Here There Be Monsters
Monsters have always been popular. Be it in the pages of books or up on the silver screen, these mysterious creatures have captured our imaginations for decades. They’re Frightening. They’re Fascinating. They’re Downright Fantastic!
And, it’s an obsession that has gone on to extend right into the toy store!
From the popular Japanese Bullmark vinyl Kaiju collection of the 1970s to the well-known Remco Universal Monsters of the 1980s, folks have had access to scores of these beloved plastic behemoths for years now – and the same rings true for those of us living here in 2020.
Granted, times are a little different now. Retail space certainly isn’t as plentiful as it once was, and what is left seems to be dominated by everything from Blind Bags to Baby Shark! However, that doesn’t mean that the monsters have simply accepted defeat and slinked back into the mists of time.
No, not by a long shot.
They’re monsters after all, and how many monsters have you known to give up without a fight?
There is no denying that we live in a truly golden age of toy collecting. One where technology has been successfully employed to give fans some of the most realistic plastic recreations of the big screens biggest, hairiest, and scaliest of stars.
Premium paintwork, state-of-the-art sculpting, and photo-real facial tech have been merged together to form scaled-down versions of characters so lifelike that you’d almost swear that a simple hunk of plastic was an actual living, breathing being!
It is within this fascinating climate that companies such as Bandai, Diamond Select Toys, McFarlane Toys, NECA, and even the recently relaunched MEGO have stepped up to give these cherished characters their due once more!
Godzilla. King Kong. Mothra. Rodan. The Creature From The Black Lagoon. The Invisible Man. Even lesser knows like The Metaluna Mutant has found new life in this modern world of Superheroes and Star Wars sequels. Each looking more refined and realistic than ever before.
The last decade has given us everything from the amazing S.H. MonsterArts line to the fantastic Universal Monsters Legacy Series. There are black and white variants mimicking the look and feel of the characters as they originally appeared on the screen.
Cloth crafted versions that call to mind the beloved monster toys that clogged the racks of toy stores throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. And collector aimed pieces that feature scores of articulation and a staggering level of sculpting that look ever determined to capture even the smallest, and most minute, of details.
Bottom line, if you can think of a monster, chances are very good that you can add it to your collection in this day and age. And yet, with all that we’ve gotten in recent years – from Diamond’s Dr. Jekyll to McFarlane’s Demogorgon, fans still clamor for more!
Why do toy collectors and fans living in this modern, tech-laden world of the 21st Century continue to look to the monsters?
What is it about these rubber-suited renegades that continue to speak to us as a species nearly two hundred years after their inception?
After all, they’re certainly not as popular as they once were. We live in a sophisticated time where the notion of giant ants and robotic beings from far-off planets is simply ridiculous.
Additionally, monster movies are few and far between these days and don’t exactly bring in the big bucks at the box office – especially when compared to some of the most recent chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or even the Fast And Furious franchise. Heck, some of these characters haven’t even seen the light of day for close to 70 years.
But, these things just don’t matter to fans.
And, why would they?
Firstly, monsters are pretty darn cool! Look at Godzilla for instance. First introduced in Japan by Toho and director Ishiro Honda back in 1954, this metaphorical representation for nature’s wrath is essentially a 400-ft. tall fire-breathing dinosaur!
He walks through buildings like they’re made of playing cards. He swats jets out of the air as if they were flies. And, he’s been beating down on lesser beasts like Rodan and King Ghidorah for more than seven decades! If that’s not cool, I just don’t know what is.
Secondly, monsters are exciting! Life, when you get down to it, can be pretty darn boring most of the time. You get up. You eat. You go to work. You go shopping. You pay your bills. You watch TV. You take a shower. You go to sleep. And then, the whole cycle repeats all over again the next day. And the next day.
What better way to break up the monotonous humdrum of daily living than with a 100-ft. gorilla with an affinity for blondes? That’s sure to inject some much-needed excitement into one’s life. And, just wait until he gets off Skull Island and begins making a beeline straight for the Empire State Building!
Thirdly, monsters are mysterious! In this modern world where everyone is connected and Google appears to have all the answers, there seems to be very little mystery left on this planet. Not so when it comes to monsters!
There is still much we honestly don’t know about them. Look at The Creature From The Black Lagoon. He enjoyed multiple appearances on the big screen throughout the 1950s as part of the Universal Monsters cavalcade, and yet those only really scratched the surface of who he was as an individual.
How old was he? How is it he survived while the rest of his kind went extinct? How did he sleep? How did he eat? Sure, the films did explore some of these details, but overall we just don’t know everything there is to know about the Gill-Man.
As a whole, he’s an enigma. He’s a mystery. And, isn’t it fun to just not have all the answers sometimes?
Okay, so we are all in agreement that monsters are indeed very cool, very exciting, and very mysterious. However, the biggest pull that these critters have above all else, at least if you ask me, is that they make us feel like kids again!
I was six years old when I saw my first Godzilla movie. It was Mothra vs. Godzilla, and that grainy VHS copy of the 1964 classic turned me into a diehard monster fan almost instantly.
Jump ahead to 2020 and I am now an adult with plenty of adult responsibilities. Like many of you, I have bills to pay, food to buy, and people to look after. Sometimes these things can be more than a little overwhelming. More than a little exhausting. Especially given that this same cycle repeats itself day in and day out.
Month after month. Year after year.
Yet, when I plonk down at my desk and pick up the NECA 1964 Godzilla that sits next to my computer, I am instantly transported away. Not away from the family or friends that make my life so worth living. No, when I hold that 7″ piece of plastic perfection, I leave behind the stresses and pressures of adult life and I am instantly a child once more. I can smell my dad’s homemade bread baking in the oven. I can hear my younger brother playing our SEGA on the small 12″ TV in the next room.
I don’t think about aches. Or pains. Or my parent’s divorce. I don’t worry about insurance or car repairs. No, for those few brief moments, Godzilla figure in hand, I am just a carefree kid. It’s a great feeling, and I know there are more than a few of you out there who would feel the same.
We live in a world where nostalgia drives some serious sales. Life isn’t always easy, and there are many times when we all wish we could go back to the cartoons and characters of our youth.
When things get stressful, we longingly look back to the days of Froot Loops and Saturday Morning Cartoons. Of course, we all know that the clock can’t turn back, but in our world of high-end action figures, statues and props, we can still bring a piece or two of those days back into our homes and offices.
Get your mitts on Diamond’s B9 Robot, and you’ll forever remember that time you and your buddies pulled an all-nighter studying for final exams while a Lost In Space marathon played in the background.
Grab NECA’s NES homage Godzilla figure, and you’ll instantly be transported back to the time you and your brother spent an entire weekend trying to make it past the first stage of what was, arguably, one of the most frustrating titles to ever see release on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Order yourself a Mezco Toyz King Kong and you’ll be smelling the popcorn from that time you took your high school crush to see a screening of the 1933 original at the local Glenway Theater! And, perhaps that crush ended up becoming your significant other!
Yes, each of these figures holds a memory for each of us. And, like us, they’re all different. They’re all unique. They’re all special. And, they’re all wonderful.
In a world where constant electronic stimulation looks to be the order of the day, fans and collectors continue to look to the monsters of old to transport them back to those simpler times we all long to return to on occasion.
Sure, they may not be the best role models for anyone to be following! After all, Godzilla is prone to throwing more than his fair share of town toppling temper tantrums. And, King Kong really shouldn’t be going around stealing other fella’s gals. But, even here in the 21st century, we just can’t seem to get enough of all these classic cinematic critters!
And so, while we may be living in a world where the very thought of Monsters, Mummys, and Martians may seem absolutely absurd, the love for these mysterious creatures continues to burn stronger than ever here in the 21 Century!
From Igor to the Iron Giant, monster toys have taken many significant leaps forward since their humble beginnings as the dime store playthings of boys and girls the globe over.
Sure, they may not be as popular as they once were, but that hasn’t stopped collectors old and new from snatching up what there is in droves – and demanding more in the process.
What can you say?
At first glance, they may seem outdated and passé when compared with the current fads that burn bright at the center of the pop culture nexus, but there is no denying that collectors still crave these crazy creatures in whatever shape or form they may be found.
And, as technology continues to improve, and new paint and sculpting techniques are learned, you can guarantee that everyone from Godzilla to Gorgo will be reaping the benefits at retailers and specialty shops around the world!
Because while giant moths and mutated Pterosaurs may be goofy as anything on the surface, they and their rubber-suited friends will continue to inspire countless generations with their unapologetically crazy approach to being bigger than life!
And so it should be! Even after all these years, the monsters march onward. Yes, this may now be done slightly more so out of the public eye, but these crazy creatures continue to not only exude all sorts of cool but remain ever ready to transport fans and collectors back to the memory-filled days of their youth! No strings attached!
Yes, here there be monsters.
They’re Frightening. They’re Fascinating. They’re Fun! But, they’re also Crazy. Colorful and so unbelievably off the wall that you can’t help but love them in all their unique shapes and forms!
And that is why, even in modern times, collectors new and old continue to crave everything that these crazy creatures, where ever they may be from, have to offer!