September 01, 2017

Toys in the Attic: Aurora Monster Models of the 1960s Part 12 - 1964 Famous Monsters of Filmland / Aurora Model Contest

FM issue 27 announcing the contest
The "Master Monster Maker" model kit contest of 1964 was a collaboration between FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, Aurora Plastics, and Universal Studios. All three had a huge stake in the venture and, if successful, a bounty of notoriety (and lots of cash) would be realized. The project was ambitious; Universal had licensed the rights to Aurora to make model kits in the image of their horror icons. Since introducing the Frankenstein kit, Aurora enjoyed a popularity in figure kits that was never before seen in the industry. They sought to further capitalize on their success by introducing two monster customizing kits that coincided with the contest. Universal benefited from the promotion of their "Shock Theater" ensemble and the potential for more licensing revenue. FM was the fulcrum of the campaign and got the paint stirring when it announced the contest in issue #27 (March 1964). The result? Monster Kids by the thousands entered their customized monster models at their local participating hobby shop all over the United States. It was an overwhelming, unparalleled smash hit.
Banner for participating hobby shops
Back cover of FM issue 27 announcing the contest
The year following the contest, FM published an article in issue #32 (March 1965) that showcased the Grand Prize winners of the Master Monster Maker contest from around the country. The article describes the prize packages, which included future Aurora models, a subscription to FAMOUS MONSTERS (that was good until 1970!), and a trip to Horrorwood, Karloffornia.

Greg Gellman of Oklahoma was crowned the Master Monster Maker for his elaborate two-story creation that depicted a mad scientist in his lab readying a jolt of life into the Frankenstein monster strapped to a table. See the slide show at the end of this article for images from FM 32 and other items from the contest.


To coincide with the contest Aurora released the Customizing Monster Kits No.1 & No.2.
for the kit builder who wanted even more ghoulish goodies to go with their monsters and a saint set of Monster Colors. 
#463-98 Aurora Customizing Monster Kit - Series 1
#464-98 Aurora Customizing Monster Kit - Series 2

1964 advertisement
     


Rich Palmer, owner of Rich’s Hobby Town in Pine Brook, Montville Township, NJ, is pictured behind the counter of the store’s “Monster Korner” in this photo from 1964.
Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine notes that Palmer’s business was the nation’s largest-volume hobby shop at the time, attracting enough attention in the industry that the Aurora Plastic Corp. hired him to organize a “Monster Customizing Contest” that year.
The contest, Aurora and the shop received national attention later that year when Walter Cronkite, anchor of the CBS Evening News, visited the shop and interviewed Palmer.
Vacuform First Place plastic awards w/cardboard backing

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