Author Topic: How I became a monster loving kid and the monster toy enthusiast I am today!  (Read 7285 times)

Hepcat

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I've been posting here for a few years now so I guess it's high time I told you other fellows a little about myself. I'm a baby boomer born in 1952 and raised in London, Ontario. There were a number of defining moments in my younger days that turned me into the monster related toy enthusiast I am today:

1. The first was perhaps the You'll Die Laughing card set that Topps issued in 1959. These featured artwork by the legendary Jack Davis and are perhaps my favourite card set of all time. My association with these at the time didn't go beyond admiring the older kids' cards as I didn't yet have the disposable income to buy cards priced at five cents a pack.



2. My mother used to haunt the Kresge, Woolworths, Zellers and Metropolitan stores in downtown London looking for bargains I suppose. As a youngster I was invariably in tow. I didn't mind of course as there was always the chance I could score a dish of ice cream at the restaurant counter these stores typically featured. And of course there was never a shortage of other items to occupy a young boy's interest, goldfish, little turtles, budgies and all those toys! It was on one of those trips to Kresge that I came face to face with a Great Garloo, which I immediately brought to my mother's attention. With a sticker price in the twenty dollar area, there was just no chance I'd be given one though.

3. It was some time in 1961(?) that my buddy and I took in a double bill featuring the "Curse of Frankenstein" and the "Horror of Dracula" at the Capitol Theatre in downtown London. My buddy was so frightened by the events on the screen that he actually closed his eyes during the graveyard scene in the Dracula movie. I was made of sterner stuff but these movies were like none I'd seen before and left a profound mark on my impressionable young mind.

4. I energetically collected the Spook Stories card set that Leaf issued in late 1961/early 1962.



5. Around that time in perhaps the summer of 1962 I also succeeded in getting my mother to buy me a Hasbro Marble Maze at Woolworths. It featured pitfalls such as the Haunted Mountains, Devil's Pass, and Man Eating Plants and was the best toy I'd ever gotten to that point.



6. On another trip to Kresge within a few months  I came upon the Aurora monster models. Up to that point I'd just dabbled on the fringes of monster culture but those Aurora kits were so awesome that they sent me right off the deep end. Although I was most attracted to the Creature at first, it was the Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Flivver I ended up building.

7. At some point I also became aware of the Revell line of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth Fink model kits. Rat Fink and Angel Fink would be the two I'd build. I also bought a T-shirt Iron-On Transfer of Brother Rat Fink which I successfully applied to one of my shirts which my disgusted father promptly used as a rag in the garage. I never built any of the Hawk Weird-Ohs but a buddy down the street had an assembled Francis the Foul.

8. By selling fifteen newspapers on a Saturday morning in the spring of 1963, I earned a prize beyond my wildest dreams - that being a Standard Plastics monster wallet featuring Wolfman and the Creature, albeit it was the one with the Mummy that seemed to be the most popular with the other fellows.



9.  It was in September of 1963(?) that I took in the "King Kong versus Godzilla" movie at the Odeon Theatre in downtown London. I was left awestruck.

10. I then made the biggest score of my young life on a family trip to Detroit to visit relatives in the summer of 1964. I got my father to buy me a Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist Laboratory! My two best buddies were more than eager to be my demented half-brained lab assistants and enthusiastically fetched tapwater for me while I mixed the concoctions.



11. Trick or treating on Halloween with my two best buddies in 1964 I was given one card in a generic wrapper. Opening it up we discovered the "Hairy Fiend" card from the Topps Mars Attacks set. We were awestruck since Mars Attacks cards had not been distributed in London and we had therefore never seen any. Without the wrapper, we failed to even figure out the name of the set.



12. A few months later I discovered Big Daddy Roth magazine on the newsstand and ended up getting all four issues. I dutifully did as the ad suggested and sent away to Roth Studios in California for a Rat Fink sweatshirt, which my father just as dutifully turned into yet another rag.

13. I'd also discovered the first issue of Creepy magazine on the newstand while checking to see if the new Green Lantern or Flash comic books had come in and was immediately taken by the Jack Davis artwork on the cover and the stories inside. I ended up becoming a big Warren Publications fan and remember haunting neighbourhood stores waiting for the first issue of Eerie to hit the newstands. Curiously though I never bought Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine because I thought it was for bigger kids!

The model kits I'd built as a kid had a lifelong influence on me. So did the comics and bubble gum cards I'd collected. Therefore despite the fact that my boyhood treasures all went by the wayside at some point in time, I never completely lost interest in these things. Throughout high school and university I always wished I still had my models, comics, cards and sundry toys. My first job after university was in 1977 and by 1979 I was back to collecting. Big time!
 
The comics and cards came first because of their availability in several shops here in Toronto. By 1981 or 1982 though  I discovered that unbuilt Aurora monster and other kits could be bought. I've been collecting them ever since - the Aurora monster and other figure models, Hawk Weird-Ohs, Revell "Big Daddy" Roth Finks, AMT Star Trek vessels etc. I have well over 100 of these including most of the ones I want. For example, the only Roth kits I need are Surfite, Scuz-Fink, Boss Fink and Robbin' Hood Fink and the only Aurora monsters I need are the King Kongs, Godzillas and Mummy's Chariot. These are very tough to find. I have all the Hawk Weird-Ohs and Silly Surfers though and need only one Frantic kit.

I also collect unbuilt Aurora and Hawk plane and ship models from the sixties and some drag and stock car model kits from the seventies.

I have a very impressive collection of unbuilt slot car kits from the sixties, primarily Monogram and AMT. As you might imagine, these are particularly difficult to find. I have over forty Mint in Box slot cars.





I currently have seventeen Mint in Box board games from the sixties including Casper, Terrytoons Hide n' Seek, Outer Limits, Shindig, Howdy Doody Adventure, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Deputy, Mighty Crusaders, Johnny Ringo, Hasbro Dracula Mystery, Superman, Spider-Man and Lost in Space.

I also have a modest collection of other toys including eight Kenner Presto or Sparkle Paint Sets, three different Hasbro Marble Mazes,  some Hamilton's Invader items, a couple of dozen Mint on Card Duncan Spin Tops and a Marx Three Keys to Treasure Bagatelle:



The "toy" I most covet though is a Mint in Box Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist Laboratory chemistry set which I had as a kid.

I've also taken up collecting NM unused kids' lunch boxes with their thermoses. I now have 22 thermoses and nineteen lunch boxes. The Steve Canyon lunchbox and thermos is the oldest of these but others include Shari Lewis, Casper, Atom Ant & Secret Squirrel, Woody Woodpecker, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Yogi Bear.





I have a small collection of Lionel HO trains. Eventually I'd like to have a 1/29 scale garden railroad outside with Aristocraft and USA Trains equipment. I'll model a 1950s scene and mix 4-8-4 Northern steam engines with GP7 and GP9 diesels in my layout.

I haven't really gotten into Pez dispensers, Corgi or Matchbox cars, Marx Playsets, or Collegeville and ben Cooper Halloween costumes  - yet. Maybe in another ten years.

I collect comics from 1945 to 1980. My concentration is Silver Age DC such as Justice League, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Atom, Hawkman, Mystery in Space, Sea Devils, Challengers of the Unknown, Metal Men, Wonder Woman, Tales of the Unexpected, Teen Titans, Fox and the Crow etc. I'm just about solid in my main titles going back to 1962. For example, I have all the Justice Leagues going back to 1960 with the exception of issues 5, 6 and 47.

I also collect other titles such as the Fly, Jaguar, Black Cat, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Space Adventures, Gorgo, Herbie, Turok, Doctor Solar, Lone Ranger, Gold Key Phantom and many Atom Age Jungle and Adventure titles including Sheena, Jumbo, Space Western and Commander Battle & the Atomic Sub. I have a few Harveys such as Casper, Wendy, Spooky, Little Dot, Little Audrey and Hot Stuff and quite a few Dell Funny Animal comics.

I also have a very good collection of the car humour mags such as Drag Cartoons, Hot Rod Cartoons and CARtoons. I also collect the Warren horror mags such as Creepy and Eerie and the Skywalds. I have a collection of several dozen Mad magazines from the late fifties and early sixties as well.



My collection of CFL cards and such from the fifties to 1972 is among the best in the world. I also have a very nice collection of hockey cards from 1957 to 1973. I also have hundreds of baseball cards although these I've not pursued aggressively. I have over thirty binders of sports cards, over three quarters of them from before 1973.

I also collect non-sport cards primarily from 1948 to 1972. These I find even more interesting than sport cards. Favourite sets in my collection include You'll Die Laughing, Funny Valentines, Mr. Foney's Foney Ads, Zorro, Robin Hood, Sports Cars, Civil War News, Casper, TV Westerns, Goofy Series Postcards, Wacky Plaks, Fight the Red Menace, Batman, Space/Target Moon, Crazy Cards, Round-Up, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Monkees and Spook Stories. I haven't yet found Mars Attacks and Battle sets in sufficiently high grade. These two sets would be excruciatingly expensive. All in all, I have over 35 binders of non-sport cards of which over 85% are pre-1980.

I've also accumulated the original wrappers for dozens of these sets. As you can imagine, the wrappers can be particularly tough to find. I've not been collecting the boxes to this point.

My collection of premium coins - Shirriff hockey, football, baseball, cars, warships, space etc. - from potato chips and jelly desserts is among the best in the world.

I also collect refillable soda pop bottles, 16 ounces and smaller, and 1/4 pint and 1/2 pint round painted label milk bottles from the 1920s to the 1950s. I specialize in Ontario dairies. I now have close to two hundred bottles plus several dozen Pepsi and other collectible milk glasses in a custom built kitchen pantry with glass doors to store and display the bottles.

I have a couple very nicely restored Beaver gumball machines from the sixties. As soon as I create the space in my kitchen, I intend to acquire one of the pop machines from the sixties where you pulled the bottle out toward you horizontally. I also really want one of the small metal Wishing Well thermometers which hung in many variety stores when I was a young boy.

I love music and am constantly adding to my record accumulation of over 500 LPs and 200 CDs. My favourite artists include the Rolling Stones, Doors, Animals, Who, Cream, Beatles, Jethro Tull, Kinks, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Spirit, Ten Years After, Yardbirds, Zombies, Troggs, Box Tops, ? & the Mysterians, Butterfield Blues Band, Jeff Beck Group, Buddy Guy, Slim Harpo, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Vanilla Fudge, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Junior Walker & the All Stars, David Bowie, Blondie, B-52's, T-Rex, Prince, Meatloaf, etc.



I have a small collection of Rolling Stones 45 sleeves and concert programs.

I play my music on a Thorens TD 240 turntable with a state of the art Ortofon 2M Black moving magnet cartridge which incorporates a Shibata line stylus, a Marantz CC4001 CD player, a Marantz PM7001 70 watt per channel amplifier and a pair of Monitor Audio Silver RS8 speakers. I'm also getting a custom hardwood base with interlocking layers of sound deadening baltic birch built for a new old store stock Garrard GT-55 turntable I picked up on Ebay! It will anchor a second system in my bedroom which includes a pair of BIC Venturi 5312 speakers.

I have a small coin collection as well of primarily Canadian silver coins but I have some U.S. ones as well as the odd gold coin.

I also adore classic and muscle cars. I had a 1987 Buick Grand National but that was stolen in 1992 out of the parking lot of a banquet hall when I was attending a friend's wedding and then trashed. A project I've not been able to get around to doing due to financial limitations is restoring my candle apple red 340 powered 1973 Dodge Charger which needs an engine rebuild. I had Jesse at the Hemi Shop in London, Ontario install the engine back in 1981.

Overall though I'd characterize myself as a kid's stuff from the baby boom years collector.

 cl:)
« Last Edit: January 28, 2017, 01:04:24 PM by Mike Scott »
Collecting! It's what I do!

Wolfman

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So, that's all you've got? LOL
Only kiddin'. That's one hell of a collection right there.

Only disappointment for me would be no Archie comics. They were my favorite growing up.

JP

skully

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Hepcat, GREAT STORY!!!  I'm sure, like many of us here, we all parallel in many aspects with similar memories, being born in 1954, I can surely attest to those 'good old days'!  Some of us were born earlier, some later, but for all of us, at one time or another, "Monsters" actually dominated us, to our childhood delight. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a blog of some sort as to the " psychological" lure of monsters that is sometimes mentioned in articles when the "boom" actually hit in the early 60's.  For those of us who were actually there at the time was quite astounding.  Now, as these years go by at a "much too fast" nature, our early memories fuel our passion for "those" days. Actually, in a way, it's sad, at least sometimes for me. My parents, along with many other relation, such as Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, were all very much alive way back then. When memories flood, their memories come with, and in a strange sort of way, it's sometimes tough to take. I guess it's the realization that we're all getting a bit older, maybe.  But, on a lighter note, I'm still a monster kid, just like all of us, and those wonderful memories stay with me on both bright days and dark days. AS Forry once said--"Monsters are good for you"!!!

Hepcat

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Hepcat, GREAT STORY!!!  I'm sure, like many of us here, we all parallel in many aspects with similar memories, being born in 1954, I can surely attest to those 'good old days'!  Some of us were born earlier, some later, but for all of us, at one time or another, "Monsters" actually dominated us, to our childhood delight.

Indeed! And I love reading members' collecting stories from when they were kids back in the fifties through to the eighties.

So post your own stories! Tell the rest of us how you became a deranged monster kid way back when and the demented compulsive collector you are today. I want to know! After all, I didn't start this thread to be just about me.

 :)
Collecting! It's what I do!

Wich2

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Hep, as some of us are nearing the promised "three score and ten," and as my consciousness has been raised in this area by being executor of the estate of the late actor Arthur Anderson, an honest question:

Do you have long-term plans for all of this material?

Best,
-Craig

skully

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Ok, Hepcat.  Here we go.  As you can probably tell, I do my best writing in the wee hours of the morning, while tossing back a few.  Earliest memory for me was actually watching "Roland"(Zacherley), on TV in 1959 which was probably a Halloween special with Dick Clark.  Move forward a few short years and I remember my cousin bringing home to my Aunts house a copy of FM. # 13, and while paging through it, literally freaking out at the pictures inside(I might have been about 7 at the time), and I remember my Aunt actually scolding my cousin for bringing such a magazine home, for me to find and look through.  But, I was sort of hooked by it all.  I believe it was the following year that Aurora came out with the Frankenstein model kit. It was purchased for me, and, it was almost too much excitement from me, my parents could tell that I was really into building this thing, and displaying it, as I did, with the box behind my finished masterpiece, on top of my dresser.                                                                                                                  But, my younger brother Bobby was afraid of the thing, he couldn't sleep at night looking at it, and I had to put it in the top drawer. It was this same year that I aquired Rheumatic fever from having strep throat.  My heart became very weak at this time, and I was confined to my house while other neighborhood kids were outside running around and having fun.  Back in those days that was the usual protocol, lots of bed rest, and not too much excitement.  I came through this strange period just fine, but it was during this time that "Monsters" really took hold of me.                                            Since I was usually inside, this is where my love of model kits actually developed, I built them all, the Aurora monsters, the Aurora, Revell, AMT, Pyro, Lindberg, MPC, Monogram planes, cars, ships, figures, and everything else there was at the time which was in model kit form.  Also around this time is where my love of great rock and roll music took hold listening to my transistor radio all the time, along with watching tv, and buying all the monster magazines I could get my hands on.  I remember fondly the Premiers of The Addams Family and the Munsters among other shows of that period.  The Outer Limits was actually my favorite.                                                                                                                                                                        But, alas, those early days took a real toll on me, my parents used to fight a lot, argue about many things, and this is when I realized what Alcoholism was, my dad suffered from it, and believe me, my memories of this are not good. I sought the sanctuary of my Grandparents house where I stayed during my Summer vacations from school, and it was here that I could have any monster item I wanted, and it just blossomed into pure monster heaven for me.  Actually, when I look back, it was probably the best "escape" there was for me, to get away from it all as a kid, nothing comes close to the joy I felt with all the movies, tv, model kits, magazines and toys there was to be had during the true monster craze of the times. 

Palifan

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Loved reading your journey to monster fandom Hepcat, it must have been an amazing time growing up through that period (same for you Skully). I can now see where you get all your knowledge on old monster toys from and always enjoy seeing what you've posted in other topics on here.

Coming from Bristol in the UK and growing up at the start of the seventies meant I missed out on the monster craze of the 60's , although I have read up on it a fair amount over the years. For me I started out with action man (this was the name of GI Joe in the UK), and then The Six Million Dollar Man took a grip. I never had Evel Knievel although my friends did but did have a Mego Fist Fighter Spiderman and Tom Baker Deny's Fisher DR Who, both of which I played with all the time. The big thing for me was Star Wars though. It kicked off a whole Sci-Fi interest in me and I would build play sets for my figures and always take the Empire Strikes Back ones outside every time it snowed (the largest and best Hoth play set a young boy could wish for!). I used to get the Star Wars weekly comic as well as 2000AD when it arrived in my newsagents in February 1978 and still read Judge Dredd graphic novels to this day (as well as various others like Hellboy and Batman).

As I grew older my interests turned to monster movies during the mid 80's and with videos becoming available it meant I could finally start watching what was on offer out there. I can really remember some of my friends all coming into school one morning talking about the first part of a two part TV film they'd seen called Salem's Lot. It was on too late for me to see at the time but it was something I sought out when videos started arriving in the UK. Over the years I have looked out for classics that I'd heard about as well as watching all the current films from the first Nightmare on Elm Street and Fright Night through to the most recent offerings of last year and Horror has always had a special place in my heart.

I was never an amazing artist but was quite good with model kits and sculpting so became first a sculptor and prop maker on Stop Motion features and then continued as a Stop Motion animator (which is something I've specialized in for the last 20 years). I guess watching all the Ray Harryhausen re-runs that were on TV as I grew up gave me the Stop Mo bug, that and seeing the Taun Tauns and AT AT's from ESB animated by Phil Tippet, it gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in something along those lines.

I had a good collection of toys growing up but like a lot of people it all ended up being given away or thrown out. During the late 90's I decided to start getting back a few of my favorite pieces and have been building a collection every since.I have a fairly varied collection of both vintage and modern items and have everything all mixed up on display although I do have a mainly Monster section set up. Living in the US now means a lot of my old collection is in storage in the UK to be one day dusted off when I decide where to make my permanent home. It's tough not having everything around me at times as I have a large Vinyl collection of around 5000 records that I can't hear but I do have a 160 GB iPod nearly filled up with my CD collection on it and I've managed to put together a nice toy collection here over the last 5 years or so.

Well that's a concise account of my journey into this world and as a toy collector i've been a part of Star Wars forums for years now but I must admit that finding this place has really ignited my interest in Monster collecting and films again. I really did spend a lot of the 80's reading up on all I could find out about this genre and over the years my interests have been pulled into other areas but it's really nice to come back to it. This forum is like a crash course in all things Horror and I'm just glad to discover any new facts to me about the beginning of it all.

Ian

skully

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Palifin, Superb story!!!

Palifan

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Palifin, Superb story!!!

Thank you sir, yours also and it is nice to reminisce from time to time about days gone past.

Ian

Wich2

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Good stories, gentlemen. And often with lots of similar touchstones along the way for us Silver Age Monsterkids.

-Craig

CreepyCharlie

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Great reads y'all!  Truly enjoyed these  ;D

LundyAfterMidnight

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I believe I was predisposed to love horror/fantasy/sci-fi. I feel that some things choose us for whatever reason.

Disney's Pinocchio, dinosaurs & cartoons like Astro Boy were my first loves. Monster specific, it may have been spotting Famous Monsters (#39) for the first time at the tender age of 5. By then, the monster craze was in full swing.  I couldn't look at TV or go a grocery or department store w/out seeing monsters, sci-fi & superheros, & I loved every minute of it.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 02:26:38 AM by LundyAfterMidnight »
"Well friends, that's all there is to life: just a little laugh, a little tear." - Prof. Echo (Lon Chaney, Sr.)

Hepcat

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Earliest memory for me was actually watching "Roland"(Zacherley), on TV in 1959 which was probably a Halloween special with Dick Clark.

I envy you fellows who have memories of monster hosts on TV. We didn't get a TV until I was nine years old in 1961, and even then we only got one channel, CFPL in London, which had no monster host to my knowledge. The kids with cable service at home could tune into Ghoulardi's show from Cleveland but we didn't get cable until 1966 by the fall of which I was entering tenth grade.

Since I was usually inside, this is where my love of model kits actually developed, I built them all, the Aurora monsters, the Aurora, Revell, AMT, Pyro, Lindberg, MPC, Monogram planes, cars, ships, figures, and everything else there was at the time which was in model kit form.

Did you paint the models as well? If so, what were your painting skills like? Do you still have any of the models you built as a kid?

But, alas, those early days took a real toll on me, my parents used to fight a lot, argue about many things, and this is when I realized what Alcoholism was, my dad suffered from it, and believe me, my memories of this are not good. I sought the sanctuary of my Grandparents house where I stayed during my Summer vacations from school, and it was here that I could have any monster item I wanted, and it just blossomed into pure monster heaven for me.  Actually, when I look back, it was probably the best "escape" there was for me, to get away from it all as a kid, nothing comes close to the joy I felt with all the movies, tv, model kits, magazines and toys there was to be had during the true monster craze of the times.

I realized years ago that a major part of the reason why I still love the toys and other artifacts/collectibles from my childhood is that the bulk of the positive memories I have from my childhood are associated with those things. My home life wasn't very happy since my parents were constantly fighting. And with a funny ethnic name and the crew-cuts my father often gave me my experiences/interactions with other kids in the schoolyard weren't that pleasant either.

 :-\
Collecting! It's what I do!

skully

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Hi Hepcat!  Yes we were fortunate to have TV in the early days, actually, at my Grandmothers house, there was quite a collection of them throughout the years when they were bought. I loved watching Chiller Theatre on channel 6 here from Philly on s Saturday night.  It's funny now, but I remember when my dad wanted to watch tv at night, and I wanted to watch another tv program(usually a monster movie-of course), at the same time, he used to get very upset, and we used to flip between the commercials to each try to watch our shows. Sometimes the outcome wasn't so good!  As for painting my kits, it was the usual kid-type paint jobs that I did, with maybe a few exceptions. When I built that first Frankenstein kit, I was VERY careful with the paint job, but I also remember the Pactra small square paint bottles sometimes being too glossy, I sometimes didn't like the "sheen" from the glossy paints, and I experimented with flat colors a lot. Now, for the car kits, I always went all out with the Pactra spray paint cans, I used Candy colors a lot, and realized that an undercoating with silver or gold was amazing with these colors. I always put a lot of effort into the car kits.  And yes, as I mentioned, my "escape" from many childhood "miseries" were my monsters, they helped a great deal. As mentioned in an earlier post here somewhere, the kids at school usually knew who I was when we had to dress up at Halloween, I was either Frankenstein, or a skeleton(I loved skeletons, along with skull type toys too). 

Hepcat

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Loved reading your journey to monster fandom Hepcat.... I can now see where you get all your knowledge on old monster toys from and always enjoy seeing what you've posted in other topics on here.

Thank you!

I was never an amazing artist but was quite good with model kits and sculpting so became first a sculptor and prop maker on Stop Motion features and then continued as a Stop Motion animator (which is something I've specialized in for the last 20 years). I guess watching all the Ray Harryhausen re-runs that were on TV as I grew up gave me the Stop Mo bug, that and seeing the Taun Tauns and AT AT's from ESB animated by Phil Tippet, it gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in something along those lines.

Very cool that you're now working and making a living in a field that developed out of a childhood interest! Very few of us can say that. Me for example I'm a stockbroker, not exactly something that ever crossed my mind as a kid.

...Horror has always had a special place in my heart.

Well then the UMA is certainly the right place for you!

 8)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 04:09:22 PM by Hepcat »
Collecting! It's what I do!