Traumafessions :: Reader Raven on Mad Scientist Toys

I thought you might be interested in some of the freakiest toys I ever owned as a kid.

This one is the Mad Scientist Dissect-An-Alien playset.

And this one is the mother of them all: The Mad Scientist Monster Lab, where the whole purpose is to construct alien/monster skeletons that you covered with fake “monster flesh,” only to torture your creation by dipping him in a “pit of acid” where the flesh would dissolve and you’d be left with just the skeleton again.

While I LOVED this toy, I was absolutely terrified of the “Powdered Monster Flesh Remover” for fear of it dissolving my own skin. Obviously it couldn’t, but it even gave me nightmares about my pet cats somehow finding their way into it.

UNK SEZ: Raven, I remember these! I didn’t have them but I remember the commercials on T.V.! At the end of the television advert, a giant cartoon hand would come out and stamp all that proceeded as “TOO GROSS!” Thanks for sharing these great toys with us and as much as WE LOVE ALL Traumafessions, yours especially rules because it concerns the fate of your feline pals! (Did we ever mention Kindertrauma Castle is over run with cats?)

The Thing’s Monstrous Merchandise

JOHN CARPENTER‘s THE THING‘s poor box office performance has been blamed time and time again on the fact that STEVEN SPIELBERG‘s E.T. was released two weeks prior. Although the diminutive Reeses Pieces pusher may not have helped matters much, it is more likely that bad merchandising judgment was the film’s ultimate downfall. Looking back, it seems Universal (who also released E.T.) made every conceivable mistake while promoting their would-be summer blockbuster and only have themselves to blame if audiences were less than enthusiastic by the time the actual movie hit theaters. 

The first mistake was selling toy rights to Mattel instead of Kenner whose line of STAR WARS toys were an unmitigated success. Mattel, on the other hand, was well known for opportunist cheap knock offs and reusing the same toy molds OVER AND OVER AGAIN. In addition Mattel’s history of translating science fiction characters into toys was QUESTIONABLE AT BEST. Rushed to meet a demand that was never to come, the toy company hobbled together an action figure using various pieces of pre-existing toys. In this case the unsuccessful BATTLESTAR GALACTICA line of figures were gutted and redressed and the results were abysmal. Due to dismal pre-orders from major department store chains, the doll was discontinued shortly after production. For years Mattel’s THE THING action figure was a familiar sight in bargain bins across the nation. A recent visit to eBay confirmed the toy’s continued worthlessness.
Perhaps Universal’s biggest blunder was to scoff at-then mega star MICHAEL JACKSON when he approached them with an interest to do a musical tie-in to celebrate the release of THE THING. Not wanting to burn bridges with the artist, they offered him E.T. instead but informed Jackson that they were hellbent on securing sister LATOYA to do the honers of introducing the world to JOHN CARPENTER’s vision. The result, LATOYA‘s Outer Space Candy Party was a catastrophe that resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs. Music historians are quick to point out that the song may contain the earliest known example of “sampling” and is therefore ahead of its time, but having WILFORD BRIMLEY repeat I’ll kill you! over a thumping disco beat does not a radio hit make and Outer Space Candy Party failed to make a dent in America. On the other hand, the song was a number one hit in Japan and spent the summer of ’82 hovering just outside the U.K.’s top ten, although sales plummeted dramatically after THE SUN ran a bonfire inspiring article linking the tune with epileptic seizures and unexplained poltergeist activity.
This promotional T-shirt given away at early advanced screenings of THE THING was considered in bad taste by many. Ideas of mass marketing the apparel were shelved when it was found that nearly 97 percent of the free T-shirts were left discarded on the theater floor after the screening. Attempts to recycle the design as a maternity dress also went nowhere.
Although Kenner had much success with their ALIEN ACTION FIGURE, it is hard to understand Universal’s insistence on gearing merchandise for the R-rated THE THING to an underage audience. They hit rock bottom with the THE THING SNOWCONE MAKER, a device that, by all accounts, delivered a nearly inedible confection and whose commercial was considered so alarming to children that it had to be pulled off the air. Its jingle, which included lyrics like “First you stick it in, then you pull it out, then you squirt the juice, then you make me shout,” was labeled obscene by angry parent groups and hefty fines and lawsuits followed. As recent as 2005, many of these lawsuits were still pending, including one filed by Kenner which claims the commercial’s nearly pornographic ditty was a fragrant rip off of their popular ICE BIRD SONG.

Spring Cleaning :: Trauma-Toys

Hey kids, it’s time to help your Aunt John clean up the cluttered playroom in Kindertrauma castle. Which toys should we keep, and which should we toss?

  1. Monster Old Maid
    You would think Mr. and Mrs. Dracula would have spared their daughter the indignity of being the Old Maid card by springing for some orthodontics. The poor thing looks like Agnes DiPesto with an overbite. It’s no wonder she doesn’t show up on the side of this sweet ride.


  3. Creeple Peeple
    Did anyone really buy into the pencil-disguise craze?


  5. Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces
    Also, did anyone buy into the bald doll-disguise craze? Virtual version HERE, and more Hugo love HERE.


  7. Mystic Skull: The Game of Voodoo
    I do love me some mysterious moving skull action.


  9. The Weebles Haunted House
    This was the toy your Aunt John lusted for every X-Mas season as a child, and every December 25th my mother would sheepishly offer the excuse that it must have fallen off the back of Santa’s sleigh. Note to parents: Honesty is really the best policy with children. My mother’s subterfuge made her look like a delusional liar, and a cheap one at that.
  10. Scarecrow
    Obviously, this one belongs to your Unkle Lancifer


  12. Stretch Monster
    In many ways, this green guy was much less creepy than his bikini-clad nemesis Stretch Armstrong.


  14. Bermuda Triangle Game
  15. The tagline tells you everything you need to know about this one: “Sinister Mystery Cloud Swallows Ships.”


  16. The Mighty Men & Monster Maker
    My brothers and I played with this, while my sister had the Fashion Plates. Sadly, the parts were not interchangeable.


  18. The Queasy Bake Oven
    The cakes and cookies you can make with this model look more appetizing than most of the things I’ve churned out with my old school Easy Bake.

Scarecrow Fear-O-Meter

Who better to judge the scariest scarecrow than a crow? Remember we’re not judging the highly variant quality of the below productions, we’re just wondering which would be the most effective straw man in thwarting our ebony feathered friends! (In other words, the scarecrow with the LEAST birds on his head is the scariest!) 

Scary scarecrows also appear in the DARK HARVEST series (don’t bother), the recent HALLOWED GROWN and a TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode entitled FOUR-SIDED TRIANGLE with NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3’s PATRICIA ARQUETTE. A pumpkin headed alternative can also be viewed in JACK-O. If we’ve forgotten any others let us know in the comments section!