Mini Monster Play Case (1980)

It’s finally Halloween, and I couldn’t let the day escape without some serious classic monster love. For me, the perfect way to spend at least part of the day (aside from taking the kids trick or treating) is to watch a few classic Universal monster movies. My love for monsters goes back to my childhood, and began with toys.

The mini-monster play case stands as a wonderful memory of my days as a grade schooler first experiencing these classic creatures for the first time. The yearly Christmas Catalog, along with books from the school library were my first exposure. The monster figures and playset were endlessly fascinating. Though I knew a lot about the characters, I didn’t actually catch the original  movies themselves until a few years later watching the local Creature Feature (with KC horror host Crematia Mortem).

Remco’s mini monsters line surfaced in the wake of Kenner’s Star Wars takeover of toy aisles. Produced in the same 3 and 3/4 inch scale and with five point articulation, the monsters represented a subject matter throwback in this modern styled buck. As with Star Wars, the small size lent itself well to playsets. The monsters’ case does double duty as storage and a play area. Each of the guys gets his own little place in the set, and it’s a bit strange to consider that the characters are hanging out like some kind of monstrous version of the Justice League. Actually, that’s a pretty cool idea.

The set also works in a favorite playset feature of mine: cardboard. I know it’s a strange thing to say, but I’m a big fan of paper playsets. Maybe it goes back to my youth, with old favorites like fold-up Cloud City, cardboard AT-AT and the Cobra Missile Command HQ. I haven’t been able to pull the trigger and put together the cardboard elements of the monster set. Maybe some day.

Oh yeah, you may be wondering: what’s this playset got to do with GI Joe? Well, there’s a tangential relationship. Remco re-purposed the outer shell as a Sgt. Rock playset when that line was released around the beginning of Joe’s resurgence in the early 80s. A war-torn building took the place of creepy haunted house imagery and the vacu-formed crypt-like base was replaced by stone battlements.

Mini Monster Play Case (Remco)


Mini Monster Play Case (Remco)

Mini Monster Play Case (Remco)

Mini Monster Play Case (Remco)



  • That is super cool! I never knew they had 3 3/4″ monsters back then (the ReAction line seems a little less original now, too). You could scan & print the cardboard bits on heavy cardstock if you wanted to build the scene and retain the originals.

  • While I never really took to any lines other than Joe or Star Wars, the kid who lived around the block did. He had all of these Monster figure, plus Secret Wars, Micronauts, Fisher Price, etc. So, I remember playing with these to an extent. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was a personal favorite as he was one of Cobra’s early forays into monsters.

    As for the films themselves, my Dad loved them and would rent the tapes from the library in the early ’80’s. So, every Friday night, we had a black and white movie with snacks while we played with our toys. The monsters and Laurel and Hardy were common themes. Good times. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  • I had all of these guys except the Mummy. I lost The Creature, but picked up a glow in the dark version a few years later. I liked using the Wolfman as a stand-in for the Cantina Wolfman from Star Wars they didn’t produce until the ’90s.

  • Never had any of the Mini Monsters, but I always thought they looked great.

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