The 90's were a mixed decade for monster toys, and for monsters in general. Classic monsters seemed to be in decline for the first two thirds of the decade. Then, in 1997, the United States Postal Service helped restore the Universal Monsters to their rightful place at the forefront of popular culture.

The decade was a time of dark ambiguity. There seemed little that was new or genuine. The world seemed to be getting worse instead of better. There was no longer any security in careers or family life. We took for granted that the government was working against us instead of for us. Fears of conspiracies, epidemics, and alien invasions ran rampant in the public consciousness.

Popular culture is "post-modern," recycling and re-inventing everything that has already come and gone before. Sincerity is scarce. This cynicism is reflected in the toy industry. Toys are now made to be "instant collectibles." Children have to compete with adults in a rat-race to obtain the toys they want. They learn early on that it's a dog-eat-dog world. Toys have become the poor man's stocks and bonds.

There were very few classic monster toys in the first half of the decade. Instead, we saw the aesthetic visions of H.R. Gieger and Todd McFarlane infiltrate, and finally dominate the toy industry. Kenner produced the Aliens and Predator lines. McFarlane introduced anguish, deformity, and ultra-violence to the toy market; first with his Spawn creations, then with his own take on the classic monsters.

There were a few bright spots. Telco made a sweet-natured line of Universal Monsters Motion-ettes. Hasbro brought Tim Burton's charming Nightmare Before Christmas characters to the toy shelves. Both these lines caught on with collectors, but were ignored by the general public. The Universal Monsters seemed dead, rendered obsolete in a world that seemed more scary than they.

The economic recession of the early 90's probably helped to establish the dark cloud that hung over the era.  As the economy began to improve in the latter half of the decade, the culture began to smile again...just a little. And as it did, the Universal Monsters stepped out of the shadows one more time. They had not been dead - only hiding, waiting for the times to change.

The Post Office immortalized the characters in 1997 by issuing a series of Universal Monsters postage stamps. The stamps became the anchor for an entire merchandising campaign, setting off a "monster craze" the likes of which had not been seen since the 1960's. For the next several years, Universal Monsters were everywhere. Hasbro and a new company named Sideshow Toy released high-profile sets of dolls and action figures. The outstanding Sideshow figures are probably the best mass-produced likenesses of the Universal Monsters ever created.

This new wave of popularity will eventually subside. But rest assured. The monsters will rise again and again.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes "Ketchuk" (1991)

Mattel harkened back to the 1980s Madballs craze with this set of "gross" toys, based on a 1991 Fox television animated series. The cartoon was inspired by the 1976 cult film, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Mattel produced nine tomato figures: Beefsteak, Ketchuk, Fangmato, Tomacho, Ultimato, Missing Tomato Link, Phantomato, Zoltan and Mummato. Each came with a human victim that fit inside the tomato's mouth.

Placo Universal Monsters

One of the rare early 1990's attempts to produce a line of Universal Monsters action figures. Very similar to the 1986 Imperial monsters. A crudely-sculpted series that illustrates the degree to which the Universal Monsters had fallen from grace during this period. Instead of promoting film-accurate likenesses (as it did by the end of the decade), Universal marketed cartoonish, generic versions of its classic characters. The Placo set included Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man and Mummy. Placo planned to produce a Creature from the Black Lagoon and Bride of Frankenstein if the first series sold well. It did not.

Placo Frankenstein (1991)

Placo Dracula (1991)

Placo Wolf Man (1991)

Placo Mummy (1991)

Kenner Aliens/Predator:

Despite Kenner's initial failure with the 1979 Alien doll, the company decided to give the character another try in 1992. The Aliens toy line was inspired by the 1986 James Cameron sequel. It differed from the film significantly in that the Aliens themselves were genetically linked to different species of animals. There was a Gorilla Alien, a Bull Alien, a Snake Alien, etc. This idea reportedly comes from early, aborted drafts of the screenplays for Aliens and/or Alien 3, where the monsters gestated in different animal species. The remnants of this concept can be seen in Alien 3, where the title monster takes on the characteristics of the dog it gestates in. The Kenner Aliens line also included five Marines from the '86 movie, one new Marine character, plus three more movie Marines in 1994. These last three were only sold in Europe. Fifteen Alien monsters were included in the set, including Scorpion Alien, Queen Alien, and King Alien. Kenner expanded the line into Aliens vs. Predator, producing a 2-pack of the original movie Alien and the original movie Predator. A separate Predator line was released in 1993, and included ten Predator creatures. The quality of these toys varied from character to character. Some were excellently sculpted, like the Aliens vs. Predator 2-pack, while others were mediocre, like the pathetic Predator Clan Leader. The Aliens and Predator lines were popular for a while, but by 1995 they were languishing on the clearance shelves. Kenner re-issued many of the Aliens and Predator toys for Christmas of 1996, this time with different paint schemes. They lingered in Kay Bee toy stores for years. New figures were released for 1997's Alien: Resurrection. These figures were larger than the previous lines, and seemed geared more toward the collector market. They sold very poorly, thanks in part to the film's poor box office performance.

Predator vs. Aliens



Kenner Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus Rex (1993)

Kenner produced a variety of dinosaurs for the first Jurassic Park film. The larger toys were unique for the "life-like" rubber skin covering their foam-filled bodies. Some, like this big T-Rex, featured electronic roaring and stomping sounds.

Telco Universal Motion-ettes:

The previously generic Telco Motion-ettes line switched to licensed Universal characters in 1993. (See 80's Wing) The series included: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, and Creature. In 1994, Telco added the Bride of Frankenstein and the Mummy to the line. Telco produced two sizes, 21-inch and 17-inch. The smaller, battery-operated versions featured flashing eyes, head and arm motion, and sound effects. The larger, AC-powered versions lacked the flashing eyes, but featured the same movement and sound. The 21-inch Universal series saw very limited production and distribution. The 17-inch versions are much more common. Both versions are nice, but the 21-inch set is far more impressive, with more detail and care in construction. The large Bride and Creature are hard to find, and both sizes of the Mummy are nearly impossible to find. Some collectors believe the large Mummy was never even produced, but Telco Vice President Arthur Wachtel states that it was indeed produced, though only in the hundreds of units. A few of the small Mummy's have turned up on the collector market. Wachtel reports that some retailers may have found the Creature Motion-ettes too scary-looking for children, and thus did not order the character, resulting in few Creatures being manufactured.

Telco Universal Frankenstein (1994)

Telco Universal Dracula (1993)

Telco Universal Wolf Man (1993)

Telco Universal Creature (1993)

Telco Universal Bride of Frankenstein (1994)

Telco Universal Mummy (1994)

Hasbro Nightmare Before Christmas:

Hasbro released the Nightmare Before Christmas toys in the Fall of 1993. Based on the animated film produced by Tim Burton, the toys were distinctive and highly original. They were a loving Valentine to monsters and goblins everywhere. The set included small action figures of Jack, Jack as Santa, Sally, Mayor, Behemoth, Werewolf, Evil Scientist, Lock, Shock, and Barrel. Hallow vinyl figurines were made of Oogie Boogie and Santa. Large plush dolls were produced of Jack and Zero, Sally, Oogie Boogie, and Santa.

The movie was moderately successful, but the toys sold poorly. Most stores received only a few shipments before clearancing the toys out. Toy collectors discovered them soon after they disappeared from store shelves. In a short time, they became an inexplicable sensation on the collector market. Within a year, some of the toys were selling readily for over $200. By 1996, Big Sally was selling for $500. The movie has become a cult film, and this peculiar popularity has carried over to the merchandise. It is inarguable that the toys possess an endearing, unique quality. They capture the gothic romance of the darkness. They remind one of the magic of Halloween, a magic that the holiday has all but lost in recent years. But this still does not explain the collector hysteria that surrounded the toys. Was it a sickening display of the gullibility of collectors and the opportunism of dealers? Or was it a genuine response to the sweet quality of the toys and the magic of the film? The demand for the Hasbro Nightmare toys softened after the introduction of new Nightmare toys from Japan. These new toys are more detailed than the Hasbro line, and marketed toward collectors rather than children. The original Hasbro action figures were reissued in 2002.

Hasbro Jack Skellington and Jack as Santa (1993)

Hasbro Sally and Evil Scientist (1993)

Hasbro Werewolf, Mayor, and Behemoth (1993)

Hasbro Lock, Shock, and Barrel (1993)

Hasbro Oogie Boogie and Santa (1993)

Hasbro Big Jack and Zero (1993)

Hasbro Big Oogie Boogie (1993)

Hasbro Santa Handpuppet (1993)

Hasbro Big Sally (1993)

Horizon Vinyl Creature From The Black Lagoon Model Kit (1993)

Independently produced vinyl and resin model kits represented one of the most popular collector trends during the 1990s. Known as "garage kits," they soon evolved beyond the mom and pop stage. Bigger companies began producing more polished kits in greater numbers, finding distribution in mainstream hobby stores. Horizon emerged as one of the leaders in the field, producing vinyl kits of super-hero and movie characters. Horizon released four Universal Monsters kits, including the Creature, Frankenstein, Mummy and Wolf Man. The Creature was later reissued as a pre-painted display figure.

Playmates Skeleton Warriors:

Playmates, known primarily for its hugely successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek toy lines, took a gamble in the fall of 1994 when it released the ornate and bizarre Skeleton Warriors action figures. Their scary appearance and "extreme" detailing generated considerable buzz among toy hobbyists and industry watchers. The five initial skeletons included Baron Dark, Aracula, Shriek, Dr. Cyborn and Dagger. Playmates followed them up with three human figures - Prince Lightstar, Ursak the Guardian and Grimskull. An animated television series accompanied their release. Despite adult interest, the Skeleton Warriors failed to excite children. The figures languished in stores before being reissued several years later as KB Toys exclusives.

Playmates Skeleton Warriors (1994)

Shadowbox Myths & Legends Series:

A little-known company named Shadowbox Collectibles quietly released an unusual set of hard vinyl figurines in 1996. Called the "Fantastic Myths & Legends Series", the set included: Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Dragon, Unicorn, and (little grey) Alien Lifeform. Yeti and Centaur were released in 1997. The unarticulated figurines stand about six inches tall. They are well-detailed and hand-painted. The monsters are packaged in large window boxes and include a three-dimensional cardboard display stand and backdrop. A rolled scroll describing the "legend" of the mythical creature is also included. These surprising figurines received odd, sparse distribution. The Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and Unicorn turned up at Pet Smart. The Alien Lifeform was sold in Suncoast Video stores. Yeti and Centaur were advertised in Fangoria. These unusual critters provided a special treat for monster collectors and a welcome change from typical mainstream toys. Too bad they were not more widely distributed.

Shadowbox Bigfoot (1996)

Shadowbox Loch Ness Monster (1996)

Shadowbox Unicorn (1996)

Shadowbox Dragon (1996)

Shadowbox Alien Lifeform (1996)

Shadowbox Yeti (1997)

Shadowbox Centaur (1997)

Shadowbox Mini Aliens (1996-97)

McFarlane Monsters (1997-1998, 2002)

Todd McFarlane rose to fame drawing Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. He quit Marvel when the management would not allow him to depict graphic violence. He then started his own comic publishing company and unleashed what would become the top-selling comic book of the mid-1990's: Spawn. McFarlane wanted to see his characters immortalized as action figures, but was disatisfied with the quality of most toy manufacturers. So he started his own toy company. McFarlane's Spawn action figures changed the style and direction of toy design in this decade. Whereas manufacturers like Kenner and Toy Biz were making toys less articulated and less detailed, McFarlane made his toys super-articulated and hyper-detailed. Where other manufacturers toned down the gore and violence of the characters they depicted, McFarlane intensified the ugliness of his creations. Hideous disfigurment, malformation, and mutilation were rendered in high-relief sculpture and layered paint schemes. Soon other toy manufacturers jumped on the McFarlane bandwagon. Now most of the toys produced owe something to the dark, exaggerated style of Todd McFarlane.

In 1997, McFarlane experimented with "classic" monster toys. There had not been a good set of classic monster action figures for many years. Instead of obtaining a license from Universal, Hammer, or some other studio, McFarlane created his own versions of the classic characters. Each 4-inch monster came with a victim, adversary, or counterpart figure. The two figures were packaged with an elaborate diorama base. All of this priced for less than $10 in most stores. The set included Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf, and Hunchback. The monsters were interpreted through McFarlane's typical style. Exaggerated limbs and muscles, demonic mutant faces, an eye for the hip grotesque. The first series sold well, prompting McFarlane to produce a second series in 1998 that included the Phantom of the Opera, Sea-Creature, Frankenstein II, and Mummy. This set was even more elaborate than the first, with finer sculpting and more elaborate dioramas. McFarlane next turned to the world of modern horror movies, producing a series of "slasher" characters for the highly successful Movie Maniacs line. In 2002 he returned to the generic monster line, remaking many of the earlier characters. This time, he scaled the figures up to about six inches tall and made them even more grotesque and masochistic.

Fans of classic monsters may not be able to stomach the approach Mc Farlane has taken. But his monster series was the first significant line of classic monster action figures to be produced in the 1990's, and helped create a market that allowed companies like Sideshow to take a chance on more traditional monster toys.

Dracula  playset

Frankenstein playset

Hunchback playset

Werewolf playset

Sea-Creature playset

Phantom playset

Frankenstein II playset

Mummy playset






Voodoo Priestess

McFarlane Movie Maniacs

The "Movie Maniacs" have proved to be one of McFarlane's most popular toy lines. The first series included Jason, Freddy, Leatherface, and two Species creatures. The second series followed with Michael Meyers, Norman Bates, Ghostface, Pumpkinhead, Chucky and The Crow. The third series included Snake Plissken, Edward Scissorhands, Ash from the Evil Dead movies, the 1986 version of The Fly and two versions of the 1981 version of The Thing.  A boxed figure of the original King Kong was incongrously added to this set of otherwise "modern" monsters. Series 4 included Evil Ash, two Terminators, Candyman, a nicer sculpt of Freddy, and McFarlane's own vision of what the Blair Witch might look like. A Jaws diorama  rounded out the fourth series. The fifth series includes Darkness from Legend, a Terminator exoskeleton, the Alien, Predator, and other characters.


Species "Eve"


Edward Scissorhands

The Fly

The Thing I

The Thing II

King Kong


Evil Ash

Freddy II

Blair Witch


Alien vs Predator

Hasbro Universal Monsters

1997 was a good year for Universal Monsters fans. The Post Office released a set of Universal Monsters stamps depicting Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, and Phantom of the Opera. Painted in a realistic, authentic style, these stamps paved the way for a plethora of Universal Monsters memorabilia. Not since the 60's had there been so many Universal Monsters items. Among these were a set of three 12-inch dolls from Hasbro. The boxed set included Frankenstein, Mummy, and Wolfman. These were the first dolls licensed by the estates of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr.  Based on a "Hall of Fame" GI Joe body, these dolls were a little muscle-bound. The likenesses were good, but not as good as many collectors had hoped. Most collectors agree that Wolfman is the best of the three. The set was difficult for many to obtain, as it was sold only through an obscure JC Penney catalog supplement (though the sets later turned up in Spencer Gifts). The dolls were re-issued in 1998, this time in individual boxes. The Bride of Frankenstein was added to the line-up. Many collectors are still not aware that Hasbro also produced a 12-inch Phantom of the Opera, since the doll was only available through the website. In 1999, Hasbro released a second series that includes Count Alucard from Son of Dracula, Invisible Man, and Creature From The Black Lagoon. This time, Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis the Mummy was the internet exclusive.

Frankenstein (1997)

Wolf Man (1997)

Mummy (1997)

Bride of Frankenstein (1998)

Phantom of the Opera (1998)

Son of Dracula (1999)

Invisible Man (1999)

Creature From the Black Lagoon (1999)

Kharis (1999)

Burger King Universal Monsters

Universal Monsters fans got a special treat with their Whoppers in the Fall of 1997. Burger King released a surprisingly detailed series of 4-inch Universal Monsters action figures. The set included Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The ambitious designers of these fast food premiums went far above the call of duty. The toys are among the more detailed and authentic of all Universal Monsters action figures. Frankenstein sported an excellent Karloff face. Only Dracula's features were generic. Each figure has five points of articulation, realistic sculpting, and action features. Frankenstein came with a lab table that made his head light up. Creature squirted water out of his mouth. Dracula could rise from a red plastic coffin. Wolfman's action feature was more curious. He rose from what appeared to be a wooden cabinet. Apparently a "transformation" action feature would have posed too great a design challenge. Not only were the figures themselves well-done, but the promotional artwork associated with them was also on the money. Painted in a classic style, the restaurant artwork was quickly gobbled up by eager collectors. Jack In The Box released a similar set of Universal Monsters figures for Halloween 1999, then another in 2002.

Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Creature (1997)

Battery-Operated Chupacabras from Mexico (c1997)

The Chupacabras, or "goat sucker," is Latin America's answer to Bigfoot. The vampire-like creature reportedly drains the blood of goats, cows and other animals. Many Chupacabras toys have appeared in Mexico, including this 12-inch, battery-operated walking robot. The same company produces battery-operated super-hero toys.

The Paul Crees Collection

Paul Crees and Peter Coe rose to fame creating striking collector dolls of mature, elegant women. Their favorite subjects were classic actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh. But over the years, darker denizens began to invade their portfolio. The pair directed their talents toward capturing the gothic grace of such characters as the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Nosferatu, Quasimodo, the Vampire Lestat, and Edward Scissorhands. These haunting dolls were not playthings. They were meticulously crafted fine art pieces, cast in wax, hand-painted, and dressed in tailored silk costumes. They were also very expensive, but high prices are the norm in the collectible art doll world.

The Vampire Trio

Phantom of the Opera

 Dracula and His Three Brides

Avenging Angel (1997)


Quasimodo & Esmerelda (1998)

Nosferatu (1998)

The Vampire Chronicles (1998)

Lestat In Vinyl (1998)

Trendmasters Godzilla

Trendmasters produced a large selection of toys based on the 1990s series of Japanese Godzilla films. Called "Godzilla, King of the Monsters," the action figure series included Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mecha King Ghidorah and Mecha Godzilla. The toys came in different sizes. Some versions featured electronic roars or flashing eyes. The series sold well and helped keep Godzilla alive in the minds of American youth, even if the Toho films were not released stateside.

In conjunction with the infamously disappointing American "Godzilla" movie released by Sony/Tristar in 1998, Trendmasters released a line of "new" Godzilla action figures. These toys were well designed but could not overcome the film's negative stigma. Trendmasters filled entire store aisles with endless variations on the same central character. The best of these GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) toys was the "Ultimate" Godzilla. This imposing figure stood just under 2 feet tall. A button on its spine produced a loud, echoing Godzilla roar. Though articulation was minimal, the high-grade sculpture made the toy a great display piece. Unfortunately, it was expensive, hard to find, and packaged unassembled in a bland box that allowed no view of the toy.

Ultimate Godzilla (1998)

Flatt World Figures Bela Lugosi

Flatt World Figures released what was intended to be a super-realistic "Bela Lugosi as Dracula" action figure. The head was modeled off of a life mask of Bela himself. The 8-inch figure is based on the classic Mego body design of the 1970's, only more articulated. The doll came with a coffin and other accessories.  It retailed for $59.99, available through mail-order and comic book outlets. The brainchild of custom toy designer Charlee Flatt, the independent toy company set out to produce action figures of higher quality than those made by mainstream manufacturers. The Lugosi doll met with mixed response. Flatt World released one other figure, the Phantom superhero character, then folded before it could produce a planned series of Rocky Horror Picture Show dolls. The Lugosi doll often surfaces on ebay, selling for a fraction of its original price.

 Flatt World Bela Lugosi as Dracula (1998)

Exclusive Premiere Bela Lugosi

Exclusive Premiere beat Flatt World to the market with its own Mego-styled Bela as Dracula doll. Many collectors expected it to stand nine inches tall like most of Exclusive Premiere's other dolls. But to the disappointment of some, the company chose to produce it in  the six-inch format used for its James Bond figures.  It was sold on a blister card with plenty of stills from Universal's Dracula. Interestingly, there was no Universal Studios copyright on the toy or the card.  The doll itself is so-so.  The head looks more like Martin Landau from Ed Wood than the real Bela Lugosi.  The costume is crude, particularly when examined out of the package. The shirt puffs out, and the sleeves are too short. The cape looks like it is stapled to the back of Drac's neck. Best of all, Dracula is wearing a wrist watch.  Probably so he can determine how many hours he has left before sunrise. The doll sold slowly for months, then seemed to vanish from shelves overnight.

EP Bela Lugosi as Dracula (1998)

Don Post Calendar Masks Reissues

Monster kids of the 60's and 70's will remember drooling over photos of Don Post monster masks advertised in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. (If you've ever seen the classic 1966 Don Post Monster Calendar, you've seen these masks.) With prices in the $30 - $50 range, they seemed unattainable. That was a whole year's allowance! Mom and Dad could never be convinced to plunk down such an outrageous fortune just so that you could have the pleasure of looking like Frankenstein. And so, for many a poor monster kid, the classic Don Post masks remained a cherished memory of what might have been......until 1998, when Don Post reissued the original first- and second-series classic movie monster masks from the 1960's and 70's. Wow! There have been other masks over the years based on these characters, but just as no other monster models can match the magic of the Aurora kits, no other monster masks compare to the original Don Post creations. Unfortunately, the price is now two years allowance. Some of the original molds were no longer available, so Don Post had to recreate them from surviving rubber masks. Seven of the reissues were made using original molds - Karloff Frankenstein, Creature Version A, Wolf Man Version B, Phantom of the Opera, Mummy Version B, Mole People, and Metaluna Mutant. The rest were created using 3-D scans of existing vintage masks, with some resculpting to restore lost details.

Don Post Calendar Mask Reissues (1998)

Sideshow Toy Universal Studios Monsters

Sideshow Toy's Universal Studios Monsters 8-inch action figures and 12-inch dolls may be the greatest classic monster toys ever made. At the very least, they are the most authentic representations of the Universal characters produced for the mass market.

The Universal Monsters all but vanished from the cultural radar by 1993, when a small special effects company named Sideshow Productions opened its doors. The shop fabricated animatronic puppets, props and special makeup for movies. In 1994, it expanded into the toy industry, designing and developing toy lines for other established manufacturers. Sideshow dabbled with the garage kit market, releasing several vinyl and resin kits.  But the company founders had bigger plans - to produce licensed action figures for the mass market. Their product would compete against offerings from established companies like Hasbro and Mattel in the toy aisles of major retail chains. But what product would they choose to make their big splash? Like many of their generation, Sideshow's founders grew up captivated by classic monster movies. The 1997 postal stamps had put the Universal Monsters back on the cultural map, launching a wave of tie-in Universal Monsters merchandise. Cable networks like AMC were showing old monster movies on television again. Todd McFarlane had achieved success marketing action figures based on classic monsters and even more ghoulish-looking comic book characters. The time was right in 1999 for Sideshow to launch its first 8-inch series of Universal Studios Monsters action figures.

Series I included Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster and The Mummy, plus Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man. The cleverly concealed joints provided 12 points of articulation. The immaculately detailed sculptures accurately captured both the movie makeup designs and the actors underneath. Each figure came with an Aurora-styled display stand and accessories. The green and purple bubble cards hung on the peg hooks of mainstream retailers such as Toys 'R Us, Target, Wal-mart and KB Toys. With reasonable pricing and wide distribution, the toys were readily available for adults and children alike.

Sideshow followed up with a second series that included The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney Sr. as The Phantom of the Opera, and Elsa Lanchester as The Bride of Frankenstein. Series III featured Claude Rains as The Invisible Man, Chaney as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth. The Mole Man, Henry Hull as the Werewolf of London and Karloff from Son of Frankenstein comprised Series IV. After a one-year hiatus, the line returned with a fifth series that included Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Ygor from Son of Frankenstein, plus Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera dressed in his Masque of the Read Death costume. Compared to the first four sets, Series V figures were less articulated, more expensive and more limited in their distribution.

The first four sets are also available as "Silver Screen" editions, painted in silvery gray tones to emulate the look of black and white movie images. The Silver Screen packaging is much more gothic-looking than the color series. Silver Screen editions of Series I and II were released through Toys R Us. A special Silver Screen boxed set of Frankenstein, Mummy and Wolf Man was available exclusively at FAO Schwarz. Silver Screen editions of Series III and IV were sold through the Sideshow Toys website. Glow In The Dark versions of Series I figures were also sold through the website and independent dealers.

Sideshow produced a set of 2-inch-tall Little Big Head monster figurines. The first series includes Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, and Invisible Man. The second series includes Ardeth Bey, Son of Frankenstein, Creature Walks Among Us, Phantom of the Opera as the Red Death, Mole Man and Metaluna Mutant. These caricatures have over-sized heads and small bodies, similar to Japanese "super-deformed" model kits. While not the exact likenesses represented in the 8-inch figures, they are nonetheless faithful to the classic Universal designs. A boxed set of the first series was sold through FAO Schwarz, and included an exclusive color Quasimodo figure. Toys 'R Us offered a less expensive Silver Screen boxed set of both first and second series figures, including a black and white  Quasimodo. The FAO sets were eventually clearanced out at a fraction of their list price.

The Big Heads line was expanded into the "Monster Shredders" and "Wrestlers" lines. The Shredders were decked out in skateboarding gear, while the Wrestlers presented the monsters as flamboyant pro-wrestling characters. A strange way to present the Universal Monsters, but perhaps it connected with some kids who would have otherwise dismissed them.

Renamed as Sideshow Toy, the company in 2000 introduced a line of 12-inch dolls, beginning with Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster. Sideshow designed its own doll body, similar to a 1960s GI Joe. The lanky frame suited an emaciated character like Frankenstein, but not a bulky character like Sideshow's next 12-inch offering, The Wolf Man. Sideshow improved the doll design as the series continued with Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera and two non-Universal characters, the Vampyre (Max Schreck from Nosferatu) and Chaney as the Man in the Beaver Hat from the famous lost film, London After Midnight. Bela Lugosi joined the 12-inch lineup with dolls of Dracula, Murder Legendre from White Zombie, Bela the Gypsy from The Wolf Man and Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster from Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man. The last is one of three non-Karloff Frankenstein monsters, including Chaney Jr. from Ghost of Frankenstein and Glenn Strange from House of Frankenstein. Sideshow rounded out the first year of the 12-inch line with Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot and Dwight Frye as Renfield from Dracula and Fritz from Frankenstein. In 2002, the 12-inch Frankenstein clan expanded with Karloff and Elsa Lanchester from Bride of Frankenstein. Subsequent 12-inch dolls include Karloff as The Mummy and Ardeth Bey, Karloff from Son of Frankenstein, Chaney as the Red Death from Phantom of the Opera, Hull as the Werewolf of London, the Mole Man, and the surgically altered Gil-man from The Creature Walks Among Us, the original Gil-man from Creature From the Black Lagoon, Fredric March from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Chaney Sr. as Quasimodo.

As with its 8-inch figures, Sideshow also released Silver Screen editions of the 12-inch Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, London After Midnight, Phantom and Nosferatu.

In a move that upset many of the company's fans, Sideshow in 2001 increased its prices and stopped shipping new product to mass market retailers like Toys 'R Us, shifting its focus to the collectibles market. The company now distributes its toys exclusively through specialty shops and mail order, selling its product directly through its web site,

8-inch Frankenstein

8-inch Mummy

8-inch Wolf Man

8-inch Creature From The Black Lagoon

8-inch Phantom of the Opera

8-inch Bride of Frankenstein

8-inch Invisible Man

8-inch Metaluna Mutant

8-inch Hunchback of Notre Dame

8-inch Son of Frankenstein

8-inch Mole Man

8-inch Werewolf of London

8-inch Dracula

8-inch Ygor

8-inch Phantom as Red Death

12-inch Karloff as Frankenstein

12-inch Karloff from Bride of Frankenstein

12-inch Elsa Lanchester from Bride of Frankenstein

12-inch Karloff from Son of Frankenstein

12-inch Chaney Jr. as Frankenstein

12-inch Lugosi as Frankenstein

12-inch Glenn Strange as Frankenstein

12-inch Wolf Man

12-inch Vampyre (Nosferatu)

12-inch London After Midnight

12-inch Phantom of the Opera

12-inch Murder Legendre

12-inch Larry Talbot

12-inch Bela the Gypsy

12-inch Renfield

12-inch Fritz

12-inch Dracula

12-inch Phantom as Red Death

12-inch Karloff as The Mummy

12-inch Creature Walks Among Us

12-inch Werewolf of London

12-inch Mole Man

12-inch Creature From The Black Lagoon


60's Wing

70's Wing

80's Wing


Copyright 1996 Monster Castle Productions, Inc.

Dracula "Overview" image prepared by Kerry Gammill.

Background image by Sharon of "Ace of Space Backgrounds"

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