The Return of More Oddball Monster Sets
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©1997 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards
Welcome to the fifth annual Oddball Monster article. (It began with "Not For Sale Sets" in Wrapper #123 and continued with "More Oddball" pieces every Halloween since.) Last time, we featured some pretty mainstream stuff. This time, it's not only obscure, it's confusing, misleading, and downright chaotic! (I'm referring to the cards more than my writing style, but either interpretation is probably correct.)
All the following sets make it difficult for the beginner to know when the series is complete. They either lack numbers or skip numbers or have confusing titles. None of them have accurate checklists and most of them have no checklists at all. Did the manufacturers intentionally do this to make collectors keep buying packs? I have my suspicions. But I prefer to think of it more as a good natured Halloween prank. One thing's for certain: Once you know the trick, it's easier to enjoy the treat. With that in mind, let's dig in!
The first item on the list is the infamous Ackermonster Cardiac-Cards from Raygen Entertainment (1991). I made a vague reference to this series in Wrapper #126 when discussing the five sets of Ackermonster's ClassiCards (Dynacomm, 1992). The two series are always getting confused by collectors and for good reason: Not only do the titles sound similar, the last two sets of the Cardiac-cards have the same copyright notice as the ClassiCards (© 1992 Dynacomm). To top it off, all nine sets are the same length (45 cards each).
Sorting out which sets are the ClassiCards is easy (in comparison). They all have brick red borders and feature artwork from the covers of various Warren publications (especially Famous Monsters of Filmland). When all five sets are combined, they form one continuous series numbered 1-225.
Sorting out the Cardiac-Cards is tougher. Almost everything about this series is confusing: The first two sets are copyright Raygen 1991, while the last two are copyright Dynacomm 1992. The first two sets have white borders and the last two sets have black borders. The first two sets make no reference to any other set, while the last two sets are subtitled "set #3" or "set #4". The 1st, 3rd and 4th sets are clearly labeled Cardiac-Cards, while the title on the 2nd series reads "Mr. Sci-Fi's Scientifiction Cards". All four series feature lobby cards and posters from science fiction or horror movies, except series #2, which features sci-fi but no horror. Each set is numbered 1-45.
Why was it done this way? I believe series 1 and 2 were separate projects put out by Raygen in 1991. Raygen became Dynacomm in 1992 and tried to create a running series like they were doing with the Classicards. Collectors can find series 3 and 4 in generic Dynacomm boxes all the time. They can find series 1 and 2 in Dynacomm boxes sometimes, but other times, in jewel cases with a photocopy label on top which has no mention of Dynacomm. If I were a betting man, I'd say Dynacomm reprinted the first two series or used up remaining stock by issuing them in the same generic boxes they created for series 3 and 4. (Dynacomm is unable to recall details about this series and cannot confirm this theory, but they acknowledge Raygen was a short lived distribution division of Dynacomm.) Regardless of the particulars, it's all the same series put out by the same company but in different packages. And in spite of these confusing inconsistentcies, it's a fun set to look at. The classic movie art has a way of reaching out and grabbing the viewer.
And now for something completely different- Poggs. I never thought I would collect them, but then I saw Universal Monster Slammers (Imperial 1994) in a local Toys"R"Us. I had been warned they were difficult to finish, but they looked pretty cool. When I took them home and started to collate them, I quickly discovered the problem: The checklist LIES!
Each J-pack has what appears to be a detailed checklist on the reverse. It gives monster names and numbers. But although the list goes up to #96, a title across the back says "collect all 88 Universal Monster Caps!" Hmmm. What happened to 96? Closer inspection reveals the checklist skips numbers 55-60, and #85. Subtract those seven from the 96, and you still don't get 88. The plot thickens. It turns out that some numbers which are listed don't seem to exist. These numbers are #21, 23, 40, and 63. Of course, there's always a chance they exist somewhere (like in a moldy filing cabinet buried deep in the basement at corporate headquarters) but I have yet to find a collector who's seen or heard of them.
There are also twelve different glow caps which are not listed anywhere on the checklist. They feature line art of The Creature, Wolfman, Dracula (2 each), The Mummy (2 each), Frankenstein (2 each), Bride of Frankenstein, a group shot of six, a group shot of four, and a Universal Monsters logo cap. Watch for the two different versions of Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy (featuring different color foil and a slightly different profile of the character).
As if that weren't enough, there are also four different 3-D Slammers featuring the raised plastic portraits of The Mummy, Dracula, Wolfman and Frankenstein. These are also available with different color plastic and smeared with different color paint, but at that point I threw up my arms in total frustration. I've confirmed the existence of purple, black, red, blue and green plastic, with four different paint jobs: silver, gold, green, and blue. Beyond that, I don't know or care anymore. Insert collector indifference <here>. (Give us a break, Imperial!)
Last but not least, are cards that came from inside a record album. Remember records? Those round black things we used to play before CDs decimated our music budget? In 1964, RCA released a record entitled Dracula's Greatest Hits. Inside was a perforated sheet of 15 cards. These 2 1/8" x 3 1/4" sized cards were printed on flimsy stock but featured interesting line illustrations by Jack Davis. They're black and white on the front and blank on the back.
Since there are no numbers or checklist, here's a list of the 15 titles: The Honda Monster, The Mummy, Surf Monster, The Wolfman, The Zombie, King Kong, Frankenstein's Monster, Bride of Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, Godzilla, Girl Vampire, Count Dracula, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mr. Hyde, and Weirdo The Hot Rod Monster. These are not very expensive (usually $2-$5 each) but not very common either. I still need the last four myself. (Let me know if you locate 'em!)
That's all we can squeeze in the coffin this time. Do the hobby a favor and give away cheap card packs to your trick-or-treaters. Some of those same cards might end up becoming future Oddball Monster Sets!
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