Lego long had been reticent to license other intellectual properties, but that changed in 1999 with the introduction of a Star Wars theme. Even with that success, it took a while for them to place their bets on another outside property. Aside from some Disney-themed preschool sets, their next major license was one that–like Star Wars–had multigenerational, international appeal: Harry Potter.
The initial Potter sets were timed to coincide with the first of the feature films, Harry Potter and the
Philosopher’s Sorcerer’s Stone. Among them was the Forbidden Corridor, featuring this charming representation of Fluffy, the three-headed dog.
Arguably one of the stranger monster designs seen in 50 years of Doctor Who, the Reaper appeared in the first season of the British TV series’ 2005 revival. When the time-travelling Doctor’s friend Rose changed history by saving her father, the resulting tear in fabric of space/time allowed Reapers to pour through into our reality.
This toy by Character Options sports a bendable tail, loads of articulation and a light-up mouth–in its stomach!
These days, blind-bagged toys–randomly distributed mystery figures sold in opaque packaging–are all the rage, but the Japanese have been marketing collectibles in this manner for many years. I used to make special trips to a Japanese shopping center in Arlington Heights, Illinois just to visit its candy aisle, where enigmatic toys based on inexplicable intellectual properties were sold in sealed boxes. Typically they came with tiny bags of sugary pellets that I always suspected were there solely to justify their placement alongside the Pocky.
While a fair number of the blind figures I bought remain baffling to this day, the one pictured above is very definitely from one of the many TV series featuring the monster-battling superhero Ultraman. Apparently this walking eyeball is named Gan Q, to whom I can only say…you’re welcome.
I occasionally wonder what author H.P. Lovecraft would’ve thought about the merchandising of his stories over the past three decades. Walk into any comics or game store, and you can’t swing a dead Zoog without hitting something squamous and/or rugose.
Geeks love ironically adorable versions of loathsome things. Not long after some enterprising folks began selling handmade plush toys of Lovecraft’s alien god Cthulhu, a company named Toy Vault ran with the idea and milked those blasphemous teats for all they were worth. Not only did they make plush Cthulhu dolls, they made plush slippers, plush hats and even plush cell phone holders.
Sometime after they made Summer Fun Cthulhu, Superhero Cthulhu and Secret Agent Cthulhu (and no, I am not kidding), they got around to some of the Elder God’s pals. Above is their representation of Nyarlathotep the Crawling Chaos, as depicted in Lovecraft’s short story “The Haunter in the Dark.”
This one is stretching the theme a bit in that he’s more of a supervillain than a monster. Still, I don’t want to live in a world in which an alien with an exposed brain doesn’t qualify for monsterdom.
Dr. Evil (no, not that one) was the confirmed foe of ’60s superhero toy Captain Action. The good Captain’s schtick was that he could don costumes and masks to become 13 different licensed heroes including Superman, Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet. Dr. Evil didn’t enjoy the same range of alternate personas, though he did come with a mask to make him appear human.
While Captain Action and Dr. Evil have been reissued several times over the ensuing decades–you can find them collecting dust in your local Toys ‘R Us right now–mine is an original ’60s model. He still has his Nehru suit, sandals and funky medallion. He has, however, been modified a bit. When I was in high school, my classmates and I used him as the subject of a fake TV commercial. Redubbed “Blood Bath Bob,” his face was touched up by my artist friend Rocco, and I daubed his hands with red nail polish to represent the gory evidence of his victims. Good times, good times.
Today’s entry isn’t a mass-produced toy. My old friend David Lady is a monster mask maker and collector who for many years turned his own home into a Halloween attraction called “Horror Hotel” and, oddly enough, simultaneously served as mayor of the village of Chatfield, Ohio. When I knew him back in the mid ’80s, he had marketed an entire line of handmade masks and, for a time, some horror-themed props such as the little guy seen above.
I don’t know if it had an official name, but it was loosely based on the brain creatures seen in the 1958 British sci-fi film Fiend Without a Face. This one is decidedly more friendly in appearance, and has never once attempted to strangle me with its spinal cord.
Giant monsters are kinda my thing, and here’s The Simpsons‘ addition to the kaiju ranks. King Homer hailed from the third “Treehouse of Horror” special all the way back in 1992.
God, I’m old.
My lovely wife was responsible for bringing this Mechagodzilla into my life, arranging with a coworker to bring it back from a trip to Japan. This chrome beauty features a removable weapons pack, light-up eyes and an electronic roar. Cleverly, the lights and sound are activated by passing the magnet on the back of the G-Force badge over a switch hidden inside McG’s chest.
In 1979, Kenner caught crap for making toys based on the R-rated movie Alien, but by 1997 no one seemed put out when Galoob released an extensive line of kid-friendly vehicles and creatures drawn from Paul Verhoeven’s blood ‘n boobs epic Starship Troopers.
Among its army of bio-engineered interstellar arachnids was the Plasma Bug, a ginormous beetle with the ability to expel explosive energy from its backside at escape velocity, which is just as nutty as it sounds. The toy version fires a blue rocket from its ass.
While it veered too far into Looney Tunes territory to offer any legitimate scares, Army of Darkness–the follow-up to the perverse horror/comedy Evil Dead II–remains one of my favorite films. A horde of Harryhausenesque skeletons, a tricked-out killer Oldsmobile and an endlessly quotable script contribute to the fun.
Before Sideshow Collectibles became a purveyor of limited-edition, high-dollar dust collectors, they made mass-market 12″ dolls of pop culture horror icons. Here’s their take on Bruce Campbell as the chief villain of Army of Darkness, Evil Ash.