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.

(Video) Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest Trailer

Less Than One Week Until This Geek Collector Series Premieres!

Contrary to public perception, collecting is a social sport.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a collector is being part of the larger collector community.  Thanks to social media, the proliferation of collector events and comic-cons, collectors have an abundance of options to commune over every collectible imaginable.  It’s always a treat to see pictures of other collectors’ stuff – from new finds to creative displays.  Now, we have our own TV series hosted by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

Turns out Mark is a collector himself and his new series will feature him visiting some majorly impressive collectors as well as taking us behind the scenes of some of our favorite pop culture creators.  The show is called Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest and if debuts on November 15 on Comic-ConHQ, the streaming service owned by San Diego Comic Con.

Yep — you saw that right, Mark is going to take us for a tour of Bob’s basement with the one-and-only Bob Burns! The series’ Executive Producer and vintage monster toy collector Scott Kinney assured me that there are LOTS of monster goodies in this first season.

You have to subscribe to watch the show, but it’s free for 30 days, so binge the first season and then you decide if you want to keep the subscription.  You can subscribe at Comic-ConHQ.com

 

Celebrate October with Our Classic Monster Magazine Challenge

The Greatest Classic Monster Magazine of All Time? You Decide!

Classic Monster Magazine Challenge Bracket

It’s October.  Or, as we call it here at CCM, The 31 Days of Halloween. No matter what you call it, we can all agree it’s the most wonderful time of year and to celebrate, we’re hosting our first-ever March-Madness style competition featuring those classic monster magazines of the 1960s and 70s.

Each day for the rest of the month, we will pit  2 classic monster movie magazines against each other and you, fellow Monster Kids, will choose who goes home and who lives to fight another day. The competition will occur on  the Collecting Classic Monsters Twitter and Facebook pages.

To participate, just follow us on Twitter @CollectMonsters or Like us on Facebook.com/CollectingClassicMonsters  where we will post the daily competition,  announce the previous day’s winner and share details on each magazine title included in this year’s challenge.

In case you’re wondering why certain magazines aren’t included, here’s the criteria used for our selection:

  • originally published beginning during the primary Monster Kid era of the 1960s and 70s
  • First issue appeared prior to 1980
  • Editorial focus on Classic Monsters and Monster Kid genre films, not Horror or Sci-Fi exclusively
  • Magazines must be editorial/fanzine focused rather than comic anthologies such as Creepy or Vampirella

That said, let us know if there are glaring omissions from our list so we can include them in our next competition — there’s no grand prize here; just some fun in the digital clubhouse for Monster Kids and Collectors.

And while you’re at it, check out our Monster Magazine Archives to read up on all the past articles we’ve written about one of our favorite collectible categories!

Classic Monster Kid Ads: The Moon Monster & Horror Fan Club

This Iconic Vintage Ad Captured The Collective Imaginations of Monster Kids Everywhere!

Moon Monster 1970 Comic Book Ad

If you grew up in the 1960s or 70s, and you read comic books or monster magazines, chances are you came across this ad.  You may remember it as an ad for the Absolutely FREE Giant Life-Size Moon  Monster (which was actually a black and white poster):

Moon Monster Poster

When you look closer, you’ll notice this ad offered so much more than just the poster.  In fact, the poster is only one of the benefits of joining the Horror Fan Club! 

Look What you Get

Life Size reproduction of a Movie Monster (see above)

12 4×5 glossy photos of your favorite Movie Monsters:

Horror Fan Club glossy movie monster photos

Monster Fan Club membership card and Badge:

Horror Fan Club Membership Card 1970

Horror Fan Club Badge

Official Club Bulletin showing latest Monster Films releases complete with pictures and stories!

Horror Fan Club Newsletter 1970

Its all FREE when you join the Monster Fan Club

Membership Fee $1. 00 – No Dues or Other Charges

You’ll note that this Fan Club was called the Horror Fan Club in magazines, but the four-color comic book version of the ad changed the name to the Monster Fan Club, presumably to get around the Comic Code Authority.  While the ad was CCA approved, all the paper you got for joining the club said Horror Fan Club regardless of whether joined the Horror Fan Club or the Monster Fan Club.  Doubtless, this led to plenty of head-scratching by those who joined through the comic-book ad.

But wait! That’s not all!

Extra Bonus!  3 MONSTER MASKS

Terrifying life-like reproductions of Movie Monsters.

They’re Ghostly. They’re Frightening! 

Horror Fan Club Monster Masks

Horror Fan Club Frankenstein Mask

Horror Fan Club Werewolf Mask

Horror Fan Club Monster Mask

All of this and a Money Back Guarantee too!   Of course, what the ad didn’t specify, the masks were actually pictures of monster masks.  All in all, the entirety of the Fan Club package consisted of pieces of paper and a pin-back button, making the membership kit actually worth about the one dollar membership fee (plus postage).

I stared at this ad for hours, month after month,  year after year, but I never joined the club or knew anyone who did.  In retrospect, I’m sure I would have been disappointed in the reality of these items.  Like most of the novelties advertised in comic books and monster magazines of that time, the ads fueled my imagination and I cherish them for it.


More recently, multi-media artist Jason Willis pulled all of this nostalgic greatness together into one multi-media treat for us in one of his annual Halloween projects.  Watch his version of  a TV spot for the Horror Fan Club below and then visit his website to download your own Horror Fan Club life-like monster masks and member kit:

Moon Monster – Animated Horror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970) from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

So what about you, reader? Did you ever succumb to the siren’s call of this magical Fan Club? Did this incredible life-like giant monster poster adorn your bedroom wall?  Did you found a local chapter of the Horror Fan Club in your basement? Share your memories with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

(Video) Relive Your 1960s Monster Kid Childhood Through FLIP

Meet Flip, a 1960s Monster Kid That Would Have Been My Best Friend

Flip a Short Film about a 1960s Monster Kid

The short film FLIP: a short film follows the exploits of a 1960s Monster Kid who, flush with birthday money from his grandmother, turns directly to the siren’s call of those wondrous novelty ads in the back of his (and our) favorite comic books.  It’s a perfect way to kick off our series focused on vintage Monster Kid advertising and gets right to the heart of being a Monster Kid during the peak years of the 60s Monster Boom and why so many of us are collectors  today.  

Flip: a short film was written and directed by Kirk Desmarais, a comic book mail order historian who is perhaps best known for his wonderful book Mail-Order Mysteries (by the way, if you don’t have this book you need to click the link and order it from Amazon now; we won’t start the film without you so hurry back).  

Welcome back! You’re really going to enjoy the book.

FLIP won the RONDO award for best independent film in 2004 and I absolutely adore it!

Without further commentary, enjoy the show:

Flip: a short film is jam-packed with some of the most memorable mail order ads from 60s Monster Kid era and is a perfect companion short to our feature focus on those wonderful vintage advertisements.  In no particular order, Flip features:

Topstone Werewolf Mask:

Topstond Werewolf Mask

Topstone Shock Monster Mask:

Topstone Shock Monster Mask Print Ad

Moon Loon Window Decal:

Moon Loon Hot Rod Decal

Monster-Sized Monsters Frankenstein’s Monster:

Monster-Size Monsters Vintage Comic Ad

Be sure to pay close attention when Flip heads into his bedroom at the 1:50 mark — it’s a vintage monster toy windfall!

The film was produced by, and guest stars fellow Monster Kid and vintage toy collector Scott Kinney, aka KidKosmic, who is producing the must-see show of the fall, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Questwhich will air on Comic-ConHQ.

Check out more of Kirk’s multi-media magic at his blog, SecretFunSpot and his portfolio website KirkDemarais.com

Does this bring back memories for you? Did you have experiences similar to Flip?  Share your memories of those wonderful ads, and not so wonderful products, with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CollectingClassicMonsters/

Vintage Advertising for Mattel’s Fright Factory

This Halloween, We’re Focusing On Vintage Ads for Monster Kid Toys

Mattel Fright Factory

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we’re celebrating with a month-long focus on vintage advertising for all the things us Monster Kids love.  From Captain Company mail order pages in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland to TV commercials, we’ve lined up a wonder-fest of nostalgia. So buckle up, Monster Kids, it’s time to step into the Time Machine and set the dials to childhood!  And we kick off our series with none other than Mattel’s Fright Factory, one of the greatest toys ever made!

Mattel Fright Factory 1966 Ad

Let’s head back to 1966, the year of my birth, and spend some time with the wonderful Fright Factory from Mattel.  Part of the Thingmaker line up, Fright Factory enabled kids to create plastic molds by pouring a substance known as “Plasti-Goop” into a professional-grade  hot plate — which could reach temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit!  This toy line makes pretty much every Most Dangerous Toys Ever list, but kids loved it.  Toxic fumes and extremely hot metal — what more could a Monster Kid ask for?

Here’s the 1966 TV Commercial for Fright Factory:

This write-up on this wonderfully dangerous toy appeared in a 1966 issue of Jack & Jill magazine, courtesy of MagicCarpetBurn :

Jack & Jill Magazine 1966 Fright Factory Article

And since we’re having so much fun reliving this glorious toy, here’s the full instruction manual for your reading pleasure:

Fright Factory Mattel Instruction Manual

Mattel Fright Factory Instructions Page 1 & 2

Mattel Fright Factory Instructions Page 3 & 4

Mattel Fright Factory Instructions Page 5 & 6

Mattel Fright Factory Instructions Page 7

Finally, we wrap up this focus on the Fright Factory with this fabulously freaky print ad:

Mattel Fright Factory Print Ad

Do you remember these ads, 60s Monster Kids? Share your stories with us in the comments section below!

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

The Twilight Zone Board Game by Ideal (1964)

This Vintage Twilight Zone Game is Rare & Highly Collectible

The Twilight Zone Board Game by Ideal

Picture if you will, 1 to 4 players spending a rainy afternoon enjoying a 1964 board game released by Ideal, the players don’t know it yet but they’ve just begun to play…The Twilight Zone.

Thanks to social media, I learned that today, is National Twilight Zone Day and,while I have no idea why it falls on May 11 (as it apparently does every year), it is a day  I was lurking around the internet this morning and stumbled upon this board game of one of the essential Monster Kid  TV series of all time., The Twilight Zone.

…but I’ve been unable to find any information in regards to how the game play actually worked beyond this description: “In 1964, Ideal released a board game, simply titled The Twilight Zone Game, at the height of the show’s popularity. The game consisted of a cardboard playing surface, 4 colored playing pieces, a colored spinning wheel and 12 “door” playing cards.”

Ideal Twilight Zone Game Inside Box Cover Instructions

If my web search for listings of the board game are any indication, this is a pricey collectible.  In fact, there was only one Current eBay listings which is at $150 mid-auction.  Recently completed sales for this game on eBay ranged from $143 into the upper $200s. At that price, I’ll be spending my collectible budget on games I actually played, but I’m curious if any readers have any recollections of playing the Twilight Zone Board Game? Anyone have this in their collection now?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Kenner’s Coolest Controversy: 1979 Alien Action Figure

Celebrate Alien Day With The Kenner 1979 Alien Action Figure

Kenner Alien Action Figure in Box 1979Kenner Alien Action Figure 1979 Box

So, 20th Century Fox has created a new Monster Kid holiday with the  first ever ALIEN DAY on April 26th, and it’s being billed as a global celebration of the ALIEN franchise. The day will be marked by all sorts of special festivities and product releases, not the least of which is a 20-city double feature re-release of ALIEN and ALIENS – at the screening of ALIENS at New York City venue The Town Hall, complete with a  Sigourney Weaver appearance.

I was 11 eleven years old when Alien hit the theaters and, still riding the Sci-Fi high of Star Wars two years earlier, I convinced my parents to let me and my little brother see the movie at the theater.  This was a big deal — I had never seen an R-rated movie and my Mom walked us to the ticket booth, bought our tickets and gave permission to the theater employee for us to see the movie.  Then she left…. Needless to say, Alien made a lasting impression on my brother and I!

It’s impossible to talk about Alien 1979 without spending some time on one of the most controversial – and coolest – monster toys of the 1970s.   Kenner was still riding high on their Star Wars license and decided to jump on the next big Sci-Fi franchise to come along.  There was only one problem: Alien was an R-rated movie and the creature was terrifying!

Here’s Kenner’s original TV commercial:

Despite Kenner’s best efforts, and a beautifully designed toy, sales were poor.  Parents thought it was too scary and raised a ruckus.   Kids, most of whom didn’t have parents like mine, couldn’t see the movie and thus weren’t bugging parents for the toy.  Most kids didn’t even know what the monster looked like.  The result; retail sales were bad and Kenner canceled the rest of the planned Alien lineup.

Kenner 1979 Alien Action Figure Face

Kenner Alien 1979 Action Figure Instructions

Collectors Notes

This action figure is a collector’s collectible.  The simple fact that this toy didn’t sell well means there are less available to collect.  Combine that with the fact the Alien franchise has continued to grow in popularity through the years and you get the perfect combination of high demand and low supply.  Scarcity is the main driver of price in collectibles and it is almost impossible to get one of these action figure in-box and good condition for below $1,000.  Not bad considering it cost $ in 1979.  Loose figures are much more common, but even they command $500+ in good condition,

Several of these toys – both boxed and loose – are currently available at eBay, Check out Current eBay auctions here.

2014 Gentle Giant Jumbo Alien

Gentle Giant released a 24″ Jumbo figure scaled off of the original 18″ figure Kenner for Christmas 2014.  The likeness and attention to detail are terrific, all the way down to the packaging:

Gentle Giant 24" Jumbo Alien Action Figure

With a retail price of $499, this isn’t a toy, but it is probably less expensive than a 1979 Kenner Alien in good condition!  You can still get the Gentle Giant figure at retail pricing at the usual places:  EntertainmentEarth.

I found one for $283 + shipping at Amazon which is as reasonably priced as I’ve seen in quite  a while.  Click here to see it on Amazon.

With Ridley Scott‘s Alien prequel Alien: Covenant  headed our way in the near future, there is little reason to believe the Kenner Alien action figure will do anything but continue to increase in demand and value over time.

Of course, commerce is the driving force behind our new favorite holiday, so there are a whole bunch of new collectibles headed our way on ALIEN DAY.

To see some of the new merchandise, check out EntertainmentEarth’s Alien store.

Resources:

Classic Monster Trading Cards: Topps Creature Feature

You’ll Die Laughing With These Glorious Bubble Gum Cards

TOPPS Creature Feature Trading Card Deck

By now, most of you readers know I am a 1970s Monster Kid.  While Monster Mania was to end by the end of that decade, the early 70s was still a wonderland of phantasmagoric merchandise.  By 1973, I was 7 years old, well on my way to Monster Kid-dom,  and one of my favorite places in the world was the local Get-n-Go convenience store.  The comic book spinner rack was a treasure trove of excitement, the latest issue of Famous Monsters was usually on the magazine stand and then there were the bubble gum cards!   

From Wacky Stickers, to Planet of the Apes and eventually to Star Wars,  bubble gum cards held me in rapture for a decade, and in many ways they still do.   The height of that rapture was Topps Creature Feature cards.  It was like Famous Monsters with bubble gum! Each package a mystery with cards featuring pun-filled jokes and marvelous movie still from movies I had yet to see!

Topps Creature Feature Trading Cards

Released in 1973, Topps Creature Feature cards featured licensed black and white movie stills from the classic Universal Studios and American International Studios. 

Series 1 included cards 1-64:

                               Card #34:   Topps Creature Feature Card #34 1st Series   Topps Creature Feature Card Back #34 First Series   Series 2 includes cards #65-128

                                Card #66: Topps Creature Feature Card 2nd Series #66 Mole People                                 Back:Topps Creature Feature 2nd Series #66 Card Back                               Card #78:Topps Creature Feature Series 2 #78

Topps Creature Feature Card #78 2nd Series

The back of the cards used the same “You’ll Die Laughing” headline and purple illustrated border as the original 1959 Funny Monsters cards and included a marginally funny monster joke.

Because of this, all three Topps card sets, from 1959 to 1980, are often referred to as You’ll Die Laughing cards.  That title most appropriately refers to the 1959 Topps Funny Monsters cards which  featured illustrations of monsters rather than licensed movie stills.  Not only did Topps use the same headline and border in all three series, they used the same corny jokes in both 1973 and 1980 series as had originally run in 1959!

We’ll cover those wonderful Funny Monsters 1959 cards in a future article.

Topps Reissued Creature Feature in 1980

Largely a reissue of the 1973 Topps You’ll Die Laughing set with many of the same images and captions, about 33% of the 1980 cards were new images, but the primary difference is the wrapping:

1980 Topps Trading Cards Creature Features PackagingAs well as the addition of color borders to the 88-card set, which is helpful determine the set these cards belong to:

1980 Topps Creature Feature trading cards

1980 Topps Creature Feature sets included one of 22 stickers in each package  Labeled “The Monster Hall of Fame,” these  stickers are quite inexpensive and easy to track down.

Topps 1980 Creature Feature Sticker Mr Hyde

Topps Creature Features Monster Hall of Fame Stickers 1980

Base sets are affordable as well.  For collectors on a budget, the 1980 cards are a less expensive place to start collecting.

Collecting Monster Trading Cards

Creature Feature cards from 1973 and 1980 series are quite easy to find both as single cards and in lots.  It may take a bit if effort to piece together the entire series as lots often are incomplete.  But with time and diligence, assembling a full series is very doable.

Single cards usually range from $1 -$2 and sets are usually in the same per-card price range times the number of cards included in the lot.  It is common to find complete display boxes for the 1980 series, though much less common to find 1973 sealed display boxes.

Interestingly, many of the original 1973 proofs are currently listed on eBay for fixed price of $320 each.  It’s a really unique collectible, but it would obviously be quite an investment to piece together a large collection of these

Here’s an example:

Topps Creature Feature #4 Proof

Certificate of Authentic Topps Creature Feature Proof

Worth taking a look, and a really unique monster collectible for the right collector!  Click here to see all the Topps Creature Feature cards currently listed on eBay

Monster Card Collecting Resources

More more in-depth information about Topp’s Creature Feature Trading Cards and collecting trading cards in general, I highly recommend these resources:

Did you collect these cards in your Monster youth? Do you still? Share your memories – and your collections – with us!