The year was 1964 and the monster craze was going full tilt towards world domination (beats the hell out of crooked politics, doesn't it?). Monsterkids all over the nation, as well as other parts of the world like Great Britain, Germany and France, had their own monsterpalooza's going. FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND ruled the newsstands (see, I used that term again), UNIVERSAL STUDIOS' classic horror films were enjoying an unbridled success on television with the help of horror hosts like Zacherly and others, and AURORA PLASTICS had the market cornered on the newest monster sensation, plastic monster model kits. Not only could you read about monsters and watch monsters, but after putting them together with your shaking, monster-crazed hands, you could now even hold them!
And if that didn't beat all, then along came the announcement of a monster model contest! This 9-year old monsterkid first heard about it down at the Southwood Hobby Shop smack dab on the north side of the Southwood Shopping Center right on Palos Verdes Boulevard in the All-American city of Torrance, California. On a side note, Southwood Shopping Center was also home to one of the best bakeries in the world, Revel's (unfortunately now closed). Their sweet stuff even rivaled the Helm's Bakeries panel trucks with the slide-out donut compartments that were -- if I had known anything about the subject at the time -- better'n sex!
I came home with The Mummy. As I remember, my sister grabbed The Wolf Man. We spent quite a few hours on the kitchen table, getting a contact high from the Testor's glue and slathering on the Testor's gloss enamel paint (Pactra brand was Testor's main rival at the time, but we would have nothing to do with it -- Testor's was the real deal). My attempt at customizing was to tear strips from an old, white T-shirt, soak them for a couple of minutes in the dirty, toxic mineral spirits goop called "brush cleaner" and wrapped them around The Mummy's arms, legs and torso, just like real mummy wrappings! I painted the head green and dabbed on a bit of blood, just like I'd seen in the pictures. I remember it turning out pretty good for a 9-year-old's first model. The only trouble was, we waited too long to get them back to the hobby shop and missed the deadline (insert expletive here)!
The contest was a joint venture between FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, AURORA PLASICS CORPORATION, and UNIVERSAL PICTURES COMPANY. Countless thousands of entries were submitted across the country. Each entrant recieved a "Master Monster Maker" certificate, and if you were lucky enough to win, a "Master Monster Maker" plastic plaque. The winners were announced in FAMOUS MONSTERS #32 to much fanfare, including a cover image for the grand prize winner.
If you're wondering what happened to my monster model making career . . . well, it was far from over. Undaunted by my missing out on the monster model contest, I went on to make every single monster kit that Aurora issued, including most all of the historical knights models. I proudly displayed my beloved monster models for many years. In 1972 I graduated from High School. We had sold our house and were "downsizing" into a Ford pickup truck with a camper shell on it and a 32-foot Terry trailer to travel the country in for a couple of years. There was no room for my, as Pete called them in HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, "children". My first ever childhood model, The Mummy, along with all the others -- including my toy gun collection that was the envy for blocks around -- were all unceremoniously sold in a yard sale, never to be seen or heard from again.