A Word From The Curator

Thank you for visiting the Gallery of Monster Toys! Since it first lurched up from the lab table in Spring 1996, this website has helped to educate the wayward web surfer on the horrendous history of mass-produced monster memorabilia.

When I first created this site, there seemed to be little public interest in classic monsters. The Universal Studios horror films of the 1930's and 40's were rarely seen or discussed. I feared the black and white movie monsters that I grew up watching would be forgotten, discarded by new generations who had neither the time nor taste to savor their gothic elegance.

The compass began to turn in 1997. Prompted by a grassroots campaign led by the heirs of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, the United States Postal Service issued a series of classic monster stamps featuring excellent likenesses of Universal's Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy and Phantom of the Opera. These stamps helped spark a classic monster revival that continued through the end of the decade.

Not since the mid 1970's had there been so much monster merchandise on store shelves. The Aurora model kits were back in their 1960's-style oblong boxes. Sideshow produced the most authentic Universal Monsters action figures ever made. The 60's and 70's Don Post masks returned as limited editions. There were Universal Monsters at Burger King, Jack in the Box, CVS Pharmacies, even on Tombstone Pizza!

And what of the movies themselves? The Universal horror films received red carpet treatment as special edition DVDs. Turner Classic Movies and other cable networks broadcast classic horror marathons every Halloween. Cult rock artists like Rob Zombie and the Misfits embrace classic horror in their songs and artwork. Hollywood is churning out big-budget remakes of classic horror films like The Mummy and House On Haunted Hill. Some may lament these remakes (I do), but at least they help to focus new attention on the original films. Universal's Van Helsing monster rally disappointed many fans, but heaped even more publicity on our ghoulish pals.

More than 30 years after the first "monster craze" in the 1960's, it is finally cool again to be a monster kid.

So am I satisfied that the old monsters will endure? Not yet. One thing is missing. The children. If classic monsters are to be cherished by future generations, they must be embraced by children. Where would monsters be today if not for Forrest J Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, which I read before I even knew how to spell? Sadly, there is nothing today creating the same broad social impact. Contemporary monster mags, models, toys, and even the DVDs are aimed primarily at nostalgic baby boomers, not children.

I would like to see a return of the old "shock theater" syndicated film packages on television. But given the realities of the television market, that seems unlikely. The independent stations that used to broadcast "creature features" Friday and Saturday nights now run syndicated sitcoms and infomercials during those time slots. AMC and TCM are the only outlets for the occasional "old" monster flick, but they play to a mostly adult audience.

Perhaps something will come from left field, something no one has thought of, something that will make new generations embrace these fading boogeymen. Without monsters, the world will be a very scary place.

Thank you again for stopping by my site. Don't hesitate to let me know what you think of it. Your input will help me to improve the site over time. There is a LOT more I would like to do with The Gallery of Monster Toys. In the meantime, I will continue doing my part to preserve our Monster heritage!

- Raymond Castile, Curator


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