- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Aurora Monster Mash
Classic Aurora Monster Model Kits
One of the most popular toy lines in the 1960s were a line of monster models from the Aurora Plastics Co. In the late 1950s television stations, starved for content began buying up old movies from the studios to fill time. During this period Universal Pictures decided to package their classic monster films to syndicate on television. As new generations were able to see these movies for the first time, their popularity skyrocketed. Magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland sprouted up making the classic monsters even more well known. It was during this period that Aurora Plastics Corp. decided to try releasing a model kit line based on the universal Monsters. They started slowly by bringing out a Frankenstein monster model to test the waters.
It was a success which led to more creature models being planned. It was at that time that Aurora made a marketing decision that would turbo charge sales for years. They began advertising in the back of DC comic books. Millions of kids spotted those well done ads and sales went thru the roof. Aurora struggled to keep up with demand. Through the 60's more monster models were added: Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Phantom of the Opera. It seemed like almost every boy and girl in America had one on their bureau. Putting together models like the Aurora monster models became a craze in the 1960s
Aurora Monster Kits in the 70's
Through the 1960s and into the 70's, Aurora expanded their line to include both figures and dioramas like the Hanging Cage and the Pain Parlor. They added glow in the dark versions of the classic monsters which kept the line going through the mid 1970s. Aurora also had models of popular television shows such as the Seaview sub from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and others based on Land of the Giants, Lost in Space, and Star Trek.
In the mid 1970s they tried to revitalize the model kit line by introducing new model figures of the classic monsters, along with new additions from Japanese monster movies such as Rodan, Ghidorah, and Godzilla. However the time for models of this sort had began to pass and the sets fizzled sales-wise. Shortly afterwords Aurora got out of the model kit business.
Their models were fun to build and look at. Even better they were at a price that kids could afford unlike other model kits kits of the time. I especially liked the glow in the dark monsters. I had a glow in the dark Mummy which sat on my shelf. I would stare at it halfway expecting it to start moving. Fortunately it never did (as far as I could tell).
The Bride Of Frankenstein
Moebius and Polar Lights Kits
Over the years different companies picked up the gauntlet and began re-releasing these classic kits. First Polar Lights came out with a set (Aurora, Polar Lights...get it...get it?). Revell and Moebius also came out with some of the creature kits. They actually still look good even after the passage of all these years.
The newer kits sometimes have new and improved poses, and sometimes they are the originals from 40 plus years ago. A few new ones have been added as well. And I'll bet painting them correctly will be a little easier now than when you were a nine year old. The old Aurora Monsters models have everything from clocks to mouse-pads with their images on them now. They have become as iconic as the movies they were inspired by.
The Popular Vampirella Model
The one Aurora model kit that was not a success was the Vampirella design. Not because it was not popular. Quite the contrary, it immediately rocketed to the top of want lists for virtually every boy that saw it. The problem was getting mom and dad to spring for this mildly risque model. And that is what led to bigger problems.
Parents and feminists were outraged when this started showing up in comics, and kids began asking for them. Aurora hardly helped their own cause with the "Rated X for excitement" tag line that went with it. Aurora found themselves in pretty hot water and pulled the toy quickly. It would not be re-released for another decade or so, and then by another company.