Tag Archives: Monster Squad

Promotional Squad: The Monster Squad Press Kit and Promo Photos

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nToday I present the Monster Squad promotional ephemera that I have in my collection which is mainly culled from magazines and the official press kit released in 1987.  Enjoy!

Monster Squad Logo with Kids

FYI, the black and white photos at the bottom were all included in the press kit for the film, along with a pamphlet that details the plot highlights, actors and crew from the film.  The blue folder is the “kit” all of it was packed in.  There are a couple of variations of the images on the top row as well, specifically the image of Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolfman on the right which appeared in two different sets of lobby cards as well as used in magazine articles at the time.  Similarly, the image with the complete roster of monsters and Sean (Andre Gower) in the foreground has a variation that ended up as a tie-in Adidas shoe poster that I shared earlier…

Now on to today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #12, The Gang’s All Here!

12 Gangs All Here F-B

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The stars came out for the Monster Squad Premiere…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThere are conflicting dates recorded for when The Monster Squad had it’s official movie premiere party, at least if you go by the dates associated with celebrity sitings at the event (I’ve seen June 3rd and August 11th, 1987 as potential dates.)  But I do know that it was held at the Hard Rock in Hollywood and there was an interesting mix of A-B list celebrities that came out for the flick.  Though normally I wouldn’t find this terribly interesting, it’s kind of neat that the production brought out actors to portray the monsters in costume for the event and I believe they ended up using the Stan Winston suits and appliances for at least the Gillman, Wolfman, and Mummy, and I think Frankenstein’s Monster as well.

So, who showed up for the event?  Michael Douglas for one…

Michael Douglas 8-11-87

Also, Arnold-freaking-Schwarzenegger!

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I’m not sure but based on these two photos it looks like there were either a couple of different stand-ins for Duncan Regehr playing the part of Dracula (both of which look like Joe Flaherty’s Count Floyd from SCTV)…

Count-Floyd…it’s either that or maybe there were two premiere parties for the movie.  One of my favorite celebrity sitings at the party is none other than Kiefer Sutherland who was hot off the release of The Lost Boys.  I love the idea of him hitting up other horror flicks at the time, specifically this film…

Premiere of "Monster Squad"

“Look out David, there’s a Wolfman behind you!”

Premiere of "Monster Squad"

Now I kinda want to see a battle between the Lost Boys vampires and the monsters from the Monster Squad, but I am way too old to be writing fanfic.  I’ll just leave that one in my head…

This next set of pictures I have features Michelle Phillips from the band The Mamas & The Papas who had a run in with the Gillman, which make for some really neat photos.  The keen observer will notice Jason Hervey (EJ in the film) in the background too!

Actress and Singer Michelle Phillips Attends Movie Premiere

Next, here’s a picture of Andre Gower attending the premiere in his rad Stephen King shirt and Crew jacket…

Andre Gower In MS Wardrobe and Crew Jacket 1987

I also have this super rad clipping from the August 1987 issue of Teen Set magazine featuring Gower, Drew Barrymore, Kirk Cameron, Jason Lively (from Night of the Creeps), and director Fred Dekker!

Teen Set Clipping August 1987

Lastly, here’s another picture of Fred Dekker (with his family), which is one of the few shots of him I was able to find from the time in and around the making of The Monster Squad

Fred Dekker 8-11-87

So, based on Dekker’s outfits being different in the two photos I think this points to the fact that there were at least two premiere screenings events for the flick.

Other guests that attended that night included Billy Crystal, Meatloaf, and Regis Philbn and family.  Unfortunately there are no photos of them being accosted by monsters (damn!) Star Studded indeed…

So without further to do, here’s today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #8, Dracula!

8 Dracula F-B

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Interview with Monster Squad poster artist Craig Nelson!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nSo I had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down and have a chat with the really cool and gracious artist who painted the original Monster Squad US poster, Mr. Craig Nelson.  Craig has work has been inspiring me for the past three decades and it was a real treat to get a chance to pick his brain about working in the commercial art field as well as listening to him reminisce about his Monster Squad memories.  He has a really wonderful eye for light and shadow and has a very unique perspective on fine art.  Check out his website to see a ton of examples of his work, and hit him up on facebook and tell him Branded sent ya!  You can also see his work at the Ella Richardson Gallery, the Garden Gallery, and my personal favorite exhibition at the Waterhouse Gallery where you can see his works detailing vineyard workers that we discuss in the interview.

Craig Nelson Interview art

You can either click on the picture above, or click here to stream (or right click and select download to listen at your leisure.)

Now for today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #13, The Monster Squad!

13 Monster Squad F-B

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Monster Squad Art by Sara Turner!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nToday is an extra special MS Fan Art day.  Last month I highlighted the work of Brian and Sara Turner of Cricket Press, and today I wanted to take a moment and share some of Sara’s rad Monster Squad related artwork.  I know Sara is as big a fan of this flick as me and I love the pieces she’s illustrated.  Please check out the Cricket Press blog and store, there is so much great artwork there!

So, a few years ago Sara and a bunch of her artist friends worked on a short-lived site for selling their daily warm up sketches and inks.  I loved this series she did of Monster Squad portraits for that project…

Just recently she revisted that concept and expanded it to feature all of the monsters and the Squad as part of a Portrait-a-Day sketch card project that she collected into a very neat mini art book!

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You can find the book at the Cricket Press etsy shop

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By far though, my absolute favorite piece of Monster Squad artwork that Sara has produced is this amazing illustration and screenprint of the MS clubhouse…

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What’s even cooler than that?  Well that a copy of this got into director Fred Dekker’s hands!

tumblr_lpn1e51H5A1qfnw74o1_500That’s pretty damn bad ass Sara!

And today’s card is…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #22, BO-GUS!

22 Bogus F-B
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Monster Squad in Print, part 2…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nEarlier in the month I shared a series of Monster Squad articles and interviews that appeared in the pages of Fangoria and Starlog magazine back in 1987, and as an addendum to that post I wanted to share a couple more vintage magazine articles that debuted after the film had already been released in the US.  As much as I love reading “lead-up” articles and interviews it next to impossible to avoid that pervasive sense of optimism and awe that comes with what basically amounts to PR and publicity (both from the perspective of the interviewer and interviewee. ” Of course <insert current film> is the best work I’ve <insert director> ever done.”  “Of course I loved ever second working with the actors, studio, marketing department, etc, etc, etc…”  It’s the nature of the game.

The best thoughts on a film come later, after it’s been digested by the audience and there is some distance to reflect and see how things fit into the bigger picture.  Unfortunately it’s rare that we get to see articles written from this perspective that aren’t 20 or 30 years or more out from the events; we hardly ever get articles written a year or two later that reflect on the success or failure, and if we do it’s usually only a postscript to the artist’s newest work.  That’s why this Starburst Magazine article from volume 10, issue 12 published in 1988 is fascinating.  Though the article is written to support the ’88 release of the film in the UK and Europe, Dekker has already felt the brunt of the US box office failure and is living in that moment of clarity with some distance and lessons learned.  It doesn’t hurt that the magazine is mainly a UK publication because that probably freed him up a bit to air some grievances…

Starburst Magazine Issue Vol 10 Issue 12 1

I also included a review there at the end that was originally published in Starburst Magazine vol. 10, issue 10 that is way more favorable than the critical reviews in the US.

I thought I’d also take a moment to share the cover article from Scary Monsters Magazine, issue 2 which was still being printed as a zine back in 1992.  There’s not a lot to the article except some straight forward clinical listing of plot and who the cast and crew are, but it’s still a fun bit of Monster Squad ephemera…

scarymonsters

The only other 80s era magazine that I am aware of that definitely had a Monster Squad article was issue 10 of Samhian (again, I think this was out of the UK), but I have yet to snag a copy for my collection.  Are there any other articles from the 80s that you folks are aware of?

Samhain Issue 10

Now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #5, Phoebe “The Pheb” Crenshaw!

5 Phoebe Crenshaw F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 6!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor part 6 of the Monster Squad art showcase I thought it would be fun to share a couple of different takes on iconic aspects of the film.  First up is this awesome 8-bit inspired painting by Jude Buffum that showcases everyone’s favorite nard kicking moment…

wolfman

To play off the fun 8-Bit NES style of Jude’s painting above is this fun mock-up of what a Monster Squad NES game would should have looked like by the swell purveyor of Culturally Significant.com, M.E. Strange!  Check him out for the awesome month of Ghostbusters throughout October!

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Next up is this really neat reimagining of the original Craig Nelson poster that has since become the official DVD cover art of the current Olive Films release of The Monster Squad on DVD by Corlen Kruger

Corlen Kruger

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #29, “Bang.”

29 Bang F-B

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The 5 Monster Sickness…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nNot long after I left the theater when I caught my first screening of The Monster Squad the film began to worm its way into my psyche in some strange ways.  One of the most notable is in how I choose to collect certain things, specifically monster memorabilia.  Since 1987 I’ve become a huge fan of the original Universal Horror films and own practically all of them on DVD and love finding variations of the monsters in any form of be it toys, soda cans, ephemera, or what ever.  But when I collect it’s hard not to try and put together a set of the monster rogues gallery from The Monster Squad.  I partially blame the iconic Mount Rushmore of monsters painting that Craig Nelson did (which you can see in this month’s Branded Halloween banner), but honestly no collection of any one iteration of monsters is “complete” for me unless at least the five main characters are there.  It’s a sickness really, but still I embrace it.  Here’s a sample of some of the toys in my collection that reflect this…

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When Lego started issuing their blind bag minifigs a few years ago I was super stoked to see them including some classic monster figures.  Not only was it cool to see my favorite genre represented, but as the sets progressed there were more and more popping up and my secret wish of having a set of Monster Squad Lego was coming to fruition.  Of course, for a while there were only four of the five monsters I wanted available.  Like in most monster toy sets the Gillman was noticeably absent and just to make myself feel a little better I ended up sticking in a weird mutant fish creature Lego from the Atlantis set to fill that hole.  Then three years ago the collection was finally “officially” completed when Lego began releasing their Monster Fighters sets and one of the first to hit toy shelves was a small Gillman play set.

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Though I completely missed out on Monster In My Pocket figures the first time back in 1990 (and the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure craze that spawned MiMP), I have since been scouring junk bins and yard sales looking for a handful of figures that would represent The Monster Squad for me.  For years I was short one minifig, the Wolfman/werewolf, but I lucked out recently and the super gracious and badass Stacey Rader happened to have an extra in her collection and she helped my monster team feel complete!

Though the above sets are pretty darn awesome, there are a number of collections that I have that are still short one monster, but I’m always holding out hope that I’ll one day be able to fill in the gap.  Like I mentioned it’s almost always a variation on the Creature From the Black Lagoon Gillman, and sometimes I find a fun way to find a substitute for him like in this set of monster Smurfs that were issued five or six years ago…

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Around 7 or 8 years ago there were a series of Universal knock-off toys that were popping up at dollar stores around the country that I fell in love with.  Again though, no Gillman…

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Like I mentioned above, my collecting isn’t just limited to toys, for a number of years I was also collecting monster themed soda cans and for the past 6 years or so the 7-Up company has been putting out a set of monster mini-cans for Halloween.  But who was always absent?  Yup, the Gillman…

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After years of collecting, dusting old cans and worrying that one day I’d find a pool of soda all over my shelves when one of the cans sprung a leak (as my friend Paxton has said, it’s not if, buy when), I finally decided to take a bunch of pictures and then empty and chuck the cans.  Of course the very next Halloween we finally get a Gillman can…

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This also effects some of the ephemera in my collection. I love trading cards and stickers, and “the sickness” has invaded these collections too, like these Universal Monster trading cards that were issued in a six card packs by Impel in 1991. I stumbled upon these in an antique store last year and loved that I had an “instant” Monster Squad Monster collection…

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Sure, The Bide is butting in on the Frankenstein’s Monster cards, but it’s close enough. I also have a set of the ’91 Pepsi monster cards…

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Man, the monster push in 1991 by Universal was awesome and I wish they’d do that again during another Halloween soon.

Last but not least on the trading card front is this collection of some of my favorite Garbage Pail Kids stickers. Of course there isn’t a Gillman GPK, so I had to improvise…

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These collections were also a bit of the inspiration that drove me to making my own set of Monster Squad Topps-style trading cards for this year’s Countdown, and by the end of this month everyone will be able to have a digital set of those monster cards!

Speaking of stickers, I’m also always on the lookout for some neat monster stickers, especially if all five of my favorites are represented. The really swell artist Sabrina Parolin illustrated and printed up these swell Monster Squad stickers a few years ago…

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Like I said, this weird collecting is a monster sickness, a Five Monster sickness…

Now, onto today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #4, Patrick Rhodes!

4 Patrick Rhodes F-B

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Craig Nelson’s Mt. Rushmore of Monsters

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThe first time I saw the main US poster for The Monster Squad it was in the small black and white ad in the Arts & Entertainment Movie section of the Orlando Sentinel just over 27 years ago.  Even in that tiny format I was excited by the design and the artwork, and it wouldn’t be until almost 20 years later when I realized who was responsible for designing and painting the image.  Craig Nelson is a prolific poster artist have painted works for movies like Slapshot, Homeward Bound, Moscow on the Hudson, John Wayne’s The Cowboys, and Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie, but his work I am the most familiar with is obviously The Monster Squad.

US Poster

The idea of working all of the monsters into the night sky framing the Squad as they loiter on Dracula’s hearse is such a cool idea.  It’s almost literally the Mt. Rushmore of monsters.  But this poster wasn’t the only idea Nelson had as there were a couple of earlier concept roughs that illustrate the range that the studio was looking for.  First up, let’s take a look at another variation on the same basic idea, except instead of arranging the monster’s visages as a giant cloud mountain, they were more general floating otherworldly heads in the storm behind the kids…

Craig Nelson Alternate Comp 2

The same basic gist is there, but it’s not nearly as effective at conveying the epic nature of the movie that the finished piece achieves. Even still, it’s really cool to get to see a rough variation that would lead to the final piece.  This second concept was a much more tongue in cheek pass at the poster featuring a rubber dart and a completely different tagline…

Craig Nelson Alternate Comp 1

Honestly, the concept isn’t horrible, I actually think it’s cute, but it would have probably hurt the film even more than the unfortunate marketing already did. Again, it’s awesome to get a chance to see what was being kicked around before the final version was approved and painted.  I wonder how many other ideas were bandied about?

Also, since I just realized today that Mr. Nelson also did the fantastic painting for the Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie poster, here’s that work as well.  I totally saw these two flicks as a double bill of sorts on August 22nd, 1987.  I had no idea Nelson did both posters!

Cover Small

So, on to today’s Monster Squad trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #15, The Monster Squad Clubhouse!

15 Clubhouse F-B

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Design Squad: The Stan Winston Creature Concepts for The Monster Squad

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nWhen it came to breathing life into the monsters, Fred Dekker and the production sought out one of the masters in the field of special effects makeup and design, the legendary Stan Winston.  Having just come of work on films like The Thing, Terminator and Aliens, Winston and his stable of artists were taking Hollywood by storm.  With The Monster Squad, Winston left most of the heavy lifting up to his studio, in particular artists such as Steve Wang and Matt Rose who handled the Gillman, Tom Woodruff Jr. who took on Frankenstein’s Monster, Alec Gillis who took the reigns on Dracula’s bat transformations, contacts and fangs, Shane Mahan who worked on the Mummy, and John Rosengrant and Shannon Shea who handled the Wolfman…

effects artists

Matt and Steve

But Stan was far from hands off on the project.  Like the director on a movie set he was providing direction, guidance and conceptual design.  Here’s a look at some of his sketches for the monsters, starting with his ideas for the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster…

Wolfman and Frank

Part of what Winston was trying to achieve was to modernize the look of the creatures, but he also wanted to distance these designs from those of the classic Universal monsters since those likenesses were copyrighted.  So with Frankenstein’s monster the flat top head and features that resemble Boris Karloff and Jack Pierce’s design had to be avoided.  So he rounded the head and made the sutures on the forehead more prominent.  Later, when Woodruff started sculpting and augmenting Winston’s concept he’d make the monster look more natural and would shift the neck bolts to the temples.

With the Wolfman Winston wanted to avoid making the character into an outright werewolf, still retaining the feel of a man, yet bringing more of the wolf into the design of the face, straying from the Pierce Lon Chaney Jr. look.  He did this by adding a small snout and making the eyes more wide set.  He also shifted the ears to the top of the head.  In the end the design sit on the line in between Universal’s incarnation and the designs in the Joe Dante Howling film.

For his Mummy design, Winston made the creature more decrepit than Karloff and Pierce’s incarnation by accentuating the sunken features to an extent where the face is almost a living skull.  He also upped the gore/decay factor a bit by having the lips shrunken and drawn back from the teeth on his left side giving the impression of a seriously old, dried up monster.  Mahan would again take this design even further and make the mummy a true ancient walking corpse…

Stan Winston Mummy Concept Drawing

Probably the most drastically altered character in the group would be the Gillman.  Winston’s initial pass at the creature was very alien and way more toned down then the character’s design would become…

Stan Winston Creature Concept Drawing

On his second pass he accentuated the amphibian features, added prominent top and side head fins, and he gave the creature fangs.

Gillman

As a small bit of trivia, it’s said that John Rosengrant sculpted the Wolfman’s face to resemble that of Winston.  I don’t know, what do you guys think?

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Now for today’s card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #17, Wolfman’s got Nards

17 Nards F-B

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My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Advertising Detective…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThis past Friday a super cool Branded in the 80s reader from Spain (Emilio D.) sent me a bunch of pictures of cool Spanish VHS and DVD releases of The Monster Squad in response to my Dead Media Library article showcasing a bunch of the home video releases of the film.  Included in the batch of pictures was also an interesting Spanish newspaper advertisement from 1988 (that he found here) for the movie that was a little “mixed up”.  I wanted to take a second and examine it for a bit because there’s some really fun aspects going on in this 26 year old piece of amazing ephemera…

Spain-Monster-Squad-Ad

So first and foremost, the Spanish title of the film is Una Pandilla Alucinante (also the title used in Latin America), which roughly translates to An Amazing Gang (squad is Escuadrón, which we’ll see in some other posters later in the week by the way.)  Right off the bat (pun fully intended) Monster Squad super fans will notice the font in the title is the same for the North American release, but if you scroll down to the bottom you can also see the credits are clearly in English (well, mostly) and are for MS.

Now, the artwork.  So, that’s clearly a painting of Vincent Price on the left there, and as any fans of his later work will know this artwork comes from the poster for his 1981 anthology horror comedy The Monster Club (directed by Roy Ward Baker and also starring John Carridine and Donald Pleasence.)

TheMonsterClub_quad_UK_GrahamHumphreys-1

So, weighing this, The Monster Squad/The Monster Club, I can see how this goof up happened, especially when you consider it was in another country where they might not be as versed in our films, etc.  In fact, for years before Monster Squad was available to purchase to the public on VHS (or more importantly DVD) my mom would always try and hunt it down for me as a birthday gift.  Being on top of the scuttlebutt of the film’s release I would always tell her not to bother, that it wasn’t available, but she was adamant and would call every Suncoast, Best Buy and Media Play in town and try and order me a copy.  Of course she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted, so aside from being super caring and sweet she would always inadvertently order copies of The Monster Club (or Little Monsters on occasion)  as it was all these folks could order from their distributors!  So I kind of have a strange affinity for this foreign newspaper editorial mix up!

But wait, look more closely at the ad, because this is just where it starts getting interesting (I say realizing that I’m quite possibly the only one who actually finds this interesting…)

Spain-Monster-Squad-Ad

Is that Herman Munster off to the right?!?  Why yes, yes it is!  He is very obviously missing from the original Monster Club artwork.  Now aside from it being a cool little addition (I do so love that TV series), it kind of becomes clear that the reason he was added into the art is so that all five Monster Squad monsters are present and accounted for!  So this wasn’t actually a mix up per se, but intentional.  Weird.

HermanBut wait, there’s more changes.  The Mummy and the Creature?  Though they look really neat, they were also NOT in the original artwork!

Mummy Creature

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There was a weird four-eyed beast, and, well, I think that might actually be a Frankenstein-esque monster that they changed into a mummy.  My head is spinning.  At this point I’m wondering what actually happened that lead them down this convoluted path to get to the final advertisement?!?  Why didn’t they just use the Craig Nelson artwork like 90% of the other countries in the world?  So.  Weird.

Then there is the tagline/artwork text which reads…

El Conde Dracula
Frankenstein
El Hombre Lobo
La Momia…
Nos visitan juntos por primere vez.

Which roughly translates to: Count Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy… Visit us for the first time.  The Creature (or Gillman) totally gets the shaft.

Well, there you have it.  This is the kind of stuff that both excites me and makes me wonder if I chose the wrong career path in life.  How can I make a living out of staring at 30 year-old ephemera to figure out mysteries that absolutely no one on Earth cares about?  My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Ephemera Detective…

 Well, now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #3, My name…IS HORACE!

3 Horace F-B

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