Ten things I wanted to buy at Monster-Mania.

We dropped by the Monster-Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill last night, pretty much on a whim. Wasn’t planning to stay over, and with the last remaining rooms being $179 a night, I’m glad we didn’t.

I haven’t been to the New Jersey version of the con in years. This visit was confirmation that I like their Maryland-based conventions better. It’s a longer drive, but the Maryland hotel is much weirder/cooler/more fitting, not to mention roomier.  Perhaps I should’ve opened this paragraph with the phrase, “dear diary.”

Monster-Mania has grown wildly popular. Even on Friday night, when the convention was just getting started, the crowds were enormous.  Especially impressive when you consider that the original autographing headliner, Clive Barker, had to cancel. I refuse to believe that so many people came out for Carl Weathers. At this stage, Monster-Mania seems to be making its way on name alone. Good for them!

I’m not a convention guy by any stretch, but these just have such a friendly atmosphere, and despite the crowds, you never really feel as though you’re among the cattle. While you’d be silly to go to one if you’re not at all into horror movies, that theme is widely defined. So long as you can stand the sight of Freddy Krueger, there’s something for everyone.

I won’t bother with a full con report, because I wasn’t there for the whole con. Nor did I give the autograph rooms more than a passing glance, because after paying the guy from Gremlins to draw me a jack o’ lantern last year, there was nowhere to go but down.

Not fronting. The only reason I went there was for the dealer rooms. Yes, $50 in admission costs for me and the missus, just so I could buy things.

I had Dino Drac’s first Halloween season on the brain. The mission was to find a few things worth covering whenever those festivities end up starting. I think I made out okay, but what I left behind will haunt me for weeks. I didn’t want to be an idiot with my money, but man, there were some great things there. I thought about them the whole ride home. Even took pictures, because those are the mementos I don’t have to feel guilty about.

With that, here are ten things I kinda sorta wanted to buy at Monster-Mania, but didn’t.

Giant Microbes Plush Dolls: I came very close to owning several, especially when the lady running the table pulled out the trumpiest of trump cards: “I only have those, and once they sell, they’re gone.” She didn’t put it quite so bluntly, but that was the message. I also recall some seriously exaggerated hand gestures. It was like she was giving me directions to the post office.

A copepod plush! A dust mite plush! A plush based on a brain cell, which looks remarkably like a mutant lobster/squid hybrid!

Fortunately, my instincts were correct. The dealer’s prices were reasonable, but really no better than what I’m seeing online. For a look at all of the Giant Microbes, visit their official site. (And yes, learning that plush dolls based on microbes have an official site in of itself justifies the price I paid to visit Monster-Mania.)

Tokka Mask: Some guy was selling a bunch of exquisite custom masks, mostly of Ninja Turtles. Among them was a Tokka mask, looking almost swank enough to pass as a screen-worn prop. It was way out of my price range, but had I been armed and without conscience, it would now be mine.

The dealer had great stuff all over his table, including a bunch of oversized monster heads in the vein of Madballs. Still, the Tokka mask was his obvious showpiece, and I will be disappointed in humanity if he still has it for sale by Sunday morning.

Sam Shadow Box: Sam, the sack-masked monster from the fantastic Trick ‘r Treat, has been the breakout star of semi-recent horror. People just love the guy, to the point where Sam’s popularity completely overshadows the collective interest in Trick ‘r Treat.

Maybe that’s why someone made him into a shadow box? Perhaps I was just one dealer-to-buyer powwow away from hearing, “he’s a shadow box because he overshadows.”  I don’t know, there’s a lot of pot floating around at Monster-Mania.

I came super close to buying this, but – and this would be a running theme throughout my convention hunt – I couldn’t shake the idea that it’d be more fun to just make my own. Thanks for the inspiration, Mystery Seller.

Cloverfield Monster Figure: Auuuugh. I’ve been scouting this for years. Released in limited supply by Hasbro, it’s the enormous Cloverfield monster figure, complete with a bunch of tiny, biting parasites that transform their victims into blood-filled balloons!

I have no idea why I didn’t preorder one when I had the chance. I was absolutely nuts for all things Cloverfield. Hell, I still have my Slusho t-shirt, wrapped in random Tagruato newspaper clippings. In terms of nerdy things, skipping this toy may be my biggest folly.

As happy as I was to see ol’ Clover in person, the price wasn’t right. Also, because I’m lame, this is the kind of thing I could only see myself purchasing in a sealed box. If you’re going to spend way too much money on something like this, you may as well go all-in and get it brand new.

Monster Pillows: When I first saw these, my impulse was to buy them all. Or at least the creepy clown, who may or may not represent Pennywise. Not sure why I didn’t, because even as I sit here now, napping with my head to a demented clown seems incredibly right.

Damn, and I’m only now noticing that this pseudo brand of crazy pillows has an official name. “Cuddly Crites.”

To the unknown dealer: At your next convention, make a giant, can’t-miss “Cuddly Crites” sign, preferably with electric neon lettering. Had I realized that your clown was a Cuddly Crite, you’d be $45 richer right now.

Hellraiser Sculpture/Collage/Thing: Okay, so maybe “collage” is a lowbrow form of art, in that anyone can do it and it’s pretty easy to do well. Whatever, I still think this Hellraiser thing is genius. It’s Pinhead in mixed media, and even if I wasn’t about to buy it, its creator put me in the mood to make my own sculpture/collage/thing. Saturday just got 25% less boring.

I’m fairly certain that the artist incorporated doggy treats into this piece. Just wanted to point that out.

Custom Ghoulie: Yep, no doubt, this is the one that got away. I’d never seen one before, and I’m going to hate life if I never see one again. It’s based on the most iconic creature of the entire Ghoulies franchise, or so I’d like to believe. Fact is, there are a lot of baby-sized green monsters with that sort of face.

The price was a steep $450. Not bad for something so rare and beautiful, but I didn’t have that much on me, and any walk to a nearby ATM would’ve given me plenty of time to count the reasons why I shouldn’t spend 450 bucks on a Ghoulies prop replica.

Yet, I regret leaving without him. I’d feel like a complete piece of trash had I bought him, but I’d be one happy piece of trash. And I’d finally be able to empathize with Trubbish in a sincere way.

I should’ve at least tried to haggle on the price.

Human Smurfipede: Technically, I didn’t want this one, but when you have a photo of Smurfs acting out a key scene from The Human Centipede, you use it.

I admit that I’m more of a horror dabbler than an outright fanatic. I like creatures, spooky places and good scares, but I’m not so hot about the grosser elements. I’m assuming that everyone knows what a “human centipede” involves, and I can’t say that I want any representation of it in my living room. Even if it uses Smurfs.

Still, kudos on giving Papa Smurf the starting position. It’d be difficult for Papa Smurf to be the deciding factor in village-related issues with his mouth stitched to another Smurf’s ass.

Flashing Chrome Skull: My geek cred is about to nosedive, because I’m only 50/50 on whether this is meant to be something Terminator-related. Can’t tell for sure, but I hope it isn’t. I want it to be a completely random silver skull, with completely random blinking red eyes. Had I been sure that it was, I’d own it now.

Fiji Mermaids: The most unique vendor at the entire convention had a table full of taxidermy. This may be redundant to write, but some of it was in pretty poor taste. If I showed you the full gamut of stuff, you’d be angry with me.

Still, I gotta give it up for their Fiji Mermaids. In the glory days of sideshows, various parts of dead monkeys and dried fish were used to create them. Audiences paid by the nickel for quick glances at the supposedly real “mermaid mummies.”

Somewhere nearby, Samson gave Rita Sue the nut.

I’m not sure if these were made from real animal parts, but considering the other items on their table, I guess they had to be.  Since there are several online tutorials on how to make these things without utilizing dead animals, I passed. If my home is to be protected by a mystical Fiji Mermaid, I don’t want to feel bad every time I look at it.

Oh, hey. I took a few other photos at Monster-Mania. Gonna be dumping them on Tumblr, so follow Dinosaur Dracula there, if you aren’t already. The entire point of this article was to get five more followers on Tumblr.

48 Responses to Ten things I wanted to buy at Monster-Mania.

  1. I’m sad they are just generic Smurfs, they’d be much better going Papa, a smiling Vanity and then Brainy at the end.

    Also, people selling collages ranks up there for awful craft with ‘shells stuck to bottles and other items’, ‘wicker baskets’, ‘things made from bolts’ and ‘things made from watch parts that aren’t watches’.

  2. There’s still time to hit the (formerly Maryland hosted) HorrorFind convention in Gettysburg, PA!

    As someone who used to work at a 7-Eleven just down the street, I can guarantee the hotel is really nice, and if it’s anything like the HorrorFind convention was when it was back in Hunt Valley, MD it’s definitely worth a trip!

    I got the entire cast of Evil Dead to sign a Necronomicon (after waiting 8 hours in line to meet Bruce Campbell for 2 minutes) and have gotten more great bootleg DVDs than anyone should ever own.

  3. Bought my first couple of items for Hallowe’en. A clear orange Jack O’Lantern tumbler, and a “Bandana Mask.” It’s a printed triangle with velcro. You just wrap it around the lower part of your face and stick the velcro together at the back. The one I got has a wide, toothy, Pennywise/Joker/some kind of sharkman type of open mouthed grin printed on it. I’m going to get the two others, a Vampire mouth, and a Zombie mouth.

  4. Nice Carnivale reference. ;-)

  5. I love the Fiji Mermaids and the Cuddly Crites! I would have totally bought those…the TMNT mask and Ghoulie are great but I would feel like a jerk as soon as I got home and realized how much I paid for them.

    I actually bought a Cloverfield monster toy last year at Christmas. One of the toy sites I visit “found” a bunch in their warehouse and were selling them sealed in the box for $60!! At one time I believe they were going for over $100 and sometimes more than that on eBay. Old Clover is on the table beside my desk downstairs as we speak. Matt, if you can find one for $60, go for it…great toy!

  6. Is the Cuddly Crite in the lower left corner supposed to be Strong Sad?

    And speaking of cons, I’ll be going to NYCC in October! Adam West and Christopher Lloyd are gonna be there, among others.

  7. Exactly what I need on a cloudy windy Saturday afternoon with creepy shows on Bravo and a whole new variety pack of Fall beer with a new Harvest Candle lit. Thank you, Matt. Tipped today from awesome to memorable. woot.

  8. I love convention write-ups that focus on the dealer room. Always the best part, in my opinion.

    I look forward to your posts about creating shadow boxes, collages and mermaids.

  9. Aw Carl Weathers was there?? I would have loved to get a Dillon autographed photo stating, “You got a stew going, baby!”
    Random obscure reference but one I appreciate.

  10. Between the shadow box and the sculptural collage, it looks like you might be getting crafty in the future? If so, I insist you post results.

    Oooh, if you do the shadow box, you should do a how-to! That would be fun.

    I wish I lived closer to where stuff like this con happened, nothing really cool happens in Oklahoma.

  11. This article made me realize I have no idea what the going price is for dead monkey parts. Or if there’s a bulk discount.

  12. I love the drawing of the Smurf Centipede behind the actual figures.

    What’s that wolf mask between Tokka and Leonardo?

    I also want to say that the chrome skull is Terminator-related, but the “skin” on it doesn’t look anthing like skin or like a charater from the movies.

    Speaking of taxidermy, AMC just ordered a new reality/competition show based on it.

  13. King JLA: Looks a lot like Rawhead Rex (pic linked in my name), but not exactly.

  14. MMmmmmm…..I’m gonna go ahead and bust your bubble, and say probably only the pillow in the top left corner is a “cuddly crite.” The “Crite” was the name of the monster from Critters, and that particular pillow looks like one. Don’t think it’s supposed to be a generic name for all of them…..

  15. Ryan, you’re probably right. And I didn’t even notice the Crite hiding there. And that’s what kills me, because now I have to drive back to the convention to buy it. Not really, but I’m coming close.

  16. Just like the sign right below that one says “Rest your head on the book of the dead” and I believe that particular pillow is probably supposed to be the necronomicon from Evil Dead 2.

  17. @Matt…..The crite in particular? Or you just have your eyes on all of them, and damned which one it is, as long as it is cuddly AND full of evil….

  18. I’m on a train from Merced to Bakersfield, and if it wasn’t for generic Dramamine I’d be sick as heck. As it is, I feel a bit silly; hopefully this stuff doesn’t interact with caffeine.

  19. Bethany the Martian: You’re in Oklahoma too? Awesome. You’re right, nothing really happens here often. Or if it does, I never know about it. I guess I don’t know the right people or something.

  20. hmm…good choice not to spend your cash all in one place Matt. I should go to the flea market tomorrow…sometimes when there is a Con in NJ, the vendors come to my local flea market to make some last minute money.

    The Spirit Stores are popping up all over my neck of the woods…it’s gettin to be that time folks!

    I cannot wait to ask my landlord(house mate) if I can buy a bunch of spider webs for the giant spruce trees and bushes out front…and maybe put some fake head stones and one of those skeleton kits with the head arms and feet….on the front lawn….Might even make a scare crow…

    I’m jazzed about the awesome ‘ween themed movies this year! Frankenweenie, Paranorman, Castle Dracula(I think it’s called that…I believe the Despicable me guys made it…Drac’s castle gets turned into a theme park or something…looks hilarious)

    I wanna do something neat for a costume this year…since my knee is gonna be all sorts of scarred and bandaged and funky, maybe a Zombie Lolita/Goth girl or a zombie bride, if I can get a gown cheap at good will…

  21. The monster pillow in the lower left is Dr. Decker from Nightbreed. With all of the horror conventions I hit up, I’ve never seen pillows. I need that Nightbreed one. And the one that looks like Jaws up top.

    Also, Matt, you should keep an eye out for a vendor called “Evil Puppets”. They hit up a lot of conventions in the midwest, but they may go around the east coast as well. They have a traveling museum of famous puppets from horror films & I believe they sell replicas.

  22. I am in complete disbelief that you are not showing us the entire taxidermy table. I don’t even know what they had, and I want to buy everything on it.

    Saddest Saturday ever.

  23. :)

  24. Does the Ghoulie come with homemade bullet bracelets? What’s that all about?

    And the did the creature pillows lady bring her rack of hideous “throw a giant daisy headband on your baby” crafts just in case there were moms there?

  25. @Ryan: The Crite in particular. The clown is cool, but it’s easy for me to resist clowns. I never would’ve left without the Crite had I noticed him. Still can’t believe I didn’t.

    @Rev: I can’t bring myself to post the photos, but the other wares included a two-headed bird, random animal eyeballs in jars, and a snake head glued to a turtle shell.

    @Amy: That dealer was selling a lot of ammunition/weapon stuff. I don’t think the Ghoulie actually came with those. I’m also not sure why anyone at Monster-Mania would need ammunition/weapon stuff, but it was all over the convention.

  26. @Matt: Great convention post, the one from last year with Ernie Hudson was great too. The Human Smurfipede is a novel idea but the execution could have been better. The Monster Pillows are great, I love them. The “Crite” one would have to have been a buy in my book. Out of curiosity how much were those collage things selling for? The Fiji Mermaids are cool but I don’t think I could have one in the house, might be bad juju or something.

    @neonlexicon: good call on the Dr. Decker/Nightbreed pillow. I knew what that was but couldn’t place the name.

  27. Ess Enn Tee?

    It feels almost like fall here tonight. I drove around a lot today just because I could. I hope it doesn’t go back up to 100 degrees tomorrow. But it probably will.

  28. Well I can’t tell if I’m disappointed or delighted that Crite isn’t a real word. I’d appreciate the alliteration better if it were, but inventing a new word for monster-shaped pillows somehow makes up for it.

  29. @JohnV: There were so many other “works of art” featuring Smurfs doing terrible things there. Not sure what that was about. As for the collages, I didn’t ask how much, because doing so would only mislead their maker into thinking I was somewhere close to buying one.

    Agreed on the bad juju, too.

    Annette: Same here, we took a drive earlier for that very reason. Hasn’t been unbearably hot here lately, but this is the first day that there’s been something resembling a chill.

  30. Yeah, I wasted like 1/4 tank of gas but it was so worth it. I love driving but the AC in my truck doesn’t work, so I haven’t been able/willing to drive much. A day like today was just what I needed.

  31. I live 20 minutes from Cherry Hill, and I had no idea about this. Probably because I’m even less of a horror fan than Matt is. I’ve seen smaller versions of those Microbes plush dolls around – they’re pretty cute. I liked the Cuddly Crites, too. The small ghost thing with the one tooth has a nice smile.

  32. This post REALLY makes me want to go to a horror convention!!! I LOVE horror! I’m a complete,total, absolute, utter, outright fanatic!!! If, I was there, and had some cash to spare, I would’ve bought all that stuff, and more.

  33. Following up on what Ultraman said, this post has inspired me to go to a convention. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, just never made the effort. I’ve decided I’ll either make one later this year or early next year since that one will be a 20 minute drive or so.

    Great stuff, Matt. Posts like this one are what got me hooked on X-E way back when. Loved it.

  34. Matt, will you be going to the Monstermania in Hunt Valley?

  35. Aww Man! I was totally there this weekend! I wish I saw you!

  36. I know what you mean about horror. You would expect a typical horror fan and I to have a lot in common, since we both appreciate movies where giant spiders suck out people’s entrails, but that seems to be where our common ground ends. Outside monster movies, I’m collecting children’s toys and reviewing cartoons, they’re collecting metal albums and reviewing…I don’t know, tits?

  37. “Somewhere nearby, Samson gave Rita Sue the nut.”Matt
    I so thoroughly approved of that reference that I actually jumped out of my chair. I really need to re-watch all those and work up a good hatred of HBO again.

    “… they’re collecting metal albums and reviewing…I don’t know, tits?”Bogleech
    As much as I was ready to work up some sort of righteous indignation at the broad strokes you just painted there, I cannot… as that actually fits me like a glove.

  38. Don’t know if you know this or not: Your Favorite Maryland Hotel is no longer under Marriott’s supervision. I don’t know who the new supervisory franchise is yet, but it’s not like the joint can get much worse.

  39. @Scott: Considering it. I looooove that hotel. We went last year and had fun, but there’s a law of diminishing returns with these, too. I’m going to check out the area and see what other Halloween things might be happening that weekend. I’d feel better about the drive/money if I was going to get more out of it than another 2 days in the dealer room. ;)

    @Bogleech: Totally, I lose so much street cred when conversing with horror addicts, because there’s so much I’m not into.

    @Juge: Hah!

    @EAG46: Yep, heard about that. I just hope they don’t do anything crazy, like, say, renovate the hotel. I know a lot of people consider it to be a terrible hotel, but I don’t get it. It’s clean, it’s fucking bizarre, and they have great room service.

  40. Nice article, Matt. I’m super ready for the Halloween season to ‘start’ and this was a fun way to get even more into the mood!

  41. I actually don’t think the entire series of pillows was called “cuddly crites”; the one that the sign is above is a Crite from the “Critters” films, so I think it’s only referring to that specific pillow.

    Why I feel the need to bring this up and therefore sound like a huge douche is a question that destroys me inside. :(

  42. Fair enough! If I see you at the next MM I will ask you for YOUR autograph!

  43. Jugen – I’m just saying I like horror as an adult child, while the rest of horror fandom leans more towards adult adults. People who like beer and cars and parties and were probably ashamed to associate with people like me when they went to school.

    I know almost nothing about anime, yet I feel way more comfortable and normal at Otakon, another Maryland convention. Maybe because it’s also treated by the attendants as a Pokemon/Dr. Who/Star Wars/Cartoon Network convention.

  44. This is me, testing a comment.

    Like this.


    And like this.

  45. This august was the first monster mania i’ve missed in 5 years! I usually only go for the dealers room, so you aren’t alone with that. They really do have some amazing stuff and I find myself stashing extra 5 or 10 dollar bills every couple of weeks for the sole purpose of splurging on unique items. Attending Chiller for the first time next month, excited to see what they dish out.

  46. I’ve been obsessing over those “Creepy Crites” since i read this. Found them today, they’re “Freaky Deekys”, and you can get them here:

  47. That vendor had 2 Cloverfield figures.I bought the other one.

  48. As a microbio major I actually have that little E. Coli guy up front and center of the microbe bin. He’s cute and sits on my nightstand. Got him at the game store in the mall here in Tucson.

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