One of the coolest A Nightmare on Elm Street toys… technically has nothing to do with A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Bear with me. This’ll take a little explaining.
In 1988, Tonka launched a small line of Wrecking Crew toys. These were various construction vehicles that could plow over and/or straight through break-apart playsets, affording kids the chance to do what they did best: Smash shit.
With such a simple gimmick and a nearly generic look, very few people remember the Wrecking Crew series. That’s unfortunate, because hiding deep in the line was an awesome and unmistakable nod to none other than Freddy Krueger.
Shown above is the Abandoned School House Playset. It might not look very remarkable now, but once I show you the finer details, you’re gonna flip. (more…)
Thanks largely to the media blitz surrounding its 30th anniversary, Ghostbusters seems hotter than ever. You know how I’m always saying that every Halloween season has “one thing” that ultimately sets it apart from every other Halloween season? In 2014, it’s gotta be Ghostbusters.
Let’s review. The movie returned to theaters. Krispy Kreme made some legendary donuts. There’s more GB merchandise now than ever before, since “doodad makers” have the luxury of catering both to kids and to old idiots like me. Tack on the confirmation of a new movie, and yeah, it’s been a great few months for GB fans.
All of the buzz inspired me to do one last Ghostbusters post before Halloween, so here are five random GB items from my collection. I’ve had some of these things for years, but most were recent pickups. You reading about them justifies me buying them, so thanks in advance!
#1: Stay Puft Glow Mask! (1986)
I admit that I paid too much for this mostly-broken Halloween mask, but how could I resist? It’s Stay Puft! And, to the best of my knowledge, it’s pretty rare.
Cheap, plastic masks remind me of my earliest Halloweens, back when the ol’ mask-and-smock combo was the In Thing. (You know the kind. You’d get a crude plastic mask based on your favorite cartoon character, along with what was essentially an enormous lobster bib.) Had I spotted this Stay Puft gear back in ‘86, I most definitely would’ve been a Marshmallow Man for Halloween.
It’s worth noting that there isn’t a face this mask would fit. Even imagining myself with the head of a four-year-old, there’s just no way. I think it was sold less on the basis of “hey wear this” and more on the basis of “hey buy this because it’s a glow-in-the-dark Stay Puft head.” Challenge accepted, albeit 28 years late.
I can’t envision a scenario wherein I’d ever have a taxidermied deer head in my house, but I’m going to hang this mask in exactly the same fashion. It’s a trophy I can be proud of, and when I get up in the middle of the night to eat half a brick’s worth of Cracker Barrel cheese, Stay Puft’s faint glow will keep me from stubbing my toes on table legs. (more…)
It’s the return of Dinosaur Dracula’s…
SCARY MARY HOTLINE.
If you don’t know what this is about, I’d suggest reading this article from last year.
Or, if you don’t feel like clicking around, I’ll just repeat myself!
Back when pay-per-minute telephone hotlines were a huge deal, it seemed like every kid-targeted “thing” had one. Teen idols had them, musicians had them… hell, even cartoon characters had them. We gobbled them up! Needlessly protracted messages from our favorite stars may sound like a waste of money, but in a world with far fewer ways to kill a few minutes, they were pretty great. Stupid, but great.
The best of them — in my humble opinion — took us deep into the bowels of hell. There were TONS of horror hotlines in the ‘80s and ‘90s, featuring everyone from Freddy Krueger to Grandpa Munster to ghouls of a more generic sort. What made them special was that they weren’t just for hardcore fans. Kids who were typically petrified of “horror stuff” could test the waters, listening for as long as their nerves (or wallets) would allow.
Hotlines being what they were, keeping you on the phone for as long as possible was the goal. Sometimes, you’d have to wait for the end of the message to find out how you could win a free bicycle. Other times, your narrator just spoke very, very slowly. The only kids who listened to the entire messages were the ones who gave no fucks about what their parents would do when the bills came in. The rest of us hung up early, satisfied that we “talked” to Freddy Krueger for even one measly minute. What a story to tell at school!
It’s easy to make fun of those old hotlines. They were exploitative and goofy, and in 2014, it’s hard to imagine paying for such a “privilege.” Still, I have nothing but fondness for my own experiences. Those hotlines put unique stamps on otherwise boring days, and in the case of the horror hotlines, the thrill was more akin to a roller coaster — but one you could step off of whenever the going got rough.
…which leads me to the return of Dinosaur Dracula’s SCARY MARY HOTLINE! (more…)
Welcome to Classic Creepy Commercials, Volume 7! (It was either this or another edition of Five Spooky Action Figures. The folks on Twitter voted for more commercials. If you would’ve preferred to read about plastic Draculas, blame them. #notmyfault)
Larry P. generously provided the first four ads in this batch, while The Mysterious Spencer tossed in the fifth. Thank you, guys!
Coca-Cola “Monsters of the Gridiron” Commercial! (1993)
Oh, boy. If I covered every last nuance of Coca-Cola’s sprawling Monsters of the Gridiron campaign, we’d be here forever. Instead, I’ll give you the basics.
In Monsters of the Gridiron — at heart a contest but really so much more — various real life football stars were turned into horrible Halloween monsters. And holy cow, they were CREATIVE!
It wasn’t just like, “Hey, let’s take this quarterback, put him in vampire makeup and call him Vlad Pigskin.” There were devils, scarecrows… even giant snakes! All of the actual players took part, and photographs of them in their monster disguises live on in promotional Monsters of the Gridiron trading cards. (Note to self: Find those fuckers on eBay.)
Even if you never dug deep into the promotion, you’ve gotta remember the TV commercials, which featured football players morphing into macabre creatures. You didn’t have to care one bit about football to love this. I sure didn’t. (more…)
Madd Matt is back, and he has a new doll!
Actually, the doll isn’t new. It’s from 1988. Many of you should recognize this animated vampire figure, which for a time seemed as common a Halloween decoration as fake webs and plastic spider rings.
Part of a larger line of battery-operated monsters, I’ve long thought of them as cheap imitations of the much nicer Telco figures. (I don’t mean “cheap” as an insult. On the collectors’ market, those Telco “Motionettes” can go for several hundred dollars apiece, while this cruder Dracula frequently sells for a mere ten bucks. That’s how much I paid. Score!) (more…)
This is going to be one of the shorter Halloween Countdown entries, but make no mistake, today’s subject means as much to me as anything else I’ve covered.
From 1988, it’s the famous/infamous Chamber of Horrors cassette, which I’m sure will be immediately recognizable to a fair chunk of you. “Halloween sound effect tapes” were October mainstays at card stores and bric-a-brac shops, but this specific one REALLY got around.
Since a relative few used the tapes for any on-the-nose purpose, I can’t accurately claim that they were “necessities” of their era. Still, we all had them. Even if you didn’t have this one, I’m sure you had one like it. And if you were anything like me, you devised some pretty strange uses for it.
By and large, tapes like these included one long string of — for lack of a better term — Halloween garbage. Music mixed with howls mixed with creeping door sound effects. Flapping bat wings, ominous moans and rattling chains. Things like that.
There were two primary purposes for them. One, you could throw it on as background noise at a Halloween party. Two, you could blast it from your porch to give the decorations on your front lawn a boost of audible spookiness. (Just by looking at this tape, so many memories of cardboard graveyards come flooding back.)
I bought this cassette a while back, confident that it was the same one I grew up with, but not positive. As soon as I listened to the first five seconds, I knew I had the right tape. (more…)