Software Development
Good Works / Media

This dev used ’80s toys to make a music video in his South Philly backyard

Andy Rothwell of "Monster Thrashin'" fame is back.

Andy Rothwell's music video featuring M.U.S.C.L.E. men. (YouTube screenshot/Courtesy Andy Rothwell)
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Andy Rothwell, a senior software engineer for the City of Philadelphia, is back to making fun YouTube videos. You may remember Rothwell from the “Monster Thrashin‘” video in 2015 or “Dancing Shoes” the same year.

After taking a years-long break, Rothwell posted a video last week that features him “fixing up toys from the 1980s and building a kinetic sculpture out of legos, and using all of these things in my unmistakably” South Philly-looking backyard, he said.

Rothwell told via email that all the toys in the video were found at his parents’ house in 2021.

The video features the M.U.S.C.L.E. Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ ring from the mid-’80s. Many of his friends had the game, and Rothwell remembers it was easily breakable — because they would try to fit different-sized M.U.S.C.L.E. men into the ring’s hooks and break them.

In the video, Rothwell fixes up the ring by cutting off the broken hooks and 3D printing new ones that fit all of the figures.

The M.U.S.C.L.E. men figures are standing on a set of bleachers in the video that Rothwell made out of Technic Legos. He said the motors and radio controllers that make the bleachers move were also made out of Lego Technic parts.

“I like watching videos of things being made — cut with tools, 3D printed, and put together,” Rothwell said. “I wanted to show most of the steps of what it took to make the plywood carving of the song title, refurbish the wrestling ring, and build the Lego bleachers, but not show any of it for long, so it wouldn’t be boring.”

The labyrinth the M.U.S.C.L.E. men stand in at the beginning was something Rothwell had already made for another video.

“The album ‘Superwolves’ by Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy came out the same week, and I was listening to it over and over,” he said. “I kept hearing the song ‘Shorty’s Ark’ while I was clearing things out, and I started wondering, is there a M.U.S.C.L.E. man that goes with each of the animals listed in the song?”

Rothwell said he’s been working on this project slowly for the last two and a half years whenever he’s felt like it. He wants to make more videos like that and has another idea he’s been working on for eight (!!!) years that also includes Lego parts.

“Maybe it’s finally time to dust them off and finish that one,” he said.

For old time’s sake, here’s that “Monster Thrashin'” video:

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

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