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Mad About The Ghoul: Rankin/Bass Monster Rally Redux

Diamond Select Toys depicts "Mad Monster Party's" Count

Mad Monster Party…
This year the season of shadows is being ushered in with a large dose of kid friendly “scares.” The likes of Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, instantly reminded me of a favorite film of similar demeanor, 1967’s Mad Monster Party. Created by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, whose most famous productions like Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer have become Christmas season perennials, Mad Monster Party was a stop motion animation monster rally of epic proportions.

The film features character design by the legendary Jack Davis, the voices of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, and its plot-line, co-authored by Mad Magazine’s Harvey Kurtzman, plays like a mash-up of Universal’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and AIP’s The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini. Its original poster art was rendered by none other than Frank Frazetta in the multi-character chase motif similar to his Night They Raided Minsky’s, Fearless Vampire Killers and After The Fox advertisements. Though the featured tunes don’t reach the classic repeatable nature of Rankin/Bass Christmas songs, Maury Laws score captures some late 60’s swinging Pink Panther-esque moments.

For Your Video Shelf…
Mad Monster Party is a very fun guilty pleasure that should be nestled in your pile of seasonal viewing musts. It is unquestionably the great grandaddy of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Blu-Ray edition was just released at the beginning of last month with plenty of extras.

For Your Collectibles Shelf…
Diamond Select Toys will release their first wave of 7 inch character figures just in time for Halloween. Diamond promises additional characters down the line. Hopefully the wiry Gillman is on the short list. Of course anyone who played in a group called The Skeleton Crew (that would be me) is chomping at the bit to get a guitar wielding skeleton band member.

For Your Book Shelf…
The final word on all things Mad Monster Party can be read in Rankin/Bass aficionado Rick Goldschmidt’s book. It has just gone into its second printing and you can order directly from Rick’s Rankin and Bass website. He will even specially inscribe it if you like.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Diamond Select’s Madness Returns! Figures

Cheshire Cat

Go Ask Alice, When She Was Just Small…
Diamond Select releases their first series of Alice: Madness Returns! figures this week. Based on game creator American McGee’s twisted twist on the Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) penned fairy tale we get the blade wielding main character Alice Liddel, a zombified “Card Guard”, and the gruesomely grinning Cheshire Cat all in articulated 7” form. I’m hoping the old hookah smokin’ caterpillar will be in the next round of characters.

Three Faces of Alice

Weapons In Wonderland…
Alice comes replete with Vorpal knife, her pepper grinder and rocking horse, making her ready for battle with the horrible inhabitants of Wonderland. In addition to the standard characters a special edition “hysteria mode” figure is available via comic shops that pre-ordered the Previews exclusive. This blazing eyed, battle frenzied, beauty is literally covered in blood up to her elbows. Completists will definitely want to seek her out. On the horizon, but with no release date set yet, is the “Royal Suit” clad Alice also pictured here.

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Avengers Resembled, Toy Fair 2012 Round-Up

Toy Fair 2012 Was Awash in Avengers Movie Tie-in's


Joss Whedon’s recent denial of writing either The Kree or The Skrulls into the upcoming Avengers movie has fandom buzzing again about who or what the villainous planet attackers that we’ve been seeing in the trailers are. While that little tempest in a teapot continues to brew I thought I would go back to my Toy Fair 2012 photos and pull together a gallery of what was on display there.

Expect a deluge of Avengers themed toys, games and action figures from Lego, Neca, Funco and Diamond Select (I love those mini-mates). Check out my earlier posting on tokidoki for a look at their cool Avengers baseball caps, and the Peavey musical instruments story, illustrated with images of their superhero adorned guitars.

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Surfing Safari LTD’s Replicas @ Toy Fair 2012

Special Edition Hydra Joins the Mythical Realms Series


I’ve been a fan and casual collector of molded dinosaur figures since the first Louis Marx blister pack I received on my 5th birthday; don’t ask how long ago. Since then I’ve always kept an interested eye on how the market evolved. From cereal box premiums to 99 Cent Store knock-offs, dinosaurs never go out of style. Safari Ltd. first caught my attention with their line of Carnegie Museum of Natural History licensed dinosaurs back in the late 1980’s. The quality of these paleontologist approved replicas has made them collectors’ favorites. Since then the line has expanded to encompass nearly every kind of creature real or imagined in sizes ranging from “Good Luck Mini’s” (I love the tiny pink flamingoes) through jumbo replicas.

Toy Fair 2012 offered me the opportunity to meet the fine folks of Safari Ltd. again and once again they were kind enough to allow me to roam “free range” around their spectacular booth space and photograph at will. I could have easily spent the whole day perusing the company’s replicas but managed to focus my attention and camera mostly on new additions to the product line.

The Special Edition Hydra (featured above) broadens the selection of Mythical Realms characters which already includes an awesome Cyclops, Gorgon Medusa, Griffin and Chimera. A Swamp Dragon and Dragon Hatchlings bursting from their egg, as well as a massive Carnegie Brachiosaur are all in the offing for 2012. I also love the Trilobite and “Toobs” line of fossil dinosaur and prehistoric mammal skulls.

You can also see my 2011 Toy Fair coverage for photos of other great Safari Ltd. products here.
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Diamond Select Toys’ Next Wave of Universal Monsters Collectibles

Diamond Select Mini-Mates, "Kings of Fools" Quasimodo and Esmeralda


Toy Fair 2012 revelations continue with a look at Diamond Select Toys. In this centennial year of Universal Pictures, Diamond Select is poised to continue their roll-out of licensed Universal Monsters figures with an interesting assortment of creature creations. Product waves 1 & 2 gave us exceptional interpretations of the “top tier” in Universal’s horror hierarchy, featuring Frankenstein, Count Dracula, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Select packaging added great extras like the Mummy’s massive sarcophagus and a jaw-dropping Julie Adams figurine for the Gillman to menace.

Phantoms and Mutants and Moles, oh my…
Waves 3 & 4 – due in September 2012 and 2013 respectively – will offer an intriguing variety as we dive deeper into the monster pantheon. Some of my favorite characters will be represented including silent horror icon Lon Chaney Sr. in the role of The Phantom of the Opera and the mother of all bug-eyed monsters The Metaluna Mutant from 1955’s “This Island Earth”. Select packaging will again include impressive extras (pipe organ, Metalunan Interocitor) and collectors should be aware of some Toys R Us variants. The Invisible Man is listed for a Toys R Us September 2012 release also but wasn’t on display – or was he?

The pictured Wave 4 prototypes (some still awaiting licensor approval) give us a sneak peek at the next range of silent through 50’s options. This time Chaney Sr. portrays Notre Dame’s hunchback, Quasimodo. Boris Karloff’s Dr. Jeckyll is complimented by his monstrous Mr. Hyde in select “roof top” edition. Karloff’s J&H terrorized comedians Abbott & Costello and is a fun, unexpected, choice. I’m extremely jazzed to add The Mole Man (“The Mole People”, 1956) to the collection. I always loved those creepy claws.

More Monstrous Fun…
Other goodies expand the “Retro Cloth” line with Series 3’s “Bride of Frankenstein” and “Creature From the Black Lagoon” and Munsters fans will love the details on the “racer” garbed Herman, Grandpa, and Lily characters due for September 2012 release. The Munster kids – werewolf Eddie and and misfit Marilyn – will arrive in a two pack this summer and sometime in the future we may even be treated to a Munster’s mansion grand stairway, with house pet “Spot”.

For those strapped for shelf space (like myself) the very popular Mini-Mates figures can quench your collector itch without making you a candidate for an episode of Hoarders. A nice option for memorabilia minded Dads and Uncles, the design ingenuity of these blocky little babies always makes me chuckle. Mummy and silent Hunchback sets are in the pipeline for later this year.

Diamond’s newest Universal related product is a line of vinyl “Bust Banks”. Starting with the Frankenstein monster (prototype pictured) and the Black Lagoon Creature. Imagine the coolness factor of carting these puppies to the local TD Bank change counting machine. Both are slated for September 2012.

SkeletonPete Says…
Diamond continues to produce quality sculpted figures in packages priced to give buyers the opportunity to own display pieces as well as keep pristine packages for their collections. Considering that Frankenstein’s bride was on the short list for the Universal Monsters line, my personal wish-list would include Ernest Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorius (complete with bottled homunculi), Dwight Frye as Fritz, and of course Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein.

Keep an eye on SkeletonPete for information on Diamond’s first wave of “Mad Monster Party” figures, and hit Ken Pierce’s PiercingMetal Musings for Toy Fair coverage, soon to include Marvel Select, DC Direct and superhero mini-mates.

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