Friday, October 3, 2008

Model Monsters: the 1971 Aurora Vampirella (and Friends) Monster Scenes Kit

Hehheh, welcome, Groovesters! Hehheh, come een, pleease, and joeen me, won't you? Hehheh...follow mee eento the Torture Chamber as wee conteenue...







A few weeks ago, Ol' Groove waxed eloquent on the Aurora Superhero Model Kits of 1974, and at the end of the post I warn--er--promised ya that I'd fill ya in on the Vampirella torture scene Aurora unleashed on us back in 1971. Well, you know the Groovester always keeps his threat--er--promises. Come a little closer and learn, Grasshopper...

Vampirella had been created by Forrest Ackerman and James Warren for Warren Magazine's Vampirella #1, back in the summer of 1969. Needless to say, Vampi became a cult hit, spawning posters, puzzles, paperback novels, and even a movie (in 1996). Needless to say, it came as no surprise to Ackerman, Warren, or anyone else that Vampi merchandise began catching fandom's attention. You don't put a chick like that (vampiress or not) in an outfit like that and not expect to get lots of attention, dig? Anyway, the folks at Aurora produced a Vampirella model kit, and even worked up (the first ever) model character crossover by producing a mad scientist (Dr. Deadly), a helpless victim, and even a la-BOR-atory and torture cage. They'd already been producing a Frankenstein's Monster model (as part of their Universal series in the late 60s), so he became part of the crossover, as well. Aurora called the new line Monster Scenes. They hoped the crossover with Vampi would resuscitate the flagging Monster model line. Here's what happened...

Aurora produced two (that I know of) ads featuring the new Monster Scenes kits. A tame one (found on many a comicbook back cover during the summer of 71) and the comicbook style ad that caught everyone's attention (found inside many a comicbook during that self-same summer). Click 'em if you dare...



How that second ad got past the comics code, I'll never know. I dunno if many parents saw those ads, but when they caught sight of the actual boxes and models...



...Outrage might be the best word to describe their reactions. (Remember, those Hammer horror flicks were still getting "X" ratings back then!) All kinds of groups (including very powerful and influential groups like Parents for Responsibility in the Toy Industry and National Organization for Women) began leaning on Aurora (and their parent company, Nabisco [!]) to force them to discontinue making the Monster Kits. Not only that, but Warren Magazines were uptight about their heroine, Vampi, being portrayed as a villainess. Was that the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back? The powers-that-were at Aurora quickly caved under all that pressure. Production of the kits stopped in May, with the last of the unsold kits being pulled from the shelves in November. But they'd made it through Halloween, baby!

Finally, for the curious among ya, here's a look at the completed scene (you can click it to enlarge it if you promise not to have nightmares...):

Seems kinda tame by today's standards, dunnit?

That's it for this time, Groovesters. Lemme leave ya with a Groovy Age Halloween riddle. How is a vampire like a lollipop? Neither sucker ever gets an even break. (Ya have'ta highlight the corny answer, Igor!)

7 comments:

  1. Very cool post! I had no idea they had so much trouble with those kits back then. Looking at them now they seem way too tame by today's standards to make anyone notice them.

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  2. Yeah, today nobody'd bat an eye. The times they have changed!

    Thanks for stopping by, Brian! I'm a big fan of your blog!

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  3. Thanks for the blast from the past.

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  4. vampirella is just sexy peace god bless the 70s

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  5. X ratings in Britain were handed out like candy to horror films...government censors weren't keen on horror comics nor fiction, either. I'm not sure any Hammer film got more than an R in the US.

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