Oddball Monster Card Mischief!
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©2008 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards for The Wrapper Magazine
Hello again Halloween horror-card hunters. Summer is finally over and that means it's time for another installment (#16) of Oddball Monster Cards-in-review. Considering the recent financial upheaval and our choices in the upcoming elections, it looks like an especially scary year, so let's see what sort of cardboard creatures we dig up.
Up first is yet another Hammer Horror series, this time from Strictly Ink. These cards were published in England, which seems rather appropriate, since the classic Hammer horror flicks were also filmed there. This 72 card set covers a lot of the same territory that earlier Hammer card sets have, but there are many new photos of earlier movies and all of them are crystal clear.
The 30 pack boxes guarantee at least one set. They also have randomly inserted sketch cards (1:30 packs), autograph cards (1:30 packs), and gold foil cards (1:12). If you have the other Hammer sets, you should enjoy adding this one to your collection.
Next up is another blast from the past: Dark Shadows. This is a retro set released by Celebrity Ink in 2001. It's labeled The Dark Shadows Retro Card Set on the back of the last card, but collectors tend to call it Dark Shadows Orange on account of the pumpkin colored borders. The series premiered at the 2001 Dark Shadows Festival in NYC. Actually, it was at the World Trade Center Marriott, two weeks before 9/11. The 66 card set has black and white photos with orange borders, and a puzzle photo image on the back. Some of the images were also used in the other sets from the 1960s, but there are many new ones as well. They all have the character's name scrawled across the bottom in orange. There were reportedly just 2,000 factory sets of this series made. There's an offer for a mail-away binder on card #65. I suggest you keep your $10 + $4 post though. Celebrity took orders at the festival and never shipped them, so the "4 weeks for delivery" claim could wind up lasting "4-ever".
Now here's a hard to find oddball item: Godzilla King of Monsters trading cards from Trendmasters. They were packed with different Godzilla rubber action figures in 1994, and each came with a card featuring that specific monster. The artwork is very colorful and the backs include background info and usually some monster stats. I've confirmed as many as 11 different ones in the first series, but there were also two other series ( Godzilla of Monster Island and Godzilla Wars.) I've seen as many as 36 different sold together on eBay (for $26), but some of the artwork was repeated in the two other sets. There could be more. Godzilla spawned countless monster adversaries since his appearance in the 60s. Some of the cards I've seen are Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla II, Rodan, Mecha-Ghidorah, Biollante, Gigan, Anguirus, Battra, and Power-up Godzilla.
Say what you will about the hot mosquito infested climate in Tallahassee, or the lack of big city cultural opportunities. But one thing you can not take away from my hometown is the amazing $1.75 movie house. With prices like that, even the crappy movies are worth seeing. The good ones are just icing on the cake! September is about the time the summer block busters finally make it to this cheap-o joint (or DVD, for that matter). So I was delighted to finally take in the "new" X-files movie, I Want To Believe. I was a big fan of the series up until it "jumped the shark" by phasing out Moulder in Season 8 & 9. The first seven years were black gold (a little black oil reference for you X-philes).
The movie was pretty eerie and brought back the old chemistry by returning Moulder and Skully on a bloody trail of bodies and severed limbs. There was no supernatural monster per se, just a run-of-the-mill ex-priest child molester and Russian serial murderer. (Hardly supernatural at all, especially these days! But this was more a horror film than a sci-fi monster tale.) The film was mysterious and thought provoking, however, because it combined Skully's search of religious faith with a case involving the prophetic powers of a very chilling character. And did I mention a Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Frankenstein subplot? (It must have slipped my psychotic mind.) By the end of the flick, I was suitably creeped out and you should be too.
Inkworks has translated this celluloid tale into cardboard for your collecting pleasure . I Want To Believe is a 72 base card set including story, character, and revelation cards, plus a variety of bonus chase cards. There are 9 IN SEARCH OF cards (1:11 packs), 6 WANTING TO BELIEVE cards (1:17), 3 BACK TO BASICS (1:23), plus various autograph and pieceworks cards. There's also a send-away binder. Because of the lack of any monsters or dramatic special effects, this isn't the most visually stimulating card set. The movie has plenty of action and gore, but film action loses a lot when converted to still shots and Inkworks didn't want to go overboard on the gore. So you're left with a lot of moody images of characters with guns, looking perplexed or amazed... and a great story on the backs. Think of it more as a mystery tale than a SFX set.
Here are eight oddball monster cards that have no tell-tale indicators where the heck they came from. They are oversized (4 x 5") cartoon cards of Frankenstein, Count Dracula, The Mummy, Wolfman, and the Bride of Frankenstein. There's two of each except the last two characters (which have one image each). The cartoons look like they were designed by the same person who did the images of the Universal Monster valentines sold to kids in the 1990s. There are no card numbers and no trademark. It just says TM & © 1991 UCS. There's some general editorial on the back. Fortunately, I have the two Golden "Mark & See" kids books that these came from, so I know the otherwise mysterious source. The activity books are 48 pages and measure 5.5 x 8". They came with a special marker that could be used to reveal hidden messages. One is a coloring book called "On the Loose", and the other is called "Frightening Facts" and is filled with monster trivia, puzzles, and cool B/W photos. Each has four perforated cards in the centerfold. All eight have Halloween orange backs.
And now for the ultra-oddball monster item: Five different "Creepy Classic" plastic monster figures, complete with a cut-out monster card on back of the blister pack. The figures were distributed by Greenbier International Inc in 2006. The figures are 2" waist-up busts of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Werewolf, and King Kong. There's a hole at the bottom of each figure to slip it over your thumb like a finger puppet (great for hitchhiking rides to Transylvania). The colorful containers are 6 x 3.5" and the cut-out trading card varies in size, usually around 2 x 3". The artwork is from the actual movie posters and is very eye catching. There are two varieties of each finger puppet. One is regular, and the other has them holding clubs. (You can have them fight it out with someone else while thumb wrestling). Both varieties feature the same packaging and cards.
Well, that's it for this year. Congrats to Les for 30 years of Rapp'n in the Wrapper. Let's hope he can keep it going another 30. I'm off next issue to manage our annual Monsterwax haunted house (TerrorOfTallahassee.com). If you're in town, drop on by and experience the haunt for FREE if you show the cashier a current issue of The Wrapper with your subscription address on it. Till next time, remember to include monster cards in your Trick-or-Treat tray and have a Happy Halloween!
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