Whenever I review something, you’ve probably noticed that I spend four months describing its packaging. Sometimes, admittedly, this is filler. Today, it is not.
(click pic to make it enormous)
This action figure from the sort-of-bootleg ’90s line called “MONSTER” has, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most insanely amazing packaging I’ve ever seen. Nonsensical and cheap in all the best ways, it looks like something a disturbed third grader would draw and color between fits of crying and biting. I LOVE it.
Obviously, this wasn’t a popular brand. I’m not even sure you could legally call it one. You were more likely to find “MONSTER” figures at a flea market, or in the back of a dusty pharmacy, or inside an ominous oak chest that you were warned to never open.
The front of the card gives some vague impression of a group of creatures escaping from jail. Not monster jail, mind you. Regular jail. Like, with brick walls and barbed wire. Too impatient to wait out parole, they’re ready to delight us with all sorts of colorful gore and trademark infringement. Here are some of the highlights…
Frankenstein’s Monster, wielding a bloody knife. I’m no expert, but isn’t this an unusual choice of weaponry for him? It could be a frame-up job, and if it is, I totally don’t blame him for hopping the fence.
Also: His eye is bleeding. Other parts of his face are bleeding, but it’s the eye that really grabs you. Frankenstein’s Monster has always struck me as a melancholy monster, and I can’t shake the idea that he’s done this to himself. One has to wonder which straw broke his camel’s back. Maybe the Bride of Frankenstein Dear John’d him.
Second is this great, uh, thing. I assume they were aiming for a Toxic Avenger look, but it’s more like Toxie-meets-Abobo-meets-Sloth, with a couple of pinches of Big Mouth from The Smurfs. Any time you can combine those four without exaggerating is the fucking jackpot.
There is so much to adore about this guy. The bumpy skin! The drooping eyeball! The thing that looks like a lobotomy scar but is actually just weird hair! All that, and I haven’t even mentioned his vertebrae teeth or the hump yet. If I dressed like a cat, I’d call this purrfection.
Also digging the random cityscape in the background. It makes me think he has bold dreams of moving on up.
There are bits of slime and gore all over the package, and my favorite example is this mutilated green hand, nailed to the wall for reasons we may never determine. I can’t put 2 and 2 together on this, but looking at that freaky hand makes me think of old arcade games.
But wait! Look closer! That’s no nail – that’s a screw! A Phillips-head screw! Somebody screwed this hand to the wall, and that’s way more painful than nailing it. Much harder to do, too.
The hand, for its part, is spilling more blood than any other hand in hand history.
Here’s a rare case of a mummy who actually does something for me. How could he not? It’s a mummy with an exposed brain, holding a switchblade, who looks more like the Rat King than a mummy.
And, as was the case with Frankie, there seems to be at least circumstantial evidence pointing to the conclusion that this mummy was a self-mutilator.
Monsters who hate themselves are scarier than monsters who don’t. They have less to lose.
Finally, there’s a small hint at Freddy Krueger’s glove tucked under the card bubble, and this will become 50x more important in a minute.
(click pic to make it enormous)
The back of the card invites us to collect all six “MONSTER” figures, and while it goes through an awful lot of trouble to avoid naming them, they’re all pictured.
They’re almost as incredible as action figures as they are in package art form. Not really, but I’m trying to stay positive, because so far, writing about this stupid thing has made me feel all weirdly warm.
Because information about this line is so scarce, I feel it’s my duty to run through each figure individually. Really, I just want to do one thing nobody else has.
The mummy figure looks nothing like the one on the package, appearing more “Karloff” than “Rat King.” The mummy’s pose indicates that he is a quarterback, perpetually ready to throw an invisible football. Don’t tell me you can’t see it.
Like the mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster is less gruesome in figure form, trading in his bleeding eye for the friendliest face this side of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Judging by the skinny jeans and aquamarine polo shirt, I smell a hot new sitcom about monsters who enroll in college and master in ass.
The hell? Is this supposed to be Dracula? Why is Dracula dressed like a waiter from a parody of a bad restaurant chain? My best guess is that the makers of “MONSTER” retooled a ripoff Joker to make him look more like a vampire. My second best guess is that Dracula moonlights as a blackjack dealer at a sketchy casino in Michigan.
The Wolfman isn’t my favorite figure, but since he’s the one that I actually have, I’m trying to muster some form of convenient loyalty. Not really succeeding, but at least he looks like the Wolfman.
Overall, he’s pretty boring, and I think he knows it. Look at his face. We already knew the faces for “angry” and “happy.” Now we know the face for “yeah I know I’m boring.”
The Toxie-Abobo-Sloth figure is nearly as cool as his package art counterpart, with the same bumps, hair and retarded renaissance shirt that we fell in love with previously.
I would’ve preferred him with a pinker skin tone and pants that were anything but lime green, but that’s just a “perfect world” scenario. As is, he still cuts a mean rug.
Last but not least, it’s…Freddy Krueger?! This was a ballsy move by the makers of “MONSTER,” because it’s much easier to skirt copyrights with vampires and werewolves than it is with Freakin’ Fred Krueger.
Perhaps this is why the makers of “MONSTER” neglected to identify themselves in any way on the packaging. Honestly, unless “Made In China” is some sort of whimsically ironic company name, I have no clue who makes these things. Assuming it’s Hal Williams.
Still, while it’s obviously Freddy Krueger, it really isn’t Freddy Krueger. The shirt’s wrong. The pants are wrong. The glove is weird. This would only be Freddy if Freddy spent six months growing his arms and trading clothes with sailors. But you know, I’d rather watch that than some lame sitcom about monsters in college.
As for my Wolfman: No, I am not going to open this package. What’s inside can never compare to what’s outside, and I don’t want to tear up something so awesome just to get at something so ordinary. If this was the Toxie-Abobo-Sloth or Freddy Krueger figure, maybe, but since it’s just a werewolf making a “yeah I know I’m boring” face, I can live without it.
This “MONSTER” collection makes me happy. Very. The end.