Friday, July 8, 2016


The "Master Monster Maker" model kit contest of 1964 was a collaboration between FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, Aurora Plastics, and Universal Studios. All three had a huge stake in the venture and, if successful, a bounty of notoriety (and lots of cash) would be realized. The project was ambitious; Universal had licensed the rights to Aurora to make model kits in the image of their horror icons. Since introducing the Frankenstein kit in 1961, Aurora enjoyed a popularity in figure kits that was never before seen in the industry. They sought to further capitalize on their success by introducing two monster customizing kits that coincided with the contest. Universal benefited from the promotion of their "Shock Theater" ensemble and the potential for more licensing revenue. FM was the fulcrum of the campaign and got the paint stirring when it announced the contest in issue #27 (March 1964). The result? Monster Kids by the thousands entered their customized monster models at their local participating hobby shop all over the United States. It was an overwhelming, unparalleled smash hit.

Amazingly, some of the "throwaway" relics from this unique pop culture phenomenon have survived. Most notable of late is a collection of materials from the contest that showed up for auction in 2014. It includes a carton of entry forms and certificates and a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner vacuformed wall plaque. Characterized as "very rare", a collection like this had not been seen on the market since the contest was held. When the gavel dropped, it sold for $3,248.37.

Here is the description of the auction Lot #2459:
Original 10.25x13.25x4" deep cardboard shipping carton w/"Aurora Plastics Corp." name on side contains kit for 1964 contest sponsored by "Famous Monsters Of Filmland" magazine in which Aurora monster model enthusiasts built Aurora monster models, customizing them in hopes of being judged among the best that were then featured in issue #32 of the Famous Monsters Magazine. Kit contains all three versions of the 10x13x1" deep vacuform plastic awards w/cardboard backing designed like framed picture w/high relief portrait of Frankenstein. Simulated plaques on front "Master Monster Maker Contest 1964 - Sponsors Aurora Plastic Corp./Universal Pictures Co. Inc./Famous Monsters Of Filmland Magazine" and goes on to note first, second and third Place, each in gold, silver or bronze reflective lettering. First place award has some creasing at bottom left corner w/1/8" edge crack and some color rubs along edges. VF. Other two awards are Exc. Kit also comes w/15 unused 8.5x11" certificates designed to look like aged documents; that entitle model builder to "...Be Recognized As, And Be Entitled To Be Addressed As Master Monster Maker." Certificates have blank to be signed by dealer w/facsimile Aurora Plastics Corp., Universal Pictures Co. Inc. and Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine signatures. Simulated skull and crossbones and bat seals. Some lt. handling wear but Exc. overall. Kit also comes w/three 8.5x11" "Official Entry Blank - Monster Maker Contest 1964" all of which have been filled out in ink by "Hobby Castle" dealer in provided areas. Entry blanks are o/w unused and aside from some lt. handling wear, VF/Exc. Last item in lot is impressive 9.5x25" full color store banner which features large image of Frankenstein at right w/smaller, full body images of Universal Monsters The Wolf Man, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Mummy and Dracula as depicted on Aurora model kit boxes. They hold signs that read "Customize An Aurora Movie Monster - Win A Free Trip To Hollywood - Act In A Real Live Monster Movie" and sign goes on to state "We Dare You To Enter This Contest! All Human Beings Are Eligible. Official Entry Blanks With Purchase Of One Aurora Movie Monster Kit. Get All The Gory Details Inside!" Three vertical folds at center as issued. Scattered lt. color rubs, but banner remains bright and glossy. Exc. Original shipping carton shows some scattered wear w/creasing to one top flap but is complete and Fine overall. The ultimate item for Aurora monster model collectors as well as a must have for any Universal Monsters collector. Very rare and the first we've offered in our 48 years.

The year following the contest, FM published an article in issue #32 (March 1965) that showcased the Grand Prize winners of the Master Monster Maker contest from around the country. The article describes the prize packages, which included future Aurora models, a subscription to FAMOUS MONSTERS (that was good until 1970!), and a trip to Horrorwood, Karloffornia.

This full-sized image can be downloaded and printed as an example of the certificate that was issued to young monster model makers who participated in the contest in 1964.

Currently for sale on eBay is a Master Monster Maker entry from and certificate. Selling for $399.99, the entry form was filled out and the certificate signed by none other than Forrest J Ackerman on November 24. 1990... his 74th birthday!


Dr. Theda said...

Really cool post, good Sir !!!

John said...

Thank you -- I'm glad you liked it!


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