September 12, 2006

DOLLAR SPOOKS

(click for larger view)

As of yesterday I had yet to see what the local Dollar Tree store was offering in the way of Halloween merchandise so I stopped in and had a look. My jaunt through the Halloween aisle with its tired old pumpkin and black cat knick knacks was swift and dissatisfying. It wasn't until I'd found my way to the general Toy aisles that I saw the little guys pictured above.

As you can see, some outfit called Creepy Classics has put out a fun assortment of small, plastic movie monsters. The figures have an elementary charm to them.. Dracula seems to be a five-year-old, Mummy looks like he's having a good dream, and Frankenstein's monster has a look of both concern and bewilderment. In addition to these they had what appeared to be "thumb wrestling" versions of the same characters. (Each monster held a different blunt item the way you'd hold a baseball bat.) I also saw some pretty nifty decks of playing cards that were cut into odd shapes with monster movie poster art on the backs.

Using the actual movie posters in the package design was a great decision. (The posters are even reprinted on the back of the blister cards so that you can cut them out.) However, I can only guess at why they used these particular movies. For example, why The Curse of the Werewolf and not plain old Wolfman. My first assumption was that the Wolfman license is more expensive or something, but that theory seems blown by the fact that they used straight-up Mummy and Dracula. And then there's Universal's King Kong, with a figure modeled straight off the poster, but at the same time they used King of the Lizards instead of Godzilla and there was little to no physical resemblance to either (which is why I didn't buy him). Dollar Tree is big enough that I doubt Creepy Classics disregarded all copyright laws. I think the big clue is the copyright notice on back.. "Property of X one X Archives Inc." perhaps they have rights to these posters and can somehow produce products derived from them or something. Well, that's enough speculation on a matter that's even more meaningless than usual. I really just wanted to alert you of their existence.

Oh, but I must also say that there are some really decent one dollar masks on the shelves this year.. "Classic" non-descript vamp-ish ghoul-ish characters that could have been sculpted three decades ago. And we're talking over the head latex.. with hair (!), and oh, so beautifully primitive. You know the kind where the "paint job" is a couple of scattershot blasts.. green for eyes, red for mouth. The place was like a walk-in Johnson Smith ad. OK it wasn't that cool, but I was pleasantly surprised nonetheless.

UPDATE: I went back to Dollar Tree to discover that they also have movie posters of each monster! They are about 2.5 feet high, shrink-wrapped on cardboard. The quality isn't top notch, but I've never seen anything like them for a buck apiece.

13 comments:

chuckbaris said...

This are AMAZING!!!!! I've got to find a dollar tree now!!!

Anonymous said...

Kirk,
FYI the local Party America (aka the overpriced birthday party/baloon store) has some very cool, detailed Halloween wall decorations with official head shots of these Univeral monsters: Dracula, Frankenstien, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy. They're $1 each. They are now adorning my beloved cubicle walls.

My only gripe: Where's the Creature??

John

Smurfwreck said...

Holy crap those are neat. I'm so going to Dollar Tree tomorrow. The best things I've found so far are Stretchy Universal Monsters at Toys R Us for $2 a piece. http://smurfwreck.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=129714

Kirk D. said...

Dagnabbit guys, you are altering the course of my life because now I must go to both Toys R Us and the party store in search of these gems.

John, I felt the same way about the Creature!

(I'm off to your blog smurfwreck.)

Dr.Terror said...

Dollar Tree had these last year as well. Only difference was the Creepy Classics logo.

Dollar Tree also has Thumb Wrestlers holding sticks called Freaky Fighters in the same packaging, same monsters. They also have Monster Ooze and Monster Playing Cards!!!

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/doctorterror/DT2006.jpg

Dollar Tree also has a great Knock Off King Kong toy called Jungle King. It's and Exact copy of the Mcfarlane Kong (the shackles are replaced with ropes) scaled down to about 4".

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/doctorterror/DTKONG.jpg

Gotta love Dollar Tree.

And don't forget about the Imperial Universal Monster jigglers and keychains that also came out this year !!

And Target has some cool Boxers and Lounge pants of the Uni monsters with classic artwork.

Lots of fun monster goodies this year!

Dr.Terror said...

Oops, just add "Jpg" to the end of those links.

Great blog and site BTW. "Phantasmagoria" is fantastic!!

Devlin Thompson said...

In the old days, at least, posters, trailers, and stills were not copyrighted, so that they might be freely used in advertising. XoneX Archive has taken various posters, reworked them in various ways (notably by removing the names of folks with litigious descendents), copyrighted their "new" artwork, and licensed the result. Over the last couple of years they've done several different things along these lines, includind CASABLANCA and SANDS of IWO JIMA lunch boxes and coffee mugs (these were at Big Lots), and pretty goofy looking KING KONG and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON snow globes (at MediaPlay, I think). Of perhaps greater interest, Dollar Tree has also had WIZARD OF OZ figures (identified on the package as being from"The Yellow Brick Road", but retaining the names of the cast, director, and MGM), and a cool set of "Cartoon Classics" figures consisting of Popeye, Betty Boop, Tom, Jerry, Porky Pig (the early fat version), and Super Mouse (NOT Mighty Mouse, but the original red-and-blue-suited one!) I had been hoping they might do a different batch of monsters this year, but different toys with the same designs is still pretty cool.

Dr.Terror said...

The Cartoon and Oz characters got pulled from shelves after a few weeks for some reason.

Kirk D. said...

Dr. Terror- Welcome to the blog and thanks for the heads up (and the pics) of those other items. There seems to be a nice crop of UM stuff this year! (I love your avitar image)

devlin- Wow, mystery solved! It seems like it shouldn't be, but I find that kind of information very interesting. I'm quite amazed at your knowledge on the topic. Thanks for sharing.

Jon B. Knutson said...

Thanks for the heads up on these... I'd purchased the previous King Kong figure at Dollar Tree (same as the current one, but with a different package), as well as the Super Mouse and Popeye figures that had been out before (although Popeye's package just says, "The Sailor Man"). The next morning after reading this, I went out to my local Dollar Tree and snapped 'em all up (as well as a few of the dollar DVDs of cheesy movies that I didn't already have).

Thanks again,

Jon

hobo divine said...

I love your blog!

Kirk D. said...

thanks hobo divine, if your blog is of the same quality as your name then it must be awesome. I look forward to checking it out!

Kirk D. said...

Jon B.K.- ha ha, "the sailor man" that's good.
Glad I helped you in your hunt for plastic bliss.