Ahhh, the Seventies. What a time to be a kid! I realize this is ever-so-slightly off the subjects I usually discuss on here, but this Pictorial post about rad toys from bygone days got me feeling all nostalgic, and since I’ve already written a post about scary books I loved as a child, I thought, why not expand on that a little? Because as much as I adored my ghost stories and Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, the creepy-ass toys I played with as a little goth nugget were probably just as pivotal in turning me into the horror behemoth you behold before you today. So here we are: the Goddess’s list of her favorite horror-related toys from her formative years!
Weeble Haunted House
This was probably my very favorite toy growing up. I still have a picture of four-year-old me playing with it, along with my toddler brother, in our painfully 70’s-looking living room (complete with mustard-hued beanbag chair). The haunted house opened up like a dollhouse! The front door creaked when you opened it! There were secret passages! There was a little Weeble ghost that glowed in the dark and a Weeble witch with a teeny plastic witch hat! There were two frightened little Weeble people who JUST COULDN’T EVEN. If loving this toy is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Mystery Mansion Game
I don’t remember the exact rules of this game, but basically, it came with all these little boxlike “rooms,” and you assembled the mansion as you played. There were rules to the mansion assembly, of course, like the rooms had to line up by their doorways, and you couldn’t have a room with a window facing into another room (so the above picture, with the rooms all willy-nilly and the music room’s window facing the boiler room’s wall, WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED, YOU GUYS, GET IT RIGHT).* I think you had to be the first to capture three of the little treasure chests and get back out of the house. The artwork of the rooms was really nice and very realistic, perspective-wise, and I seem to recall that most of the time we didn’t even bother playing the game, because obviously the funnest part was assembling the mansion in lots of different configurations. I totally wanted this to be my real house when I was a kid. Look how spacious and tastefully decorated it is!
Play Doh Haunted House
I would occasionally get all fancy with this and attempt to make multi-colored witches and mummies with the Play-Doh, though I can’t remember how well all of that worked out. And while I did have this exact Play-Doh set with this particular haunted house plastic mat, it’s really bugging me because I’m sure I also had a plastic mat that looked like a mad scientist’s lab that either came with this set or that I used with these particular Play-Doh molds. But I can’t find a picture of it on Google and it’s kinda driving me crazy.
A monstery variation on Stretch Armstrong, with a healthy helping of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I actually recall the monster being a darker green than this and having a smoother head, but that must be just my faulty memory. One thing I do remember, though, is that if you and your little brother played with it enough, eventually it would get a hole in it and the stretchy stuff inside would begin to seep out, and that stuff had the same consistency and smell as maple syrup. Hmm.
Goes without saying, really. Who didn’t love this thing? You could make creepy bugs and worms with it, and there was always the alluring possibility that you might burn yourself (which is the same reason I also loved the Flower Thingmaker, and that smelting plant-type thing where you could melt down your crayons and make swirly, multicolored Hot Wheels cars).
Shogun Warriors Godzilla
Clunky and not that exciting by today’s standards, but nevertheless, kid-me was entranced that you could roll your ‘zilla around on the floor and flick out his fire-tongue while shooting at your siblings with the monster’s detachable action fist!
Mad Scientist Dissect-An-Alien (1980’s)
A bit of a cheat, as I was slightly older when this came out, but you can bet your ass I played with it when my little brother got one. You filled the alien’s body cavity up with glowing slime and tried to cram all his little innards in there before “stitching” him back up. I don’t recall that we EVER got all of his plastic guts to fit in there with the slime inside. Maybe we just got overzealous with the goop, which totally sounds like something we would do.
Mighty Men & Monster Maker
A more “boy-centric” version of Fashion Plates (which I also had and enjoyed), this one used plastic grave-rubbing technology to let you make cool hybrid superheroes and creatures, even if you couldn’t draw a lick. Then you could color them with the included colored pencils! Fuck yeah, I’m drawing a green, muscle-bound superhero with werewolf legs, AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME, GODDAMMIT.
Crossbows and Catapults
More fantasy-based than horror-based, but I’m including it because it was kinda medieval, and also fun as fuck. Me and my younger brother usually set up our citadels a few feet apart on our grandmother’s kitchen floor, and then went to town trying to take down each other’s settlements. The only downside was having to track down all the tiny projectiles after the carnage was complete. Most of them are probably STILL under a refrigerator somewhere.
I had totally forgotten about this game until I was researching this post and came across a photo of it. Holy CRAP, all the nostalgia feels came flooding back. I LOVED THIS THING. I can’t remember how you played exactly, but I think you just had to get through the haunted mansion on the little footsteps, and bad shit happened to you if you got stuck on one of the red DANGER spots. Some of the cardboard pieces were movable, I remember that, and there was something about a clock? I also love that the game pieces were wee little different-colored mice. I specifically had the version of the game pictured, which came out in 1970 (I was born in 1972, so maybe my parents got this second-hand), but in 1971, basically the same game was released in a different box under the name Haunted House.
And that’s all the fun for today, minions. Go play with your Aurora model kits and your Monster Machines, and remember to keep it creepy, my friends. Goddess out.
*ETA: Okay, I see now that I was a little too hasty in my OCD condemnation of the Mystery Mansion layout. The music room is a two-story room, and there is indeed a plastic set of stairs leading from its door down to the door of the room beside it, making this room placement totally legit. My apologies, mysterious Mystery Mansion layer-outer.