By JAMES BURRELL
Back in 1980, a company named Remco released what many toy collectors consider to be one of the greatest monster-themed action figure lines ever made: the Universal Studios Mini Monsters Collection. Comprised of Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, Wolf Man, Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Phantom of the Opera, the series took its cue from Kenner’s phenomenally successful line of Star Wars toys of the late 1970s, and the figures were created in a 3 ¾-inch scale – which allowed kids to use the miniature Count and Gill-Man alongside their well-played-with Darth Vader and Chewbacca. Featuring the same classic 5 points of articulation (head, arms, and legs) as Star Wars figures, the monsters were initially released as non-glow figures before switching over to the fondly remembered glow-in-the-dark versions. In addition to the figures, Remco also released a battery-operated light-up lab table called the Monsterizer and a haunted house-styled playset-carry case.
Now, more than 40 years after the Mini Monsters haunted store racks, NECA has paid tribute to those classic toys by releasing a set of three Remco-inspired figures dubbed the Retro Glow-in-the-Dark Universal Monsters. Consisting of the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man and the Mummy, these fantastic, ultra-detailed releases are much larger in size than the originals: The Mummy is 7 ¼ inches in height, the Wolf Man is 7 ½ inches and the Monster stands the tallest at 8-inches. The figures appear to use some of the same sculpts as the company’s highly regarded Universal Monsters “Ultimate” 7-inch scale figure line, and as such, are incredibly poseable with numerous points of articulation. Featuring highly accurate sculpts of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. – but painted in a stylized manner to resemble the simpler-looking Remco offerings – the result is an interesting combination of both modern and vintage. The inclusion of the glow-in-the-dark effect is a clever nostalgic touch; Like the original 3 ¾ toys, the Wolf Man’s face and Frankenstein Monster’s hands and face glow, while the entire Mummy figure glows in the dark.
Staying true to the vintage action figure aesthetic is the use of blister card packaging, with the figures packaged on very sturdy (and very large!) backer cards that will surely make classic movie monster fans drool. Employing the same wonderfully designed (albeit in higher resolution) B&W artwork with orange coloured text as the original Mini Monsters, the packaging is incredibly striking. Even NECA’s name is affectionately rendered like the old Remco-styled logo, and the original packaging copy, “Collect the whole creepy crew of Universal film monsters, all poseable and ready for action!” appears on these new releases as well. Like their vintage predecessors, the figures are packaged without additional accessories (except for the Wolf Man, which comes with a circular stand with peg that will allow the figure to be posed in a crouching position).
These are highly recommended for fans and collectors of classic movie monsters and are a must-have for those of us old – I mean – fortunate enough to have buried our Remco Mummy in the school sandbox or made the Wolf Man battle it out with Chewbacca. Here’s hoping that NECA has plans to unleash Dracula, the Phantom, and the Gill-Man in this series soon.
The figures are now hitting stores, comic shops and online retailers. SRP for each is $21.99, though some retailers have a special price for all three when purchased as a set.
For additional information on these and other NECA Universal Monsters collectibles, go to necaonline.com. Click on the images below to get up-close and personal with the monsters!
Do you remember the Remco Mini Monsters? RUE MORGUE remembers.