Bride of Oddball Monster Sets!
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©1998 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards
Open the squeaky door, kiddies, it's time to venture into the dark and dreary world of oddball monster sets! This has been a Wrapper tradition for several Halloweens, but as long as more creepy crawly cards keep surfacing, we'll keep writing about them. (Halloween maybe over when you read this, but the article was due on October 31st... Close enough!) We have some real neat items this time. Several of them are foreign and somewhat mysterious. So pull up a coffin and rest your bones. You'll be glad you dead -er- did.
First on the list is a very colorful set called Movie Poster Cards (copyright 1997 by a company of the same name). These regular sized cards feature colorful and lurid posters from many of the low budget science fiction and horror movies of the 50s & 60s. Remember The Wasp Woman, Robot Monster and Terror from the year 5,000? If you were a kid, you probably thought these movies were scary. If you were a teenager, you probably took your date to these movies to make out. If you were an adult, you probably shook your head as you passed the marquee. Whatever your age, you probably noticed that the posters were often more exciting than the films themselves!
This set is fun to look at and also lists production information on the back along with one or two sentences describing the plot. According to Ken Peregrina, marketing director, 5,000 sets of the series were produced. A complete set is officially made up of 34 cards, but there are also two more cards (numbered 35 & 36) which were held back by the company to distribute as promos. There is no checklist so many collectors are unaware of these last couple of cards. They have posters from Santa Claus conquers the Martians and The Day of the Triffids.
It's worth noting that several of the posters from this set have already appeared in the four volume series of Ackermonster Cardiac-Cards (1992). There may also be some duplicates in the 144 card set of Super Cinema Cards (Piemmecie Pubg. 1992), an Italian series of 3 x 4" cards that cover a wide range of movie themes. Movie Poster Cards are sometimes mistakenly called Monster Movie Poster Cards. No such series exists and it's easy to remember the correct name because it's also the name of the manufacturer and printed in the copyright notice on every card.
More in the oddball tradition are Mini-Bombs Trick Noise Maker cards (M. Kapp 1992). These colorful drawings appear on boxes of explosive caps that youngsters throw on the ground to make popping noises. (A few of the less intelligent kids put them in their mouths and rearranged their dental work, much to the glee of Personal Injury lawyers.) The cards are regular sized and detach from the box (which is perforated). The gray backs of the cards tell the story of how the monster came about and how the military destroyed it.
It's apparent whoever designed these cards (M. Kapp) enjoyed monsters and cards! These are fun cards to collect and it's a pity there are only six in the series. The titles (in order) are Mutant Worms, Desert Destruction (a giant dragon), Rat Fight, Creatures from Gorge (giant cobra, snake and lizard), Bat Warfare, and Attack of the Dinosaur (T-rex).
If you like monster stickers, you might be interested in Horror Parade. It's not an easy set to complete though, consisting of 288 stickers. Each measures 2 1/4 x 1 5/8 inches. I've only obtained a few packs, but each sticker is die-cut so it can be peeled off and stuck in an album. The album is the best part of the set. It contains full color pictures illustrating rather silly ghost stories. (One of them is about hippies who visit a haunted house run by aliens. Far out.) The pictures are missing the character's faces which get filled in with the stickers. The album measures 8 3/4 x 12 inches and has 16 pages. It has the same red demon on it that the wrapper does. By the way, only three stickers were sold in each pack, but at 5 cents a pack, who's complaining? There is no date listed, but it's a safe bet it was made sometime in the 1970s. The company was Americana Picture Service, Elizabethport NJ (but printed in Italy).
A similar series is called CINE from Spain. These stickers measure 2 1/8 x 2 7/8 inches. Judging from the really cool wrapper, this series is devoted to horror themes, but with only a hand full of stickers and no album in my possession, it's hard to say for certain. Each sticker is die cut on the front and numbered on the back with a short title (in Spanish). The highest number I've seen is 172, but it probably goes much higher. The wrapper states it is printed in Spain for Culturama Inc., San Juan Puerto Rico. The date appears to be 1978.
A friend in Spain sent me a really fun album called Monstruos (in blood dripping letters). This series "borrows" from so many movies and comic books, it's really hilarious. I mean, it rips off stuff from all over the place! Keep in mind that Spain was the only country to survive World War II with a fascist dictatorship still intact, and they kept it that way until 1975. So you could say it's a country that is used to doing it's own thing and not paying much attention to what anyone else thinks. Many of the super heroes in this set are thinly disguised variations of major commercial properties (i.e. Marvel and DC), but more on that later.
First and foremost are the monsters. You name it and it's in here. Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature of the Black Lagoon... even the Golem and the Man with the X-ray Eyes! They're very colorful and the artwork is pretty decent, but these aren't stickers at all. They're cardboard cards which measure 2 x 2 5/8 inches. The gray backs feature some generic line art of various monsters plus the title and number at the bottom. Collectors would paste them in the 28 page album over 210 rectangles. Oddly, each rectangle contains the story of the monster, so once the card is pasted in, you not only damage the card but you also prevent the story from being read. Go figure.
The 8 1/4 x 11 3/4" album also contains various sketches and is divided into nine sections or themes. The titles are Monstruos Del Cine (Monsters of the Cinema), Gigantes (Giants), Animales Miticos (Mythic Animals), Fantasmas Y Aparecidos (Phatoms and Apparitions), Brujos Y Hechiceras (Wizards and Witches), Criaturas Fantasticas (Fantastic Creatures), Seres Extraterrestres (Extraterrestrial Beings), Super Heroes (my translators are still working on this one), and Misterios Inexplicables (Unexplained Mysteries).
Here are some of the funnier highlights: Under Animal Myths, it has "Jaws" and King Kong, not to mention Moby Dick! Under Fantastic Creatures, it has The Fly, Gremlins, and Beauty & the Beast- all taken straight from the movies. I'm surprised they didn't include "ET" under Extraterrestrials... Although they did include Alien, renamed A-L-N-77. (That oughta throw off the lawyers!) But the "boldest plagiarism award" clearly goes to the Super Heroes section. It has Superman with a "P" instead of an "S", The Human Torch with a helmet, The Thing made of granite instead of red rock, Spiderman (renamed Tarantula Man), Thor (renamed Viking), Hulk colored blue instead of green- & the list goes on!
Alas, I've never seen any wrapper to this set but if I'm decoding the catalog number correctly, it was made in 1986. (The Gremlins movie was released in 1984, so this would seem about right.) I've heard there is another series devoted to aliens, but have yet to see it. But like aliens, we're out of space, so until next time- keep on collecting!
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