An Ominous Overview from Dennis L. Prince
From his article "Collecting Aurora Monsters"
The Men Who Made A Monster
in 1950, Aurora Plastics Corporation was designing plastic figurines long
before it unveiled its first monster. By 1955, it was a well-established
manufacturer of toys and crafts, marketing several successful lines of
plastic figure kits, such as "Guys and Gals of
All Nations" and "Famous Fighters." But in 1956, monster mania
swept the nation, thanks to Universal Pictures releasing its classic monster
movies to local television stations. By the time of Aurora's first customer
survey (disguised as a contest) in 1960, kit builders were howling for
The success of Frankenstein led Aurora to develop and deliver a total of 13 monster kits within six years. Dracula and The Wolf Man came in 1962, while 1963 gave rise to The Mummy, The Creature, and The Phantom of the Opera. In 1964, Aurora debuted The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde, King Kong, and Godzilla. And in a nod to femme fatales, the Salem Witch and The Bride of Frankenstein were also unveiled. In 1966, Aurora released its final classic monster kit, The Forgotten Prisoner of Castel-Maré. This unique release wasn't a movie creature but rather a collaborative effort between Aurora and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
Sales From the Crypt
From the start, Aurora carefully devised how it would package and promote its monsters. Noted artist James Bama was commissioned to create the striking images on the kit boxes. For many collectors today, the kit boxes are often more desirable than the monster inside. Aurora also chose to package its monsters in "long boxes" made of rigid cardboard. These measured 13-by-5-by-2 inches and allowed Bama's full-body renditions of the creatures to be faithfully and fully reproduced.
move, attributed to the company's marketing director, Bill Silverstein,
was to advertise exhaustively within the pages and on back covers of DC
monsters and Famous Monsters of Filmland. Die-hard Aurora collectors often
haunt comic shops' DC and monster magazine bins for issues featuring Aurora
Mad Machines and Monstrous Regrets
When the hot-rod
craze of the '60s hit, Aurora stepped forward to mesh monster with machine.
Monster Rods raced into hobby stores, featuring oddball creatures
in wacky roadsters, such as Dracula's Dragster, Wolfman's Wagon, and
the Mummy's Chariot. Alas, in 1969, Aurora executives determined it
was time to spend more energy on nonfigure kits. Rather than produce
new monsters, the company decided to reissue its existing line in a
new light--monsters that glow in the dark.
first issued as Frightening Lightening kits (with the slogan "Frightening
Lightening Strikes!"), Aurora's glow monsters were packaged with slightly
modified box art but the same old long box. Kids had trouble telling the
glow kits from the nonglow offerings. Within six months, Aurora pulled the
Frightening Lightening boxes and replaced them with new square boxes (measuring
8-by-8-by-4 inches), heavily retouched artwork, new company logo, and new
box splash--"Glows in the Dark." (These are affectionately known as the
square box kits or glow kits.) Regardless of the initial box bungle, Aurora's
refashioned glow kits injected new life into the monster line and carried
sales well on into 1975.
Unfortunately, the box snafu was a harbinger of things to come. In 1971, Aurora introduced a new series of plastic malevolence: Monster Scenes. Consisting of four new figures (Dr. Deadly, Frankenstein, Vampirella, and the Victim) and four ominous settings (The Pain Parlor, The Hanging Cage, The Pendulum, and Gruesome Goodies), the scenes were pitched with the box slogan, "Mix 'em and Match 'em," encouraging kids to make up their own monstrous situations. Unfortunately, the other half of the box slogan read "Rated X...for Excitement." Angered parents and religious groups across the country picketed Aurora's factory. New Aurora owner Nabisco Foods promptly axed Monster Scenes and practically all the company's executive staff--just 2 weeks before Christmas 1971.
|By 1975, most kids who were once wooed by Aurora's plastic terrors were now being distracted by muscle cars and the opposite sex. Still, Aurora made a final attempt to revive its monsters, producing beautiful new sculptures of its mainstays in the Monsters of the Movies series. Collectors were treated to imaginative new poses of Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and the Creature. Also released were Tokyo titans Rodan and Ghidrah. Sadly, sales were dismal, and plans for future kits were scrapped. Finally, in 1977, amid declining profits and rising costs of raw plastic, Nabisco closed the Aurora Productions operation, closing a truly imaginative chapter of toy history."|
|Click Here for the Aurora Collector's Guide|
|This excerpt from an article found at AuctionWatch.Com|
|You'll find many excellent sources to purchase original and repro Aurora merchandise, and so much more on the LINKS PAGE.|