There was very little monster-related merchandise marketed toward children prior to the 1960's. Horror movies were not supposed to be for children, though of course children and teenagers probably comprised most of the audience for such films. Nevertheless, the concept of "monster toys" was socially unacceptable.

The Universal cycle of classic horror movies ended in 1948 with Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. For several years, the classic monsters receded from the public consciousness. Then in the mid-1950's, Universal re-released many of its old monster movies as double bills for Saturday matinees. Children reportedly lined up enthusiastically to see the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolfman.

In the late-1950's, Universal syndicated a package of its classic monster movies to local television stations across the country. Television "Horror Hosts" such as Vampira helped make these films a weekly viewing habit for millions of young people. Monsters became a hip part of the youth culture.

Warren Publishing responded to this growing movement by introducing Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1958. The brainchild of editor Forrest J. Ackerman, Famous Monsters magazine popularized horror and science fiction movies, making them seem more fun than scary. Though obviously aimed at children, the pun-filled magazine was originally conceived as a Playboy-style journal for the monster crowd. The first cover of Famous Monsters featured a man in a rubber Frankenstein mask, wearing a Hugh Hefner-esque jacket, standing close beside a playful young woman.

This may seem incongruous today, but it made perfect sense in 1958. Playboy magazine had become the standard bearer of "hipness" in the late 1950's. Monsters were also "in," so naturally they would be marketed in conjunction with whatever else was en vogue. This is the reason The Munsters used surf music for its opening theme, why the hot rod auto fad became connected with grotesque "Daddy Roth" monster characatures, and the reason The Monster Mash became a hit party anthem. Monsters were a ubiquitous part of late 50's and 60's pop culture. Their cross-over appeal made them darlings of the beat, surf, hot rod and "playboy" crowds - not to mention little kids.

The popularity of Famous Monsters paved the way for the introduction of monster toys. Aurora Plastics Corp. took the first step in 1961 by producing the first monster model kit - Frankenstein. It was a risky and controversial move, but it payed off. The incredible success of the Aurora monster models opened the gates for a tidal wave of monster merchandise that flooded the 60's. Monsters remained popular throughout the decade, the first great "Monster Craze." Fans who grew up during that era are often called the "Monster Kids."

1960's Clinton Plastics Frankenstein Halloween Bucket

Most surviving examples have missing or broken vinyl carrying straps. Color variations are known to exist.

Aurora Classic Monster Models:

Aurora had been producing figure kits since 1955. Their catalog included "Guys and Gals of All Nations," soldiers, knights, cowboys, and historical characters. In 1960, Aurora conducted a market survey that revealed their young customers wanted models of classic monsters. Marketing Director Bill Silverstein loved the idea, but the rest of Aurora's management had misgivings. They consulted a number of child psychologists to find out whether children would suffer psychological damage as a result of exposure to the proposed monster kits. Only after the psychologists assured them that building the kits would help children deal with their fears did Aurora's management give Silverstein the go-ahead to produce the contraversial model kits. The first, Frankenstein, appeared in 1961. It was an instant success. Aurora's plant ran 24 hours a day to meet the incredible demand. Aurora followed with twelve more monster kits over the next five years. These were: Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, Creature, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Godzilla, King Kong, Mr. Hyde, Salem Witch, Bride of Frankenstein, and Forgotten Prisoner. The Aurora classic monster models are probably the most important and influential monster products ever made. Aurora re-issued the models with glow-in-the-dark parts in 1969, then again in 1972. They have since been re-issued by Monogram in 1983, 1991, and 1994.  Polar Lights/Playing Mantis released them again during the late 1990s, this time in reproductions of the original 60s boxes. (For the full history of Aurora models, read "The Aurora History & Price Guide" by Bill Bruegman, published in 1992 by Cap'n Penny Productions, Inc.)

Aurora Frankenstein (1961)

Aurora  Dracula (1962)

Aurora Wolf  Man (1962)

Aurora Mummy (1963)

Aurora Phantom of the Opera (1963)

Aurora Creature from the Black Lagoon (1963)

Aurora Hunchback of Notre Dame (1964)

Aurora Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde (1964)

Aurora King Kong (1964)

Aurora Godzilla (1964)

Aurora Chamber of Horrors Guillotine (1964)

Aurora Bride of Frankenstein (1965)

Aurora Salem Witch (1965)

Aurora Forgotten Prisoner (1966)

Marx Battery-Operated Monsters:

Louis Marx Co. was a major manufacturer of battery-operated tin toys in the 1960's. They produced attacking robots, leaping tigers, snapping alligators, and countless other mechanical creatures, including several remote-controlled monsters. The Marx monsters stand out as some of the most handsome and impressive battery-operated toys ever made. Some were mostly tin, such as the 12-inch remote-control Frankenstein. Others were plastic, such as the two-foot tall Great Garloo. And some were plush over mechanical skeletons, like the Yeti and Mighty Kong. Besides walking, they performed other amazing feats. Frankenstein and Garloo could stoop over and pick up objects. Kong could beat his chest. The Spooky Tree whistled and rolled his eyes. And the agitated Yeti would raise his arms and let out the loudest, most blood-curdling SHRIEK that human ears can endure. Marx also produced smaller, wind-up versions of many of their larger battery-operated toys. All these toys were packaged in large, colorful boxes that are almost as fun to examine as the toys themselves. Marx robots achieved a level of quality and complexity that probably could not be duplicated in today's toy market. Kids of the 60's were indeed lucky to have access to such fabulous treasures.

Snappy the Happy Bubble Blowing Dragon (early 1960s)

Great Garloo and Son of Garloo (circa 1961)

Battery-Operated Mighty Kong and Wind-Up Kong (c1962)

Battery-Operated Yeti (c1962)

Whistling Spooky Kooky Trees (c1962)

 Battery Operated Frankenstein and Wind-Up Frankenstein (c1964)

1960s/70s Rubber Frankenstein Doll

A  17-inch novelty figure made of latex-covered foam, with glued-on hair, fabric clothes and resin boots. Produced in Japan, this rare doll is said to have been distributed stateside as a carnival prize. A similar witch reportedly exists. Photo courtesy of the Famous Monster of Minneapolis.

Colgate Palmolive Monster Soakies:

During the 1960s, Colgate Palmolive sold liquid buble bath in plastic containers shaped like popular cartoon characters. Colgate called the product a "Soaky," as indicated on the bottom of each 11-ounce container. In 1963 the company produced a line of four licensed Universal monster characters - Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Today, these Soakies are usually found empty, missing the cardboard box around their base and a tag that extended from their neck.

Frankenstein Soaky (1963)

Mummy Soaky with Box (1963)

Creature Soaky (1963)

Wolf Man Soaky (1963)

Set of four Universal Monsters Soakies (1963)

Anchor Hocking Monster Drinking Glasses

These licensed Universal Monsters collector glasses were reportedly give-away premiums at gas stations circa 1963.

Universal Monsters PEZ:

The famous candy dispenser company produced a set of three Universal Monsters PEZ in the mid-60's. Frankenstein seems to be the hardest to find today. Creature was re-issued as an unlicensed version called "Fishman." The two versions are identical, save for the color of the plastic head. The licensed version is green, while the Fishman is black. The dispensers were sold in clear plastic bags. Those in vending machines were packaged in plain white boxes that had the monster's name on the side.

Frankenstein PEZ

Wolf Man PEZ

Creature PEZ

Multiple Products Monster Figurines:

Multiple Products produced solid plastic monster figurines in two sizes. The larger and more interesting were the 5-inch tall "Pop-Top Unbreakable Horrors," produced in 1964. The gimmick with these toys was that their heads could be detached - "popped out of their sockets" - and interchanged with other figures in the set. The eight monsters were sold two to a package, which consisted of a bag stapled to a backer and header card. A rare variation contains all eight monsters on one blister card. Multiple also made 2 1/2-inch versions of the Pop-Tops. Called "Unbreakable Weird Monsters," these differed from their big brothers in that their heads did not detach. All eight characters were sold together on one blister card. The Multiple Products monsters are known for their skinny, emaciated appearance. The plastic has become brittle with age, particularly the ones left in the packages. Most packaged Pop-Tops are found with broken fingers and limbs rattling around in the bag.

Pop-Top Wolf Man and Monster (1964)

Pop-Top Vampire and Skeleton (1964)

Pop-Top Mummy and Creature of Doom (1964)

Pop-Top Witch and Executioner (1964)

Complete set of Pop Top Horrors on one card (1964)

Unbreakable Weird Monster, Vampire, Executioner

Unbreakable Weird Skeleton, Creature of Doom, Wolfman

Unbreakable Weird Witch and Mummy

Unbreakable Weird Monsters carded set

1960's AJ Renzi Monster Mobile plastic toy

The front wheels are probably replacements taken from another Renzi toy. Most surviving examples have front wheels identical to the rear pair. Known variations include black wheels and different colored monster passengers.

Palmer Monster Figurines:

The Palmer monsters were another important set of monster figurines released in 1964. These 3-inch toys are notable for their charmingly crude style and the inclusion of some esoteric characters. The set included eight monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, King Kong, Gorgo, 7th Voyage of Sinbad Cyclops, and It (the Terror from Beyond Space). They were sold as a complete set on a single bubble card. A tiny Fay Wray came with the Kong, but this is always missing from loose specimens.

Palmer Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man (1964)

Palmer Cyclops, Gorgo, King Kong (1964)

Palmer It and Creature (1964)

King Kong on sprue with Fay Wray (1964)

Don Post Studios Monster Masks:

Don Post Studios is the premiere manufacturer of commercially-produced latex rubber masks. The California-based company produced its first Frankenstein mask in 1948, but it is Don Post's 1960s masks that are best-known today. In 1963 the company launched a series of licensed whole-head masks based on the Universal Studios classic monsters. The masks sold for about $34, a fortune in the 1960s. Many a lad stared longingly at the these masks advertised in the black and white pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Rare was the child who actually convinced his parents to shell out the bucks necessary to let him turn his face into Frankenstein. A 1966 "Monster Calendar" featured big color photos of the  most popular Don Post Universal Monsters masks. The novelty calendar was published by Prestige Publications and distributed by Pico Novelty Co. of Los Angeles. Don Post revised and reissued the masks several times during the 1960s and 70s. The masks made a triumphant return in 1998 when Don Post issued limited edition recreations. The photos below were taken from the 1966 calendar.

 Don Post Frankenstein

 Don Post Dracula

 Don Post Wolf Man

 Don Post Mummy

 Don Post Phantom of the Opera

 Don Post Creature From The Black Lagoon

 Don Post Hunchback of Notre Dame

 Don Post Mole Man

 Don Post Metaluna Mutant

 Don Post Mr. Hyde

 Don Post Mad Doctor

 Don Post Gorilla

Ideal Mini-Monsters:

Ideal produced the Mini-Monsters in 1965. Little is known about these baby dolls, which are usually found loose and incomplete. Collectors in later years referred to them as "Baby Munsters," but the toys have nothing to do with the classic Munsters TV show. The 8-inch dolls are named Vampy, Dracky, Franky and Wolfy. Each has a clothing tag marked "Mini-Monster, Japan." The photos below are from the collection of Eduardo Baez.

Ideal Mini-Monsters (1965)

Ideal Mini-Monsters Box

Marx Monster Figurines:

In addition to battery-operated and wind-up toys, Louis Marx also manufactured a wide variety of solid plastic figurines. Marx produced figurines of dinosaurs, animals, soldiers, cowboys, Weird-Ohs, and every other pop-culture character imaginable. The classic monsters were no exception. Marx issued a set of six licensed Universal Monsters circa 1969. The set included Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, and Hunchback of Notre Dame. The set was sold both loose, and together in a plastic bag with a printed logo that read "Cinema Creatures!" The monster figurines have been re-issued many times over the years, most recently as a glow-in-the-dark set by Uncle Milton in 1991. The pictures below are of a 1990 re-issue molded in tan plastic. But the original 60's versions were molded in blue and orange plastic. Other colors have also been reported.

Marx Wolf Man, Creature, Frankenstein (re-issues)

Marx Mummy, Phantom, Hunchback (re-issues)

Monster Bobbin' Heads - Frankenstein, Phantom and Wolf Man (1962)

Photos courtesy of Famous Monsters of Minneapolis.

Kooky Spookys:

The Kooky Spookys seem to be an almost forgotten toy line. Produced by Hasbro in 1968, they were a set of vinyl finger puppets with plastic accessories. The funny little family of ghosts were sold in vivid boxes with haunted house artwork. They marked a change of pace for Hasbro, which was better known for its articulated boys action figure, GI Joe.

Mama Kaskit (1968)

Daddy Booregard (1968)

Baby Spook 'em (1968)

Brother Mortimer (1968)

Grandma Macreak (1968)

Teena Terror (1968)

Hamilton's Invaders:

A set of imaginative "giant bug" toys. Though manufactured in the 60's, their B-movie style owed more to the 50's. Three large boxed playsets included one giant bug, a military vehicle and a squad of brave plastic soldiers. Several smaller bugs were sold seperately, as were additional vehicles, soldiers and a helmet that kids could wear. The "leader" bug was named Horrible Hamilton, the biggest of the invading insects.

Two Hamilton's Invaders Bugs

Hamilton's Invaders Vehicles

Hamilton's Invaders Helmet

Colorforms Outer Space Men:

These were the first three-dimensional toys from the company that made its name producing vinyl stick-on playsets. Inspired by Mattel's Major Matt Mason line of astronaut toys, the Colorforms Outer Space Men were a highly imaginative line of bendies depicting extra-terrestrial lifeforms. Each distinctive creature came from a planet in our solar system. Alpha 7 came from Mars, Astro-Nautilus came from Neptune, and so on. In the 60's, kids could still wonder whether little green men lived on the Moon, or on Mars. This fantasy was punctured when the 1969 moon landing failed to find any aliens. There were no aliens waiting, just dust and rocks. Kids lost interest in the Colorforms Outer Space Men, and a planned second series never made it past the prototype stage. Colorforms did go on to produce a stick-on playset and a few jigsaw puzzles featuring the aliens. Other companies copied the sculptures and produced bootleg toys. Miniature Colorforms aliens plastic figurines were included in a space fantasy board game. Miniature bendies could be found in vending machines, and carded as "Space Mauraders Bendables." Today, many collectors consider the Colorforms Outer Space Men to be one of the most creative, original toy lines ever made.

Commander Comet and Astro-Nautilus (1968)

Electron +, Alpha 7, and Xodiac (1968)

Orbitron and Colossus Rex (1968)

Colorforms promotional poster (1968)

Toy House Space Mauraders Bendables


70's Wing

80's Wing

90's Wing


Copyright 1996 Monster Castle Productions, Inc.

Frankenstein "Overview" image prepared by Kerry Gammill.

Created by Raymond Castile using GNNpress software.