Blog-O-Ween

Monstrous Mondays: Powco Thriller Graveyard Gang

Ah, the ’80s. I’m a child of the decade, so it holds a dear place in my heart. Even if I hadn’t grown up then, I think I’d have a slight obsession with all of the cool things that came out of the ’80s. (You know, because clearly that’s not what’s happening here.)

Merchandising, especially in the world of toys, was a spectacle when I was a kid. Toy companies sprouted seemingly overnight to create playthings based on the latest hot thing: TV shows, movies, restaurants, cereal, cartoons, even songs. In the early ’80s, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was *the* album. I’ll talk about it a bit more for my first Thriller Thursday music post, but for me, it is one of the definitive albums of my childhood. And apparently I’m not the only one. In 1984, Powco Toys, in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the album, released an unlicensed group of toys called the “Thriller Graveyard Gang”.

L to R: Karen Corpse, Freddie Funk, Midnite Mike, Howard the Howling Hound, Digger Doug, and Cool Ghoul (Image via The Gallery of Monster Toys)

Take a look at the picture and let their fabulous crappy awesomeness sink in. Never heard of these guys? I’m not surprised. I discovered them while perusing the Gallery of Monster Toys (or as I like to call it, “Why Won’t Someone Buy Me All These Things?.com”). From the moment I saw them, I was in love, since they incorporate many things I love: monster toys, ’80s music, zombies, Michael Jackson, crappy off-brand toys, bendy toys, toys with clothes, and glow in the dark. That’s right, kids, these babies glow in the dark. They’re pretty detailed for bendy toys–you don’t see a lot with rooted hair and clothes. I highly recommend bringing one home should you run across this kinda rare toy.

I don’t know a whole lot about Powco, who filed for a trademark for “Thriller” and for “Graveyard Gang” in 1984, which were both registered in 1985. The trademarks held until 1992, when they were administratively cancelled (which means Powco didn’t file necessary paperwork to keep them, or at least that’s what Google tells me). Powco also held trademarks for “It’s Magic!”, “Espritoy” and “Bizzy Beaver”.

I was fortunate enough to find a Karen Corpse and Digger Doug at last fall’s Chicago Toy Show, which is the largest toy show I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it’s massive, and they had things I’ve only dreamed of seeing in person. (At one point, I said, “I’m actually tired of looking at toys.” That’s how big it is–it broke my toy hunting spirit.) They have two shows a year: one in April, and one in October. Last year there was an entire room of early 20th century toys, a large percentage of which were Halloween toys and decorations. I spent a good hour with my mouth hanging open at all of the beautiful things.

(Image via The Gallery of Monster Toys)

I’m not a completist for this line. I mean, I’ll pick up any I see, but owning all of them isn’t that important. However, I re-ee-eeeeeeeeeally want a Midnite Mike. Look at his fake Thriller jacket! Look at his crappy knockoff Michael Jackson toy likeness. And who doesn’t want a glow-in-the-dark Michael Jackson toy? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody doesn’t want that. If you find one, and you somehow resist the amazing temptation to take him home for yourself, keep me in mind, won’t you? I would love to add him to my annual Halloween monster display.

So there you have it–Thriller Graveyard Gang are here to kick off Blog-O-Ween. Stick around this month for more Halloween fun, and this week for more thrilling posts! (MANIACAL VINCENT PRICE LAUGH)

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