Universal Monsters Week | Monster Hot Wheels & New Stock Art

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The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The official Universal Studios Monsters are back from the grave, this time adorning some sweet rides from Hot Wheels.  These creepy cars are now available at select grocery stores, such as certain Kroger stores and Winco, and will probably be found in the Halloween aisles.  In total there are six vehicles: Creature from the Black Lagoon Low Flow, Dracula Neet Streeter, Bride of Frankenstein ’59 Cadillac Funny Car, Frankenstein Double Demon Delivery, The Wolf Man Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus (not pictured) and The Mummy 1934 Chrysler Airflow (not pictured).

Universal Monsters Hot Wheels

And what is interesting about them is that they feature new artwork for our Monster friends.  Instead of the horrible CGI monstrosities created at the beginning of the last decade, these monster toys feature characters with a more “hand-illustrated” look.  And while none of them look much like the original characters (or, God forbid, actors), it is a step in the right direction, even if it means eliminating the Wolf Man’s dog snout (poor choice, indeed, Universal).  Perhaps these line-art versions of the Monsters will be seen on other products in the future.  Maybe the CGI-looking, computer-drawn abominations from 2002 will finally be gone forever…  Only time will tell.  All I know is that I’d give almost anything to have these 1997 versions back.  Or the 1991 Monsters…  Or the Aurora Monster Model art…  But anything is better than the ones we’ve had to endure for the past decade.  That is certain.  We’ll be back Friday with our final look at the Universal Monster products of 2013.

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The Best Halloween Candy of 2013

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If you have not already bought the candy for 2013’s batch of Treaters, you’re in luck.  Today, we are going to hand out 2013’s Best of Halloween awards, with this year’s emphasis on Treats.  The Big Scare is run by some very scrupulous candy connoisseurs, and we are proud to share with you our picks for the Best Halloween Treats of 2013.

First up, our pick for…

BEST ARTWORK

Our pick for best artwork goes to Nestle’s Ultimate Scream fun-size candy pack.  This 45-piece bag of goodies is filled with Nestle’s top sellers, like Crunch and Butterfinger.  But, as with our last post, it’s really what’s on the outside that counts for this award.  Clearly, this bag was created by a Monster-lover.  It’s true that this package has been around for a while, but it still has yet to be beat, except by Nestle’s now hard-to-find companion pack, Classic Scream.  The image of the Frankenstein Monster and the “scream queen” is simply iconic.  Too bad the Dracula bag is no longer widely available, as it would have easily tied for this award.  Better than any officially licensed food-product from Universal Studios, this bag scares up first place in the art department.

nestle ULTIMATE SCREAM

BEST ASSORTMENT

Our winner for the Best Halloween Assortment award is one that will be familiar to seasonal enthusiasts.  Anyone who has been reading the Big Scare since its launch will know that we are huge on themed-treats.  The bland, boring fun-sized candy like the treats in the bag above do very little for us.  It’s Halloween, and that means we have high-expectations for the fun-level of our candy.  In terms of fun, it’s hard to beat the Hershey’s Halloween Shapes Assortment.  This package of treats is the ultimate combination of taste and terror.  Between the York Peppermint Pumpkins, the Hershey’s tombstones, and the Reese’s pumpkins, the taste quality is hard to beat… and so are the shapes!

Hershey's Halloween Candy

BEST HALLOWEEN CANDY

The award for Best Halloween Candy is not given lightly.  A lot has to be considered before the award is bestowed upon a creepy candy-maker.  That being said, this year’s winner is Palmer and its 3-pound bag of Monster Munch chocolate candy.  For decades, Palmer has been one of the staunchest supporters of themed Halloween candy.  From the old-time Witch Pops to the classic Monster Munny (Money), Palmer has been the mastermind behind many a child’s Halloween memories.  So, it seems only fitting that a giant bag of Palmer monster-shaped candy should be the winner of 2013’s Best Halloween Candy award.  In this massive package, you will find 3-pounds of chocolate treats — all appropriately themed and decorated.  First is the Monster Munny (Money), an item which has been around for decades.  Featuring the cartoon likenesses of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Witch, and a Great Pumpkin, the Monster Munny (Money) is a very special treat.  Split up into demonic denominations and made of Palmer’s fantastic double-crisp, it could only be beat if the chocolate were molded to look like the tinfoil wrappers…  Also included in the Monster Munch are two-tone Peanut Butter Pumpkins, which do come shaped like jack-o’-lanterns, yummy, soft fudge-filled Boos, and the most creative of the lot: milk-chocolate zombies (white chocolate corpses in chocolate coffins).  This set can simply not be beat.  Not only is it tasty, but it has all of the heart that Halloween candy should have.  Congratulations to Palmer and its Monster Munch!

Palmer Chocolate Monster Munch Mix

Return of the Monsters: Killer Cereals’ Revenge

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The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The original Monsters from the Mills… General Mills, that is… are all back: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry.  However, this year, there is a bit of a twist on the terrifying trio.  2013’s Monster Cereals are all being offered in their original 1970s packaging!  That’s right!  Boxes modeled after the original designs are being sold exclusively at Target — and what’s more is that come filled with the cereals you love.  Granted, the recipe is different from the debut years, but the heart is still there.  And the amazing artwork is just as good as ever.

Vintage Monster Cereals: Chocula, FrankenBerry, Boo Berry

Also, in case you have not heard, this year is a very special year for the Monster Cereals, as this is the first time in over two decades that Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry are joined by their fruit-flavored brethren: Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy!  Yes, indeed.  The forgotten cereal monsters are back.  And while the recipe is different, (It would have to be, as Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy were originally the same cereal, marketed in different years.)  these special releases harken back to the good old days of Monster Mayhem, and provide plenty of reason to, one again, fill your breakfast bowls with tasty terror.

Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy

The new Fruity Yummy Mummy is orange creme, while the new “Frute” Brute is cherry.  Both can be found at Target, while Walmart carries the dastardly duo in updated packaging.

Toy Fair 2012 Monsters | Pictures of All the New Toys

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Any opinions expressed in the following article do not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   The following is for information purposes only.

They have risen again.  Nearly 15 years ago, the Universal Monsters saw a resurrection from the grave with the introduction of Classic Monster Postage Stamps.  The stamp collection prompted the release of Universal Monster figures from a major toy studio – Hasbro – and eventually led to the impressive Sideshow Toy line of figures.Now, they’re back.

Two major toy companies have the license  and will be producing some great toys over the next few years.  The first, of course, is Diamond Select, which secured the license from Universal a few years back.  Since that point, Diamond has been issuing two Mego-style Monster figures in their “Retro-Cloth” series and three PVC Monster action figures every Halloween, along with a selection of Mini-Mates and alternative sculpts.  All of those lines are going to continue into the foreseeable future.

This year, Diamond will release two new “Retro-Cloth” figures:  The Bride of Frankenstein and the hotly anticipated Creature from the Black Lagoon.  The 2012 PVC figures include The Phantom of the Opera and Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth.   The 2012 Mini-Mates include The Mummy and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In 2013, Diamond will release  new PVC action figures:  The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Mole People and a Boris Karloff Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Diamond is also planning on releasing a Frankenstein Bust Bank.

This year, Mezco also secured a Universal license and will be producing some terror-ific looking pieces.  They will be releasing three stylized figures of The Mummy, Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  In addition, they will be releasing the Universal Monsters in their Living Dead Dolls series.  The first two will be Dracula and Frankenstein, both of which will be released in 2013.  The final product from the upcoming assortment will be a “Big Frankie” version of their stylized Frankenstein figure.

Let us hope that Mezco will also take on the concept of playsets and introduce all of our favorite characters as small action figures with accompanying “scenes” and “play environments”.  But time will tell…

Another exciting story out of Toy Fair 2012 is that the characters of Mad Monster Party will finally be released in action figure format.  This long-anticipated toy series will be coming from Diamond Select.  Wave 1 will include Boris Karloff’s Baron Boris von Frankenstein, the character of Count Dracula as well as that of the Frankenstein Monster.  Surely, all of our other favorite Monsters are waiting in the wings…

Finally, Diamond will also be producing new Munsters figures, in addition to “Silver Screen” versions of the first series.