It feels like forever since I have written an article, and in honor of it being October I wanted to write about something Halloween-related. In this case, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite Halloween toys as a kid. This toy pre-dates me by almost twenty years, but it brings back fond memories of my childhood. I am talking about my Monster-Nik Frankenstein figure, but before I talk about him, let’s talk about Halloween for me as a kid.
When my brother and I were little, my mother was a stay-at-home mom. This meant that she had a little bit more time to spend making awesome homemade Halloween costumes for us, and more time to decorate the house. My parents have a really nice antique Halloween collection that we decorate with, and my mom even went as far as to decorate both my brother’s and my bedrooms for the holiday (with more modern decorations that we couldn’t hurt, I might add. That antique stuff is fragile and too valuable for a kid to play with.). We even hosted a Halloween party for our friends. As great as all of that was, one of the things I looked forward to most in the month of October was bringing out our awesome “monster collection.”
Just like we do today, we frequented lots of flea markets and yard sales while I was growing up, and those flea markets and yard sales often had cheap toys for us to buy. I don’t remember what started our monster collection, but at some point we decided to start amassing monster toys of all shapes and sizes to add to our growing army. The guidelines to joining the monster collection weren’t very stringent. If it was a toy that looked in anyway monstery, be it a space monster, a Universal monster, a fantasy monster, or other type of monster, it was eligible for monster collection membership. The kicker with the monster collection was that it only came out for the month of October and went away on November 1. (These were more my brothers rules than I. He had far more patience than I ever did.) I can honestly say that I didn’t always have the patience to wait to play with the monster collection, and would sometimes search it out in the basement with the Halloween decorations during other months of the year. Even so, it made those toys all the more special when they surfaced from the basement on October 1.
The monster collection contained everything from Masters of the Universe figures to Thundercats to Dungeons and Dragons monsters to downright weird and obscure stuff.
These are just a few of the figures from our collection. The little guy on the left was one of my favorites. His name is Mudblup, and he hails from the Teddy Ruxpin line of action figures. The Frankenstein in the middle was made by Imperial Toys, and though he isn’t too rare, he plays an integral part in the story of how I came to own a Monster-Nik. On the right is a Nightmare Warriors Geronimo figure. Nightmare Warriors is one obscure toy line, and yet I can honestly say that I had one as a kid. I could go on and on about the many toy lines represented in this massive collection, but I really do want to talk about Monster-Niks, so I will refrain from doing so.
I can’t tell you where I got most of the monsters in my monster collection, but I do remember getting the Imperial Frankenstein in the picture above. I got him one summer at a 5 & 10 while visiting my dad at an antique car show. (My dad has two antique Fords.) I know that most people don’t associate the 90’s with 5 & 10 stores, but they did briefly exist into my childhood. By the time I got this Frankenstein he was a few years old, but I didn’t care. I was probably about four years old at the time and I thought he was neat. I really liked that Frankenstein for some reason and my love for it would later prompt my mother into bestowing upon me my precious Monster-Nik. One day the following October I remember my mother calling me into her room while she was setting up Halloween decorations and saying to me “I got you something to go with your Frankenstein.” And then she pulled out the Monster-Nik Frankenstein and said, “It’s Frankenstein’s son!”
From that day forward he was known as “Baby Frankenstein” by me, and he and his father went on many adventures with the monster collection. My parents had actually bought Baby Frankenstein new when they were college students as a bit of a gag. He had remained in a box for years until my mom rediscovered him and gave him to me. At the time we had no idea that he was a Monster-Nik or that he had much value, but Monster-Niks are highly collectible and bring some serious cash when they show up on the market nowadays.
You might be wondering how I know that this guy is a Monster-Nik. I can’t find a marking on him to save my life. Well, carded examples exist that show the name, and through internet magic I learned about them. They made three different monsters: Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and King Kong. All three Monster-Niks come in a variety of colors and outfits, and bootleg figures called “Monster Men” also exist that look like cheap, naked Monster-Niks. You might also be wondering about the name “Monster-Nik”. Well, Baby Frankenstein’s body is a troll doll body. Even though Trolls were called Trolls when I was a kid, they were called Wishniks in the 60’s and 70’s. So there you go. Wishnik, Monster-Nik, it makes sense. I was also lucky enough to receive a Monster-Nik King Kong for Christmas a few years ago in my stocking.
King Kong is probably missing his original outfit, but I don’t think my mom paid more than $1 for him, so I think she did just fine. Without the baby outfit it is easier to see the troll body underneath. What a weird and wonderful toy line. It is a shame that they don’t make ‘em like this today.
These days I don’t put away my monsters at the end of October. Baby Frankenstein and his father are on display all year round. I am sad to say that I don’t have enough room to display the entire monster collection all year, but every now and then it finds its way up to the surface and my brother and I have a good time reminiscing about our favorite monsters.