Once again it’s that time of year when the stores all fill with candy and cheap scare props to squeeze some additional revenue out of consumers before the Christmas season starts. It’s also the time of year when we take a nostalgic look back at the classic Halloween treats of growing up in the ’60’s and ’70’s, something I like to call Retro-Ween!
First up is a textbook example of one of the “picture of what you are on your chest” costumes from the 70’s. Now if you were trying to dress up like a Jaws movie poster for Halloween then this would be a pretty cool costume but if you are supposed to be the shark from the film, forget it! I love the two big eye holes in the teeth. I remember seeing this costume in the stores during Halloween of 1975 and, even at nine years of age, I thought it looked stupid. Mike Smith mentioned that there was also one for Jaws 2 but I have never seen it. I wonder if they changed the graphics on the chest to the water-skier from that poster? There was also a similar costume of the eel that appeared for all of about five minutes in The Deep. It wasn’t quite as ridiculous looking as Jaws, but it came close.
Was there any monster loving kid in the 60’s and 70’s that didn’t own at least one Aurora monster model kit? Aurora deserves its own Retrorama column or columns for all of the cool kits they made but the monster line is still the best loved. These boxes are from the 70’s reissues, called the “frightening lightening” line, that glowed in the dark. The first monster kit I ever owned was the Creature from the Black Lagoon model from this series that I got for my eighth birthday. The Creature was molded in emerald green plastic and came with optional parts if you wanted to make it glow in the dark. My memory was recently jogged about these when I saw a reproduction of the Dr. Jekyll kit in a local hobby store. I may have to stock up on few of these reissues for some day when I have time to build them again.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who used to stare at the ads in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland and drool at the things I could never afford, like these masks from Don Post Studios. I always wanted the Kong mask and the gorilla hands and feet so I could be King Kong for Halloween but at a total of nearly $100 in 1970’s dollars it just wasn’t going to happen! Famous Monsters’ mail order division, Captain Company, used to carry just about every item a horror obsessed youngster could want and often for years after they had disappeared from store shelves. I did eventually talk my mother into getting me a half face mask of the Creature (at a cost of about $5) so I could be the notorious Black Lagoon resident one year but it wasn’t the same as having one of these Don Post originals.
I’m not sure it would be accurate to say that the Creature was my favorite monster as a kid but it sure seems like I had a lot of things related to him, including the very hobby kit seen here. This was a one piece plaster statue of the Gill Man that more talented kids than me could paint to resemble the photo on the box. I gave that an honest attempt and then repainted him in a more emerald green to match the Aurora kit. Sadly, the fragile Creature got knocked off a shelf one too many times and was eventually damaged past the point of repair.
Our final entry this year is a slightly later line from the early ’80’s that combined the Aurora model kits with the action figure craze and gave kids some really fun toys. These figures from Remco were officially licensed from Universal Studios and bore a striking resemblance to their big screen counterparts (except for Dracula who looked cool but was no Lugosi). In addition to glowing in the dark, these figures had buttons in their backs that caused them to give a bear hug when pressed. It was a pretty limited, cheaply made, gimmick and often broke but they still looked great. The lab table in the middle is the “Monsterizer”, a unique accessory that allowed you to strap in your monsters and charge their glow faces with a flashlight bulb. Remco later added figures of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (with an awful cloth costume) and a well rendered Phantom of the Opera to the line. When these nine inch figures failed to catch on, Remco redid the entire line in 3 ¾ inch Star Wars scale with even more impressive sculpting jobs.
That’s it for this year kids,