Tag Archives: famous monsters

Collecting King Kong: Aurora Model Kits

Collecting King Kong Aurora Models & Kits

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:

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1963 Aurora Magazine Ad

Catalog #468: The Original Long Box    

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Catalog #465:  Glow in the Dark Collecting-King-Kong-Aurora-Models

 

Catalog #484:  King Kong’s Thronester Collecting-King-Kong-Aurora-Models

Catalog #1623:  Luminator Neon by Revell-Monogram Collecting-King-Kong-Aurora-Models

Catalog #7507: Revell-Monogram Reissue  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended Reference Guide:

Collecting-Aurora-Models-MonstersMy go-to reference guide for all-things Aurora Model Kits is Aurora Model Kits (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Thomas Graham.

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.

I’ve added this book to our Amazon store for your convenience.

Which model kit is your favorite? Share your Kong model memories with us! We love to hear them.

Monster Kid Memories: The Library & the Giant Ape

           My First Monster Movie Begins                    A Lifelong Love Affair

King Kong Fay Wray 1933

It was the summer of 1970.  Or maybe it was 1971.  I was 4, maybe 5, years old.  My little brother had just been born and my mom, like all parents of newborns with school-age siblings, was looking for anything and everything to get me out of the house and out of her hair.  Enter summer movies at the public library and my first exposure to monster movies.  Not just any monster movie, mind you.  That was the summer I first saw King Kong.

My Origin Story

Now for a pre-schooler with a mad love for dinosaurs, this movie had me hooked from the start — adventure on a lost island full of prehistoric beasts.  Throw a giant ape into the mix and have him fight the dinos and I was a goner! I can’t recall the other movies I saw that summer, which leads me to believe they were not monster movies.  I’m sure I enjoyed them, but King Kong sticks in my memory like it was last week.  It was exciting, full of adventure- and dinosaurs. It was a bit scary at times but it was also sad. Like every other kid, I felt bad for Kong and knew from the start he wasn’t really the bad guy.  he was scared and probably home-sick.  The bad guys were the men who captured him and exploited him to get rich.  As a kid, adults control your world–parent, teachers, babysitters…and you can relate to getting in trouble because you’re out of your comfort zone, for not fitting in, for being scared and feeling alone.

For me, Kong was personal.  I understood the plight of the monster.  It was the first, but certainly not the last, time that I found myself rooting for the ‘monster’ and being sad when he, inevitably, would lose.

From Dinosaurs to Classic Monsters

I don’t know if that was the same day I discovered that they wrote books about movie monsters, but it wasn’t long after seeing Kong on the tiny library television that I was scouring the library for any and everything I could find about the monsters of the movies.  And the 1970s were a time when kids books about classic movie monsters were plentiful.

Meeting the Classic Monsters

By the time school started that fall, I was well versed in the classics of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Godzilla and the Wolf Man.  In some cases, seeing these movies was still years away, but I checked those books out over and over again that summer–reading and re-reading the movie synopsis and memorizing every frightful picture. That was the summer I became a Monster Kid.

I’m sure my story isn’t unique for kids of the early ’70s or for generations before me.  My wife remembers seeing King Kong at her local library as well.  It must have been pretty common fare in those pre-Star Wars days of the early 1970s.  For most kids it is a fond childhood memory.  For monster kids, it changed everything and started us down the path of a lifelong love for fantastic creatures and worlds of the imagination.  The public library was the gateway, but King Kong was the drug.

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What is your Monster Kid origin story? How did King Kong effect you and when did you first see this iconic film?

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day with Classic Monsters

St Patrick’s Day Isn’t the Most Obvious Classic Monster Holiday

1906 Portrait of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula,

While Ireland and Halloween go hand-in-hand with the modern holiday’s roots tracing back to the ancient Celts harvest festival, Samhain, the connections to the patron saint of Ireland are more tenuous.  Enter Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker; Irishman and author of Dracula, one of the most famous books ever published and, arguably, the most famous of all monsters.

Stoker was born in Dublin in 1847 and it is said that he grew up on a steady diet of his Mother’s stories of the supernatural.  Ireland has a long history of fantastical and mystical creatures from leprechauns and banshees to it’s own vampire, the DeargDue.  The Celts, whose traditions never disappeared from Irish culture, had hundreds of gods and an equal number of demons and monsters.  Stoker grew up hearing these stories and they undoubtedly influenced his fascination for the macabre.

Dracula was published in May 1897 and, although it was critically well-received, it was not a bestseller.  In fact, it wasn’t until after Stoker’s death in 1912 that his book would achieve commercial success.  Stoker wrote a total of 18 books, including Lair of the White Worm, but it is his haunting tale of the vampire that has given him lasting fame.

For more about Bram Stoker, watch this video from Biography Channel (click to watch full screen)):

It’s fair to say that fans of classic monsters owe a debt of gratitude to Bram Stoker.  So, while tipping a pint at the pub today in celebration of all things Irish, raise a pint to Bram Stoker and that famous monster of his, Count Dracula.

Related:

 

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s Exhibit

Some of my Instagram shots from that day that will live in infamy for this Monster Kid:

Aurora Frankenstein Monster model kit 

Marx Plastic Monsters 1960s 

Heroes and Villains 

Aurora Model Kits – Batman, Wolf Man, Creature, Mummy and more

Ben Cooper Wobbler Monsters 

Mego Batman Action Figures 

Mego Spider-Man 

 

A Monster Kid Awakens….

Monster Kid Memories

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Monster Toy Exhibit at Minnesota History Center

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!