Scrapbook of Horrors II

   If you've read the first article of this sort, you know what you're in for. And if you haven't, I don't know what's wrong with you.


  This time around, we begin with a history lesson...




   You've all seen them before...they're the same gang, every time...poorly made, poorly painted, reflecting only a shattered mockery of the natural world. I am referring, of course, to generic plastic dinosaurs.


   Though the same crappy dinosaurs continue to be repackaged and sold alongside the same crappy army men and barnyard animals, a particular set of them has been slowly phased out over the years...possibly because throwing a bunch of completely made-up whatsits in with bags of "dinosaurs" poses a threat to today's children and their fragile perceptions of reality.


   Or maybe it's because some of these made-up whatsits were adapted into monsters for the "Dungeons and Dragons" universe when game designer Gary Gygax used an assortment of dollar-store toys in the earliest playtests of his mad creation...ultimately turning these nameless, public-domain weirdos into specific, trademarked inhabitants of the world's most popular and completely-freaking-insane fantasy universe.


   The top two critters never actually made it into the "Monster Manual" or variations thereof, but the lower two were reworked into the metal-eating "Rust Monster" and ravenous, burrowing "Bulette" (or "Land-shark") As a child (yes, I'm doing it again!), I had more incarnations of the top-right fellow than any other, and called him "Hairy Hairy Alligator".




"Pea Shooters" Shark


     This isn't particularly interesting, but I'm curious to know if anybody else had these. They were a line of collectible suction-cup-darts sold during the late eighties, intended for use with a big, plastic blowgun patterned after a pea-pod. My personal dart was a chicken drumstick with angry eyes, but this snorkeling shark is the only one I've ever found.



Alien & Astronaut from a motorized mini-game

   Another one I fear the rest of the world may have forgotten, these were part of a battery-powered game similar to those classic magnetic "fishing" games, but with adorable little astronauts on a rotating moonscape. The adorable little Xenomorph was originally attached to the game's base by a string that would slowly reel itself in, presumably sealing the adorable doom of any astronaut you didn't snare in time.


Monster Stickers

   I have nothing interesting to say about these, they just look really, really neat. Especially the mosquito.


"Ugly Stickers" Jiggler Monsters
  I found these precious little antiques in a ziplock bag in my very own basement, with no memory of where they came from. At one time, I didn't even know what they were, but it wasn't long before I would discover an online archive of Topps "Ugly Stickers" from the 1960's, and recognized these guys right off the bat. "Ugly Stickers", which featured gorgeous artwork of these and other bug-eyed beasts, is highly sought-after by today's card collectors, and their squishy, potentially poisonous rubber incarnations can fetch a hefty sum off ebay.


Z-bots "Jawbreaker"

   I could easily devote an entire page to these delightfully cheesy little robots, but they already have entire fansites to their name, and I know when I'm beat. Z-bots, created by micro machines, averaged less than three inches in height, but came in virtually every shape a robot could ever possibly come in...and a lot of shapes they probably shouldn't. Addicting as hell to collect, I probably had hundreds of the little bastards before the line finally sputtered and died, but none could ever de-throne Jawbreaker as my all-time favorite... which is quite impressive for a character created and distributed solely as a Burger King promotion.



"The Legend of Zelda" Board Game Pieces


   I'm not sure where the rest of these went, but it doesn't really matter because Pol's Voice is one of the most interesting concepts ever put into an NES game and you're stupid for disagreeing. Besides, the only other monster tiles were a poorly drawn Moblin, Lanmola, and a pair of angry eyes representing Ganon. The game itself was pretty boring, love that Pol's Voice tile.


Glowworm Friends
   The first toy line I ever collected, I was up to my armpits in these things before the plates of my skull had even finished fusing. Like Smurfs, these guys all lived together in their own charming little slice of communism, probably called Bugland or Glowland or something, and used their individual skills to entertain one another and repeatedly thwart whoever it was who wanted to murder and devour them. For most of my life, however, I was under the false impression that they were called "Glowbugs". Even my parents called them Glowbugs, and would trick me into eating bread by calling it "Glowbug" bread. Why did they have to trick me into eating Bread? I honestly can't remember, but I'm sure it was a better story than you.


Glowworm FRAUDS
   What's a mom to do when her naive toddler is eagerly awaiting more "glowbugs" but Kiddie City is all the way across town? Knock-offs to the rescue! I knew there was something fishy about these imitations, but as I had no concept of "intellectual property" at that age, I just assumed these were special characters from some far-off land where everyone is designed in a completely different artistic style and from low-grade materials.


   Obviously, these guys are much more interesting and meaningful to me than the real deal, and I still proudly display the worm king in a highly visible corner of my bedroom, to impress "the ladies" till the end of time.


   You know...all those ladies?...I'm practically drowning in them.


Nickelodeon "Thingmaker" characters

   The Nickelodeon Thingmaker was the entertainment juggernaut's answer to the more renowned Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker, and one that fell flat on its freaky, orange face. This particular thingmaker, you see, didn't make things you could actually keep. It didn't even make things you could eat. What it made were slimy, gelatinous shapes that would eventually dry up and wither like inedible, razor-edged beef jerky. Yes, razor-edged. The packaging warned us to throw away our "things" before they developed sharp edges, and they definately weren't kidding.


   I've gotta hand it to them, though, for coming up with such fantastic ideas for molds. Seen above are Icky Bod (who's package boasts that he "Gives new meaning to the term, Armed and Dangerous!") Mutoid ("With the body of an insect and the face of a monster, he's built to bug people"), Skeletick ("These guys always argue over who got the looks and who got the brains") and Clot Popper ("He may look like a rejected organ, but this guy's all heart"). The molds themselves were nothing but a specially-shaped plastic blister attached to a card (you literally paid for an empty package) but the artwork is pretty cool...right? I shouldn't have to tell you that I absolutely love the "Skeletick" illustration.


   I purchased these back in 2005 from Clawmark toys, which had only a limited supply. Personally collected in Japan by the couple who run the site, they actually sold quite poorly, and will likely never see the light of day in the west ever again. Originally distributed in chocolate coated capsules, these styleish little choking hazards star in their own "pokemon"-style adventure on the Gameboy Advance, which also never made it stateside.


   Interestingly, many of the chocovaders are based directly off real-world UFO reports, including the silvery-blue goblin and giant brain seen here. The octopoid critter in the second row, however, is the traditional Japanese concept of a "martian", as seen in such properties as the Metal Slug arcade games and Puni Puni Poemi anime.


   Fun fact: the purple, tentacled monster in the banner on my main page is official choco-vaders artwork.


"SUPER CHANGE Evil Eradicator"

   A truly confounding bootleg from the local dollar store, this unofficial spider-man figure comes on a card back clearly stolen from some other generic toy line (complete with instructions for a plastic bat or spider you can "dangle in the air") with a troupe of pint-sized clones (one of which has very pronounced breasts) and a spider-flag that I assume is used to claim things as their own.



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