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.