May 11, 2006


There comes a time in every young man's life when he must learn the value of a dollar. On a routine trip to Wal-Mart in the late 1970s I laid eyes on the "toy" of my dreams in a most unusual place..the "Pets" department. There on a shelf full of aquarium ornaments.. standing among dayglow divers, skeletons of pirate captains too stubborn to release the wheel of their ship, and blacklight sensitive coral was my favorite Universal movie monster...The Creature from the Black Lagoon! Of course! tank... it was a perfect fit. I didn't have any fish, and I felt strange as I'd never wanted anything outside of the toy aisle before. But I had to ask... "Can I have this?"

My first requests were thwarted by the all too easy answer.. "That's not a toy." And then came "It's too expensive." Two or three trips later I heard an answer that was completely new to me... "Maybe you can save up and buy it with your own money." and on that day my allowance was born. One dollar a week. The first several weeks were spent on instant gratification. Wacky Packages, comic books, and Icees were all within my budget. It would take another trip to "Fish Supplies" to jar me out of my shortsightedness. I started saving. And then I spent my savings. So I set aside a plastic Icee cup to contain my "Creature Fund." I dipped into it. Finally I asked my dad to hold the money for me and I told him to refuse to give it to me if I asked for it. Later I asked for it and he refused me. As the months passed the pile of coins steadily grew until one day my dad suggested that we count it together. I had over four dollars! So how much was my underwater ally?
"Six dollars!?!....and what does tax mean?"

My dad relieved me of my struggle by contributing the remaining two dollars (plus tax.) I bought the Creature and I loved him. Why didn't I marry him you ask? Maybe I will. I still have him. Over the years his bloody fingernails and toenails broke off, his hands were broken off and reglued at least two dozen times, his tube is long gone and his once-hinged torso is now glued solid. I hadn't thought much about the experience until about a month ago when I saw that the very same creature (mint in box) sold online for sixteen-hundred and six dollars. I snagged the image from the auction and then I took a picture of my creature who went on to be the founding father of an entire community of Black Lagoon natives.

(Click image for a nice, big photo)
Penn Plax is the company that made him and lots of other cool aquarium stuff. They're still around. Creach is really a scaled down version of the Aurora model from the 1960s. I remember cutting out the painting from the back but I was almost more fascinated by the instructional illustration of the creature in the upper corner.

(Click to enlarge)
Here's a screenshot of the auction responsible
for reminding me of my creature's origin

(Click to enlarge)
The dusty speciman that taught me a life lesson.


IL said...

This is great. I wish I had one.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe it, I had this as a kid, and had totally forgotten about it until now. I remember they eventually changed the design of the head of the creature, and he no longer looked the the creature from the black lagoon, but instead a rip-off variation.

Anonymous said...

I too had to have this as a young kid! I don't remember what happened to it, but I do remember it was in my fish tank for a long time, and later (once the fish were gone), he was stuck on a shelf with my other toys. I do remember that like yours, mine was glued together in the middle, as I had broken the hinge from playing with it so much!

Rich said...

I begged my mom to buy it so I could put it in with my goldfish. I don't think he was in there long, because I pretty quickly had him out and off his base to play with. Yeah, that hinge at his waist was just a little strip of elastic. Didn't last long. I think he either got glued together or that might've been when we parted company. We used to spend a lot of time swimming when I was a kid, so he came to the river with me often.
I was always more fascinated in all those cheap plastic ornaments than I was actual pet fish.
Thanks for the memories!

Kirk D. said...

Yeah, why should a goldfish get the funnest toy in the house?! Very cool that you took him to the river. Thanks for sharing.