Oddball Monster Card Resurrection!
By Kurt Kuersteiner © 2000 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards
Greetings ghouls and boys. It's getting to be that time of year again. The season when kids start thinking of strange and bizarre outfits to scare the sheet out of you. No, I'm not talking about the sagging pants with underwear sticking out from the top and bottom, or the backward baseball caps that kids consider fashionable these days. (That's too scary.) I'm referring to the less outlandish Halloween costumes to be worn later this month.
But October also means it's time for another Oddball Monster article (#8). So read on if you dare, but beware! Unusual monster cards are a bit like drowning victims: You never know what will surface or when...
First on the lab slab is an item that recently appeared in Rob Tutalo's Wrapper ad a few issues back: The Horror Monster 4 card promo strips. These cards have somehow remained buried for almost three decades. Rob had half a dozen different ones but they all had the same back design. The 7" x 5" card panels appear normal on the front but the back reads "Authentic Movie Monsters. The only collection of real movie monsters - 80 different cards with "horrible" jokes on the back of each card. ORDER NOW - So the kids can continue collecting the popular horror monsters. Nu Cards Inc. Box 217, Seaford NY." Then the bottom half would have two regular card backs from Horror Monster Orange series.
I'm no promo card expert, but this may be one of the earliest promo cards ever. (Horror Monster cards came out around 1961.) It's certainly the earliest Monster card promo ever made. Topps produced the You'll Die Laughing series in 1959, but there were no promos issued, nor where there any promos for any other monster set for decades to come. There were 80 cards in the Horror Monster Orange series, if divided by panels of four, it would mean it's possible that there are 20 different promo strips produced! Rob sold his panels for $200 a pop. Even if someone could find all 20, it would be mighty expensive to collect them all! (Never the less, I'd appreciate anyone who has the panels to write or email me the numbers they have so we can try to determine how many different panels actually exist.)
Fast forward to the present and we're still caught up in the past. Check out the Johnny Lightning "Fright'ning Lightnings" episode 2 cars and you'll see what I mean. They feature 3" die-cast hot rods in classic 1960s style. Two of them are from the 1960s Munsters TV show (The Munsters Koach and Drag-u-la). Each comes with a full color card with the car and actors from the TV series on it. These cards look like regular trading cards, but have no number and are blank backed. There are four other cars in the series and they have cards too, but they aren't related to the Munsters. They are The Heavenly Hearse, Meat Wagon, Surf Hearse, and Carl Casper's Undertaker. Notice this is episode 2, so episode 1 probably had a similar horror theme. (On a non-monster note, there is also a series devoted to Austin Power's "Shaguar", which comes with 1 of at least 7 different cards from the movie.)
In the weird department (and I do mean WEIRD) are monster inflatable stickers from Taiwan. You heard me right: "Inflatable stickers". These look like miniature beach balls, complete with the valve on the bottom! But they are only 5" wide and feature colorful yet crude monsters on the front. The sticker part is just a strip on the back that can be pealed off to stick it on stuff. There are six different monsters: A werewolf, a Cyclops, an ogre, a scaly faced monster, a horned devil creature and a knock off of the Creature of the Black Lagoon. In typical "don't sue me" overseas style, there is no mention of a company name or date on the 48 count box.
Equally off beat is the oversized Matrix "blood card". This is a 5" x 7" flexible plastic post card from the movie, featuring Keanu Reeves waking up in the tub of blood of whatever it is the Matrix grows the humans inside of. It's a great shot from the movie, but what makes it especially unusual is a red liquid that fills the card and moves around as you hold it. Again, no company name and no idea WHERE this came from, but if you liked the movie as much as I did, you'll probably want to track one of these down. The reverse is totally blank.
Last year I mentioned the incredible Universal Monster action toys from Sideshow Inc. These have nothing to do with cards except that a lot of monster card collectors seem to collect these as well. And little wonder-- they're really cool! Series 3 just came out and features the Invisible Man, the Hunchback, and the Metaluna Mutant. Series 4 is due out this month and features the Werewolf of London, Son of Frankenstein, and the Mole People. If you liked the old Aurora monster models of the 1960s, you'll love these.
And speaking of Aurora, Polar Lights has re-released copies of The Witch and The Hunchback earlier this year. (But they had to change the name to "The Bellringer" since Disney had the audacity to copyright "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". (If Victor Hugo were alive, he'd be spinning in his grave!))
Another great Universal Monsters collectible is the Japanese set of 40 regular sized cards that surfaced this year. There is no copyright date, but they appear to be brand new (1998 - 2000). Many of the graphics are identical to the Universal Monster valentine images from a couple years back. But there are other great shots as well, neat-o photos not seen in other sets. Plus, there are many garish paintings and graphics that make this a most unusual set. Almost all the text is Japanese, but most the titles are English. There is a variety of different card stocks in this set too. Some are glossy, some are matte finish, a few are even translucent. It's definitely oddball! I'm not sure if it was sold in sets or packs, but I paid $40 for mine and haven't seen many others turn up.
Last and least seen are the Your Latest Picture cards. These were first cataloged in the Chris Benjamin 1960-1992 guide (and no where else). At that time, only 8 different cards were reported. Thanks to help from collectors Chris Watson and Todd Riley, we can now report 18 different designs. Since they have no number or title on them (and the backs are blank), the only way to offer a check list is to display them all. There is no copyright date either, but they are believed to have been published in the late 60s or 1970s. (The manufacturer was the Four Star Candy Company of Newark, NJ.) These are a low supply, low demand item and pretty obscure. If you encounter any other designs other than the ones shown, please contact me so I can pass on the info.
Well creepsters, that's it for this year's installment of oddball monsters. Remember to include trading cards in your Halloween trick or treat tray this season (unless you're a Dentist and need the business). It's the one item they might actually remember and keep for years to come. Till next time, happy Halloween!
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