FW Presents: Those Wonderful Toys Ep.5

FW Presents a Halloween Treat! Chris takes a look at Remco’s line of Universal Mini-Monsters action figures from the 80s!

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Clip credits:

“Toyland” by Doris Day

Audio clips from Spaceballs, Dracula (1931), Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man (1941), Creature from the Black Lagoon, Mad Monster Party

“The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett

“Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter

“Zombie Zoo” by Tom Petty

17 responses to “FW Presents: Those Wonderful Toys Ep.5

  1. Great episode Chris, but of course I’ve enjoyed all these WT shows.

    I completely missed these toys back in the day, probably because from 78-84 I was all Star Wars all the time. The store I used to shop at (Kiddie City in Cherry Hill, RIP) carried everything, so I’m sure these were around, but I was probably too single-focused at finding a Bib Fortuna or Emperor Royal Guard figure to notice. Speaking of, I love that you subbed in Greedo for the Creature–of course! I love how kids are able to accept these things and make up their own fixes.

    I love the playset, that is super cool. Though it makes me wonder, what was the impetus for this line? It’s not like the Universal Monsters were back in the cultural conversation, so I wonder what made Remco want to do them, and tie them in so heavily to the actors, who were all long gone by then? it almost seems like the line was designed to appeal to older fans, maybe even collectors, not so much kids.

    As I have said on many previous shows, my collecting days are pretty much over–space and money are just too precious now. But man every time I see these things it makes me want to head over to ebay to see if I can pick up a carded Mummy or Creature for something less than a fortune.

    I really love this series of yours!

    1. My guess for Remco’s reasoning to produce this line is that kids in the late ’70s/early ’80s were still being exposed to the Universal Monsters from books and the movies that were played often on independent TV stations (before this thing called home video took off).

      The Crestwood monster book series (http://brandedinthe80s.com/6757/a-more-in-depth-look-at-the-crestwood-monster-series) began trickling into school libraries at the end of the 1970s. I remember seeing the books as a South Carolina second grader in 1981 and a couple of schoolmates had metal lunchboxes adorned with the Universal Movie Monsters (http://www.skooldays.com/categories/lunchboxes/lb1218.htm). When my family moved to Washington, DC later in 1981, my brother and I discovered Creature Feature on WDCA Channel 20 shortly before Halloween that year. No doubt, scores of other kids fell in love with the Universal Monsters the same way given the myriad locally hosted monster shows all over the U.S. at the time.

      1. Good points. Monster Kid mania was withering, but still alive. Those Crestwood House books went over my head somehow, but I do have quite a few now, discarded from Cindy’s library. She brought them home to me and our son Andrew. I did have a book on the Universal Monsters I got from the Scholastic bookfair, but I haven’t been able to track it down since adulthood set in.

        If we had a horror host in my area, I somehow missed him. Seems like one of the Lexington channels briefly had a show, but it was on a channel I could only get on the antenna on a good day. It later became the Fox network in the area. I envy those who had these types of shows!

        1. I LOVED the Crestwood books!!

          BTW we did have a local horror host–Stella, the Man-Eater from Manyunk (yes, that’s a real place around Phily). She ran after SNL on Sat nights so I didn’t get to see her much–1am was late even for a night owl like myself.

    1. Thanks Rob! I would guess this is one of the last lingering remnants of the 60s monster craze. It had carried throughout the late 50s into the early 70s with the Aurora kits, and then AHI and Mego had made their figures. This was just a few years later, but it is pretty much the last gasp of these characters aimed at kids and not collectors, although they may have been in mind too.

      I had to get an extra Tom Petty tribute in, so I took the opportunity!


  2. Fantastic episode, Señor Franklin!

    I never had these figures, but I remember seeing them at the local Sears. My parents didn’t think they were necessary since it was pretty much all Star Wars all the time back then. The closest (and I’m really reaching here) I’ve come to acquiring any of the Remco line was when I bought the Sgt. Rock carry case/playset that mostly used the same design but swapping war stuff for monster stuff on it. (Remco’s Sgt. Rock line was a pretty bizarre line that couldn’t figure out what era it wanted as a setting.)

  3. ^Yes! I should have mentioned the basic shape of the Monster playcase was reused as a Sgt. Rock playset. Definitely ties into DC and the thrust of our network here. Thanks for bringing it up.

    I constantly passed on the Sgt. Rock line because there were no figures of Wildman, Bulldozer, Ice Cream Soldier, etc.


  4. Ah, the Mini Monster Play Case. I has that and all 6 of the 3-3/4″ monsters. I even put heavier duty rubber bands on the lab table so that I could put The Monster on it and flip it over without them breaking. I’m pretty sure that went with all of my other toys in the Great Purge, but I have some really vivid memories of playing with it.

    I’m pretty sure I got this for two reasons. First, I already had the same scale Star Wars toys, so I could play with them all together. Second, both my dad and I are huge fans of the classic monster movies, and he probably saw it and thought it would be a great gift.

    1. Very nice Gene! I bought plenty of Monster toys for Andrew for the same reason, so the tradition continues.

      I think the table came with some kind of rubber band, but mine didn’t come with one, just like the “wooden” stoop by the door. There looks to be a hair band in the official Remco photos in the catalog.


      1. Yeah, there were some really flimsy rubber bands that came with it. They didn’t last long for me, which is why I beefed them up. Of course, that meant that The Monster didn’t tend to get up, since it was so hard to get him in and out. I guess that just means he was the Glenn Strange version. 😉

  5. One of my younger brothers had a full set of the original Remco Mini-Monster figures. Sadly, he did not have the play case, which looks pretty cool. I’ll have to ask him if he still has any of those figures mixed in with his old Star Wars figures.

    At first, I was racking my brain as to why he even had the figures, since we never watched any of the Universal monster movies as kids. Then I was reminded of the Crestwood House books, while reading through the comments. Our elementary school had a set, and we would check them out on a regular basis. As I recall, I gravitated towards the books about kaiju in the series, which may be why I didn’t have any of the Remco figures.

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