No, they are not for sale. The Gallery of Monster Toys is designed to spread awareness and appreciation for these toys. It is not a dealer site.
Some people think these are custom-made toys because they don't remember seeing them in stores. Well, I and many other people do remember them vividly. But it's easy to see why others may have missed them. 1970's monster action figures such as the AHI and Lincoln monsters were originally produced for the low-end toy market and received scarce, unpredictable distribution. They were often sold in the toy aisles of grocery stores, drug stores, gift shops, etc. They could also be found at now-defunct discount stores such as Grant's and Kresge. The Lincoln Monsters were once offered in the Montgomery Ward's Christmas catalog, which pictured them fighting the Mego Superheroes! Often, such toy lines were only released for the Halloween season, then faded away quickly. Although monster novelties sold well in the 1960's, monster action figures never enjoyed mainstream commercial success. As a result, most lines were financial disappointments for the companies that produced them. This helped to limit the number and frequency of toys produced. In the 70's, more kids were interested in superheroes and Star Wars than monsters, so it's not surprising if they failed to notice these poor lonely monsters on the store shelves.
Vintage monster toys are notoriously difficult to obtain and one of the toughest toy genres to collect. Many toys are called "rare," but vintage monster toys of the type pictured in the Gallery are genuinely rare. Old GI Joe's and Mego's are pricey, but they are certainly available if you have the money. But it's a different case when it comes to vintage monster toys, especially packaged ones. Even if you have the money, you may not be able to find the toy to spend it on. Something like a carded AHI Creature comes around once in a blue moon. But if you really want to collect vintage monster toys, do not give up. In my experience, monsters seem to eventually find their way into the hands of the people who care about them.
Monster toys are hard to find on the collector's circuit for a few reasons. First, they were produced in limited quantities and received irregular distribution. Second, 1970's monster toys were produced in an era when the few collectors that were around were concentrating on GI Joe, Star Wars, Mego, Steve Austin, etc. So very few monster toys were purchased and saved by collectors. Third, even monster collectors don't necessarily collect monster action figures. In their eyes, the 60's were the "real" monster era. Today, many monster collectors only collect 60's monster memorabilia. They shun 70's toys, including action figures. So when you contact a self-proclaimed monster collector/dealer and ask him about AHI figures, he may not even know what you are talking about. They are simply not from his era and not part of his frame of reference. Meanwhile, today's mainstream dealers are stocking superheroes, GI Joe, and Star Wars. The crude, "off-brand" nature of many monster toys makes them unattractive to many dealers who are only interested in slick, mainstream toys made by major manufacturers. Dealers will buy toys that they think they can sell for a profit. They will pass on what they think are cheap, junky toys that no one is interested in. If dealers don't stock certain toys, they aren't going to be available for collectors.
Go to www.ebay.com. Anyone who can't build a good monster collection via ebay just isn't trying. Of course, there are some things that never seem to turn up on ebay, or they appear so infrequently that you may miss them. The alternative is to return to old fashioned toy collecting by calling dealers, going to shows and visiting dusty antique shops.
In this day when new toys drive the collector market, many dealers seem to have lost their touch when it comes to hunting down these old treasures. The same dealer who can find you a Spawn re-paint probably isn't going to have a clue as to how to find Ben Cooper rubber Creature People. So it's up to you. You have to become a monster hunter. You may think that driving from one retail store to another looking for a Spawn variation is being a "hunter." Not quite. The toy manufacturers and toy dealers are playing you like a piano. If you want to be a real toy hunter, just try to build a collection of vintage monster toys. Now that's a challenge, and something you can really be proud of. Because not just anyone can do it.
You can try to find them on your own, or you can try the dealers. Chances are, only the most "high-powered" toy dealers are going to be able to find rare vintage monster toys. The problem is, they will know that they have you where they want you, so it may be an exasperating experience. If you want to track down monster toys yourself, you will have to really beat the bushes. You will have to go to all kinds of toy and antique shows, flea markets, second-hand stores, and so on. These elusive creatures often hide in the most unlikely places, and surface when you least expect them. This is a tough way to go, but I've heard some incredible stories about great finds. I've also heard of people spending years looking, without much luck.
You could look in price guides, but what's listed in a price guide doesn't always translate in the real world. The more obscure toys may not be listed. I don't know of any guide for rubber toys and bendies, and very few guides for battery-operated toys. It's a judgement call on the part of the buyer and seller. A Ben Cooper jiggler might be worth a couple of dollars to one collector, $10-15 to another, and maybe $45 to yet another. On the other hand, a boxed Marx Battery-Operated Frankenstein is probably going to sell for upwards of $2,500, no matter who the buyer and seller are. This is because there is more knowledge and awareness of this particular toy. Enough are bought and sold, and enough notice is taken of these purchases, to establish a market value. The general lack of awareness about monster toys can be both positive and negative for collectors. On the one hand, many people may not realize what they have and sell it for cheap. On the other hand, the lack of a generally agreed-upon value may lead some dealers to squeeze you for an item that really should sell for a more reasonable price. The best way to research the value of a toy may be to scan the completed auctions on ebay. Then you will see what real buyers actually paid for these pieces.
Many people have sent me e-mail asking if I will help them to find some monster toys. As I've said, I rarely sell my own monster toys. I am just not in the business of toy dealing. But I will do what I can to help people find what they are looking for. Unfortunately, my best advice will probably be to check ebay.
I don't know if there's any way to convey to a person with this attitude why people like myself love these toys. They have integrity, humility, charm, and sensitivity. Like the creatures they represent, they are flawed and misunderstood. Those who think of a monster as a sleek, agile, killing machine (Predator, Alien, etc) may find these softer adjectives to be odd and out of place when describing monsters. But those who think of a monster as Boris Karloff's Frankenstein poetically using hand gestures to plead for understanding, or King Kong taking one last look at Fay Wray before falling to his death, those people I think will understand. Or to put this in more modern, mainstream words, let me quote Rob Zombie and say that monsters, of the kind I like, are "more human than human."
That's hard to say. Everything runs in cycles. Monsters are hot for a couple years, then cool off, then grow hot again. I never thought I'd see another "monster craze" like the ones during the 60s and 70s, but by golly if we didn't see a genuine monster craze erupt at the end of the 90s. But will the children of today grow up to be the monster collectors of tomorrow? Who knows. I bet the 60s monster fans never thought anyone would be collecting monsters in the 21st Century, but here we are! I suggest we should not fret over what things will be worth years from now. I don't collect for investment purposes. I suggest that people collect what they like, and want to keep forever. Then you'll never be unhappy with your collection.
The Gallery has just expanded to include many more toy lines. But there are still many more toys that need to be included. I will try my best to obtain photos and information of as many monster toys as I can, and include them in the Gallery.
My favorite monster toy, and my favorite toy in general, is the AHI Creature from the Black Lagoon action figure. There are two versions of this toy. One has a skinny waist and wide hips, leading collectors to call it the "female" version. This version also has rubber "bendie" arms and legs. The second version is the one I like. It is all plastic with riveted joints, and it has a wide, "male" waist. The recent Sideshow Creature may be more "realistic," but in a claw-to-claw brawl, I suspect the AHI Creature could whup it. My second favorite monster toy is the 18-inch Kenner Alien. This may seem strange to those who have read the rest of this page, because I seem to have a disdain for modern monsters. But I have fond memories of playing with my big Alien as a child. It is obviously one of the most impressive, best-designed action figures ever made.
My favorite monster character is probably the Phantom of the Opera. I also like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong quite a bit. If I may count paranormal creatures as well, then Bigfoot is high up there. I'm practically obsessed with Sasquatch, Yeti, and all the other international variations of this creature. I hope one is never caught or killed. I prefer the mystery to remain a mystery.
Nope. I'm against re-issuing old toys in general. Let them stay in their own time zone, where they belong. Don't yank them out of their proper era and insert them into the present. Let it rest. Think of new ideas to inspire and delight new generations. Let the past remain the past, and appreciate it for what it is.
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