Growl and Glow in the Dark: Universal Monster Toys

The Phantom of the Opera
[click on any image to enlarge]
It's time for a short, rather incomplete profile of yet another Universal Monsters set, and one where I definitely wish that I had the other figures in the set. These figures are from a set put out in 1990 by a company called Uncle Milton. The two pictured here – the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame _ are the only two that I was able to snag, or even find, in my neck of the woods (that being Anchorage, Alaska at the time, where I was born). 

I do not remember which store it was that I bought them, though Kay-Bee or Woolworth's are as likely suspects as any. I just remember that any time that I looked for the other figures, I could only ever find these two characters, as if the other bigger monsters were short-packed in the cases (which is a possibility, or the others just sold better). It's a scenario that I used to run into a lot in Anchorage back in the day, where even when a toy line was new to a store, they would only have a couple of the characters, and never the full set. You could make requests (which I would in many cases), but of course, the people working the toy counter don't give a rat's ass if the weird, nerdy guy who should really just grow up already that hangs out in the action figure section ever gets what he wants.

The Hunchback of
Notre Dame
There are six figures in the set overall, the other four being the Frankenstein Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (quite angry about never finding that one, mostly because he is my favorite Universal Monster, and partly because the mold is really cool), the Mummy, and the Wolf Man. Once more, we have a Universal Monsters set missing one of its primary figures, that of Count Dracula, which was largely due to the estate of Bela Lugosi pushing Universal Studios hard for royalties in order to use the likeness of their namesake. This situation has reversed itself in recent years for the most part, but it does mean that there are numerous Universal toy sets and other series (trading cards, books, etc.) out there where Dracula seems to have been forgotten altogether because of this insane back-and-forth battle.

From the slim information that I have been able to gather, the molds used for these figures are the exact ones used by the Marx Toy Company in the 1960s when they released their Universal Monster sets, which were exceedingly popular in the day. Growing up in the '70s, I knew kids who either owned or had inherited these figures, and was also roundly jealous whenever I saw them or (once in a while) got a chance to play with them. (I was the same way around Mego figures; never had any of my own, but went crazy when I had the opportunity.)

Because the Marx versions were in more varied colors and not meant to glow in the dark, you could make out the details a lot better on those than on these, including the names on the plates near their bases. 

While the lightness in color does make it hard to really make out many details, close-up views do reveal the fine sculpting and care used in creating these figures. 

I didn't really have time to get these puppies charged up and ready for a glow shot, nor did I have a photo of the entire set (since I don't own all of them), but a glance at eBay found a pretty groovy image of the whole crowd gathered for a glow in the dark group portrait.

Full group GITD shot ["juicyfinds4u" on eBay]
Seeing that shot just makes me even more covetous of one day having a full set, not just of the Uncle Milton remolds, but of getting a couple of different color variations or so of the original Marx releases. A fella can dream, can't he?

[Except for the glow in the dark pic from eBay (noted), all of the images of toys in this article are from my personal collection. Feel free to copy and use as you wish, but if you repost on your website, please credit The Cinema 4 Pylon.]


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