Friday, October 30, 2015

Universal Monsters Trading Cards by Impel and Wrapping Up the Halloween Countdown.

We're here at last folks. October's almost over and I'm giddy for the big day to finally arrive. Everything's nearly ready but there's still enough to deal with that this will most likely be the last part of our Halloween countdown. Much thanks to those of you who checked in to read about Hostess snacks, flesh rending crafts, and voodoo flicks from the 70's. Today I figured we'd send the countdown out in style with crafts and old trading cards. That's a kind of style, right?

First off let me present what is most likely the final Halloween craft for the season. For years one big house in town has been the big horror display with these monster mannequins frequently featured on the front lawn. Several other house in town, including my own, endeavor to compete with this titan and I figured why not work some of the same game. Been wanting to make some for a while and circumstance made that a possibility as my sister had PVC pipe leftover from another project. Pretty proud of the results and a bit baffled by the fact that while glue guns leave me injured, saws are no problem whatsoever. With the showboating outta the way, let's take a gander at the original reason for this post. A full set of old Universal Monsters trading cards.

Believe it or not, these have been waiting in the wings since February. A friendly boardgamegeek user offered to send me a complete set from the enormous stash they'd found while thrifting. They actually have their own collectors blog over at Seems only fair to give em a little advertising in exchange for the cards.

In case you're wondering how many cards were in the set, it's just six. These were an early 90's promotion from Impel who I learned later changed their company name to Skybox. They had enough brand variety from Marvel Comics and Disney movies all the way down to basics sports, so there's a good possibility almost every kid in the 90's had at least something from them. All the more so when you consider a special small collection like this that was actually meant to be handed out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night in place of candy. As a general rule, most people who fail to hand out candy should be egged back to the stone age but in this case I'd probably let it slide. Every pack came with three of the cards, necessitating some friendly trading if you wanted everything. Presumably this would be worked out during the candy sorting phase of the night with some poor soul trading away his last root beer sucker for a missing Mummy card.

The first three cards really didn't want to stay in focus so you'll have to forgive the somewhat muddy view. First we have the Wolfman doing his usual mad dash across a moonlit wilderness. One would presume he's in pursuit of a budding victim though traces of violence are nowhere to be found within this set. Blame it on the early 90's. Kids were still allowed to worship villains as they had during the 80's but the blood & guts element was in steep decline due to concerned (translation: Whiny) parents.
On the far right you'll find Dracula likewise in his native environment, someone's bedroom. Once again there's no sign of whoever he may be harassing. Frankly I'd find his behavior more frightening if he'd taken to just posturing in empty rooms.
The middle finds both of Dr. Frankenstein's creations forced to share the same card. The image is fairly iconic for the couple with the bride attempting to shoulder check an incoming awkward hug. Jeez; give a lady corpse the correct skin tone and suddenly she's too good for basic affection.

The second set offers both The Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon doing their best rapper impersonations. Actually, the Creature is probably my favorite card in the entire series as the somewhat crude art works perfectly to convey his personal brand of horror whereas Mummy just looks slightly too cartoonish.
In the center is a classic group shot which proves a tad bothersome as it features empty space that could've easily been filled by the Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera, or some of the other players in the Universal Monster Franchise. It's still fairly common for these guys to get the shaft during promotions so I've always held extra appreciation for any UM based item that remembers to fir a floating fez cap in somewhere. Still; this group shot is pretty solid with everyone looking plenty fearsome. Even Frankie and the Bride seem to be getting along, using terror as a crouch for their failed marriage.

The back of four cards feature rough details of the monster and their accompanying plot line. Whoever wrote these didn't miss a chance for lame puns, especially when they suggest Dracula enjoys driving women “batty.” Yeah.
For some reason, Wolfman is saddled with safety tip duty. Perhaps Larry Talbot's tale was deemed too melancholy for kids so they just decided to throw in some standard issue prattle about reflective clothing.
The group shot may well win the prize for weakest trivia question ever. It asks if kids are able to list the release dates of these six primary UM movies only to then list them in normal sized font directly underneath the question. Nobody bothered to flip the text, make it small, nothing. It's like someone asking you to ignore them while they kick you in the goods.

And that's the tale of some now 20 plus year old trading cards. More than likely there won't be a new post until at least November 1st. I'd like to wish you all the best possible Halloween weekend. Have some treats. Take a nice autumn walk. Scare yourself silly. Whatever you like best about this season be sure to fit it in. The Skeleton salutes you from atop horror movie mountain.

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