It's almost Halloween. That means it's time for...
MORE ODDBALL MONSTER SETS!
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©1994 Monsterwax Monster trading cards.
Monster themes have been popular with card buffs ever since the early 1960's. Mars Attacks, Terror Tales, and Outer Limits are just a few collector favorites. Not surprisingly, the monster motif didn't die with the decade. Like Dracula, it kept coming back from the grave. The 70's and 80's gave us everything from Odd Rods to Dinosaur Attacks! But for every Godzilla-sized company series, there was usually an Incredible Shrinking independent release that fell in-between the cracks. Here are just a few of those little publicized (and often uncataloged) monstrosities.
Almost everyone knows about the Full Moon Trading Cards (1-47). They are very colorful and pretty inexpensive. But how many folks have seen the ten "Vari-View" cards that came out in 1989 before the regular cards? These are thick coated 3-D cards in full color (not holograms). The two movies featured are Meridian and Shadowzone. They are both pretty neat, and make you want to see the movies.
Remember Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine? In 1992, Dynacom produced a series of 5,000 factory sets which reproduced all the covers from the classic magazine. Forrest J. Ackerman wrote commentary for the card backs. This isn't a rare set, but it is expensive. The retail is $15 per set of 45, and it takes five sets to make up all 225 cards. That's $75 total for a complete series of new cards. Ouch! Each set is skip numbered and there is no checklist. They also did a series of sci-fi posters/lobby cards. It's nice looking too, but four volumes at $15 a pop gets a little costly.
The cost of some of these monster sets are not the only thing out of this world. So is the subject matter: In 1992, the Fantasma company released Aliens Among Us. The box describes this series as "a limited edition one-of-a-kind 3-D holographic set". It never exactly states how limited "limited" is, but "one-of-a-kind" is definitely stretching it. Nevertheless, this 8-card set is as eye catching as it is unusual.
Different in another way is the vending series of 20 Horror Prisms. These are so tacky they are kinda fun. Featured are posters and characters from Psycho III, Nightmare on Elmsteet, House, and more. The reverse is blank photographic paper that peels off to make a sticker out of the prism. Since these are from vending and have no information on the reverse, the company and date of this series is uncertain, but they are at least two years old.
In 1992, Image-X Products released a 72 card set of scary B-movie stills. It's called Horror Film Trading Cards. The black and white pictures are a little grainy and the information on the reverse is very basic, but the set includes a lot of otherwise overlooked classic films. It comes as a full set wrapped in a large paper wrapper and is still available for around $15.
'92 must have been a good year for monster-makers. Not only was a set of three Universal Monster Holograms produced for Pizza Hut (which we discussed last time), but Pepsi also put out a similar set of monster parody cards. These were said to be distributed through Pizza Hut also, but that has yet to be confirmed. The Pepsi cards have six different monster faces: Frankenstein, his bride, Wolfman, The Mummy, Dracula, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. All six are decked out in various party outfits. They're not really hilarious, but they are colorful and mildly amusing.
Overseas, there has been some monster-mania as well. Last year, Dynamic Marketing of Australia imported Mad Monster Tattoos. There are 16 different original artwork monsters in the set, featuring the usual cast of creepy characters. Each tattoo sheet comes with two monsters, but different combinations of the same monsters require 16 different sheets to complete the set. The three different wrappers are nicely laid out, but only one sheet comes in each pack. They are a little difficult to keep in plastic sleeves without sticking, and the size is irregular (2 1/4" X 3")
REAL odd sized card collectors (anyone out there collect ONLY odd sized sets?) will want to know about Luminous Monster Stickers. These are puffy stickers that peel off 1 1/4" X 1 3/4" paper. The monsters glow in the dark and are so primitive looking and campy, they're fun. There are only twelve in the set, including Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, plus the Witch, King Kong, Cyclops and so on. The set supposedly came out during the 70's from Taiwan. They were wrapped in clear plastic wrappers and sold separately out of a bright red box adorned with the series title (in English) and a few monster faces. There were 120 stickers per box. They are still inexpensive (under .50 cents each).
Another odd sized series is the disk-shaped Horror Stickers. These came out in the 70's also, but this time from Holland. According to the paper wrapper, they were made for the "R.L Albert & Son Inc., NY". Four disks came in each pack. Other shapes were also included, like trapezoids, but mostly 2 1/4" disks. It took 100 to make the set. The fronts featured crude but neat artwork, reminiscent of the stickers from Spook Stories. The backs were blank. Since they have no numbers on any of the stickers, it makes tracking them down or trading them difficult. There's no checklist and most of them are basically the same thing: grotesque monster faces.
There's also a German series called The Monster Gallery. This set is both large and expensive to piece together. There are 192 regular sized cards and 45 slightly smaller stickers. The fronts feature nice (i.e. ugly) artwork, and the backs relate the curse of the creature on the front. Everything is full color, including the box and wrapper (both have the same design). The stories are pretty clever too, but you wouldn't know it unless you translate German. There are five cards and one sticker per pack, and 48 packs per box, so the chances of getting a full set from a single box is very unlikely. You may want to find some traders for this series before buying it, or it could make the Famous Monsters of Filmland set look cheap in comparison! (No date is certain for this set, but it is probably recent.)
Of course there's more, but there are some card sets that man was not meant to know... Besides, it's always a monster tradition to save something for the sequel. So until then, happy hunting, happy haunting, and Happy Halloween!
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