Category Archives: Featured Collections

Take a Virtual Tour of Guillermo del Toro AT HOME WITH MONSTERS Exhibit

Opening Night of Guillermo del Toro’s                    AT HOME WITH MONSTERS Exhibit

Guillermo del Toro Bleak House

Collecting Classic Monsters HQ is located in the heartland of the U.S. And while that means not having the abundance of film memorabilia events that our friends in say Los Angeles or New York, we seem to make up for that in quality.  This weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending one such quality event, the opening night gala of Guillermo del Toro‘s exhibit At Home With Monsters at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

 “The exhibition reveals the creative process behind del Toro’s singular vision by bringing together elements from his films, objects from his vast personal collections, and drawings from his notebooks, alongside objects del Toro has selected from Mia’s permanent collection.”

While this quote from the MIA press release explains who del Toro is and what this exhibit is about,  Monster Kids need no introduction to the filmmaker or his famed Bleak House, the suburban Los Angeles house that serves as his studio and permanent repository of his collection.

Join me now, as we take a virtual tour of Guillermo del Toro’s At Home with Monster...if you dare….

 

“To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for my storytelling. This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life. It’s a devotional sampling of the enormous love that is required to create, maintain, and love the monsters in our lives.”

Guillermo del Toro

 Upon passing through the impressive exhibit entrance way (featured in the videos above), we entered into this large room and were greeted by the life-size Angel of Death from del Toro’s Hell Boy 2: The Golden Army

Guillermo del Toro AT HOME WITH MONSTERS exhibit

A video introduction by Guillermo explains that his Bleak House holds every book he has every owned.  This includes the first book he ever purchased, a horror anthology edited by Forrest J Ackerman, whom del Toro calls his ‘spiritual mentor’ and whose Acker Mansion was the inspiration for del Toro’s Bleak House.  (I filmed this in the exhibit, it is very hard to hear, but you should be able to read the subtitles across the screen):

Click on the image below to read it:

Guillermo del Toro exhibit at Minneapolis Institute of Art

The exhibit is organized into eight thematic sections, and I’ve included images from most of the categories below:

  • Childhood and Innocence, exploring the central role children play in many of del Toro’s films;

Guillermo del Toro 1973 Monster Kid

If you ever needed proof that del Toro is a true member of the fraternity we call “Monster Kid,” this picture should suffice. Note a 10 year-old boy, in self-made monster makeup, terrorizing a willing victim.  Could be anyone (and everyone) who reads this blog.  In this 1973 image, we have Guillermo playing the monster and his sister Susan playing the victim

AT HOME WITH MONSTERS del Toro exhibit

Paintings were prominently featured throughout the exhibit and include original art from his films as well as collected art such as this 1993 Basil Gogos portrait of Boris Karloff as The Monster:

Basil Gogos Frankenstein's Monster 1993

Further evidence of the shared experience of Monster Kids growing up in the 1960s and 70s, Guillermo has collected original and concept art from the films that most inspired him in childhood.  Here. original concept art for the Walt Disney animated classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow:

LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW concept art Disney

Passing into the next themed collection,

  • Victoriana, which loosely references the Romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian ages, as well as latter-day interpretations of the Victorian era;

Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie Portraits

Victorian-styled portraits of Warren Publishing’s iconic horror hosts, Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie

  • Magic, Alchemy, and the Occult, exploring the many puzzles, talismans, secret keys, and quests for forbidden knowledge that appear in del Toro’s films;

Concept Art from Disney's FANTASIA

Incredible original art from Disney’s seminal classic FANTASIA.

  • Rain Room, a recreation of a favorite spot in Bleak House, the suburban Los Angeles home that houses del Toro’s personal collection, featuring a false window and special effects to simulate a perpetual thunderstorm—the best atmosphere for del Toro’s creative process;

Lifesize Edgar Allen Poe AT HOME WITH MONSTERS

Throughout the exhibit, we encounter life-size and life-like figures from del Toro’s films and history. Here, in the Rain Room, Edgar Allen Poe sits and reflects on whatever horrors fill his mind.  So incredibly lifelike, I doubt I would sleep well should I ever have the opportunity to spend the night in Bleak House.  He didn’t move at least…while I was watching.

  • Movies, Comics, and Pop Culture, delving into the scope of del Toro’s obsession with comic books and cinema, from B-movies and horror films to works by directors Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Buñuel;
  • Click image below to read it:

Movies Comics Pop Culture Room del Toro exhibit

My pace quickened, and smile broadened, as I entered this phase of the exhibit.  There is little I love more than monster magazines and comic books of my childhood. Since Guillermo and I are of the same generation, our childhood experiences are once again shared.  Two walls lined with vintage copies of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Where Monsters Dwell and so much more:

Monster Magazines and Comics from del Toro's Collection

Wall of Monster Magazines del Toro

I lingered here for a long time, relishing the nostalgia of these books, many…most?..of which I have in my personal collection still.  My sense of kinship with a fellow collector was strong as I stood among this display and seeing these books treated as works of art was moving.  Of course, we know they are art in the truest sense, but watching other exhibit patrons take them in in all their pop culture glory made me feel a sense of pride — even ownership– in these reflections of my childhood experience.

When I finally urged myself to move forward, I was greeted by even more; including this gorgeous Basil Gogos portrait of the Metaluna Mutant:

Metaluna Mutant Basil Gogos 1993

And this spellbinding painting titled “Ray Harryhausen: Master of Fantasy”  by Daniel Horne:

Ray Harryhausen Master of Fantasy painting del Toro exhibit

  • Frankenstein and Horror, revealing del Toro’s lifelong love affair with the tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster;

AT HOME WITH MONSTERS exhibit at Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Frankenstein Monster was a common thread throughout the exhibited del Toro’s affection for this most misunderstood of monsters is obvious.  From Gogos portraits, to life size figures from Bride of Frankenstein, the Universal Studios version was everywhere:

The Monster, His Bride and The Doctor

But other master works were present, including original art from Bernie Wrightson‘s classic FRANKENSTEIN:

Bernie Wrightson's FRANKENSTEIN original art

Attending the opening night gala and being among the first to see At Home With Monsters at MIA was a real treat. I took my time (and walked the exhibit multiple times), but I still feel like I didn’t see everything because there is a lot to see in this exhibit.

It’s true that parts of the exhibit,  such as the Victoriana room, didn’t connect with me.  But that simply shows how personal this exhibit is to del Toro. Every collector is drawn to things for personal reasons and they don’t have to be justified to be meaningful.  This is a very personal look at one of our most talented artists and yet every Monster Kid who visits will feel a deep sense of the familiar and a kinship with one of our own.  I assure you, this Monster Kid is already planning my repeat visit and I highly recommend you make every effort to see it while you can!

Saving Rudolph – Monster Kid Christmas Memories

A Most Wonderful Time of the Year!Santa and Rudolph Stop Motion PuppetsSanta and Rudolph Stop-Motion PuppetsSanta & Rudolph PuppetsSanta and Rudolph Stop-Motion Puppets

We celebrate all the things that made the 1960s and 70s a great time to be a kid.   With Halloween wrapped, our attention turned to that next great day on the calendar.  Monster Kids love Christmas and the holidays. After all, that’s when we often got some of our most cherished things! From Thanksgiving weekend through December, those of us growing up in 1960s and 70s took to the TV Guide to look for more than monster movies – we were equally excited for those once-a-year Christmas specials. The stop motion animation was familiar ground for us Monster Kids who loved the work of Harryhausen and O’Brien.

This is the story of what happened to the stop-motion puppets used to make the classic Rankin/Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Turns out that, in the early 1960s, stop-motion puppets weren’t considered that important. The 9-inch tall Claus and 5-inch tall reindeer puppet that were used in the making of this 1964 Rankin/Bass production wound up spending the next 40 years under less than ideal conditions.

First NBC (which initially aired this holiday special on December 6, 1964 on its General Electric Fantasy Hour program) had these puppets shipped from Japan to New York City so that they could then be used as part of the publicity campaign for this program. Once that work was done, Santa and Rudolph were returned to Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass (i.e. the two executives who ran Videocraft International, Ltd., the production company that actually made Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).  And eventually Arthur and Jules gifted these two puppets to one of Rankin/Bass’s longtime secretaries.

Rudolph puppet spent 40 years as Christmas decoration
Rudolph puppet spent 40 years as Christmas decorationRudolph Puppet as Christmas Decoration

“And she then made Santa and Rudolph part of her family’s holiday decorations,” explained Seamus Walsh, one of the modern stop-motion masters who now works at Screen Novelties, a Los Angeles-based animation studio which later played a key role in these puppets’ restoration. “And that secretary’s children and grandchildren then spent the next 40 years or so playing really roughly with Rudolph and Santa. Throwing that little reindeer puppet through the air pretending that he could fly and force-feeding Santa candy and chocolate.”
In the end, the Rudolph puppet wound up with a snapped neck. Not to mention a missing glowing red nose. And poor Santa lost his fluffy white eyebrows as well as half his mustache. And since that they no longer looked like the characters who had appeared in that now-classic holiday special, Santa and Rudolph were retired to the attic.

And they probably would have stayed there — alone and forgotten like those forlorn playthings on the Island of Misfit Toys — if it hadn’t been for the secretary’s nephew, who stumbled upon Rudolph and Santa up in the family’s attic in 2005. He decided to bring this stop-motion puppets on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow and find out what they might now possibly be worth.

At that time, Santa and Rudolph were appraised for $8,000 – $10,000 for the pair. The secretary’s nephew then decided to sell these holiday icons to Kevin A. Kriess, a lifelong fan of the Rankin/Bass TV specials. And Kriess’ first goal was to restore these stop-motion puppets to pristine condition.

“Which is why Kevin then reached out to us. Or — rather — my wife Robin, who handles restoration for the Center of Puppetry Arts in Atlanta,” Walsh continued. “And she was the one who then handled all of the restoration work that needed to be done on the Santa and Rudolph puppets.”

Restoring Santa Claus Puppet

Robin took an almost Hippocratic approach to this restoration project. Gently peeling back Rudolph’s tattered fur to reveal the wood & lead wire armature that the talented Japanese artists who was originally built this stop-motion puppet back in the early 1960s had created.

Restoring Santa Claus Puppet“While my wife was working on Rudolph, I got the opportunity to look at this puppet up-close several times. I mean, how could I not? This was the character that actually inspired me to get into stop-motion animation,” Seamus said. “But to be able to hold a huge piece of your childhood in your hand like that and then get a close enough look at Rudolph’s hooves to see the tiny little holes where they’d used entomology pins to secure this puppet’s feet to the set. Or to realize that Rudolph’s eyes were just these tiny pieces of leather that the Japanese animators had to then move around by hand in each shot, that was just mind-blowing.”

2012-12-24-Rudolph3

Kriess eventually sold Santa and Rudolph to noted pop culture collector Peter Lutrario. And the last time these stop-motion puppets were seen publicly was during a December 2010 broadcast of Syfy’s Hollywood Treasures show. And at that time, Lutrario told Joe Maddalena — the owner of Profiles in History auction house — that he just wasn’t ready to part with these holiday icons.

“Which is unfortunate. I mean, I’m glad that Santa and Rudolph are now in good hands and aren’t being left to rot in some attic,” Seamus explained. “But that said, I’d still love to see those stop-motion puppets to someday wind up in a place like the Smithsonian. So that thousands of people — rather than just one man — would then get to regularly see Santa and Rudolph and appreciate these puppets for the pieces of pop culture history that they are.”
We’re glad they are being well-tended to and hope that, like all private collections, they occasionally get a public viewing for the rest of us to enjoy.

Vintage Dinosaur Toys @ the Minnesota Zoo

Dinosaur Roadside Attractions

We’re fortunate to live close to the Minnesota Zoo and we’ve taken full advantage of that proximity through the years by spending a great deal of quality family time there.  This summer, the zoo is hosting a special, can’t miss exhibit featuring almost life-size animatronic dinosaurs, including a special exhibit of vintage dinosaur toys!

As a 70s Monster Kid, it’s not too surprising that I grew up loving  dinosaurs.  In fact, as I’ve explained previously, I consider dinosaurs my gateway to classic monsters.

This cool exhibit is titled “DiNostalgia: A Stroll Down the History of Prehistory” and curated by the Zoo’s Director or Guest Experience, Jessica Madole, who is a collector herself.  In fact, many of the pieces featured in this exhibit were from her personal collection.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Jessica and discuss the exhibit, and her personal love of collecting, at the zoo earlier this summer.

Jessica Madole Guest Experience Director Minnesota Zoo

Why Vintage Dinosaur Toys?

While the Minnesota Zoo has featured life-size dinosaur exhibit several times in recent years, the decision to enhance this year’s exhibit with pop culture collectibles came about for practical reasons.

Last year, the zoo’s exhibited giant bugs! And while many of Monster Kids love our radioactive giant bug Sci-Fi movies, the zoo exhibit was a bit more educational in focus and the building was used to display the real-lifel bugs whose giant animatronic counterparts were featured in the display.  That left the zoo with a nice covered walkway with small glass-faced displays and a question of what, if anything, they could do with this space for this year’s dinosaur exhibit.

DiNostalgia Exhibit Minnesota Zoo

DiNostalgia at Minnesota Zoo

As a collector of vintage dinosaur memorabilia, Jessica had the easy answer: feature examples of dinosaurs in popular culture through the years.

The DiNostalgia Exhibit

The exhibit takes a chronological stroll through the many ways dinosaurs have appeared in mainstream American culture, beginning with roadside kitsch and gas station mascots during the mid 20th Century:

Dinosaur Roadside Attractions

Dinosaur Roadside Attractions

The tour continues with this great display of vintage dinosaur books, many from Jessica’s personal collection:

Vintage Dinosaur Books

Each exhibit included a simple but informative plaque to like this one accompanying the multiple Marx toys displays:

About Plastic Dinosaur Toys

Marx Dinosaur Toys

And the classic Marx Flintstones toy set:

Marx Flintstones Set

Jessica explained that the next bit was somewhat controversial, since the King of the Monsters isn’t technically a dinosaur (though the 2014 Legendary reboot says otherwise). Nonetheless, us Monster Kids are always happy to see our favorite atomic-breathed kaiju and the zoo took the opportunity to differentiate the imaginary Godzilla from the historical Tyrannosaurus Rex:

About Gojira

Godzilla Model Kit

I was quite impressed with the craftsmanship of the model paint job and also curious where the model was curated from.  Jessica explained that the zoo bought a later model Polar Lights re-issue and had a zoo volunteers assemble and paint the kit.  Readers will be glad to hear that I was quick to volunteer for any such future model kit assembly work that the zoo has need for!

Next up, we find a nice exhibit of comics featuring dinosaurs including this terrific copy of Savage Tales from Jessica’s collection along with some Turok and Jurassic Park comics:

Dinosaurs in Graphic Print

As a child of the 1970s, I was thrilled to see the focus on the essential Saturday morning classic Land of the Lost:

Land of the Lost

Love the vintage Viewmaster cover:

Land of the Lost products

The exhibit continued with a feature on the 1990s ABC series Dinosaurs as well as Jurassic Park which are outside the scope of this blog, but essential to the historical collection the zoo assembled. 

As Monster Kids, we are used to living outside the mainstream of popular culture and it’s always a thrill to see the things we love and celebrate get the spotlight.  My thanks to Jessica and love of vintage dinosaur stuff for taking the time to give me a tour and for championing this informative and fun exhibit.

Hurry! The Exhibit Ends Soon.

If you live in the area, I highly recommend you pack the family into he car and get to the Minnesota Zoo for this wonderful exhibit — but hurry! It’s only onen through Labor Day.

Ticket information is available on the Minnesota Zoo website.

And lest we forget, the main point of the exhibit is to excite and stimulate the young minds with a love of science and dinosaurs!

It sure worked for my kids! Plus, while they’re exploring and playing, you get more time to reminisce over your favorite dinosaur toys in the DiNostalgia exhibit!

dinosaur exhibit Minnesota Zoo

2016-06-05 13.43.19

2016-06-05 13.50.45

(Video) Monsterama Episode 20 – Aurora Monster Model Kits

Aurora Monster Model Kits Are Definitive Monster Kid Collectibles

Aurora Monster Model Kits

What can we say about the Aurora monster model kits that hasn’t been said many times before?

Of all the great monster toys and merchandise available during the mid-20th Century classic monster heyday, nothing rivals the Aurora monster model kits for their impact on Monster Kids of the 1960s and 70s.

From the mesmerizing James Bama box art, to the highly detailed sculpts by Bill Lemon and Ray Meyers, these model kits were true pop art.  Kids spent endless hours assembling, painting and starting at these fantastic works of imagination.

This episode of Monsterama digs into the monster models of Aurora Plastics Corporation in all their versions of their monster model kits up and through to the Polar Lights re-issues of the 1990s.  Sit back and get ready for a sweet trip down nostalgia lane, fellow Monster Kids!

Collecting Aurora Monster Model Kits:

 

Schiffer Collectors Guide to Aurora Model Kits

Over 450 color photographs enhance this comprehensive history and guide to Aurora models. The Aurora empire was once the worlds largest producer of hobby products. Here, corporation executives, sculptors, artists, and engineers who created Auroras models tell the story in their own words. Every model Aurora made is described in detail, with information on reissues.  Published in 2007, market values are a bit dated, but this is still a very useful reference guide that I use frequently.
Aurora Model Kits Collectors Guide Aurora Model Kits (Schiffer Book for Collectors)

Aurora Monster Scenes – The Most Controversial Toys of a Generation

Rated X…for Excitement!  This book is dedicated to one of the great debacles of the toy & hobby industry. Written and presented by the men behind the Monster Scenes, then and now, this is a must-read book for fans and collectors alike. Andrew P. Yanchus, original Aurora Project Manager in 1971, opens his vault of artifacts and doles out his first-hand anecdotes of the series that went so wrong.

Aurora Monster Scenes Book
Aurora Monster Scenes – The Most Controversial Toys of a Generation


The Aurora Monsters: The Model Craze That Gripped the World

Produced by Cortland Hull and hosted by Zacherly, this two hour DVD features in-depth interviews, a wax sculpture demonstration, rare photos, sketches & promotional material related to Aurora, never seen by the public. – 1 hour 45 minutes, plus a “Zacherley, behind-the-scenes” bonus feature.

Vintage Dinosaur Toys

I Love Dinosaur Toys

Before monsters entered my world, there were dinosaurs.  As I have detailed in previous posts, dinosaurs were my gateway to monsters and played an influential part in my becoming a full-fledged Monster Kid.

In reality, my favorite kind of monster movie usually includes a dinosaur or derivative thereof — atomic behemoths rampaging through modern cities,  inhabiting lost worlds accidentally discovered by modern man or, in more recent incarnations, terrorizing mad scientists who recreated them using their DNA.

With Jurassic World stomping the competition at the box office this summer, I’ve been focusing on some of my favorite dinosaur-infested classic movie posters and it only makes sense to broaden the scope to dinosaur collectibles of all kinds.

In today’s post, I’ll provide a general overview of vintage dinosaur toys including companies that manufactured them over the decades and highlight some of the unique products released over the years.  In the coming weeks, I’ll dig deeper into some of these companies and products included in today’s overview.

Early 20th Century

Toy dinosaurs have been around for almost since the first fossils were discovered.  In a segment I wrote profiling toys from the 1933 King Kong, I highlighted a terrific jigsaw puzzle of Kong battling a T-Rex.  Early examples of prehistoric animal toys include a metal Brontosaurus and Sabre-Tooth Tiger from 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  There are other examples of lead, metal and wooden dinosaur toys from the first half of the 20th Century, but it was in the 1950s that dinosaur toys really came to prominence.

1950s Rise of the Dinosaur Toys

Early dinosaur toy makers include Ajax (1950s-1960s), Marx (1955-1963; 1971-1979), MPC (1964-1970s), and Timmee (1960s-present).

Most of the dinosaur toys in the early days were no bigger than a few inches and many were originally packaged in playsets that included plastic rocks, plants, and cavemen.  Since access to dinosaur information was limited back then, many of the toy makes, like Marx and MPC, imprinted the animal name on their tail or body.

Of the toys just mentioned, Marx dinosaur toys are the most detailed, best crafted, and most desired among collectors and I’ll cover them in detail in a future post.

By the late 1960s, dinosaur toys were cooling off and monsters, G I Joe and space toys were captivating kids imaginations.

1970s Revival

Thanks to popular kids shows like Land of the Lost, dinosaurs were back in the forefront by the early 1970s and many of the companies already discussed began re-issuing and expanding the prehistoric offerings to include cave people and Ice Age mammals.

Other companies near and dear to Monster Kids were in the dino toy business as well and are worth spending some time.  Aurora Model Company, in particular, was very successful with their Prehistoric Scenes collection in the 1970s, which are near to my heart because I had the entire set when I was a wee lad.  Additionally, in 1976 Mego  released a collection of prehistoric people and animals based on the movie One Million Years B.C.

1990s Jurassic Park

While dinosaur toys never went away, the 1980s saw a shift toward dinosaurs recast as action figures and included in play sets that are outside the scope of Collecting Classic Monsters.  But the release of Jurassic Park in 1993 resulted in a boom in reissues of classic dinosaur toys as well as Kenner‘s Jurassic Park collection — all of which we will explore further in the coming weeks.

So, lots of ground to cover in the coming weeks.

But I recognize that I can’t simply publish a post that lists what I plan to write about in the future and expect you to trust me with your valuable spare reading time.  So let’s wrap up with an in-depth review of an interesting and highly collectible line of dinosaur toys from the 1950s that were offered as premiums inside cans of coffee from an Austrian company.

Linde Coffee Premiums

Austrian coffee company, Linde Coffee, offered soft plastic animals as premiums in their herbal coffee substitute which had become popular during World War II when regular coffee was scarce.   Among the premiums were 8 prehistoric figures that are now highly collectible and really quite impressive in their design.

One of the most desirable aspects of Linde figures is the unlimited combination of colored marbling and many of these are quite handsome in coloring.  The 1950’s issued figures range in colour from pale green through, orange, brown, red, blue, grey to black. More usually they’re a mix of darker green/grey. Each figure is marked with the animal name and company name, Linde, but they are not dated.

© 1990, 2001 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. All rights reserved.
© 1990, 2001 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. All rights reserved.

Like the figures in the Marx “Prehistoric Times” toy sets, the Linde animals  were modeled after paintings by Charles Knight and Rudolph Zallinger’s ‘Age of Reptiles’ mural  now housed  at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The 110-foot-long and 16-foot-high painting chronicles the evolutionary history of the planet from 362 million years ago (the Devonian Period) to 65 million years ago (the Cretaceous). First engaged when he was a Yale Fine Arts student, Zallinger took more than 4 1/2 years to complete the project. The mural represents the best available scientific knowledge of the 1940s, and won Zallinger the 1949 Pulitzer Award for Painting.

Total of 8 Dinosaur Figures:

Tyrannosaurus – Linde

Linde T-Rex

Stegosaurus – Linde

Linde Coffee Stegosaurus 1950s

Triceratops – Linde

Line Coffee Triceratops 1950s

Ankylosaurus – Linde

Line Coffee Ankylosaurus 1950s

Dimetrodon – Linde

Line Coffee Dimetrodon 1950s

Brontosaurus – Linde

Line Coffee Brontosaurus 1950s

Spenacodon – Linde

Linde Coffee Spenecodon 1950s

Images courtesy of Dinotoyblog

Rhamphorhynchus is the rarest and most sought after Linde figure

Line Coffee Rhamphorhynchus 1950s

image courtesy of Copper Collection

A complete set of 8 recently sold on eBay for $80

_____________________________________________________

Dinosaur Collectible Resources:

Guide to Identifying and Selling Dinosaur Toys on eBay

Dinosaur Toys Collectors Guide

Jurassic Park Action Figures

I highly recommend these books, both of which are in my reference library and were referenced in writing this article:

Dinosaurs by the Decades; (2014) Randy Moore

Dinosaur Collectibles; (1999) Cain & Fredericks

Jaws Collectibles – Modern Movie Memorabilia

Jaws Collectibles

We wrap our series on Jaws collectibles with a look at more recent and current movie memorabilia.  Many collectors don’t simply focus on vintage and antique, but rather on a film or character and there are many companies producing high quality merchandise from classic characters.  Jaws is no exception and the 40th Anniversary has led to a bit of a boom in modern Jaws collectibles.

Hallmark Christmas Ornament

Jaws Hallmark Christmas OrnamentHallmark has gotten into the movie monster business with a dedicated line of movie monster Christmas ornaments.  While some may have doubts about hanging Frankenstein Monster or this Jaws ornament on their Christmas tree, the high quality sculpts and reasonable price point have made these part of many collectors’ year-round displays rather than December holiday fare.

This ornament was released in 2014 along with several other movie monster ornaments and is marked with ‘2014’ on the ornament.

  • Press the button on the ornament to hear the heart-pounding theme music from this iconic film.
  • Batteries included.
  • 2.61″ W x 2.3″ H x 5.67″ D
  • MSRP $17.95

While you can probably find this ornament on clearance at a local Hallmark shop if you look hard enough, the keepsake ornaments are produced in a given year and then discontinued, building collectibility into their business model.

As a result, most current listings for this ornament on eBay and Amazon are in the $40-$50 range.

McFarlane Toys Deluxe Box Set

McFarlane Toys Jaws Diorama

McFarlane Toys is manufacturing arm of artist Todd McFarlane‘s empire and is known for extremely detailed sculpts on his action figures and models.  Here’s a nice quick video review of the Jaws diorama to give you more detail on this collectible:

Released as part of the Movie Maniacs Set 4 Collection, this diorama has incredible detail and even includes a Quint action figure that comes apart in the middle for total realism.

  • Released October 2001
  • Scale: 6-inch
  • MSRP: $29.99

This box set has really appreciated in price with current listings in the $300+ range.

Current listing on Amazon for $400.

eBay: Current eBay listings include one that is still in the $140 range with multiple bids.

Sideshow Maquette

Sideshow Jaws Maquette 28 inch

Sideshow Collectibles never takes short-cuts on the sculpts for their maquettes and their Jaws statue is no exception.  I’ll refer you to this comprehensive review over at MWCToys.com since I don’t actually own this maquette myself.

This thing is massive in size, measuring 28″ in length and 16″ wide.

  • Released 2006
  • Limited Edition 250
  • Sculptor: Mat Falls
  • MSRP: $280
  • Exclusive version included printed reproductions of Frank Wurmser’s original drawings and blueprints for the mechanical shark in the film.

Current listing on Amazon for $900.

No current listings on eBay though the average price for recent auctions had been $500.

Funko ReAction Action Figures

Funko’s retro-style ReAction line is a bit friendlier on the pocketbook and is just hitting the shelves this month.  The Jaws line contains Amity’s local police chief Martin Brody, professional shark hunter Quint, and Matt Hooper, a marine biologist. You’ll also find a super-sized figure of Bruce the Great White Shark:

Funko ReAction Jaws Chief Brody

Funko ReAction Jaws Quint

Funko ReAction Jaws Hooper

Funko ReAction Jaws Bruce Shark

The complete set is available for $45 at Amazon.com

Perhaps the most collectible of the lot is this gory 2015 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive of Bruce the Shark making a meal out of Quint:

SDCC Exclusive Jaws with Quint

Finally,  check this out:

 40th Anniversary Jaws Edition Yahtzee Game

40th Anniversary Jaws Yahtzee game

Click the link to see this Yahtzee set at Entertainment Earth and a whole lot more modern Jaws memorabilia, many items commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the film.

Summary

40 years ago, Jaws broke box-office records and became the first summer blockbuster.  In a similar fashion, Jaws became the prototype for product licensing.  I remember shark merchandise being everywhere in the mid-70s.  The legacy of this film and the strength of its fanbase are evident given the amount of new licensed products that continue to be released around the 40th Anniversary of this movie.  Jaws collectibles are as varied in price and quality as any classic monster.  While the Universal Monsters have a 40 yearned start on Bruce the shark, I’m impressed with the diversity and range of collectibles for this film.

For a really deep dive into the world of Jaws collecting, I recommend you visit JawsCollector.com a site that focuses specifically on, well, Jaws collectibles.

Be sure to read the rest of my Jaws Collectibles series and let me know if I left any of your favorites out.  Enjoy!

Jaws Collectibles – Rack Toys

Jaws Collectibles – Rack Toys

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a look back at Jaws merchandise from the 1970s, both official and unofficial.  As one of the first movies to really capitalize on licensing, Jaws has become the prototype for blockbuster movies ever since.  Of course, licensed toys don’t necessarily equate to quality as we’ll see in this week’s focus on Jaws-themed rack toys.

Rack Toys

What are rack toys, you ask?  Let’s defer to the man who, in my opinion, is the definitive subject matter expert, Brian Heller.  Heller is the author of Rack Toys: Cheap, Crazed Plaything and the mastermind behind the website Plaid Stallions where all things 1970s are celebrated.

A rack toy is a fun toy that broke really easily. They’re impulse items, toys that usually weren’t TV-advertised or sold at toy stores. If they were sold at a place like Toys “R” Us, they were in the front aisle, that kind of gifty aisle. But rack toys were primarily sold through five-and-dimes, pharmacies, or variety stores, all similar to dollar stores today.

Rack Toys: Cheap, Crazed Playthings

Anyone who was a kid in the 1960s through the 1980s remembers these well — they were often the easiest things to talk parents into simply because they were cheap.

Ironically, the fact that they weren’t made to last is exactly what makes them so collectible today — they had scarcity built right in.

Jaws, and for that matter, sharks, was perfect fodder for rack toy manufacturers.   Simple designs without any real character elements made it easy to churn out generic sharks and label them as official Jaws toys.  These throw-away toys are now some of the most highly sought after Jaws collectibles.

Imperial Toys

One of the cool things they do over at previously-referenced Plaid Stallions is provide scans from 1970s  consumer and business catalogs.  Here’s a page from the 1976 Imperial Toy catalog showing the different licensed Jaws products they offered:

Imperial Toys Catalog 1976 Jaws Toys

See the rest of the 1976 Imperial Toy catalog at PlaidStallions.com

Chemtoy

Another toy company that was capitalized on the Jaws craze was Chemtoy.  They were already making rubber sharks when the movie hit and were smart enough to become a licensee and simply slap a Jaws sticker on their current loose shark toys.

Here’s mine.  He’s in pretty rough shape and I can’t tell you if he was pre-license or post.  I don’t recall him ever having the Jaws sticker, but even if he did his time on the bath tub, pool and ocean would have taken care of that.

Chemtoy Jaws Hard Rubber Shark Chesty Hard Rubber Shark Jaws

I’m not sure if the dog got ahold of him or if one of my younger siblings used him for a chew toy, but he’s clearly seen better days. Hardly in the ‘collectible’ category at this point, but fun to have anyway.

With license in hand, Chemtoy released a carded version of this same hard rubber shark and also introduced a carded soft rubber shark, which has become quite collectible and rather rare.  The picture below is from a listing on eBay for $399.

Chemtoy Jaws Rubber Shark

Click this link to see all current eBay listings for these toys.

My recollection of the mid-70s is of shark toys being everywhere.  I spent my summers at my grandmother’s place in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Jaws-mania was alive and well in this beach resort.  As a kid, I didn’t care if the shark toy was official or not  and I had Jaws beach towel as well as multiple shark/Jaws t-shirts.  Since I didn’t see the movie, I wasn’t afraid of the water the way so many others were.  I just remember loving all the shark stuff and consuming as much of it as I could talk my parents into letting me get.

What was your favorite Jaws / shark toy?

It’s Frankenstein Friday!

 

TGI Frankenstein – Christopher Lee Style

Curse of Frankenstein Mani-Yack Style Transfer

We’re continuing our focus on Sir Christopher Lee this week and what better way to wrap up the week than with his iconic role as the Frankenstein Monster in

Artist Jeff Carlson has done an incredible job of recreating the 1960’s style of the classic iron-on transfers by Mani-Yack and adding monsters not included in those classic collectibles.

His version of the Creature is simply awesome and available for $4.95 at Jeff’s Etsy store.  Click here to visit Jeff’s Etsy store and see his entire collection.

Happy Weekend, y’all!

Jaws Collectibles – Parodies & Knock-Offs

Jaws Collectibles – Parodies and Knock-Offs

We’ve been exploring Jaws collectibles and movie memorabilia for the last week or so and I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of those items that rode the wave of Jaws success, albeit unofficially.

Unlicensed merchandise is nothing new in the world of pop culture.  It’s almost guaranteed that anything successful will be quickly copied, imitated, blatantly ripped off as well as parodied.  The immense commercial success of Jaws at the box office made it a licensing bonanza, but the nature of the subject matter made it quite easy for unlicensed companies to jump on the money machine.  After all, Universal Studios couldn’t exactly license Great White Sharks!

By the summer of 1976, sharks were showing up on everything imaginable, from beach towels to t-shirts,  from rack toys to magazine covers.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the more impactful Jaws parodies and knock-offs.

Mr. Jaws & Other Fables by Dickie Goodman

Who doesn’t remember this silly song?

Dickie Goodman released the first cut-in parody record in 1956 called The Flying Saucers Part 1 & 2.  Almost twenty years later, he was still at it with his parody of Jaws.   This record sold over 1MM copies and hit #4 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1975.

Check out this really interesting article about Mr. Goodman and his cut-in records at 7 inches of 70s Pop blog.

Mr Jaws ‘sampled’ 13 hit songs, including the Theme from Jaws by John Williams.  None of the artists sampled received a penny in royalties from the sales of Mr Jaws.  On the album version of Mr. Jaws, both “Please Mr. Please” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” were replaced by re-recorded budget sound-alike renditions.

I had this album, along with others like Goofy Greats which I played incessantly in those days.  I thought these songs were hysterical.  While it’s fun to hear it again after all these years, I’m honestly not sure what I found so funny about it…

Almost hard to call this album a collectible given that the vinyl album sells for $10 and the single for less than $5 on eBay.  There are a number of current listings on eBay for both the single and the album all reasonably priced.

 Mad Magazine #180 (January 1976)

Mad Magazine Jaws Cover 1976 This cover was painted by Mort Kunstler who adopted the pseudonym “Mutz” out of content that doing a cover for MAD would hurt his career.  This is the only cover he ever did for the magazine, even though the publisher asked him to do all future covers after this one turned out so well.  Steven Spielberg now owns the original painting for this cover.

These are pretty easy to get your hands on and a number are currently available on eBay.  Recent eBay sales range in price from $3.99 – $6.99 for copies in VG condition and there are a number of current listings on eBay

Topps Wacky Packages

Jaws Spoof Wacky Sticker Gums

Wacky Packages were stickers released by Topps Chewing Gum Company beginning in 1967 that parodied common household products as well as popular culture.  They were immensely popular with kids in the 1970s.

Each pack contained 2 stickers, a piece of gum and a checklist.  The Wacky Packages parody of Jaws, called “Gums”  was part of the 15th series, which Topps released in July 1975.

Wacky Packages 15th Series Checklist

Wacky Packages have surged in collectibility in recent years and ‘Gums’ single cards can easily demand $15-$20 for a high-grade card.  A current listing on eBay starts at $16.99.

Knock-offs & Unlicensed Merchandise

Jaws Unlicensed Gumball Stickers

Here’s a great example of an unlicensed product that went so far as to even use the name ‘jaws’ but keeping it just generic enough by tagging the word ‘shark’ in front.  This was a bubble gum machine display card and a nice copy Recently Sold on eBay for $12

I was 9 years old when Jaws was released and I spent my summers at the beach in South Carolina.  I remember sharks being imprinted on just about everything for those few summers after the film was released.

What was your favorite piece of Jaws merchandise, official or otherwise?

Jaws Collectibles – Summer of Jaws Video

Jaws Collectibles

Since we’ve been taking a look at collectible memorabilia for the movie Jaws, which is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary this summer, I thought I’d share this cool video by Ralph Grassi from his website Funchase.com celebrating the Jersey Shore of his childhood.

Called ‘The Summer of Jaws’ this video is a time capsule from that summer of 1975 when we were all scared to go in the water but loved going to the movie theater.  Hope you all enjoy this video and then I highly recommend checking out Funchase.com 

Be sure to check out Funchase.com on YouTube as well! Happy weekend everyone!