Monster in My Pocket
Monster in My Pocket is a media franchise developed by Morrison Entertainment Group, headed by Joe Morrison and John Weems (two former senior executives at Mattel).
The focus is on monsters and legendary creatures from religion, mythology, literary fantasy, science fiction, cryptids and other anomalous phenomena. Monster in My Pocket produced trading cards, comic books, books, toys, a board game, a video game, and an animated special, along with music, clothing, kites, stickers, and various other items.
The line proved controversial for various reasons and many changes were implemented that took it away from its original mythmaking focus, though it has since reemerged with the original idea intact.
- 1 Toys
- 2 Monster in My Pocket in other media
- 3 More details about individual monsters
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Monster in My Pocket was best known as a toy-line released by Matchbox in 1990. It consists of small, soft plastic figures representing monsters, and later other tangentially related characters.A.K.A pocket monsters.
In its first run, there were 11 series released, the third being the rarest, but the second being a close second. There were over 200 monsters in the collection, most of which were assigned a point value. Among the highest valued monsters were the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Griffin, Great Beast, Behemoth, Hydra, Werewolf (25 points) and among the least being Charon, The Invisible Man, The Witch (5 points). Initially, the high point value was 25, which was elevated to 30 for the second and third series; the fourth, "Super Scary", series introduced the 50-100 point monsters. The third series does not appear to have been formally released, though portions of it were released as premiums through Shreddies, Bob's Big Boy, Pizza Hut, and Konami. Indeed, Monster Mailer #1, the Monster in My Pocket Collector's Club newsletter, refers to the fourth series as "Series III", in spite of a gap in numbering. They were initially solid-colored, though later series would gradually add more painted colors, until they became fully colored under the auspices of new toy makers Corinthian Marketing and Vivid Imaginations.
The lines proved more popular in the United Kingdom and continental Europe than in the United States where it was originally developed. It ran into difficulty in the United Kingdom with its large population of Hindus, as the divinities Kālī, Ganesha, Hanuman, and Yama, were all depicted as "monsters" resulting in great offense, including a public outcry by the Vishva Hindu Parishad. Except for the minor deity, Yama, god of death, these were removed from the line in the United Kingdom. After the fourth series, which contained Hanuman and Yama, was released, they decided to play it safe and provided follow-up series: Super Creepies, 24 comical (punning) aberrations of real insects and arachnids created by "Dr. Zechariah Wolfram" with point values up to 200, 24 Dinosaurs, released in both regular and "Secret Skeleton" format, and 16 Space Aliens that were essentially original. The point values went up even further, as high as 500. A second series of dinosaurs is even rarer than series 3, and may include only four premium figures released with confectionery, numbered #223 to #226. In some markets, such as Argentina, the dinosaurs were released as Dinosaur in My Pocket. Many of these were not released outside of Europe. The Dinosaurs appear to have been released in the U.S. only through premium distribution by Hardee's, and these were not the standard figures that were sold in stores.
A board game was also released by Decipher Limited, which used the action figures as playing pieces. The game involved using the monsters to fight battles in terrains where they had different strengths—New York, Tundra, Volcano, and Swamp. This should not be confused with the Monster Clash action game made by Matchbox—a board game/playset combo in which glow in the dark rubber balls were launched from catapults as part of the game. They were mainly yellow, green, orange and red but monsters with more than 30 points had more than just one color. Other toys included Super Scary Howlers representing Vampire, The Monster, Swamp Beast, and Werewolf, a Monster Mountain display case with custom labels for series 1, a Monster Pouch fanny pack, Battle Cards featuring The Beast and Witch, and a Haunted House playset, which was probably never released, although it was shown at Toy Fair 1992.
Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket
The Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket debuted in United Kingdom in 1994, no longer produced by Matchbox, but by Corinthian Marketing. The first nine, including Tony the Tiger as a coach, were released in Kellogg's Frosties cereal. The numbering was restarted, the high point value was returned to 100, and the coaches and referees, save for the 100 point "Tony the Coach", were the first monsters designated with 0 points. Forty-five figures were released in total, with six variant figures released as premiums in a White Castle fast food promotion. Frosties also did a twelve monster series of Monster Sports Stars in My Pocket, including "Tony the Referee", which were made of much harder plastic and had no point values. Seventeen Monster Ninja Warriors in My Pocket were produced in 1996 by Vivid Imaginations, some of which came with vehicles and accessories. These also caught on with the Pog fad, in addition to being the first Monster in My Pocket figures with removable weapons. The figures that were not made by Matchbox were painted in full colors and came in only a few variations, rather than previously coming in multiple solid or tri-tone colors.
The line was revived in United Kingdom in 2003, titled Monster in My Pocket: The Quest, with deluxe figures of the principal monster characters and reissues of the series 1-2 monsters essentially unchanged. The backstory (see below) emphasized the similarities between Monster in My Pocket and Pokémon, to a level that would appear self-defeating. The toys were made by Corinthian Marketing. Monster in My Pocket was divorced from the renamed "Monster Quest" on December 22, 2004.
2006 has seen another relaunch of the series, also by Corinthian Marketing. Unlike the 2003 series, this one is a complete revamp. Some of the likenesses are closer to earlier source materials, others, such as Kraken, which now looks more humanoid than like a cephalopod, further removed. These figures are in full color and have close to the level of detail one often finds in pewter figurines for role-playing games. Kali and Hanuman returned under the names "6-Armed Sorceress" and "Monkeyman" (perhaps after the Monkey-man of New Delhi, which some believe to be Hanuman), while Mattoon, Illinois, never embracing the connection, was dropped off Mad Gasser's name. Spectre was renamed Grim Reaper.
Monster in My Pocket in other media
The earliest Monster in My Pocket items were trading cards painted by Jan Sheets and Jenice Heo, which appeared in 1990, with no credit other than for Morrison Entertainment Group. The Sheets/Heo art appears on a great deal of the other material. Paintings were made for at least the first three series as well as the Dinosaurs, though only the first was released in the U.S. Cromy of Argentina released all of these, including prismatic chase cards of many of the series 2 and 3 characters. These were also released in a sticker album format, including a series 1 only edition in the U.S. from Pāṇini. Both were accompanied by sketch art depicting cartoons of the characters.
A comic book series written by Dwayne McDuffie (initially working from a plot by Craig Mitchell, R.L.Stern, and Tim Bogart), and drawn primarily by Gil Kane and Ernie Colón (with Nelson Dewey) was released by Harvey Comics in 1991. It ran for four bi-monthly issues, despite an open ending and promises that sales had justified making it monthly. In this series, Warlock and Vampire were similar to X-Men's Magneto and Professor X in their appearances, relationship to each other, and value systems (though Vampire was not in a wheelchair; his physical appearance was modeled on the completely bald Graf Orlok, only better-looking and more tolerant of sunlight). A spell by Warlock intended to shrink the monsters who did not side with him was botched by Ogre, resulting in the shrinkage of all the monsters, who were then flung in boxes with room-like interiors to Los Angeles, California. The good monsters ended up in the home of ne'er-do-well Burt Convy High School student Jack Miles and his studious younger brother, Tom, in Burbank. The series ended with both sides battling inside a dollhouse bought for a little girl named Theresa, who was scared away by Spring Heeled Jack. They also dealt with Frank Rook, The Exterminator (a parody of The Punisher, himself an homage to the Executioner, and possibly to the Robert Ginty film of the same name), and Swamp Beast helped them defeat a Tyrannosaurus Rex who would grow when exposed to any form of radiation, such as smoke detectors and microwave ovens. Atypically for a series of this nature, but metaphorically appropriate, the comics depicted an interracial relationship, as caucasian Jack was dating an Asian American co-worker named Tina. Beginning with the second issue, Universal Studios began receiving credit in the indicia for the use of Frankenstein's Monster, Mummy, The Invisible Man, and The Phantom of the Opera, although the characters originated in public domain literature and bore no particular resemblance to their cinematic counterparts at Universal. There was, for example, no equivalent of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Marvel Comics reissued the comic stories in newly formatted annuals, and World Publishing (an imprint of Egmont Publishing) followed with a Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket annual (which had no continuity with the previous series) in 1995 (cover dated 1996).
Clearly depicted with the evil monsters were Medusa and Spring-Heeled Jack, the two most prominent evil monsters after Warlock, along with Ogre, Cerberus, Minotaur, Windigo, Cyclops, Zombie, Siren, Ymir, Karnak (probably Maahes), Tengu, Bigfoot, Spectre (Grim Reaper), Sebek, Charon, and Ghost, though the evil monsters were most often shown in amorphous crowds. Dr. Jekyll is twice force-fed (first by Warlock, then by The Monster) the potion that makes him into Mr. Hyde, but he turns maverick, not much more willing to support Warlock than Vampire. The "Sid's Bits" editorial in issue 2 of the comic contains a partial listing of good and evil monsters; included in the evil side is a character identified simply as "the Electronic Monster". There is no known figure in the series bearing that name.
|Monster in my Pocket|
|Mode(s)||Single Player, Co-op|
A video game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991 by Konami. It had the same essential concept of the comic book, although Hobgoblin and Gremlin, initially the good monsters' comic relief, now appeared as villains, to the extent that Gremlin was a boss. Warlock sends out his henchmen, led by Spring Heeled Jack, Bigfoot, Kraken, Gremlin, and Medusa while Vampire and The Monster are watching TV in the Miles home. They must fight their way through the upstairs and kitchen of the home, the street, and the sewer; they emerge in a construction site and an Orientalist garden before fighting Warlock at Monster Mountain, although that's not quite the end. Vampire and the Monster's abilities in the game are the same (though 2-player simultaneous action was an option)--an attack that can extend slightly beyond their bodies with a bit of a blaze, and they can make a double-jump from the height of their jump, something that has since become a common move in many video games. The remaining good monsters from the comics—Werewolf, Vampiress, Golem, Swamp Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, Jotun Troll, Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll, and Mummy—made no appearance whatsoever in the game, although Werewolf did appear on the cover. Warlock and Minotaur were the only two monsters from series 2 to appear in the game. In the comic book, however, Medusa declared that by her count, Vampire's side had a majority, though all the other series 1 monsters were included as enemies in the game. Blemmyes appeared prominently on the cover, and the figure was distributed exclusively with the game, though did not appear in the game itself. It came inside the box, next to a smaller piece of styrofoam than NES cartridge boxes normally contained.
The mythos of the comic book and video game was to be completely turned around, although it never occurred in the pages of the comic book. In 1992, there was an animated special, Monster in My Pocket: The Big Scream, produced by Hanna-Barbera and directed by Don Lusk from a script by Glen Leopold, where Vampire (now with ample hair in a late 18th century style ponytail) became the leader of the villains, and Invisible Man, now named Dr. Henry Davenport(even though he was called the Invisible Man in the intro and was referred to as such by Vampire), was in charge of the heroes. Swamp Beast was a mindless villain among the other changes, such as the formerly white-furred Werewolf (although by the fourth issue it had been changed to brown) becoming the Jamaican "Wolf-Mon". The other good monsters were Big Ed (The Monster) and Mummy, while Medusa remained among the ranks of the evil monsters. A few others, like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Cyclops, were shown for a second or two during the prologue, which had Vampire creating a potion that shrinks all of Monster Mountain, now a prison rather than a meeting place (as it had been in the comic book) guarded by the good monsters, and blows it to Los Angeles. This time, their human host was Carrie Raven, daughter of Edgar Raven, a famous horror writer. The evil monsters learned they would grow at the sound of screams, while the good monsters grow with laughter. It ran on Halloween of 1992 on ABC, but it was not carried in all markets. Early releases of the special on video from Vidmark Entertainment contained a glow-in-the-dark monster: Charun, Thunderdell, or Yama. The story was that the good monsters had to stop the evil monsters from using an old horror film called The Shriek to grow big again.
There was also an audio cassette of original music and along with a cover version of Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" titled Monster Rock, produced by Rincon Children's Entertainment for BMG Kidz in 1992. The songs were written by ? Byrd, James McDonnell, Peter Pope, Randy Petersen, Robert Irving, and ? Quinn. Pope, McDonnell, Petersen, and Irving played the keyboards, George Bell played saxophone, and Barry Scott and Charles Dickens played guitar, with Dickens provideing drum programming and engineering. Singers were Jake Vesprille, Michael Hunter, Gigi Young, Barry Scott, Jimmy McDonnell, Mary McDonnell, Rory McDonnell, Peter Hix, Katrina Perkins, and Bob Joyce. "Saturday Night at the Boneyard" was the only song to mention monsters from series 2 or 3. The other songs are "Monster in My Pocket", "Witches Brew", "Monsters", "Can't Do a Thing With My Hair" (Byrd/McDonnell), "Do the Boo", "Full Moon Blues", "Boogie Man Boogie" (Byrd/McDonnell/Pope), "Monster Party" (Petersen/Irving/Quinn), and "Party in Your Pocket" (Pope). John Weems, Joe Morrison, and Ralph King were the executive producers.
In 1994, the monsters received a popularity boost in Mexico; they were part of a promotion from the Sonrics candy company. This promotion consisted of MIMP themed boxes full of candy, a monster random figure, and any of the following: trading cards, mini-comics and mini activity books. Part of this promotion was a collector set modeled after Monster Mt. by phone order, but oddly the company kept saying by phone there was no such offer.
In 2003, Peak Entertainment in United Kingdom created a CGI animated series that changed the concept considerably. It dealt with monsters trapped in a "Tapestry of Terror" that was shredded in battle with the now-good Warlock and his evil brother, "Morlock". They looked identical save that where Warlock's hair and clothing was white, Morlock's was black. A few good monsters, including Vampiress and The Monster, side with Warlock and his young apprentice to recapture the monsters, including Vampiress' evil brother, Vampire. One addition to the series, according to its bible, was Mothman, which had previously not been represented. The series was intended for U.S. release on Cartoon Network, but it was never picked up.
More details about individual monsters
There are at least 229 monsters in the series, though information past #184 is very sketchy. 121-144 are the Super Creepies, 145-168 are Dinosaurs, 169-184 are Space Aliens, and beyond that is a large group of additional dinosaurs. In addition, there are 42 Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket, 12 Monster Sports Stars in My Pocket, and 19 Monster Ninja Warriors in My Pocket, not to mention supporting characters and two relaunches.The Charon and the Charun figures sound alike but they are completely different monsters.
The following other legendary monsters not previously mentioned in the article are part of the Monster in My Pocket series:
- Abominable Snowman
- Ancient Gorgon
- Astaroth (Baal in likeness)
- Baba Yaga
- Bash Tchelik
- Beast of Gévaudan (Jabalius)
- The Beast (From Beauty And The Beast)
- Bishop Fish
- Bloody Bones
- Catarenha (Guardian of the Gold)
- Creature from the Closet
- Djinn Shapeshifter
- Ectoplasmic Phantom
- Elbow Witch
- Grave Watcher
- Great Beast
- Grim Watcher
- Hairy Boggart
- The Headless Man
- Herne the Hunter
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Invisible Man
- Jenny Greenteeth
- Jersey Devil
- Jimmy Squarefoot
- Jotun Troll
- Loch Ness Monster
- Mad scientist
- The Monster
- Red Cap
- Scorpion man
- Spring-Heeled Jack
- Swamp Beast
- Tyrannosaurus Rex
- Umi Bozu
- Wildman of China
- Winged Panther
- List of species in fantasy fiction
- List of legendary creatures
- Book of Imaginary Beings
- The Lesser Key of Solomon
- Global Dharma (column). Hinduism Today. November 1993. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=1077
- "PEAK ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS INC - PKEHE Amended Annual Report (Small Business Issuers) (10KSB/A) ITEM 8B. OTHER INFORMATION". Sec.edgar-online.com. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "Nelson Dewey - HOME PAGE". Coastnet.com. Archived from the original on May 8, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "IMDb". Akas.imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "IMDb". Akas.imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Except for the Super Scary Series, all of these are included in the Argentine and Mexican sticker books from Cromy with the exception of Bash Tchelik, who is identified in the centerspread of the third issue of the Harvey comic book. Seventeen of these are presumed unreleased as action figures.
- Hill, James. Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket Annual 1996 Manchester: Egmont Publishing Ltd., 1995. ISBN 0-7498-2414-X
- McDuffie, Dwayne. Monster in My Pocket. Harvey Comics. Four Issues. May–November 1991. Edited by Sid Jacobson.
- Monster in My Pocket Album de Figuritas. De Lunes a Viernes: Cromy Club, 1992.
- Monster in My Pocket Sticker Album. London: Panini Publishing Ltd. 1992.