Tuesday 7 June 2011

Monster Memories: ‘Monster in my Pocket'

This is a photo of me aged 12 (Reading issue #28 of the Beezer and Topper) taken by my grandmother in March of 1990 and if you look carefully on the table in front of me you can see an issue of News of the World’s Sunday Magazine. I recognise it because this particular issue started me off on an obsession that I carried throughout the early 1990’s, Monster in my Pocket. Many of you will no doubt be aware of or even remember the Monster in My Pocket toy line released by Matchbox in 1990. Small, soft plastic figures in a variety of colours representing various monsters from fiction and mythology with its own assigned  point value on the back of the figure itself. Sunday Magazine had on offer that week a voucher for our very own free Monster in my Pocket! The article informed us that “those mini monsters are back! And here’s your chance to get the latest inch high uglies in their new neon colours absolutely free thanks to Matchbox Toys!
All we needed to do was cut out the coupon and present our “terrifying token” at any Woolworths store! And that wasn’t all apparently there was also a mystery monster (indicated with a star on its back) and if we found it and returned it to Matchbox we would receive £50 worth of Matchbox toys! I really wanted to get to Woolworths and claim my monster but there was one minor drawback, it was Sunday I would have to wait almost an entire week before I could redeem my voucher (My mother only visited the town that had a Woolworths store on Saturdays). I patiently waited for the week to pass, hoping that they hadn’t run out of monsters. When Saturday finally arrived, my mother drove me into town, I hastily made my way to the Woolworths music counter (assigned the important job of redeeming vouchers) and presented my token. I was handed a box and told, “there is only a few left, pick the one you want”. I plunged my hand into a box consisting of around ten Invisible Man figures and one Ghoul and he was the one I picked making him the first of many monsters that I walked out of Woolworths with over the next three years or so.
I bought single and double packs collecting all of series 1, 2 and some of series 3 swapping them along the way and learning about each individual monster. I also had the 1992 annual, Top Trumps card game, stickers and album and 3 of the 4 Monster in my Pocket Howlers* (when a button was pushed the "eerie light-up eyes" would glow and the figure made a sound) but eventually stopped collecting them. I didn’t stop buying them because I had outgrown them (I actually moved on to collecting Mini Boglins shortly after) I simply stopped buying them because the range no longer interested me. In later years I learned that having offended Hindu communities, by releasing divinities as "monsters" Matchbox played it safe by releasing insects, dinosaurs and aliens instead (the one and only occasion that I wasn’t interested in collecting something dino or alien related!) But never the less I still look back on those early figures with great fondness, they shaped my interest in all things monster related. I still have them all and the various other Monsters in my pocket items that I previously listed. I even kept the page that had started me off, saving it in my scrapbook of which I still have to this day! Did you collect them? Which one was your favourite?

*2016 15/01/2016 Update Monster in my Pocket Super Scary Howlers were a range of plastic figures with LED eyes and as I mentioned before the eyes would glow and the figure made "scary monstrous sounds" when a button located on the base was pressed. There were 4 in the range to collect and "scare the wits out of your freinds!" The Werewolf ("with howl"), The Vampire ("with eerie laugh"), The Monster ("with monster growl") and The Swamp Beast ("with eerie swamp scream") and each sold separately, sadly Woolowrths had sold out of the Monster before I was able to pick one up for myself. But I am pleased to report that 24 years later, I managed to track one down and complete my collection!

© Arfon Jones 2011. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


    My three biggest passions in life: Funny comics, pogs, and MONSTER IN MY POCKET.

    Got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of the things. They're everywhere in my place. Went into my mum's attic the other day and found my MIMP T-shirt that we got through sending off tokens from Golden Wonder crisps. For me it all started with the card game, my nan bought it for me from Woolworth's one day out in town. It came with the Witch and the Beast, instantly hooked from there.

    My next thing from then was a 12-pack containing Behemoth (STILL my favourite), and then every birthday and Xmas up to... 1996? MIMP all the way.

    Here's something interesting I didn't learn until the Internet was a thing - what we here all took to be series 3 (the "Super Scary" ones) was actually series 4. Series 3 only ever made it out in Argentina, and even then only less than half a dozen of them were made. I've got every different monster now, except for those ludicrously expensive series 3 figures... And a few of the "Ninja Warrior" ones, but I'm not too fussed over them.

  2. Oh, I'm also two Howlers short too...

    More fun facts I didn't know until the Internet was a thing:

    -The elusive star-branded monster has never been found - although if it was, it was probably on a Jotun Troll.

    -The "Super Scary" ones had a figure of Hanuman, which never made it to the UK. It took over a decade for me to find out why the same figure appeared in both of the "Super Scary" 12-packs.

    -The comic series had a cameo from the Punisher.

    -There was a haunted house playset advertised with the "Super Scary" ones, and this was never made.

    -The whole series was relaunched in about 2004 (or something?). All in terrible "X-Treme" new designs. I hated them but still got the lot of them.

    -I'd do anything for a Monster Mountain, but I wouldn't pay the £100+ that they go for now.

    1. I was completely devoted to them, at one time I even considered contacting ‘You Bet’ and telling them that I could identify any of the monsters (along with their points) blindfolded! (A talent I used for finding the ones I needed in single packs… much to the newsagent’s annoyance I would feel the bags trying to find one I didn’t recognise!). All my monsters are stored a kilner jar in my studio (I must get round to photographing that shelf sometime…) I would have loved a MIMP T-shirt! I don’t remember the Golden Wonder offer but I collected all the stickers though, sadly on the back of the sticker album there is a completed application form to join the fan club that I never cut out and sent away… “Regrets? I have a few…” the card game, was that the Top Trumps one? I have series 1 and 2 of that. The only 12-pack I got was the dinosaur one (I agree Behemoth was cool!) but it didn’t feel the same somehow. So my heart remains with series 1 and 2, 1 more so. Interesting that our series 3 was actually series 4, I did not know that!

      Which Howlers do you have? I have the Werewolf, Vampire and Swamp Beast (Woolowrths didn’t have the Monster :( ) Funny, I was going to mention in the post that I always suspected that the star-branded monster was the Jotun Troll! The re launched series are one of the few things I remember in Woolowrths before they closed down… and how disappointed I was by them. Before putting them all in the previously mentioned jar I considered getting Monster Mountain, but I felt the same way as you about that £100+ figure. Remember the board game? I asked for that one Christmas… sigh…
      Its so good to know a fellow Monster in my Pocket(er)!

    2. Yeah, it was played like Top Trumps but isn't called Top Trumps... "Battle Cards" or something? Came with a dice as well for some reason. Never got the "Monster Clash" board game but did get the bum bag - wore it to school with pride! I'd tell people what all the monsters were called, one girl wouldn't stop laughing after I'd said the name of Baba Yaga.

      That Panini album, still got that, never got around to sending off the form but I filled it in at least (younger me wanted Ogre as a friend). Got a whole load of the big 12/24 packs now, plus boxes and tubs full of the things, but my main "original" collection I keep separate - they're all kept in the same "re-purposed" nappy box I've been keeping them in for over twenty years.

      At one point I kept them all in a tool box with two sections in it, my ambition was to travel the world looking for all the different monsters, and whenever I found one I'd transfer the corresponding figure from the "Looking" section of the box to the "Found" section. Instead... Bleh.

      Mini Boglins are my fourth obsession...

      Howlers, I have the Werewolf (still working, hasn't had its batteries changed since Xmas morning 1992), and I got the Vampire one a few years ago. I'm one tiny piece away from having the whole set of the Monster Wrestlers In My Pocket, egad! There's pictures of my T-shirt on the Facebook groups known as "Mini Figure Militia" and "Monster In My Pocket Fever" - I've still got my pair of MIMP socks as well!

      Here's some pictures of Series 3:

      ONE of them made it to the USA and Europe - Blemmyea, included with the NES game. We were a Mega Drive family, I remember wanting a NES just for that one game...

    3. Yeah, I think I have them, they came with a dice (plastic case to hold cards?) I’ll dig them out and take some photos! Really wanted the "Monster Clash" board game it was that volcano that drew me in! I thought it looked epic! But then I also wanted the bum bag because I thought it looked cool… MIMP socks as well?!! Id gladly have them now!
      So I wasn’t the only one that didn’t send off the form? What a shame, looking abck on it was a great offer! But I dare say it was the cost that delayed things…
      “My ambition was to travel the world looking for all the different monsters, and whenever I found one I'd transfer the corresponding figure from the "Looking" section of the box to the "Found" section. Instead... Bleh.” That’s lovely, nothing wrong with that. In fact I had a similar idea!
      Howlers, Werewolf (still working, hasn't had its batteries changed since Xmas morning 1992) lol fantastic! I’m always telling people that they have the same batteries from 1992 too!
      Didn’t get into the Monster Wrestlers In My Pocket I’m afraid, I kept the jester looking one that I got in a cereal packet once but they didn’t do anything for me (the Mini Boglins they put in cereal packets on the other hand I loved!) I’ll have to look for those photos on facebook!
      Series 3 had an Abominable Snowman! Doh! We were a Mega Drive family too!

    4. Oh! I kept the Tony the Tiger Monster Wrestlers In My Pocket figure for some years in the kitchen! :)

    5. Abominable Snowman and Amphisbaena are top of my list if I ever get any of the Series 3 monsters...

      Jester Minute was the first Monster Wrestler I got too - took forever to get Shark Bite. Back then I had an unreasonable hatred of Tony the Tiger, thought he was too big-headed sticking his nose in everywhere, so when we got Coach Tony, he was decapitated and buried in the garden - fickle youth! Got him again since, but that's the only time I've ever willingly destroyed a toy - those feelings must've been strong! The Monster Wrestler obsession was strong though, almost as strong as the original Monster In My Pocket obsession. And Kwik Save always had them cheap as well!

      To this day, I'm missing just one piece - a skull shaped dumbell. Got the annual and everything, even the ones that you could only get from White Castle in America (somehow??).

      As for Mini Boglins... That's another thing that I've got hundreds and hundreds of, and still haven't got every available figure! The Frosties ones were great though, "mini" versions of what was already Mini, ha!

  3. Oh, ANOTHER fun fact:

    -In series 2, the figures of Ganesha and Herne the Hunter were recalled due to controversy (Ganesha I can understand, not Herne though?), so later Series 2 24-packs replaced these two with neon versions of Cerebus and Ghost from Series 1.

    The more you know...

    1. Id love all of those series 3 ones and it would seem that had they released it as series 3 I would have gladly kept collecting them and held them in equally high regard (The Abominable Snowman would have gone so well with Bigfoot and Nessie!).
      Jester Minute that’s it! I knew Jest-star was Milky Way Stars character! I thought we agreed on everything until you told me of your hatred of Tony the Tiger I always liked him (well, until the late 90’s when he became a preachy balanced diet spokesperson banging on about playing football and swimming!). I knew that Ganesha had been recalled, funnily enough I remember at 13 thinking it was weird that a religious figure should be included in a series about monsters) but I wonder why the recalled Herne?

      Mini Boglins, I haven't got every one either! But what I had I was pleased with, I was making good progress with series 1 but when series 2 came out I lost track of things. Always looking out for that elusive gold one (found a silver one though) when they released glow in the dark scouts I became quite obsessed with obtaining them (the Sherlock Holmes one especially) I was obsessed with anything that promised “glows in the dark!” Yeah, "mini" versions of what was already Mini was brilliant and they look great with the others in my jar, its almost as though they are breading! I might follow this post up with a Mini Boglins post in the future.

    2. It was the preachiness of Tony that made me hate him, Honey Monster went the same way in the nineties (he joined Boyzone and everything!). Guess I just had a problem with people/tigers that were instantly great at everything...

      Only reason I can find for Herne being withdrawn is because of his Pagan links - as if the Pagans would be as offended as the Hindus or something?

      Got MOST of the Mini Boglins, just a fair bunch of the later ones I'm missing - a few of the Prehistorics and Medievals and Samurai, and probably a few of the Perilous Pranksters too and a couple of the "Slime" ones (only available in the toilet and skull playsets, and as most folk weren't likely to buy more than one toiler and more than one skull, it's hard to get all four of the Slime ones).

      Perlock was the name of the Sherlock one, ha! It's likely I've got him more than once, if I do he's yours.

    3. Yeah, that’s right you are a little younger than me aren’t you? So that makes sense… Poor Tony and Honey Monster though I loved them so much. I feel sorry for my daughter when I was a kid we had Cool- amazing stuff in cereal packets. Nowadays it’s all Alton Towers vouchers and swimming tokens, pathetic- a free bowl is about all we get bearing any similarity to the glory days.

      I can only see Herne the Hunter being offensive to anti royalist poachers in Windsor Forest, but the (loose) Pagan association might be enough to make them decide against it, silly though.

      You are kind, thanks but I actually have him Perlock, just turned to look at the jar and I have actually positioned him so I can see him clearly! Lol But many thanks! I had one of the jelly slimy Bogglins (came in a container that looked like a giant tablet!) but I soon stopped buying slime-related toys as they either dried out or would eventually fall on the carpet… I had a few of the baby Bogglins (in a plastic egg), but I never had an actual Bogglin! Always asked, but never received one (I remember them being expensive at the time)

  4. Good to know you have a Perlock after all :)

    For the record, and to avoid future confusion, I came into this world in 1985...

    Still got a lot of good cereal stuff in my time, think the most exciting thing I've found in a box of Coco Pops over the last decade is a crocodile-shaped bag clip thing... Thrilling! They've even changed the name of Sugar Puffs now - Honey Monster Puffs is what they're called. Not sure how I feel about that.

    The Baby Boglins were my introduction to the wonderful world of Boglins! From Woolies one fine sunny day, I got a purple one and my brother got a green one, still got those two, naturally. Then my first Mini Boglin (named Boik) came with an issue of Buster one day, the beginning of another obsession!

    Got a few of the bigger Boglins - a full-sized one from a car boot sale shortly after that issue of Buster, didn't have any eyes unfortunately. Got a medium-sized one at Xmas, a few of the smaller "Action" Boglins (including one that oozed slime from his facial warts!), three "Spitting" Boglins, and I've managed to get the "Fish" Boglins off eBay in recent years - one of which now lives in my bathroom, yeah!

    Still haven't weaned myself off slime-based toys - five times this year they've suddenly burst whilst sat on my DVD shelf, narrowly avoiding covering my films in slime. Will I ever learn? Probably not, just today got a squidgy skull filled with blood and eyeballs, ha!

    1. Ah! So I’m 6 years ahead of you! Noted!
      I remember the crocodile-shaped bag clip thing! Honey Monster Puffs? Of ‘fer gods sake…
      I had the green Baby Boglins from Woolies too! I know that if I saw a decent Boglin at a car boot Id get it, it just hasn’t happened yet! As for the narrow misses with slime based toys! That’s interesting so they are deteriorating? It’s interesting to note that actual life expectancy of them!

    2. Well, the five that burst were all bought on a weekend in Scarborough in 2012... Considering they've been left in direct sunlight for a good portion of each day, I'd say three years is good going!

      Meanwhile, the slime from my Boglins toilet and skull sets just completely evaporated over time, considering it's made out of PVA glue, water and green pigment, I don't know what that says about the lasting power of the sticky substance of choice for primary schools.

    3. I've played it safe over the years by using wood glue having seen primary school work come away after some years. Prittstick on the other hand still champ in my (scrap) book. I have many finger monsters preserved in a jar and they are deteriorating at a slow by effective rate, sticking to each other like glue... give them another 10 years or so and I'm sure they will look like puddles of plastic.

    4. Finger monsters? I've got some of those that are over thirty (maybe even forty?) years old and still in great/good condition. Those are kept in a cardboard tube which is in a cupboard... Treat them like mogwai and nothing will go wrong ;)

    5. That’s what I thought, kept them in a drawer but no good came of it…. To be honest though, I think it’s just the one that seems to be ‘melting’ taking the others with it. Its funny, around 5 years ago when those ‘cash for gold’ prepaid envelopes where the in thing I was going to make one for finger monsters.

    6. Cash for finger monsters? Nice idea!

      If you poke around on toy forums, it seems there are certain toys that decompose in a weird way, and it spreads to others. Troll dolls are apparently notorious, and I have a few Brazilian things (known online as "Cromy Club Monster in my Pocket") which always leave my fingers feeling weirdly oily after handling them. Some of the black ("Spy") Mini Boglins also seem to have this effect.

    7. Oh I often think that! and wince, thinking about such things! I’m not sure if its true about Smurf figures (another jar) having led paint on them … if this is true I remember I used to ‘nibble’ at them… would certainly explain a lot....
      Do you watch Ashen’s videos? He did a rather interesting video about the Infaceables from the 1980’s and how they eventually perish.



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