It's not all that uncommon for toy companies to re-release or make new versions of popular toys from the past, to satiate the desires of nostalgic nerds like ourselves. In fact, it's something that's been happening more and more often, in recent years. Just to give a couple examples of what I mean, Hasbro recently released a line of Jurassic Park toys, done up in the vintage style of their original line, and '90s gross-out icon Doctor Dreadul even made a triumphant return not too long ago, unleashing a whole new batch of gooey and disgusting drinks and experiments. Yum. Snots.
But though it's not uncommon for toy companies to dip into the vault, and exhume the rotten corpses of vintage treasures, it's still not nearly common enough. Here are ten horror themed toys from the past that I'd love to see Herbert West inject with his special green serum, and bring back to toy shelves!
The mid-late '80s saw a surge in horror movies starring cute but vicious little monsters; Gremlins in 1984, Ghoulies in 1985 and Critters in 1986. Kenner capitalized on the craze in 1986 with Boglins, hand puppets that seemed more like props taken from the set of the next rubber monster movie than mere toys. Made of thick quality rubber and featuring a mechanism inside their anal cavity that allowed you to move around a set of glow in the dark eyeballs, Boglins brought the loveable monsters from the movies home, and young boys delighted in using them to scare the daylights out of their sisters and grandparents. Further elevating the must have factor, each Boglin came in a box that was fit with plastic cage bars, just daring you to let the rubber monsters loose.
After a partnership with Kellogg's in 1989, Boglins reached the pinnacle of their success, and a whole slew of off-shoot products were spawned from the line, including Aquatic Boglins and even miniature Boglins that came packaged in slime filled toilets!
Mattel did dig up the Boglins back in 2000, for a short return to the spotlight, but they haven't been seen or heard from since. Quite frankly, I consider that a crime against humanity. We need our Boglins, and we need them NOW.
MY PET MONSTER
Released in 1986, the same year that my mom released me into the world, My Pet Monster was the be-all end-all doll for boys, a colorful and whacky monster friend that was far cooler than any of the kids at school. A fairly large doll, with bright orange breakaway shackles that could be worn by monster or child, My Pet Monster is hands down one of the coolest toys ever made, a doll that still to this day puts a huge nostalgic smile on the faces of adults the world over.
Shortly after the release of the doll, My Pet Monster was given his own oddball feature film, as well as a short lived cartoon, which ran for only one season. In 2001, the furry blue monster with no name was re-released, in a deluxe 22" talking version. And then, as quickly as he returned, back to monster land he went.
Kids these days seem to be getting back into monsters, and with Mattel's popular Monster High dolls filling that desire for girls, I think the boys need a little monster friend of their own. My Pet Monster, the world is a better place with you in it, and I think it's time you make your long awaited return to our lives, and our hearts. Break those shackles, big guy, and come back to us.
Around the same time My Pet Monster was unleashed, Amtoy hit another monster sized home run with the Madballs, little squishy balls with attitude. Each ball was given its own personality and name, and the original cast of characters ranged from a giant eyeball, named Oculus Orbus, to a particularly vile creature with his brain fully exposed, who originally went under the name Crack Head, but was later re-named Bash Brain. Because even gross-out '80s toys have to be somewhat PC!
The Madballs line quickly expanded beyond the original foam balls, including the official Madballs vehicle, the Rollercycle, and even action figure bodies for the balls. There was also a video game, a cartoon series and a line of comic books, making Madballs one of the many '80s toy lines that spawned other forms of media, rather than vice versa. Ah, the good old days. When toys ruled the world.
After an extended period of time without the Madballs in our lives, they returned for a brief revival in 2006, which included re-releases of the original balls as well as the brand new 'SICK Series', modern day upgrades of the original characters that had gooey slimy grossness encased inside each ball, which would pop out when the balls were squeezed. Just typing that line makes my man parts hurt.
Though no official announcement has been made about the Madballs making another return, the past has taught us that you can never keep a good ball down, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them rolling around on toy shelves again someday. In fact, from what I've been told by sources I cannot reveal, their return may be sooner than we think!
The idea for the MAXx FX line was a brilliant one, one that unfortunately Matchbox didn't quite appreciate. The brainchild of master toymaker Mel Birnkrant, the concept for the line was to allow budding makeup effects artists to get their Tom Savini on in their own home, by turning an ordinary looking human toy into a monster, just like their heroes were doing in the pages of Fangoria at the time. Max Miracle was the actor underneath the rubber suit, if you will, a GI Joe looking doll that came packaged with different appliances, which could be placed onto his body to turn him into horror icons like Freddy, Jason and even a Xenomorph.
Matchbox loved Birnkrant's idea, but ultimately ended up doing away with the line, and only releasing the Freddy MAXx FX doll you see above, a cheaply produced toy that was a sort of half assed version of Birnkrant's original idea. Shame, because Birnkrant was really onto something with the line, and even sketched out prototypes for a 'Special FX Theater' playset, which would allow kids to make their own movies, with their handmade monsters. Yeah, you were totally right, Matchbox. No kid of the '80s would've wanted that! Sigh...
Would absolutely love to see Birnkrant given the chance to bring Max back to life in all his glory, even if he nowadays would probably come packaged with one of those motion capture suits, rather than actual monster appliances. The times they have a'changed!
1976 saw the release of Kenner's Stretch Armstrong, a He-Man looking dude with a plastic head and rubbery body filled with corn syrup, which allowed kids to twist and stretch him into a multitude of different poses, any and all of which he would return from, back to his original form. The ultimate action figure, Stretch Armstrong was no doubt an awesome toy, but there was only so much you could do with him, by himself.
Enter Stretch Monster, in 1978, a half-man half-reptile creature that served as Armstrong's greatest adversary; the Zeus to his Hulk Hogan, if you will. With green scaly skin and the devil's eyes, Stretch Monster came equipped with such finishing moves as the Gruesome Grip and the Swamp Squeeze, proving him a worthy contender for Stretch Armstrong's World Title. Stretch Monster took the fun concept of the Stretch Armstrong doll and made it appealing for monster kids like ourselves, and for that I must offer up many thanks to Kenner.
Stretch Monster nowadays sells for hundreds of dollars on eBay, and I'd love to see him get a second chance at life, so that I could actually hold one in my own two hands. At the price they're currently going for on the collector's market, I'm fearing that day may never come.
COUNT CREEPYHEAD & FRIENDS
I don't think anyone will argue that there's never been a better time to be someone with an affinity for the delicious sights, smells and tastes of Play-Doh than right now, in the present day. The Play-Doh empire is bigger and better than ever, and it seems there are kits to turn the colorful compound into anything you can imagine, from ice cream cones to french fries. Which begs the question: if they don't want kids eating this stuff, why the hell do they make it so damn appetizing?!
But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that though Play-Doh loving kids are spoiled in today's toy climate, monster kids have kinda been left out of the fun. But that wasn't always the case...
In 1984, Count Creepyhead & Friends was introduced into the Play-Doh line, a kit that allowed kids to make their very own monster squad. The kit came with a skeleton base and various different monster masks, and mini monster masterpieces were created by simply placing a ball of Play-Doh into the skeleton's head, putting your favorite monster mask over top of it, and then pushing down the skeleton's arms, which would squeeze the Doh into the mask mold. When the mask was removed, you had yourself a highly detailed Play-Doh monster. The only thing more terrifying than your new monster friend? The color he'd turn your shit, after you ate him!
It makes me sad to think that the kids of today have to poorly sculpt their own Play-Doh monsters, rather than having a kit to help them do it right. So come on Hasbro, dig up Count Creepyhead, and his little friends too!
TRASH BAG BUNCH
The last couple of years have seen a resurgence in trash dwelling toys, with the plush Stinky Little Trash Monsters and the tiny rubber Trash Pack toys currently lining the shelves at Toys R Us. It seems we're primed and ready for the return of the original line that was no doubt the inspiration for this recent string of garbage dwellers; the Trash Bag Bunch.
Sometimes with toys, it's all about presentation, and the Trash Bag Bunch line was most definitely all about presentation. While the toys themselves weren't anything special, it was the way in which creator Mel Birnkrant presented them that made them worthy of looking back fondly on. In fact, Galoob already had little PVC monster, alien and robot toys when Birnkrant approached them with the idea, and though they didn't quite fit with the concept, the two ideas were fused together based on the strength of that concept, and the Trash Bag Bunch was born.
Each PVC figure was nestled inside of a faux black garbage bag, alongside an effervescent tablet. When placed in water, the magical spectacle began, and a few seconds later out popped a little toy, which had to be fished out of the bottom of mom's favorite milk glass. A fun activity and a toy all in one...that's something the kids of today could use a little bit more of!
MCFARLANE'S MOVIE MANIACS
Hey, look! A toy line that's not from the '80s!!
Though I'd be a fool to not be completely happy with the current output of horror movie based toys from companies like NECA, there is a tendency for those companies to stick to big time properties, like Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street and Alien. While McFarlane did dip into many of those same franchises, they also had a tendency to fill out their Movie Maniacs line with toys based on movies that you really don't see anyone tackling these days, like The Fly, Candyman and Pumpkinhead. It's for this reason that I miss the line, and would love for it to make a return.
Or maybe I just miss those cool movie posters that were displayed in frames of human bones, that came with each toy. Those were pretty badass.
We now return to the '80s, already in progress...
THE SUPER NATURALS
No doubt the least appreciated toy I've mentioned in this post, The Super Naturals were released in 1987, by a company mostly known for its toy trucks, Tonka. Comprised of only fourteen figures, the concept of The Super Naturals was that the characters were ghosts, with half of them forming The Forces of Good, and the other half The Forces of Evil. Story goes that the ghosts were unleashed from the Tomb of Doom, where they were contained for centuries, and now they want to fight and stuff. Six of the fourteen figures were characters like a Native American and a Snake Man, while the other eight were straight up ghosts, all looking very much the same, aside from different colored cloaks.
One of the more original toy concepts to come out of the '80s, each figure was essentially a plastic shell, with a hologram inside the chest that brought the various characters to life. As if that wasn't awesome enough, each character's hologram changed when turned into the light, a human ghost becoming a full on monster, for example.
Even by today's standards, The Super Naturals are still highly impressive and incredibly cool, and with supernatural creatures being so popular and hip at the moment, I can think of no better time for these holographic ghosts to return.
MONSTER IN MY POCKET
Of all the toys on the list, the ones I have the fondest childhood memories of are these tiny rubber monsters based on mythical creatures that fit nicely right inside your pocket. Thus the name, Monster In My Pocket. Singular. Not plural.
Originally released by Matchbox in 1990, the Monster In My Pocket line included over 200 figures in total, as well as a whole host of product tie-ins, everything from a board game to trading cards. Brightly colored and impressively detailed, each character was assigned a point value. I still have no idea what the point of those points were, but for me, none of that mattered. I just enjoyed carrying around my little monster friends, and when I got older, using them as diving toys, in the little above ground pool I begged for until my dad finally caved in. I'm pretty sure you'll still find a few of the little guys out there in my parents' yard, a result of many a behind the back toss that didn't quite make it into the water. I threw like a girl back then. Still do, in fact.
The Monster In My Pocket line returned once in 2003 and again in 2006, but though a pretty cool little official website still stands tall on the internet, the pocket monsters are at the moment not being produced. Like I mentioned earlier, kids seem to be getting back into monsters like the kids from the 80s were, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the line make yet another return, sometime in the near future. The mythical creature concept is totally timeless, and I think the kids of today could use the fun history lesson that Monster In My Pocket provided. Because a kid who's not familiar with the ins and outs of Baba Yaga is a kid who's surely not going far in life.
So.... what horror themed toys from the past do YOU miss most? Leave a comment below and let us know!