I did it. I took the plunge. I am now the proud owner of a vintage My Pet Monster doll, complete with break-apart handcuffs.
He’s two feet of adorable terror, with stoner eyes, shark teeth and an alien dick nose. I love him. I’ve hugged him.
Released by American Greetings in 1986, My Pet Monster was insanely popular. That might sound surprising, but given that the doll capitalized on so many different proven trends, it actually would’ve been more surprising if he flopped.
See, my pal debuted at the height of the “gross toys” fad. Right between Madballs and Boglins. It seemed like any toy that adhered to the same sensibilities was at least a little successful, but when you had one like My Pet Monster, who kinda just stormed into the summit to declare that everything was his and also that Mattel and Hasbro could go fuck themselves, it’s no shock that 95% of the global population owned one by the winter of ‘87.
There was also the fact that boy-targeted dolls had suddenly become popular, I guess because the boys from just a few years prior couldn’t keep their hands off of the dolls that were mostly marketed to girls. Toy companies eventually took the hint, and even by the time My Pet Monster debuted, those My Buddy dolls had already cut down every branch in his path.
So yeah, 1986 was made for My Pet Monster. Had he arrived just two years earlier or later, we’d only know him from some prototype photo in a dealer’s catalog, and maybe some whispers about how he didn’t wow the distributors at Toy Fair.
As so eloquently repeated in the official television commercial, the doll was meant to be less “pet” and more “friend.” Literally the only reason he wasn’t named “My Friend Monster” is because it sounded so clunky.
My Pet Monster served as the physical manifestation of an imaginary friend. The best thing about sharing corn chips and Nintendo controllers with him was that you were only pretending to, so on top of the spoils of friendship, you also got two of everything. Mario died? Maybe you’ll do better as Luigi. One Twinkie not enough? My Pet Monster doesn’t want his.
The doll was a godsend for lonely children. And also maybe for children who weren’t necessarily lonely, but who nonetheless had no confidants with which to share their darkest secrets.
You know what we’re going to talk about first, My Pet Monster?
*presents crude loose leaf scroll and shakes it violently*
THE PEOPLE I WANT DEAD.
Prior to today, I hadn’t seen one of these babies in a long time. I’d forgotten just how BIG they are. Even at my size, it’s easy to fake a conversation with My Pet Monster and not feel like a total idiot. His developers chose amazing colors and worked in so many awesome details, from the stains on his teeth to the matching nail polish on his toes.
He is legit art.
That’s why I decided to name him Art.
Art wasn’t cheap, but thanks to his admittedly ratty condition, I got him for a lot less than these dolls usually go for. Actually, I’ve seen the handcuffs alone sell for nearly as much, because the handcuffs are the critical component that transform My Pet Monster from “a thing on your floor” to “a thing you must mess with every single time you enter the room.”
Thinking about buying one? Smart move! Here are some tips:
1) Most of the dolls you’ll find for sale are not going to have the handcuffs. If you’re okay with that, you’ll get a much better price.
2) My Pet Monster had a reboot in the early 2000s, so make sure you’re looking at a vintage one before you pull the trigger. The newer version isn’t bad, but it lacks the gnarlier charms of the original.
3) I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes trying to think of a #3. I guess I don’t have one.
Everyone remembers My Pet Monster, but less remembered is his full complement of standard 1980s toy line bullshit. Everything from stationery to clothing to inflatable beach balls. He was a one man brand.
Eventually, other dolls were worked into the family, including My Football Monster (essentially a sports-themed twin) to the smaller My Monster Pets, which gave you some vague idea of how My Pet Monster would play out in matryoshka form.
There was even a cartoon series, and perhaps more famously, a direct-to-video movie! If you’ve never seen My Pet Monster: A Live-Action Videocassette, you must drop everything and change that right now. You’re gonna be waiting for the Adult Swim logo to break in after 30 seconds of it. It can’t be real.
I love My Pet Monster.
I mean Art.
Hey Art, come to me cover me hold me, together we’ll break these chains of love.