The 60's "monster craze" had run its course by the end of the decade. Nevertheless, monsters still enjoyed a steady level of popularity among many youngsters. Famous Monsters was still hitting the magazine racks every month. Every local television station had its own version of "Creature Feature" or "Chiller Theater" to broadcast old monster movies every weekend. Aurora re-issued their 60's monster models in 1972, and introduced a new line of "Monsters From The Movies" models in 1975.

But Aurora now had serious competition from other companies like MPC and Fundimensions. The classic Universal Monsters were now joined by the 50's sci-fi imagery of the Gigantic Insect Scenes, and the gothic funhouse of Disney's Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. If anything, there were probably more monster models produced in the 1970's than there had been in the 1960's.

But kids did not have to settle for rigid, unarticulated models anymore. The 70's saw an explosion in action figures. Thanks particularly to Mego and their 8-inch super-heroes, action figures came to dominate the toy market. Never before had there been such a wide variety of characters, sizes, and styles for kids to choose from. Practically every comicbook hero, TV personality, and historical character was available.

At last, the first true monster action figures emerged. 1973 saw the release of 8-inch monster lines from Mego and AHI. The following year saw the release of the Lincoln monsters. Monsters were lurking everywhere in the toy aisles, drug stores, and gift shops of the mid-70's. They may never have enjoyed the same sales levels as the popular super-heroes, but at least they were available for those kids who wanted them.

The surprise success of Star Wars in 1977 brought an end to the super-hero era. It also brought about an end to the lingering, yet fading interest in monsters. Kids wanted science fiction, spaceships, and lasers. The "Creature Features" began to disappear from television screens. Famous Monsters began to feature Yoda, Superman, and James Bond on its cover. The "monster generation" gave way to the "Star Wars generation." The great age of monsters was coming to an end.

MPC "Pirates of the Caribbean" Model (1972)

Mego Mad Monsters:

Mego became the action figure king in the early and mid-70's based on the massive success of their 8-inch "Official World's Greatest Super-Heroes!" line. Mego branched out into other characters from movies, television, and history. In 1973, Mego produced what was probably the first true line of articulated monster action figures: The Mad Monster Series. This unlicensed set included The Monster Frankenstein, The Human Wolfman, The Horrible Mummy, and The Dreadful Dracula.

These were untraditional, "mod" versions of the familiar characters. Most unusual was the Wolfman, who looked like he stepped out of Little Red Riding Hood. The toys featured glow-in-the-dark eyes and hands.

They were sold in four different package styles: solid boxes, window boxes, Kresge cards, and Lionrock cards. The Kresge cards were found only in Kresge discount stores. The Lionrock cards appeared overseas. Rare variations of the Dracula have red hair and slightly different features. Rare variations of the Frankenstein have blue hair.

In 2004 a small company named Classic TV Toys reissued the Mad Monster figures. The company announced a second series, including a Witch, Devil, Ghost and Grim Reaper.

Kresge-carded Mad Monster Series (1973)

Frankenstein and Mummy solid boxes (1973)

Dracula sealed in bag, with box (1973)

Wolfman sealed in bag, with box (1973)

Loose Mad Monsters Wolfman (1973)

Loose Mad Monsters Mummy (1973)

Loose Mad Monsters group shot (1973)

Blue-haired Frankenstein and Red-haired Dracula

Ben Cooper Rubber Monster Toys:

Rubber toys, or "jigglers," are known for their jiggly movement, oily texture and strong odor. They were sold in dime stores and small retail outlets. Some stores arranged several  rubber toy display boxes along an aisle, creating a rubber toy "bazaar." Children followed their nose to the rubber aisle, where they found characters ranging from zoo animals, to super-heroes, to monsters.

Ben Cooper built its reputation on manufacturing Halloween costumes and novelties. Its dominance in the rubber toy market began in the late 1960's, when it released the Flying Fun Things. These crudely sculpted super-heroes were molded in a horizontal flying position and dangled from an elastic band. Ben Cooper built on the success of the Flying Fun Things by releasing a broad range of rubber figures over the next decade.

In 1973, Ben Cooper introduced its rubber monsters. It marketed them under different names and styles, the most distinctive being the "House Haunters." Characters included: Witch, Devil, Scarecrow, Black Cat, plus generic versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, and even Aurora's Forgotten Prisoner skeleton model. In addition to the House Haunters, Ben Cooper produced the "Creature People." These half-human, half-insect creatures captured the essence of 1950's B-movie mutations. A purple male and yellow female were produced.

A Mummy, Hunchback, Caveman, smaller Frankenstein and Lugosi-like Dracula were often sold alongside the Ben Cooper monsters.  But these do not possess the Ben Cooper copyright. It is unclear who manufactured them, but they seem to have been distributed by Ben Cooper.

One of the last Ben Cooper rubber monsters was Godzilla, released in 1980.  Like the Mattel Shogun Godzilla of the late 70's, this toy did not possess Godzilla's famous stegosaurus spines.

Ben Cooper re-issued many of its rubber toys in the early 80's, this time in bags with header cards. By the late 80's, the rubber toy market had dried up. Competing companies such as Imperial switched from rubber to stiff vinyl. Ben Cooper opted to drop their rubber toys altogether, concentrating instead on their Halloween costumes, which were now being sold on plastic hangers instead of cardboard boxes. The Halloween toy market changed considerably during the last 30 years. But the original Ben Cooper rubber monsters continue to stand among the all-time classic Halloween novelties.

Mighty Monster (Frankenstein) (c1973)

House Haunter Vampire (Dracula) (c1973)

House Haunter Werewolf (Wolf Man) (c1973)

Devil (c1973)

House Haunter Forgotten Prisoner (c1973)

Scarecrow (c1973)

Creature People, Male (c1973)

Creature People, Female (c1973)

Witch (c1973)

Caveman, Mummy (c1973)

Lugosi-like Dracula, Hunchback (c1973)

Godzilla (1980)

Children's Chewable Monster Vitamins, Bristol Myers (1972)

AHI Official World Famous Super Monsters:

The best monster action figures ever made. Period. Manufactured by Azrak-Hamway, Int. from 1973-1976, this set of 8-inch action figures included Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. All except Dracula were officially licensed by Universal Studios.

These serious-looking, gothic toys closely resembled the classic Aurora monster models of the 60's and 70's. The back of each card even featured artwork "inspired" by the Aurora Glow-Kit boxes of the early 70's. The AHI figures did not glow in the dark like the Aurora models, but the famous glow-kit box art was reflected in the AHI Mummy's yellow head and the Creature's bright yellow body paint. AHI changed the molds and paint schemes several times during the series, resulting in a dizzying number of variations. The links below reveal three-to-four versions of each character, plus the card back's striking artwork.

The hot pink bubble cards, similar to Mego Kresge cards, stood out in a toy aisle. Some AHI cards bear a Kresge imprint, though AHI monsters were sold in a variety of stores. The wide-waist Creature from the Black Lagoon is easily the rarest of the set and one of the most sought-after action figures of all time. In 2004, a mint-on-card wide-waist Creature sold on eBay for nearly $6,000. The thin-waist version, often called the "female" Creature, is also rare but not as highly prized. When it comes to AHI monster toys, the 8-inch figures represent the tip of the iceberg. AHI was the era's premiere monster toy manufacturer, producing monster water guns, wind-up walkers, flashlights, wire bendies, rubber jigglers and many other playthings for the 70's monster kid.

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1973)

Loose Creatures

Frankenstein (1973)

Loose Frankensteins

Dracula (1973)

Loose Draculas

European Boxed Dracula (date unknown)

Wolf Man (1973)

Mummy (1973)

Loose Mummies

AHI Creature from the Black Lagoon Squirt Gun

One of the rarest of the many Universal Monsters toys and novelties produced by AHI from 1973-76.

(Courtesy of David Villiard)

AHI Rubber Monsters:

In addition to the 8-inch Super Monsters line, AHI also produced rubber versions of the monsters. The AHI Monster Bend Em's stood about 5 inches tall, and were sold on bubble cards. These rubber figures contained a flexible wire core, enabling the toys to be posed like action figures. The set included the same five characters as the 8-inch line, with the addition of King Kong.

AHI also produced five solid rubber, non-posable monster toys similar to the Ben Cooper rubber monsters. Unlike the Ben Cooper line, the AHI rubber monsters were licensed by Universal Studios (except for King Kong, which was licensed by RKO). The rubber line included Frankenstein, Creature, Wolfman, Mummy, and Kong. They were sold both loose and tied to cards. Smaller versions of the rubber monsters were re-issued in 1979 by Vics.

 AHI Bend 'Ems King Kong, Creature (1974)

AHI Bend 'Ems Wolf Man, Mummy (1974)

AHI Bend 'Ems Frankenstein, Dracula (1974)

AHI carded Bend 'Ems Wolf Man (1974)

AHI carded Bend 'Ems King Kong (1974)

AHI carded Bend 'Ems Frankenstein (1974)

AHI carded Bend 'Ems Dracula (1974)

AHI carded Bend 'Ems Mummy (1974)

AHI rubber Frankenstein (c1973)

AHI rubber Mummy (c1973)

AHI rubber Wolfman (c1973)

AHI rubber Creature From The Black Lagoon (c1973)

AHI carded rubber King Kong (1973)

Vic's Creature (1979)

Vic's Wolf Man (1979)

Vic's Mummy (1979)

Vic's Frankenstein (1979)

Fundimensions "Haunted Glo-Head" Mummy Model (1975)

Lincoln International Monsters:

Perhaps the oddest, most idiocentric monster action figures ever made. These off-brand, cheaply-made toys were marketed primarily through gift shops and catalogs in 1974 and 1975. Their crude design and child-like expressions give them a sense of humble charm that is seldom appreciated in today's slick world. The monsters were sold on individualized cards, each depicting that monster's "habitat." (A forest for Wolfman, and Egyptian landscape for the Mummy.) The cards' moody, "impressionistic" artwork added to the Lincoln Monsters' trick-or-treat quality.

Six 8-inch action figures were produced: Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy, Dracula, Huchback, and Phantom. A Mr. Spock knock-off called "Mr. Rock" was also marketed along with the monster series. In Europe, the six monsters were sold in Mego-like boxes.

A shipping case containing 24 carded figures surfaced in 2004 in England. These UK figures differ in many ways from their American counterparts. Unlike the American versions, the UK figures wear unhemmed jackets with sawtooth edges cut by pinking shears. The UK Frankenstein's head is molded in green, whereas the American version is molded in flesh and painted green. The  links below include photos of both American and UK versions.

Frankenstein (1974)

Dracula (1974)

Wolf Man (1974)

Mummy (1974)

Mummy in European box

Mr. Rock (1974)

Hunchback of Notre Dame (1975)

Phantom of the Opera (1975)

Wards 1976 Christmas catalog picture

UK Shipping Carton

General Mills Cereal Monsters:

In 1975, Product People, Inc. released a line of 8-inch vinyl squeeze toys called the "Big G Product People." These were advertising toys were based on General Mills cereal characters of the era. They were sold through special mail-in offers on the backs of cereal boxes, as well as in stores. Packaged in white window boxes. The set included characters such as the Trix Rabbit; and Snap, Crackle, and Pop. But of interest here are the four cereal monsters produced: Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Fruit Bruit, and Franken-Berry. These toys were molded in one piece of soft vinyl, except for Franken-Berry, who featured a swiveling waist joint. Charlie the Tuna and other non-cereal characters were produced by the same company and marketed separately.

Count Chocula (1975)

Boo-Berry (1975)

Fruit Brute (1975)

Franken Berry (1975)

Matchbox Ghost of Cap'n Kidd:

Matchbox released a line of pirate figures in 1975 as part of the "Fighting Furies" line. These 9-inch action figures were very similar to Mattel's Big Jim series. The stand-out of the Fighting Furies pirate series was the Ghost of Cap'n Kidd. This glow in the dark figure was molded in white, with a skeletal pattern painted over his head and body. The painted bones were not clearly visible until the toy was viewed in the dark. The effect was clever and creepy. Cap'n Kidd was only available as a mail-order figure in the United States. But in Europe he was available in stores, sold in a coffin-like box.

Matchbox Ghost of Cap'n Kidd (1975)

Mego King Kong Toys:

In conjunction with the embarrassing Dino De Laurentis 1976 re-make, Mego produced a line of assorted King Kong merchandise. The toys were probably better than the movie. Mego produced at least two sizes of adorable plush Kongs, a couple of model kits, a vinyl Kong figure (sold only in Japan), and a very impressive three-dimensional game, called "King Kong Against The World." This game had a plastic Kong figure that stood atop a World Trade Center playset. The object of the game was to knock Kong off the tower. The game is now highly prized among collectors.

Mego Plush King Kong Dolls (1976)

Famous Monsters of Legend:

This obscure set of 8-inch monster action figures was produced circa 1977-1978 by Tomland. (Some cards may be stamped "Kresge" or "Combex," but the figures themselves bear the Tomland bunny logo on their backs.) The  8-inch line featured characters that had never before been produced as articulated action figures: The Abominable Snow Man, The Fly, Morlock, and Cyclops. A paragraph describing the "legend" of the monster was printed on the back of each card.

The same figures were also packaged as "Star Raiders" space aliens to take advantage of the Star Wars phenomenon, but the Famous Monsters versions are far more scarce and desirable.

Additional Famous Monsters of Legend characters were apparently marketed in Europe. A loose Frankenstein and carded Mummy are known to exist. The Mummy closely resembles the Lincoln version, with card artwork similar to that of the boxed Lincoln Mummy. A FMOL Sasquatch figure is also rumored. The figure, as described by an eyewitness, is a Star Raiders Flash (Chewbacca ripoff) on a FMOL "Sasquatch" card.

Abominable Snow Man (Yeti) (c1977)

The Fly (c1977)

Morlock (c1977)

Cyclops (c1977)

Tomland Star Raiders:

As stated above, Tomland produced a line of 8-inch generic aliens to cash-in on the success of Star Wars. Kenner did not have its official products on the store shelves until months after the film's release. This enabled companies like Tomland to fill the void with cheap, quickly-produced toys like the Star Raiders. There are few action figure lines as lovably cheesy as these ridiculous alien characters. They were produced in both glow-in-the-dark and non-glow versions. Four are pictured here, but several more characters were produced. The same figures have been released under different names, such as "Creatures From Other Worlds."

Star Raiders Dagon (c1977)

Star Raiders Coth (c1977)

Star Raiders Wik (c1977)

Star Raiders Rot (1978)

Back of Star Raiders card (1978)

Kenner Stretch Monster:

Kenner launched its innovative line of stretchable action figures in 1976 with Stretch Armstrong, a Nordic-looking circus contortionist/muscleman clad only in dark shorts. The doll could be stretched to nearly four times its normal size, a feat made possible by a clever design that incorporated a latex rubber skin filled with concentrated corn syrup. A dashing hero like Armstrong needed a nemisis to wrestle, so Kenner gave him a scaly, green playmate - Stretch Monster. He may have looked mean, but as the instructions indicated, Stretch Monster was really a very nice monster. Except when he got angry. And Stretch Armstrong made Stretch Monster very, very angry! Kenner followed up with Stretch X-Ray, a translucent alien with exposed brain and visible organs. Next came Ollie and Olivia, the Stretch Octopi, then their enemy, Cecil the Stretch Sea Serpent. Most stretch toys are found solidified today, though rare boxed examples may still be supple. Boxed Stretch Monsters from Mexico and England are more common than boxed American specimens, though boxed examples of any kind are scarce and pricey.

Kenner Stretch Monster

Godzilla Toys:

Though Godzilla toys had been common in Japan since the 1960's, it wasn't until the late 70's that the first Godzilla action figures appeared in the United States. Mattel produced its Shogun Godzilla in 1977. This toy was marketed as part of the Shogun Warriors line of 24-inch robot warriors. Unlike the traditional movie character, Mattel's Godzilla shot off its right hand like a missile, and lacked the Stegosaurus-styled plates that ran along the movie character's spine. Despite these innacuracies, the toy became of favorite of kids who used it to stomp on make-believe cities. Mattel also released a large Rodan as a counterpart for Godzilla. Though not officially part of the Shogun Warriors line, the big Rodan was obviously meant to be used in conjunction with the Shogun toys. The flying monster had a 38-inch wingspan. The Mattel Rodan stands out as one of the best, and most under-appreciated, toys of the 1970's.

A Saturday-morning Godzilla cartoon and a Marvel Godzilla comic book led to the release of more Godzilla toys. Mattel followed-up their big Godzilla toys with a set of small ones. Godzilla's Gang was a set of eight articulated, 6-inch vinyl dolls manufactured by Popy of Japan, then distributed in the US by Mattel circa 1978. Except for Godzilla himself, the rest of the characters were actually from the Japanese TV series, Ultraman. Each toy was sold bagged with a header card. Packaged specimens are much harder to find today than loose ones.

Mattel was not the only company that produced Godzilla toys in the 70's. GLJ Toy Co. produced a well-sculpted 5-inch wire and rubber bendie figure called "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" in 1978. The toy was packaged on a colorful bubble card. Loose specimens turn up, but carded ones are very scarce.

Mattel Shogun Godzilla (1977)

Mattel Rodan (1979)

Mattel Godzilla's Gang Godzilla (c1978)

Loose Godzilla's Gang figures (c1978)

GLJ Godzilla Bendie (1978)

Kenner Six Million Dollar Man "Bionic Bigfoot" (1977)

Kenner 18-inch Alien:

The 1979 Kenner Alien is one of the most sought-after, highly-regarded action figures ever made. It was the first mainstream toy ever produced based on an R-rated movie. The popularity of science fiction sparked by Star Wars in the late 70's enabled thousands of children to talk their parents into taking them to see the movie Alien. Those who did not get to see it heard all about it from their friends at school. Never before had so many children been so familiar with an R-rated film. This led a few toy companies to test the marketing waters by releasing Alien puzzles and games. Kenner, riding high on the success of their Star Wars toys, decided to take the bull by the horns and produce a full-blown action figure - and what an action figure it was. Standing over 18 inches tall, the Kenner Alien toward above other large-size action figures, even Darth Vader. GI Joe didn't stand a chance against this creature. Its skull and "brains" glowed in the dark beneath a see-through shell on top its head. A button at the rear of the head opened the Alien's mouth to expose its retracting inner jaws. The toy's design set a new standard for realism and authenticity. Whether Kenner's decision to market this toy should be considered daring or cynical is open to debate, but in the end the marketplace decided to reject the toy. Aliens sat for months on the clearance shelves. Finally, the unbought stock was sold to stores such as Children's Palace and Ben Franklin, where it continued to collect dust. Only years later did collectors re-discover the Kenner Alien, making it one of the most popular collectible toys ever.

Kenner Alien loose (1979)

Kenner Alien in box with loose Aliens standing gaurd (1979)

Fun Stuf Expanding Monsters:

These are among the very few large-size classic monster toys made prior to the 1990's. At about 12 inches tall, they were just the right size to fight your old GI Joe.  And not only did you get the monster, but you also got his "home." Frank had came with a spark-throwing laboratory table. Dracula came with a big, black coffin. Both monsters had weighted plastic legs and a soft vinyl upper torso. A pump filled the torso with air, causing the head, chest, and arms to expand. This made Frankenstein burst from his table straps, and Dracula open his coffin. The shift in weight made the  reclining monster tip forward to a standing position. Both monsters glowed in the dark. Frankenstein is licensed by Universal Studios, as can be seen by the beautiful Karloff graphics on the box. Dracula is generic in design. A label applied to Dracula's box indicates that the toy is based on the Bram Stoker novel, not on any motion picture. These under-appreciated toys earn their name, "Fun Stuf."

Fun Stuf Frankenstein (1979)

Fun Stuf Dracula (1979)

Mattel Krusher:

Mattel has produced a number of unusual, original toy over the years, and this is one of them. Released in 1979, Krusher was a 14-inch reptillian monster that could be wadded up or squashed flat. It would remain in its smooshed state until a valve on its belt was released, allowing it to return to its original shape. Krusher was sold in a large box, and clearanced out very cheaply by Sears after Christmas of 79.

Krusher (1979)

Mattel Gre-Gory:

A large, realistic, vinyl vampire bat produced by Mattel in 1979. A pump on its back made blood flow through its trasparent chest, similar to Mattel's Pulsar action figure from the same era. There have been thousands of rubber vampire bats produced over the years, but none of them hold a candle to this bloodsucker. Sold in a colorful box.

Loose Gre-Gory (1979)

Gre-Gory Box (1979)


60's Wing

80's Wing

90's Wing


Copyright 1996 Monster Castle Productions, Inc.

Creature From The Black Lagoon "Overview" image prepared by Kerry Gammill.

Created by Raymond Castile using GNNpress software.

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