Way back in 2010 we had an anonymous comment from a reader on our Karate Kid post. That reader expressed an interest in the vintage Remco Universal Monsters line of toys, and said that he/she would, "Love to see photos of the toys." Well, we don't know if you're still out there anonymous, but this one's for you. Ever since your comment all those years ago we have been painstakingly tracking down each and every one of these just for you!
Universal Studios Mini Monsters (AKA Universal City Studio's Monsters)
Remco is truly a company we miss today. Back in the 70's and 80's they were known for making some of the most iconic toys of their time; Lost in Space, The Karate Kid, The Monkees, McDonaldland Characters, Sgt. Rock, and so many more. Today Remco brands are highly sought after by collectors, and the Universal Studios based monsters are no exception to that rule.
In 1979, Remco released the Universal Studios Mini Monsters, or as they are known on the package as, Universal City Studio's. No, there's no monsters on the end of that name. Instead each character's name made up the remainder of the title, I.E. Universal City Studio's Dracula, and so on.
The line was a massive success for the company, so much to the point that they made not one, but two variants of each 3 3/4 inch figure. The first variant is an obvious one - It glows in the dark. Much like the first variant, the second variant also glows in the dark. The only change is to the package which now sports a glowing green border around where the figure is encased.
Creature from the Black Lagon - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Dracula - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
We get that Remco was looking to capture the iconic creatures of Universal Studios, and for all intents and purposes they did. However for a line so popular, it would have been fantastic to see some other characters released, not necessarily limited to Universal Studios based monsters. Ones that immediately come to mind are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein - Just to name a few.
Frankenstein Monster - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Phantom of the Opera - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
This is no collection for the casual of collectors. No, you're going to need a deep wallet to secure these figures. Each figure is currently ranging between $50.00 to $75.00, and that's if you can find all three versions.
Mummy - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Wolfman - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
One of the most difficult pieces to find for this line is the Mini-Monster Monsterizer. Chances of finding one new in the box are slim, and chances of finding one cheap are even slimmer. On average these sell for $300.00 to $500.00 new in the box - Between $70.00 and $100.00 open with all the parts. Mind you, it's not even that big.
Remco also released the Mini Monster Play Case. It's playset meets carry case in all its vinyl glory. What's not to love? Much like the figures, there's a standard version as well as a glow in the dark one.
Mini Monster Play Case
Mini Monster Play Case Glow in the Dark Version
As we said above, tracking down this entire line is no easy feat. It took us over three years. Of course we're very picky about condition, and only looking for things that are (near) mint in the package. If you're looking for a challenge as a collector and have the financial backing to do so, this might be a line to turn your attention to.
Official Universal Studios Monsters
Then the 70's left us, and the 80's were upon us.
Despite a new decade, Remco still saw a lot of value in the Universal monster brand. This time instead of focusing on 3 3/4 inch figures, Remco turned their sights towards nine inch dolls with unique features. A new name was also chosen for the series - Official Universal Studios Monsters.
Creature from the Black Lagoon*Dracula
Each doll/figure was fully poseable and featured glow in the dark hands and faces as well as the series unique play feature, Monster-Crush Grabbing Action! Some dolls also featured glow in the dark rings, and each came packed with a patch inside the box.
Frankenstein*Phantom of the Opera
The series mimicked the release of the prior 1979 line of 3 3/4 inch figures. By that we mean that it had the exact same six characters. However, being much larger, these dolls/figures have an amazing amount of detail far exceeding that of the prior series.
The Mummy*The Wolfman
Remco rounded out the series with a much larger Monsterizer which could be incorporated into play with the nine inch toys.
Universal City Studio's Monster At Home
...And then there were these.
Okay, so not everything Remco did with the Universal monsters brand was gold. Here's how we pictured this one came about.
SCENE - INTERIOR WAREHOUSE - DAY
Employee - "Hey boss, we have all these spare heads sitting around from the nine inch dolls. What should we do with them?"
Boss - "Meh, put them on puppets and make finger puppets with little plastic coffins and crates as the stages.
Employee - "That's brilliant! Kids in the 50's loved puppets, so clearly kids of the 70's/80's will eat them up!"
Creature from the Black Lagoon*Dracula
Whether it was due to poor sales or they ran out of heads, Remco only made four of the six creatures into puppets.
Oddly enough, for as poorly as the Monsters At Home sold, these days they'll cost you about $150.00 to $200.00 for a mint in package one. For as rare as the 3 3/4 inch figures are, these are even more so harder to find.
Well, that about wraps it up for Remco's Universal monster related toys. We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed posting it. For all of you out there celebrating the day, have a happy and safe Halloween.
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