Aurora Monster Model Kits Are Definitive Monster Kid Collectibles
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 (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.
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.
Watch this video and see why collecting the Creature from the Black Lagoon is such a passion for classic monster collectors.
The last of the great Universal Monsters to come along, the Creature from the Black Lagoon swam his way into our Monster Kid hearts in glorious 3-D in 1954. This episode of Monsterama highlights the wondrous toys and collectibles made in the likeness of this classic monster and takes us on a tour of the greatest Creature collection of them all with the “Arizona Gillman” himself,creature collector John Gilbert.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive deep into collecting the Creature and cover everything from original movie posters to the more recent Sideshow Collectibles figures. Oh and don’t worry, we’ll spend some time with Hasbro‘s paint by numbers set and a little company called Arak Hamway along the way.
Toho Studios gave us the King of the Monsters in 1954 and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. While the monster’s character has evolved and morphed as many times as the monster suit, Godzilla remains an incredibly popular as evidenced by the commercial success of the Legendary Pictures 2014 release Godzilla. Toho purists might have been distressed by the American reboot but they are counting on the 2016 release of the next Toho installment in the Godzilla franchise.
The breadth of Godzilla, and related kaiju, collectibles is pretty overwhelming. With the ever growing popularity of Japanese vinyl and sofubi. kaiju figure collectibles of every size, shape and color are available. In this week’s series, we’ll focus primarily on Monster Kid related collectibles from the 1960s and 70s during the Showa period of Godzilla’s film catalog. In future posts, we’ll explore the modern collectible market and the impact of Godzilla and his pals in this increasingly popular urban vinyl category.
I highly recommend both of these books for anyone interested in Godzilla and other kaiju collectibles.
Fabulous Collectibles from TV’s First Family of Monsters
One of the most beloved TV shows of all Monster Kid-dom, The Munsters had a limited run of 2 seasons and one movie. But decades of syndication and a classic monsters aura that outlived the 60s has kept this show at the forefront of classic monster collectibles. In fact, the Lily Munster maquette by Tweeterhead was nominated for best last year’s Rondo Awards – read our article on this lovely statue from earlier this year.
This episode of Monsterama spotlights many of the original 1960s merchandise for the series and brings us to modern day collectibles. As a life-long fan who grew up watching The Munsters reruns after school, I’m have a real warm spot in my collection for anything Munsters related; including this episode of Monsterama:
Found on Amazon: Genuine LINEN BACKED 27″ x 41″ U.S. ONE SHEET VINTAGE ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTER from 1966. Issued by the studio when the film was released and meant for theatrical display. Condition: Excellent-Near Mint C8-C9. Very minimal typical fold line touch up/restoration. Looks beautiful! Well preserved.
Found on Etsy:This is a 1964 Grandpa Munster (aka, Al Lewis) doll, manufactured by Remco, from the infamous Munsters TV show. He is in excellent condition. A little more than 5″ tall. Head moves in a full 360 rotation. Rooted hair, all intact. A tiny bit of wear on the paint on this fingertips.
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.
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.
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.
Any article about collecting King Kong 1933 merchandise has to include these influential monster models from Aurora Plastics. Collecting King Kong Aurora Models is often the highlight of any King Kong collection.
It’s hard to think of any one thing that had as great an impact on the 1960s monster mania as Aurora Plastic Corporation’s monster model kits. The triumverate of Shock Theatre, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Aurora’s line of monster models almost certainly combined to create an entire generation of Monster Kids, who were lucky enough to be pre-teens in the early 1960s.
I didn’t come along until 1966, but I can relate to those Boomer kids, as I shared their wide-eyed wonder when I discovered the 1970 re-issues of these Aurora kits on the store shelves. For many, collecting classic monsters starts–and in all reality, could stop– with Aurora model kits.
King Kong wasn’t in the very first set of kits released. Kong made his debut, along with Godzilla and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, in 1963 and was an instant commercial and monster kid favorite, despite some serious scale issues (palm trees hit Kong in the ankles and Fay Wray was about knee-high).
The following is a complete listing of Aurora’s King Kong models and variations:
This book is a must-have for monster model kit collectors, and a good read for any monster kid who simply wants to learn more about these influential collectibles on the 1960s/70s monster craze.
While I’d love to see an updated edition (2nd edition was released in 2006) it has an excellent Kit Directory categorizing every kit and variation and providing useful detail to help in identifying the age / value of kits you are considering buying. This exhaustive catalog of every make/model is useful and timeless. For collectors, the price range to buy these kits today may be slightly dated, but the information on determining the age of the model kit is extremely useful when considering a purchase.
In the summer of 2014, my family visited the Minnesota History Center in St Paul. The museum has just kicked off an exhibit that I couldn’t wait to see called Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. As we worked our way through the excellent exhibit, we arrived at the 1970s room and there– right in the center of it all — was my childhood on display. An entire section dedicated to monsters and superheroes. Aurora model kits, Mego action figures and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I was immediately transported back in time; transfixed and flooded with memories that I hadn’t consciously recalled for decades.
My family was patient — and I finally continued through the rest of the exhibit, only to find myself drifting back through the crowd to the monster display. I’d be inclined to blame it on a mid-life crisis given my age, but I’ve been an active comic book collector for most of my adult life, so my passion for childish things wasn’t new– my wife was more than aware of it when she married me. No, it was the monsters. As much as I love superheroes and comics, I had forgotten the monsters. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved monsters.
When I got home that afternoon, I tracked down the collector whose toys were featured in this exhibit, and it turns out they belong to fellow Minnesotan, Dave Barnhill. According to his bio on his website SuperMonsterCity.com, “David’s collection now includes more than 200,000 items, making this Minnesota-based collection one of the largest private toy collections in America. Containing rare and highly sought after items representing toy-makers and monster creators from across the US and several foreign countries, David co-founded SuperMonster市 City! because he is eager to share his joy in toys, monsters, superheroes and villains with the world. I highly encourage checking out his site, specifically his Monster Toy Gallery.
And that’s all it took– George the Monster Kid had risen from the grave and my love of classic monsters was alive, ALIVE!
The Digital Clubhouse for Monster Kids & Collectors of Classic Monster, Retro Science Fiction and Vintage Fantasy Memorabilia