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Tuesday, April 9, 2024 | Cryptic Collectibles

By James Burrell

I’ve written before about my love for a fondly remembered line of classic movie monster toys from the early 1980s called the Universal Studio’s Mini Monsters Collection. Released by long defunct toy company Remco, the line consisted of 3 ¾-inch tall figures of the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera and the Mummy. First released to store shelves in 1980, the figures were initially issued in standard versions before being released in glow-in-the-dark editions. The series also included a haunted house-styled playset, dubbed the Mini Monster Play Case, and a battery-operated laboratory table playset called the Monsterizer – which was supposed to “recharge” the monsters with monster power, so they could continue to glow in the dark. In addition to the small figures, Remco also released a set of 9-inch-tall figures sporting fabric clothing, as well as a larger-scaled Monsterizer toy.

Popular collectibles manufacturer NECA paid tribute to the Mini Monsters line in the fall of 2022 with its first wave of Retro Glow-in-the-Dark Universal Monsters figures consisting of the Frankenstein Monster, Wolf Man and Mummy. Standing between 7 ¼ to 8 inches tall, the fantastic-looking figures featured numerous points of articulation, glow-in-the-dark parts and utilized the same packaging art (featuring black-and-white images of actors Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr.) as the vintage Remco toys. NECA followed these up with the remaining three characters in the original Remco lineup. The Creature (a San Diego Comic Con exclusive) and Phantom (a New York Comic Con offering) were released in the summer and fall of 2023, respectively; with Dracula recently being made available for sale on the NECA site. Like their vintage 3 ¾-inch predecessors, both the Phantom and Dracula (which stand about 7 ½ inches in height) have glow-in-the-dark faces and hands and sport old-school vinyl capes (originally introduced by Kenner with their vintage 1970s Star Wars figures), with holes cut out for the figures’ arms to slide through. 

While the Phantom card utilizes the same image of Lon Chaney, Sr. as the classic toy, NECA chose to go with an alternate portrait of Bela Lugosi on the Dracula figure card back to what was used on the old Remco figure. However, the new image of Lugosi (sans fangs) is close enough to the original art to remain faithful to the feeling of the original packaging.

The latest addition to the Retro Glow line is the just-released battery-operated Monsterizer playset. The highly detailed toy features various light-up effects and has an extendable lab table (complete with a wheel that cranks, straps, a hinged cage and green coloured illuminated electrodes) that you can place your Frankenstein (or another monster) figure on and “recharge” its glow effect. Just like the original, the toy features a control panel with various molded levers, gauges and colourful dials. The beautiful-looking box recreates elements from the original Remco packaging and even has a faux-aged effect. Interestingly, NECA decided to resurrect the Monsterizer created for Remco’s 9-inch figure line rather than the more brightly coloured one for use with the smaller figures. Available for sale in the US from NECA’s online store, the item will also be available from various international retailers and e-tailers. 

Now, all we need is the Play Case playset for the figures and NECA’s tribute to the Remco Universal Monsters line will be complete. 

The Dracula figure retails for $30 USD (plus shipping) and can be found here: 

Universal Monsters – Glow-in-the-Dark Retro Dracula 7” Scale Action Fi – NECA (

The Monsterizer accessory sells for $79.99 USD (plus shipping) and is available here: 

NECA Studios Monsterizer with Light-Up Effects (

James Burrell has been fascinated with monsters and all things scary since the age of three. Growing up in Toronto during the 1970s and ‘80s, he fed his insatiable appetite for horror with a steady diet of Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Saturday afternoon TV matinees of Universal, Hammer and Amicus flicks - all while eating too many bowls of Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. An avid collector of monster figures, model kits, vintage board games, tie-in novels, records, comics and movie posters, James continues to search for that next item to add to his eclectic and ever-growing collection of horror ephemera. He is the recipient of the 2010 Rondo Classic Horror Award for Best Interview, for his feature on Sir Christopher Lee that appeared in Rue Morgue’s 100th issue and penned two volumes in The Rue Morgue Library.