When I was a kid, Universal monsters were a big deal. Every Friday night, while my folks played cards with their friends the Greenslates, I’d sit up in the living room watching creature features, getting creeped out by Lon Chaney, Jr., gazing at clouds passing across a full moon.
There were even monster trading cards in bubblegum packs.
One year, around Halloween, Lays (I think) potato chips had a promotion in which they included a monster toy figure in every bag. I lusted after those toys, but my practical-minded parents refused to pay for name-brand potato chips. Somehow, however, my brothers and I managed to collect a few by trading stuff with some other kids at school. I got the wolfman; Steve got the Frankenstein’s monster; and Randy got the guy with the hood, skull, and dagger. But we never managed to collect the whole set.
About thirty years later, while working on a Wildspace board game at TSR, I unexpectedly had a big bag of sample plastic toys cross my desk—including this entire set of monster figures! Besides the wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, and quasi-Jack the Ripper, there was a mummy, a witch (with a bat on her shoulder), and a grim reaper. As if that weren’t enough excitement, this casting was in glow-in-the-dark plastic.
I snagged them. (Okay, I asked my boss first.) Today, they sit atop the corner desk in my bedroom, jammed together in a clear plastic CCG box like too many passengers in an elevator. They’re right next to my desk lamp, which means they’re fully charged to glow at me each night when I head to bed, taunting me to write something about them. This blog entry is a start. Up next, a poem.