By JAMES BURRELL
In the early 1960s, North America saw its first “Monster Boom,” thanks to the phenomenal success of debut television broadcasts of classic Universal horror films from the 1930s and ‘40s, and the creation of publications like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Castle of Frankenstein. But kids of the ’60s not only wanted to watch their favourite monsters on TV or read about them in magazines, they also wanted to build their own scaled-down versions in model kit form, carry their change around in monster-themed wallets, dress up as them for Halloween, and even wash up with them before bedtime.
Enter Colgate Palmolive, a company known for its soap, dental care, and household products. In 1963, the company released a set of four Universal Monsters-themed offerings as part of its brand of “Soaky” bubble bath products. Standing 10 inches tall each, the figural-shaped containers – comprised of the Frankenstein Monster (like most vintage merchandise, just referred to as “Frankenstein”), the Wolf Man, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon – were filled with liquid bath soap. And after the soap was used, the plastic bottles could be used as toys. Clearly based on the designs of the iconic Aurora plastic model kits and their accompanying box art by James Bama, the figures weren’t completely faithful to the look of their silver screen counterparts, but their memorable, slightly off-kilter designs help make them highly sought-after by both collectors of classic monster toys and ’60s pop culture memorabilia. Today, the Universal Monsters Soaky containers can fetch high amounts, with the Creature and a red-coloured pants variant of the Wolf Man selling for several hundred dollars apiece.
Now, 60 years after the release of the original Soaky containers, San Francisco-based toy and hobby company Super7 has reinterpreted these classic collectibles for monster fans in a line dubbed “Super Soapies.” Consisting of the Frankenstein Monster, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Wolf Man, this new series also includes the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and the (now non-Universal character) Metaluna Mutant from the 1955 sci-fi classic, This Island Earth. However, instead of containing bubble bath soap, these new plastic figural bottles (which stand approximately 10 to 10 ½ inches tall) are filled with 15 ounces of soapy liquid solution and feature a bubble wand attachment hidden under the head. Just unscrew the head of your favourite movie monster and you can instantly blow bubbles! Taking inspiration from the vintage Colgate Palmolive releases but making some upgrades to their designs, Super7 manages to give the Super Soapies a charming ‘60s aesthetic while providing more detailed sculpts and accurate paint applications than their predecessors. Posed in similar positions as the original bottles, some figures, like the green-headed Mummy, are lovingly rendered very much like their vintage counterparts.
For some lesser-merchandised characters like the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and the Metaluna Mutant, who were rarely (if ever) made into toys back in the 1960s, it’s great to see them turned into retro-styled products like this. The Metaluna Mutant is especially striking. the beautifully sculpted figure is painted with vibrant shades of blue, red, purple and yellow. Each bottle is packaged in a vintage-styled cardboard tray and is shrink-wrapped in clear plastic which allows collectors to display their Super Soapies still sealed if they wish (and prevents leakage of the soap during transit).
In addition to this line of full-colour releases, Super7 previously issued a set of limited-edition glow-in-the-dark Universal Monsters Super Soakies last year which sold out almost immediately. More recently Super 7 released the containers in a “Silver Screen” edition (currently still available), which employs a black-and-white paint scheme.
These adorably creepy-cute versions of your favourite classic fright film fiends are a must-have for monster fans of any generation. SRP for each figure is $20 USD, plus shipping. For more information and to order, check out the Super7 site at super7.com/collections/super-soapies/
For a real blast from the past, check out an ad for the original monster Soaky bath toys below. Keep it clean, creepy kids!