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Vault of Horror: Mezco Turns the Key for Collectors

Jason in a Colorfully Out of Character "Test Shot."

Jason in a Colorfully Out of Character “Test Shot.”


Hot off the Mez-itz 1966 Batmobile bash at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, Mezco Toyz held their first “vault sale.” The two day event was split between an August 15th by-invitation only media and sales gathering, while day two was an open to the public event. Archive items, including many pre-production tests lined the walls of the Mezco’s Long Island City facility. The vault clearing unearthed an array of unique and out of production items. These behind-the-scenes curios represented franchises like Hellboy, Friday The Thirteenth, A Nightmare on Elmstree, Halloween, Thundercats, and Universal Monsters.
Bits and Pieces: Various Cinema of Fear Test Shots

Bits and Pieces: Various Cinema of Fear Test Shots


Parts Is Parts…
Perusing the room on arrival was a sensory overload of all manner of production oddities. Mold “test shots” tend to be created with whatever plastics are currently in the machines, so the outcomes can range from unusual to outright psychedelic, like a headless paisley Leatherface. Cardboard boxes harbored bloody Benecio wolfman samples, bits of Michael Myers, and a headless 18” Abe Sapien with several variations on his noggin sitting at his feet. There were multi-colored collections of limbs, torsos, heads, and weapons from Mezco’s Cinema of Fear series, Heroes, Kick Ass, and of course Mezco’s Living Dead Dolls peered up malevolently from their coffins.

Several “paint masters” were also available. These are used as color and finish control guides during production. The trio of “Scream Grab” paint masters were really exceptional, and I came very close to adding them to my collection. I did however treat myself to a birthday present and scored a beautiful all white Creature from the Black Lagoon test shot. He’s waiting for his close-up and I’ll present him in a future post.

In addition to the more esoteric test shots, another part of the room was stacked with boxes of long out of production collectibles like Scarface, The Notorious B.I.G., and some Hot Topic exclusives.

Fan Favorite Tiffany, aka Mrs. Chucky, gets the Living Dead Doll Treatment

Fan Favorite Tiffany, aka Mrs. Chucky, gets the Living Dead Doll Treatment


Spiked, Not Impaled…
During an onsite SPIKE TV interview Mezco’s Director of Special Projects Mike Drake noted that licensing choices where less than an exact science, but staff favorites, such as the line of Breaking Bad products, has often paid off. The exclusive hazmat suited, fly swatter toting, Walter White figurine drew long lines of customers at the recent San Diego Comic Con. Alternately, fan requests can be the catalyst like the just announced Living Dead Doll version of Tiffany, The Bride of Chucky.

In informal conversation I asked Drake if it was hard to watch so many one-of-a-kind artifacts leave the archive. He told me that the Mezco decided it was better to have these rarities in the hands of collectors who truly cherish their uniqueness rather than boxed away and so the vault sale was formulated.

Several Flavors of Hellboy's Abe Sapien

Several Flavors of Hellboy’s Abe Sapien


SkeletonPete Says…
Mezco’s press release noted that, “Test Shots usually end up on public display at such institutions as The Museum Of The Moving Image, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, or others. This is the only time the vault has ever been opened and multiple test shots made available to the public.” Despite their museum display level of rarity items were priced to sell and lucky collectors scooped up box loads in minutes.

I was really glad PiercingMetal Editor Ken Pierce – a longtime toy collector himself – and I arrived early as it afforded me the opportunity to document these uncommon goodies before they were whisked away.

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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.

The Halloween Tree

Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree has been on my seasonal must-read pile pretty much every fall since I first purchased the Bantam paperback edition back in 1974. In best Bradbury form it is a classic “boy’s tale” that reveals the origins of all hallow’s eve tradition.

The story originated as a screenplay in 1967 and in the land of “what is and what will never be” would have been produced by animator Chuck Jones (How The Grinch Stole Christmas) – but it was never realized. I’ve always thought it would make a superb addition to Tim Burton’s stop motion ouevre along with Corpse Bride and Nightmare Before Christmas. The Halloween Tree was animated back in the 1990’s and unfortunately messed with enough to ruin its intent but there is a nice faithful “theater of the mind” radio play version available on CD.