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Aurora Monster Models

Aurora Monster Models – turning every boy’s dream into a nightmare!

The first of the Aurora monster models was Frankenstein, although the kit was, of course, of the Monster.

From a sculpture by Jack Lemon, based on a Marx’s wind-up walker toy, the original prototype was shown at the HIAA annual convention in January, 1962. No orders were received until the last day of the show, when industry representatives were allowed to bring their families. On that day, Chicago distributor Al Davis’s sons Glenn and Fred wandered into the Aurora exhibit. Instead of grabbing the planes, cars or trucks, they made straight for the Monster, and Davis placed an order. A couple of California distributors saw this and placed orders too.

Aurora monster models Frankenstein instructions

Instructions for the original Aurora Frankenstein monster model

Aurora shipped the kits, and a few days later the phone started ringing: ‘Can we have some more monsters?’ As it became obvious that the Frankenstein kit was going to be a huge success, the rest of the line-up was rushed into production. Dracula came next, followed by the Wolf Man, both of these being in stores in time for Christmas 1962. The following year saw The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy and the Phantom of the Opera, with the Hunchback of Notre Dame, King Kong and Godzilla coming in 1964. Dr Jekyll as Mr Hyde was not released until 1965. Later that year, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Witch went into production, but it was a miscalculation by Aurora; girls tended not to buy model kits, and female characters don’t appeal to 10 year old boys.

Aurora monster models James Bama box art

 Iconic Aurora box art by James Bama for The Mummy, Wolf Man and Dracula – these were the original, non-glow-in-the-dark editions in oblong boxes

The last of the line of Aurora monster models was The Forgotten Prisoner of Castel Mare, which was created in association with Warren Magazines. The story of the hapless prisoner was told in the August 1970 edition of Creepy. As famous as the models today is James Bama’s fantastic box art, and a mere glimpse of it recalls fantastic childhood memories for many an ‘old boy’.

Aurora monster models Famous Monsters ad

A typical Aurora monster model double page advert from Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine

As sales dwindled, Aurora attempted to revitalise the range with their ‘Frightening Lightning’ and ‘Glows in the Dark’ series in 1969, which featured new, square boxes (the originals had been rectangular) and an extra sprue with some phosphorescent plastic parts. The move worked, and once again the monsters racked up sales from a new generation of 1970s kids.

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    Kendall Square
    August 30, 2014

    IN MY CHILDHOOD, I HAD THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER. HE WAS MY FIRST MONSTER KIT.NEVER PUT HIM TOGETHER.

    Richard Harland
    December 11, 2014

    Are any of these models still available?

    Kevin Woodhead
    January 12, 2015

    Richard

    We currently have an unmade AURORA “THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA” Glow in the Dark Monster Model Kit (missing phosphorescent plastic parts) in its original box for sale on Ebay – just in case you are interested.

    Robert Ursillo
    March 13, 2015

    They need to bring them back

    George
    April 1, 2015

    I loved these kits as a kid growing up in the 70s. I got mine as re-issues and I just wrote a post on my blog specifically about Aurora’s King Kong models. Thought I’d share a link here:
    http://www.collectingclassicmonsters.com/collecting-king-kong-aurora-model-kits/

    Grant H
    May 12, 2015

    @ Richard Harland
    YES, you can find these babies available all over the internet. I wish I could show mine here. I have about half the series again and am ecstatic! As a youngster, I had all but four, I think, and over time they were all lost. Now my growing collection stands above my desk.

    Doug Freeman
    October 28, 2015

    I built EVERY one of those models in the series, even the Witch, when I was a kid. The years were 1973 through late 1975, so it was the square box, ‘Glow-in-the-Dark’ versions. I carefully packed them up when we moved in 1977, but the models never made it to the new house. Perhaps my parents thought all the waded up newspaper there to protect from breakage was a box of trash and unknowingly threw them out.

    Kevin titley
    January 14, 2016

    Has anybody got the classic universal monsters keyrings that came free from Kensington n roller crisp packets in the 70s

    Michael Raff
    January 15, 2016

    I had them all, except for the Prisoner and the two girl models. My room looked like a chamber of horrors. I lost them when we moved to California, but a few years ago, I purchased my favorites, Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy and how they hold a proud place in my curio cabinet.

    Chris Wolfenden
    September 4, 2016

    Had frankly. Built him and displayed him

    As a kid was brilliant

    Kevin
    October 29, 2016

    I had both series of models. The Originals, and then the phosphorescents. I don’t have any of them left but I’ll remember them till the day I die. It’s great to see this article. Thanks!

    Steve
    November 14, 2016

    Had all of them (glow in the dark)….then blew them apart one day with a BB gun…would love to re-aquire them…..

    Clay Cortinas, San Jacinto, CA USA
    November 15, 2016

    I bought and assembled every one of them (including the Bride & the Witch). They were great fun and a source of pride on my block. I still possess the original King Kong and Wolfman models from the 60’s. I also assembled the Hawk Plastics Co. “Weird OH” kits. What a great childhood, both then and now!

    Ed
    November 23, 2016

    I had them all, except Bride of Frankenstein. And that was only because I never knew she was available (no internet, nor Toys R Us back then!).

    Charley Brady
    November 24, 2016

    This article — and this site! — brings back some wonderful memories.

    I started building the monsters in either the late 60s or early 70s, around the same time that I discovered the Classics on a late night show on a Scottish TV channel called ‘Don’t Watch Alone’. They showed six ‘Frankenstein’s followed by four ‘Dracula’s, two on ‘The Mummy’ and so on. It was the beginning of an obsession that I never grew out of.

    I remember being so excited by my first purchase of The Frankenstein Monster that I built it before I bought the paints. After that, I learned patience.

    Many thanks for the memories!

    Eugene Wilkes
    January 23, 2017

    I have everyone of these still from my childhood I have had them in a showcase for 40 plus years some of them. I noticed some on ask if they could maybe find some to put together I know a company named Polar Lights makes some and are real close to originals. I love my universal Monster That is what started me in the Haunted House business Thanks for sharing.

    Doug
    January 31, 2017

    Thanks for the great article on the Aurora Monster Model Kits! It brought forth my childhood memories of being alone in my room, painting and building them, and then, displaying them proudly (still in the bedroom. The parents forbid them from the rest of the house and didn’t understand my passion for monsters….alas!)
    Maybe another article on models could be posted based on monsters like the Dark Shadows kits featuring Barnabas Collins and the Werewolf. Or the Vampirella and torture rack with victim playsets that were quickly removed from shelves after parents complained of their sadistic appearance.
    Keep up the good work!

    Chris Kostolefsky
    May 29, 2017

    Had all of them. Won some competitions with them. I wish I had held on to them. I spent a lot of time building monsters in my basement!

    Carl Hancock
    June 5, 2017

    Carl UK

    I remember being maybe 7 or 8 years old in 1967/8 and visiting my cousin and who had Frankenstein and I really wanted one but for some reason never did until 1972 when I got the glow in the dark Frankenstein and that started the passion for these wonderful model kits I had them all over the years and I still have a few now. many hours of fun painting and gluing in the back garden on a summers day.

    Mike Hardenbrook
    September 29, 2017

    I purchased all the primary monsters, put them together and painted them with a non gloss paint that smelled like Pine Sol.
    After a Navy westpac to VietNam. Mom & Dad lost the house and all my model’s and comics were gone. I heatd there was a fire at the Aurora factory and the molds to those Monsters were distroyed. I found them at a Hobby Shop in the 1980’s so I bought them back. Originally they were $1.50 per model in the 60’s. Now they were $15.00, I didn’t care. Still have them unopened on a shelf in my study. Universal Monsters were big in the 1960s, Famous Monsters of filmland.i still have a few. Loved those innocent days of youth. My paper route money them paid for this stuff. I gotta find that same flat color paint and do it again now that I’m retired. Good to hear others loved those things like myself.

    James
    October 10, 2017

    Mike, Hobby Boss makes a wonderful flat paint additive. When you combine it with even gloss paints, the result is flat, flat, flat! Interestingly, it comes in two types of smoothness if you want to add a little texture.
    I add this to everything I build for my 1/12 classic monster dioramas and the result is richly atmospheric.
    You may have to special order it over the internet… I live in Japan and they have it everywhere here. Don’t know if it’s available in shops overseas.

    Dave m.
    October 11, 2017

    I have an original 1962 aurora wolfman sealed in box. Any interest out there?

    John Lidwell
    October 13, 2017

    I was one of those kids in the 70’s that couldn’t get enough of them! In the past 7 or 8 years I have found these again and started building them like I did as a kid, only now I’m a whole lot better at it! Love them!!

    arthur j O'Rourke
    October 18, 2017

    had all themonster models back in 1960’s, still have them today! at the ageof 62, just bought ” the invisible man”!

    Larry Canter
    October 22, 2017

    The first monster model I ever had was DRACULA. I was in the fourth grade and It was Christmas and we were exchanging gifts in my class. I a traded a model car for it. The girl that gave me the car wasn’t really thrilled, but it started a life-long love of monsters and models that’s lasted to this day.I doubt if the girl still remembers me OR the car,but I never forgot the model.