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Toy Tuesday: Mighty Men & Monster Maker

March 26, 2013

I’ve recently returned home from a long family vacation.  We had a great time — despite that Bobby uncovered a cursed tiki idol that created quite the pickle for us.

Oh, and Greg caught syphilis.  Again.  Stupid tiki.


Feeling way behind in my work around here, I was thrilled when Heather from the deliciously witty blog Becoming Cliche offered to do my homework for me.  Which in the blogging world is what we call “a guest post.”

So please give a warm welcome to Heather (aka The Turtle Whisperer) — in the form of comments, confessions, Pop Rocks, denim scrunchies, etc.  And please check out Heather’s blog — which the WordPress gods feature on their short list of recommended humor blogs.  And you don’t want to upset the gods, what with what happened to Greg and all.



You may recognize this snowman as Heather.

Of Mice and Mighty Men

As a child  I was an average artist, and it broke my heart.  When I heard people complaining that they were so lacking in artistic ability that they could not draw a stick figure, I envied.  I could draw stick figures just fine, thank you.  And produce little begging puppy dogs by the pack.  And draw rainbows without a compass.  But that was my limit, and it hurt me.  I was blessed with a vivid imagination and cursed with the inability to portray my imaginings accurately on paper.  With every rainbow, my heart bled a little.  Until one day.

Was it birthday or Christmas or just because?  I haven’t the faintest clue.  I don’t even remember the actual unwrapping and receiving of it.  I just recall the sense that all was suddenly right with the world.  There may have also been a touch of smugness.  After all, this toy was advertised during Saturday morning cartoons.  That’s prime time, people!  Everyone wanted it.  And I had it.  I, the uncool kid, was suddenly the envy of all my imaginary friends.  My mom had purchased me the Mighty Men and Monster Maker kit.

If you are unfamiliar with this toy, you have my pity let me explain.  Sadly, it didn’t create actual monsters, just pictures.  The kit came with 18 etched plates.  To create a monster picture, the budding artist chose three plates, one head, one trunk, and one pair of legs.  Want a mummy head with a superhero torso and lizard tail?  You could make it!   Since the plates were reversible, the number of monsters and heroes a kid with a pile of paper and half an hour to kill bordered on infinite.  Once the three plates were placed in the holder and a piece of paper was inserted over the top, the image was produced by rubbing a purple crayon over the top of the paper, kind of like a grave rubbing.

It was a thing of beauty.  For the first time in my life, I was able to put down on paper what was in my heart.  Looking back, maybe that particular thought is a little alarming considering I primarily created the undead, but I prefer to think of my younger self as pre-emo.  I didn’t need to wear black eye liner or mope about.  I had the coolest toy in the universe and some mad scientist skilz with a purple crayon.

What, you think it didn’t take skill?  Clearly you have never used a Monster Maker or Tomy’s more mainstream equivalent, the Fashion Plate.  Like a diamond, it takes just the right amount of pressure to create this thing of beauty.  Too little, and there’s no monster at all, too much and you’re dealing with giant purple smudges all over the paper.  And let’s not forget the coloring. Each monster had to be hand colored with colored pencils!  Not crayons, you understand.  Crayons are for babies, and this toy ain’t for babies.  I colored those things all up!  And I stayed in the lines every, single time.  I told you I was good.

So where is this toy now, you ask?  This toy that launched me to the very height of coolness?  Good question.  One day my magic gadget was just gone. *poof*  I have ever since been deprived of the ability to express myself through art.  I think that’s what forced me to become a writer.


55 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2013 5:54 am

    I had the Fashion Plate…way lamer *hangs head in shame*

  2. March 26, 2013 6:48 am

    I was born too soon. Sigh.

  3. March 26, 2013 7:03 am

    Oh, this brought me right back, Heather. Back to my sad pathetic attempts at creating real artwork. If only they still made this product now, I wouldn’t have to blog ever again and the world would be a better place.

    • March 27, 2013 6:11 am

      You can buy it on ebay. That’s what I keep telling my kids. I am hoping to get it for Mother’s Day so I can once again express myself in an aesthetically pleasing way.

  4. March 26, 2013 7:59 am

    I was not previously aware of this gloriousness. I, too, had the Fashion Plate. But I grew bored of making silly fashion pictures. If only I had known about the monsters and mighty men!! I think my entire life would have changed. No more thinking that I had to draw fashion models in dresses because I was a GIRL. No. I could have been a trend setter. A forward thinking Gloria Steinum of the 80’s. Where were you when I needed you, Heather? Damn.

    • March 27, 2013 6:13 am

      I do feel bad about not coming forward about this game changer thirty years ago. A little.

  5. Tony permalink
    March 26, 2013 8:20 am

    I still have a theory that this is what the Mattel toy designers used to create the Masters of the Universe characters.

    • March 27, 2013 6:14 am

      I’m pretty sure you’re right. Add a shaggy blonde ‘do to the muscled up body, and you’ve got yourself a He-man.

  6. March 26, 2013 8:22 am

    Alas, I missed on on this cool toy (although I would certainly have liked Fashion Plate) – since I am older than you. But I remember hours drawing fancy circles with Spirograph.

    • March 26, 2013 9:32 am

      Me too! We were just born too soon for the ultimate Super Monster Hero Men Maker coolness.

      • March 27, 2013 6:16 am

        There was a very narrow window of coolness. I think it was out for about 2 years.

      • March 28, 2013 11:08 am

        Damn! I always said that the universe was against me, but my therapist kept babbling on about a “persecution complex” or some such carp. But I think she was in on it…

    • March 27, 2013 6:15 am

      i never had a spirograph. I was bitter for a long time. Therapy helped.

  7. Rick permalink
    March 26, 2013 9:32 am

    I had forgotten about this one, and I can’t imagine why. It was one of the coolest toys ever.

  8. March 26, 2013 9:36 am

    I had something like this. It was a set of body and head stencils and rubbing templates you could draw your own Barbies with. Let your imagination take flight! Erm, as long as your imagination is defined within the bounds of three head types, four body types, and two leg types.

    • March 27, 2013 6:17 am

      And we all know there was actually only ONE body type. The big-bazoonga’d wasp-waisted waif. That’s why we love Barbie.

  9. March 26, 2013 10:01 am

    Sadly, I never had this cool “toy.” Maybe that’s why I still can’t draw! But now that you’ve told me all about it, why, I want one, too!!

  10. March 26, 2013 11:00 am

    Oooo I don’t remember that one. I had Spriograph. Colored pens were my friend. :)

  11. March 26, 2013 11:14 am

    I had the Fashion Plate. And, it was one of my favorite drawing toys … because I still cannot actually DRAW. My husband has (yes, HAS) one that makes cars … it is somewhere hidden in the basement.

    • March 27, 2013 6:20 am

      I keep dreaming that I will dig around in my mom’s attic and find all my lost and favorite toys. Only a small box of stuff escaped my childhood without being hauled to Goodwill.

      • March 27, 2013 7:35 am

        My hubs mom is a very clean and organized hoarder … Sooo scary yet really handy when you want something from years ago …

  12. March 26, 2013 1:02 pm

    Damn, and I thought I was cool because I had Spirograph.

    P.S. Could Mike Brady’s swimsuit be any shorter.

    • March 27, 2013 6:20 am

      I am really, really hoping it can’t. Can you imagine Mike in a Speedo? Crap. I just did. There goes breakfast!

    • April 7, 2013 8:14 pm

      Carol likes it that way. And Sam the Butcher approves as well.

  13. March 26, 2013 1:44 pm

    Never heard of either of these. Since I can’t draw either – I used to trace cut out dolls on paper & then draw new fashions on the drawn outlines. This was a great game once I became tired of playing with the cut outs. Or if I cut very carefully I could have new outfits for my cut outs!

  14. March 26, 2013 4:56 pm

    Crayons ARE for babies. Thank you for not sugar-coating it, Heather.

    Nnng, hope Greg is doing better.

    • March 27, 2013 6:22 am

      I consider it my duty to call it like I see it. Crayons are for babies. They can wash their face in gravy.

      Too far?

    • April 7, 2013 8:15 pm

      Greg is all healed up, so long as he promises not to pick at anything.

  15. March 26, 2013 8:12 pm

    I love the spooky hands on the box. Reminds me of dear old Mom.

  16. March 26, 2013 9:43 pm

    I had the Monster Maker, AND a Spirograph…and the day I got bold and drew Spiro patterns around the OUTSIDE and then put a Monster on the INSIDE – brilliant! That got me admitted to a magnet school without the entrance test! (said absolutely no one ever)

    • April 7, 2013 8:11 pm

      Wait, Nick — no one had Spirograph AND Monster Maker and combined their forces into one drawing. You are blowing my mind. And they said it couldn’t be done.

      • April 7, 2013 10:29 pm

        I was an only child, raised by a single dad, who understood the joyous wonder of Toys’R’Us for getting some peace in the house on a long rainy weekend!

      • April 8, 2013 9:56 am

        Smart dad!

  17. beck16 permalink
    March 26, 2013 10:34 pm

    I don’t remember this toy. And how did I miss out on denim scrunchies? I was the scrunchy queen!

    • March 27, 2013 6:21 am

      I am glad you said that. I missed the denim scrunchies, too. Of course, I had short hair…

    • April 7, 2013 8:16 pm

      I can’t believe you never had a denim scrunchie. This will really rock your world — denim scrunchies with rhinestones! Believe it, sistah.

  18. March 27, 2013 7:49 am

    My sister had fashion plates. How did we miss this? Because we were girls. And no one bought us monster toys. Sad. My son would love this. I’m so sad for you that it disappeared one dark night.

  19. March 27, 2013 3:26 pm

    Pre-emo. Thank God you didn’t pursue it further.

    I want to have a telethon to raise money to cure emo. If I can find a Monster maker, would you produce a monster I can put on the tote bags I give donors?

    • March 28, 2013 7:02 am

      You know I will. As long as I get to keep the monster maker when I’m done. Those are the terms. Good luck in your quest. The sooner the better.

  20. March 29, 2013 7:02 am

    My friend had the Fashion Plate and I remember hours of rubbing out (for lack of a better term) various combinations of fabulous 80’s outfits. Never tried rubbing the monster maker though. ;)

    • April 7, 2013 7:54 pm

      Fashion Plate was amazing! I got the new version for my daughter. It’s pretty much exactly the same, minus the groovy threads.

  21. April 1, 2013 4:00 am

    This makes me think of the Spirograph. The only picture it provided was of me cracking the templates in half from frustration. Only good for the colored pens. Gets my blood pressure up just thinking about it.

    • April 7, 2013 7:55 pm

      Spirograph was a favorite around my house. Believe it or not, a couple of days ago my brother emailed me a photo of a mint-condition Spirograph he bought at his local Goodwill for two bucks! So jealous I can hardly type.

  22. April 1, 2013 6:38 pm

    Anyone with multiple Brady Bunch references in multiple posts is all right by me.
    And, by all right I don’t mean in the head. I mean sufficiently whacked enough for me to like.

    PS now I have the music that was playing when Greg fell off the board. Thanks for that.

    • April 7, 2013 7:52 pm

      Is it the same music that played when the tarantula crawled into their beach bag? I have goosebumps now.

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