One of the few non-candy treats I could really sink my teeth into!

By Shawn Robare

So, confession time.  I was a, er, late trick-or-treater quitter, or how ever you phrase that concept.  I had a hard time giving up the costumes and pillowcases when I got into middle school, and even the first couple years of high school.  I was never one to “do what I was told”, and lets be honest, going door to door in your local neighborhoods at night dressed up like a monster getting free candy?  How in the hell does one just quit that?  That’s like quitting smoking (I hear) or heroin (a closer comparison I would have to guess.)  Anyway, I had a very hard time giving up the ghost (costume), and found myself going door to door with a small group of like-minded geeky friends back in 1991.  My costume?  I was Riff Raff from Rocky Horror.  But I didn’t have moolah in the costume budget for a fake bald cap or wig, so I wore an old fireman’s helmet my ex-EMT uncle gave me.  My concept?  Riff Raff was a volunteer fireman on the weekends.  Everyone needs a hobby.

Halloween 1991

So, when I wasn’t awkwardly telling folks to give me treats, smell my feet and all that junk, I was pretty big into collecting comics, and more specifically, at the time Marvel trading cards printed by Impel.  I had a huge collection of the 1st-3rd series cards, and even though I was a die-hard Topps kid, Impel really impressed me with their card quality.  So, where am I going with this?  Well, in addition to my rather large candy haul that year (king-size pillowcases were the way to go), there were some surprises mixed in that had me way more excited than the eventual chocolate-induced stomach aches that awaited.  When I got home that night and dumped the bag of candy out on the floor I saw a very familiar logo at the bottom of a pack of trading cards I didn’t even realize made it into my loot…


That’s right, in 1991 Impel marketed a tiny set of Universal Monster Trading Card Treats that folks could buy and give out instead of candy.  Though I’d normally frown on this sort of non-candy treat heresy, I was actually really excited to see these.  Not only was I a pretty big fan of trading cards, I was also a budding monster fanatic too.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the wherewithal to archive these cards (or any of the tons of Universal Monster merch that littered the shelves that year), and I have no idea what ever became of the specific ones I scored that night.  But as luck would have it, on my first trip up to Bel Air Maryland to meet Jaime from, we stumbled into a local antique store that just happened to have a few packs in stock for super cheap.

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As far as I know the set consists of six cards featuring the main stable of the Universal Monsters including Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature, and Frankenstein’s monster and his Bride.  Now I’m not calling the Bride “Yoko” or anything, but seriously, remove her photo-bombing behind from that card art and you’d have a mean Monster Squad rogue’s gallery.  Just saying…

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I do like that someone (either the artist or someone in the design department at Impel) decided to stick the Bride and the monster on the same single card.  I’m sure Impel wanted these to be six to a pack for some reason.  Anyway, I like that you get a nice range of portraits and group shots on these cards, and I’m so glad the Creature get’s his own featured card considering he tends to get overlooked on a lot of merchandise…

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So the Wolfman gets kind of screwed on the cardbacks.  His synopsis story is eschewed in favor of a “Night Safety” hint.  Also, nice job on the monster movie release date brain teaser Impel, I mean the answers are printed right under the question and they’re not even tiny or upside down!

Thinking about these cards and organizing the monster-themed GPK stickers for my main countdown this year has me wondering, why hasn’t Topps put out a Halloween themed set of Garbage Pail Kids in time for the holiday (you know, for treats?)  I would literally go broke buying boxes of spooky gross stickers.  Topps, get on that.

  • I was wondering when these things would end up on Branded!

    The Wolfman’s cardback should just say: “Got nards.”

    • I kind of wish there was a “Wolfman doesn’t have nards anymore…” quote during the scene when he gets blown up with the dynamite in his pants… ;)

  • These cards are great. I’d never seen them before. I think I got in one last trick-or-treat in high school. No shame in a admitting it. We’re all (reluctant) adults here.

    • Yeah, sigh, that wasn’t even my last one! Sigh. I had a pretty nifty homemade Wolverine costume the following year complete with clear plastic poster frame claws duck-taped to my hands, my dad’s old cowboy hat, and mascara sideburns… ;)

  • Those are great!

    • Thanks, I was so happy to find them. I credit Jaime for having great taste in antique shops… ;)

  • Paxton Holley

    Like you, Shawn, I trick or treated until my Freshman year in high school (Oct 1988). I was VERY reluctant in giving that up. However that year a few upperclassman threw wet toilet paper at my friend and I and tried to steal our bags. So, I decided to hang up the fangs. *Frowny face*

    I too am an amateur Universal Monsters aficionado. I just love the movies and merch for that brand. I wish “Hammer Monsters” was more of a thing. The last few years has me falling into a burning, torrid love affair with the Hammer Studios gothic horror lineup. They are SO good.

    • Yeah, I’ve been becoming a pretty big Hammer fan. Love Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Have you seen Vampire Circus? Also, I love Amicus flicks too…

      • Paxton Holley

        Vampire Circus is on my radar. Hope to get to it soon. The Dracula movies are my favs. Frankenstein is also excellent. Curse of the Wolf Man. I review Plague of the Zombies this year on the blog.

        Hope to watch soon: Kronos: Vampire Hunter, The Mummy and The Mad Monk.

        • I really enjoyed Plaque, though it can be slow at times. I highly recommend The Reptile and The Gorgon (though both feel like the same flick at times being shot in the same locations with some crossover cast), and my personal favorite Hammer flick, The Devil Rides Out. I still need to catch up with Kronos. Oh, another interesting one is Night Creatures (pirates, skeleton riders and the very awesome Peter Cushing.) Fart, and Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, the Hammer crossover with Shawn Brothers from the early 70s:

          • Paxton Holley

            Oh yeah! I was originally supposed to review the Shaw/Hammer flick when I did Dracula back in 2011 but I ran out of time and space. I hope to get to it soon.

          • Paxton Holley

            And that’s why we are BFFs, my friend. I’ll have to check out that Tales from the Crypt. I’m not sure I’ve heard of Amicus….

          • A lot of the Amicus stuff consists of anthology flicks (Tales From the Crypt, The House that Dripped Blood, etc.) But there are some cool stand alone flicks like Cushing and Lee’s The Skull about the antique collectable skull of the Marquis De Sade possessing it’s owners and making them do horrible things. Campy, but fun. Need to bug Jaime about the next flick for the CFC, we need to sit down and record again soon!

          • Paxton Holley

            I concur. Yeah, I miss talking to you guys. I want to get back to reveling in some bad-awesome cult movies.

  • Paxton Holley

    Oh, btw, you are absolutely right about a Halloween/spooky themed GPK series. Why has this not become a thing?

    • Seriously, I wanna give them out as Halloween treats (and by give I mean horde them in binders…)

  • Todd (Neato Coolville)

    Did you trick or treat at my house? Back in 1994, I bought a ton of these cards on the cheap from Kay-Bee Toys. That year, my wife and I handed them out on our first Halloween together as a married couple. We had so many packs that we continued to hand them out for the next three or four years. They were a big success and I have fond memories because of these cards. Nice to see them again!

    • Todd, I have to imagine trick or treating at your place is always considered one of the best stops on any kid’s route! That’s so cool that these are tied into your memories of your first year of marriage. Handing out candy and junk is still something I have yet to experience, but hope to be able to do in the coming years…

  • Hi there. Just came across your site for the first time while looking for info on these cards. I participate in a thrift guild and one of the members found a whole box of unopened packs and he sent me a complete set. Your little history lesson on em was great and is gonna be a major help when I write about them over on my site.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the info, a good article, and it looks like ya got a nice site here.