just over a year… a world record?
We moved out of the city to a beautiful place by the beach and things are going good.

A recent photo of Frank.

Personal motto(s)?

“Don’t stop believing.”

What role did toys play in your childhood?

Toys played every role in my childhood. I was an only child for 10 years so I had a lot of time to myself.
Toys helped me develop my fantasy world and creativity.

Before I even realized it, I think I always viewed toys as art pieces. I would spend hours in the toy aisle, like it was a museum, just staring at them and letting my imagination run wild.

The Hercules figure, released in 2019 by Musculoids in collaboration with Underworld Muscle.


When and why did you first become interested in art, toys and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?

I have been making art and drawing Comics since I was a little kid, I always created my own characters and would even cut out pictures from books and magazines and piece them together to make new characters, and kitbash my toys to make custom characters.

If you had to explain your creative endeavours to some recently crash-landed aliens…
What would you tell them?

What can I tell them that they don’t already know from observing earth for millennia?!

A sculpture by Frank.

Who does the various art that supports the Musculoids universe?

I do all the original sculptures myself, and most of the paintings and comics that accompany the toys.
Also my wife, Martina, and other artists have contributed to the Musculoids world.

A work of Musculoids promo art by Frank.
A work of Musculoids promo art by Martina Secondo Russo.
A work of Musculoids promo art by Juan Machuca.

After working totally DIY style with your toys, you recently ventured into factory production, via your recent soft vinyl releases…

* For those at whom who may be unaware… Please explain the process for creating a soft vinyl toy?

It starts with my original clay sculptures, which are 3-D scanned and modified by the production artist to better suit the vinyl process.
They are then 3-D printed in wax and copper moulds are made for the Vinyl castings

* Why did you decide to branch out into factory production anyhow?

The demand got to be too much to keep doing it 100% by hand. I still paint them customize them and package them myself, but getting them factory produced has allowed me to expand my sales.

* Aside from your soft vinyl figures, what is your usual process for creating your 100% handmade toys?

I create my sculptures with found parts, and a two-part Bondo clay, which forces me to work quickly before it cures in a 2 hour time frame. Then I box it, and make the silicone mould.
I cast out of a unique hard rubber, which gives the toys good playability and makes them virtually indestructible.

If people wanted to check out your toys and art, chat with you or buy some of your wares – Where should they visit and how should they get in touch?

Everything is available for sale through my website and we do ship internationally.
I’m also on Instagram (@musculoids) where people can chat with me and order custom toys.

Some carded hand made Musculoids figures.

Odds and Ends

If you could live in any place, during any historical era – Where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?

Right here right now – I’m right where I’m supposed to be!

What are the top items you own?
… and what is it about each of them that you so love?

My vintage 3.75 Star Wars collection.
They’re mostly beaters, but I have always said I will take those to my grave.

Of everything you have done, what would you most like to be remembered for?


Some early Musculoids promo art.


All images supplied by Frank or sourced online.