When I was a kid, I loved small toys. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I was a nervous little thing sometimes, and having a small plastic friend in my pocket helped my anxiety immensely. Beyond that, though, I just loved anything that was tiny. I collected girls’ lines like Sweet Secrets and Charmkins, but I also branched out. I had a couple of gumball machine robots that often joined me on playground adventures.
I remember the first time I saw M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. My 2nd grade BFF, Joe Brandon, who not only rocked a black Members Only jacket and Heathcliff lunchbox every day, but also had every ’80s boys’ toy line, had a bag full of the flesh-colored guys. Those were the first monotone mini-figures I’d ever seen. A couple of years later, I collected C.U.T.I.E., which was Mattel’s female companion line. (C.U.T.I.E. stood for “Coolest Ultra Tiny Individuals on Earth”.)
A couple of years after that, Matchbox released Monster in My Pocket. I totally missed these guys the first time around, since in 1991, I was in the throes of junior high drama and had moved from monsters to makeup. Even so, had I seen these toys back then, I probably would’ve bought a pack or two, given my love for monsters. It wasn’t until my adulthood that I learned very much about the line. The main thing I learned? I must have all of them.
I bought a couple of MIMPs early last year, and from there, I would buy a couple here and there. Last fall, I bought a Frankenstein’s Monster, and that was the main catalyst for collecting. The more of these guys I saw, the more I wanted. Luckily, I bought several at one time from one guy. He also had the Monster Mountain display, but at the time I thought, “We don’t need that.” Secretly, I thought, “But it’s a really good price, and it’s kinda cool.” The main reason we talked ourselves out of it was that we didn’t have that many MIMP to fill it.
Fast forward to a few months later. We started researching how much that display was worth, and we called the seller to see if he still had it. He did, and he was looking to move it quickly. We negotiated a price, and he threw in a bag full of MIMP that left us fewer than ten away from a complete series 1 set. After spending a few bucks over the course of the next few weeks, we completed series 1. I already had a few series 2 and 4 mixed into my collection, because I kept buying ones that caught my fancy. I don’t have any of the latter series, like the wrestlers or the insects. I’m a few away from a complete series 2.
For the first two series, these creatures were monotone. Later releases saw a few paint apps, and the most recent series was fully painted. I have to admit, I’m more of a monotone fan when it comes to little rubber guys. The detail on these toys is a lot of fun, and the variety of legends and mythologies Matchbox draws from to gather characters for the line is vast. Here are my top ten.
- The Monster (for obvious reasons)
- Baba Yaga (Thanks, Hellboy!)
- Ganesha (not a monster at all, but very cool to be included here)
- Kali (Thanks, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!)
- The Beast (He’s even holding a rose! Thanks, Jean Cocteau!)
- Dybbuk (Thanks, The Possession!)
- Poltergeist (Thanks, Poltergeist!)
Honorable mentions: Charon, Jotun Troll, all of them
For the most part, this line isn’t horribly expensive to collect. The Mountain display is a bit pricey, but I can understand why. It comes in a box, but it’s made of a plastic similar to vintage Halloween masks (it is quite a bit sturdier, but still). What most people consider Series 3 is a series that was all premiums for several products, and a large portion may never have been released. It’s a shame these are hard to find, as some of them are well-known characters like the Leviathan, Anubis, Siren, and Abominable Snowman (though I have to say, as names go, Jimmy Squarefoot is pretty fantastic).
Here’s the packaging for the Monster Mountain display.
This thing adorns my living room wall, and I gotta say, it’s pretty rad. (I have to laugh at the box’s claims of “Heavy Duty Construction”, though.) Also, that kid’s expression is pretty much the way we looked when we were putting our monsters on ours.
Most of the time when you run into Monster in My Pocket toys, they’re lumped in with other little rubber guys, and unless someone else has done it, you’ll have to clean them. The majority of MIMP I’ve encountered needed a serious bath before display. (Why are they always grimy and sticky?) Luckily, they’re easy to clean with a bit of dish soap and water.
So next time you’re perusing the local flea market or neighborhood yard sale, keep an eye out for these tiny monsters. They’re portable, well-sculpted, brightly colored, and always a good decision.