Being undead seems to be a big boon in the toy world.
Even though the seventies were a far cry from the Monster merchandising boom of the mid sixties (which really was a golden age except for the lack of action figures), it wasn't exactly a drought either.
Classic monsters such as Frankenstein and Godzilla were still flourishing on late night TV and on Saturday morning with shows like "The Monster Squad", "Hilarious House of Frightenstein" and "The Groovie Ghoulies", it was still a great time to be a monster kid. Here are ten of the best reasons from the 1970's:
10: Mego Mego Mad Monsters
According to a former VP of Mego, the folks at Universal Studios wanted more money than Mego were willing to pay, the license was then scooped up by Azrak Hamway (more on that later) so Mego chose to create their own line of generic monster dolls.
The results were a series of imaginative and high quality figures that sported glow in the dark eyes and hands along with knock out packaging by the legendary Gray Morrow. Mego even went as far as to produce a Monster Castle Playset for the creatures to romp in (which had an eye chart, I guess somebody is looking to be an optometrist), a good example of how highly creative Mego was at their peak.
If you ever visited a pet store in the seventies, chances are you caught a glimpse of one of the most logical monster toys ever made, this thing made you want an aquarium. What better an item than a moving creature to menace those pushy jerk divers who think they're so big? It should be no surprise that the Penn Plax Creature is an insanely tough item to find nowadays and highly coveted by Monster collectors...
8: Gre-Gory The Vampire Bat
Mattel was really on a monster toy role in the late seventies with creations like Krusher and Suckerman but none was as inspired as Gre-Gory whose blood filled guts seem to have been lifted from Mattel's Super Gross Superhero Pulsar. Rubber bats, gushy guts and fake blood, this an intoxicating mix for any boy under 12, trust me, I used to be one.
When Kenner first released Stretch Armstrong in the mid seventies, it completely rocked our world (well mine at least). However, their follow up figure, Stretch Monster, would have a lot of us kids wishing we'd held out on purchasing Mr. Armstrong, as Stretch Monster was so totally boss and at that price point, very few of us would likely get the chance to own both characters. The scaly, slightly "Sleestakish" Stretch Monster was infinitely cooler than our hero and secretly, I rooted for him to win.
Hugo was the brainchild of Alyn Ormsby (director of the classic horror film "Children shouldn't play with Dead things") and was basically your own personal Lon Chaney with the help of his makeup kit you could make up a bunch of villainous disguises. As an added bonus, the basic Hugo doll gave millions of us children nightmares, ack, I still can't make eye contact with him....
5: Bionic Bigfoot
If the 70's have a Monster, it's Big Foot, that crazy hairy man captivated us in the early seventies and soon enough he was in paperbacks, movie screens and of course, television. Quick to capitalize on the craze was the Six Million Dollar Man, who postulated that Bigfoot was indeed an android. Kenner put out the best action figure of Bigfoot ever made (OK I can't back that up, so please, no emails).
4: Aurora Glow in the Dark Model Kits
OK, I accept the fact that these are just reissued models originally produced in the glory days of the 1960's. However, the addition of Glow in the Dark is always something I find fantastically cool and totally unique to this concept. The Aurora Monster kits are iconic and their constant reissue proves me correct. If I were in charge of things, these would never stop being produced.
The Monster view masters were GAF at their creative peak, using cool little 3-D models rather than phoned in cartoon graphics, if only thing these were really instrumental in keeping the monster torch alive for a lot of us.
2: AHI Monster Figures
Azrak Hamway Incorporated or AHI for short was the only company officially licensed to produce monster action figures in the 1970's and it's weird because the AHI Official World Famous Super Monsters are also the cheapest looking figures of the bunch.
What they lack in construction they make up for in charm however, the AHI monsters have wonderful heads that actually embody the actors nicely and look to be swiped from the Aurora Monster kits, a plus in my book! There are several variations produced (most likely due to cost cutting and the switching of factories over time) and the packaging apes the popular Mego Superheroes, which is another bonus. Also, unlike every other manufacturer, AHI included the Creature from the Black Lagoon into their line, bless you Marvin Azrak and Ezra Hamway!
Mattel truly brought the goods with this two-foot tall version of the mother of all Japanese monsters. Sure, he wasn't a great likeness and I don't remember Godzilla having wheels but he was two frigging feet tall and his fist shot off! If you were eight when you saw this toy chances are it had some sort of Siren song that completely immobilized you...