Welcome to the first installment of an on going look at various horror themed cartoons and toys from multiple eras. I decided to start with a series that despite multiple tries was unable to ever be picked up as an on going animated series. Monster in My Pocket, a line of miniature toys inspired by various legendary creatures from film, mythology, cryptozoology, and other paranormal realms when it debuted in 1990. Originally sold as trading cards and stickers before being released as toys in single packets, packets of four, secret twelve packs, and 24 packs, causing this then eight-year-old horror fan, to instantly fall in love with the toys and try my best to collect all 229 variants of the little rubber figures, my personal favorite being the Cerberus.
All though as child I had no clue that some of these figures were only obtainable through various promotions through assorted restaurant chains and Konami (whose involvement in the franchise we’ll get into more a little bit later) I none the less loved the thrill of the hunt for a figure I did not own and remains a highly memorable and cherished childhood memory. Scanning the shelves of Hills department store and every toy store I came into contact with during family outings, it quickly become one of those obsessions many adults grow out of being able to understand. The “gotta catch’em all” syndrome long before the world knew of Pokémon.
The figures would later attempt to be re-launched both in 2003 and 2006 outside of the US, but ultimately failed to catch on and once again faded into obscurity. The 2006 series featured more detailed, multi colored figures that were only sold in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. There were also various random spin-off sets, Dinosaurs in My Pocket, Monster Wrestlers in My Pocket, Monster Sport Stars in My Pocket, and Monster Ninja Warriors in My Pocket making modern day collecting a true test of will and patience for completists.
In 1991 things would get extra interesting with the release of a board game that used all the figures that kids had just spent the last year collecting as game pieces. The goal of the game was to use your monsters to battle in various terrains claiming your opponent’s monster cards, which would be laid out at random on squares in each terrain. After the last square was battled inside, the player with the most cards would be deemed the winner. A very important product for me personally as it was my first exposure to tabletop gaming to a degree outside of typical children’s board games, that ultimately led to my discovery of D&D and Hero Quest.
In 1992, kids were treated to four issues of a Monster in My Pocket comic book series produced and released by Harvey Comics, which ended on an unfinished cliffhanger forever haunting kids who managed to get their hands on all four issues.
A video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) would be released the same year. Closely following the plot of the shortly lived comic run, where Warlock and his minions are trying to take over the world, and it is up to Vampire and The Monster to stop them. The game featured most of the series one cast of characters and ultimately was a fun game boasting a 2-player mode that friends and I spent countless hours playing together. With a soundtrack provided by legendary composer Kozo Nakamura, (best known for the TMNT game soundtracks) and Hiroshi Takeyasu, (Parodius, BeatMania 6th Mix + Core Remix) the NES game is well worth digging up for a fun afternoon of nostalgia.
1992 was a great year for Monster in My Pocket fans that would lead to the series’ first attempt to translate itself into cartoon form, which would have ensured total domination of the minds of countless children including myself. Monster in My Pocket: The Big Scream was produced by Hanna-Barbera and directed by Don Lusk (Scooby Doo, Pound Puppies, Gravedale High) based on a script from Glen Leopold (Smurfs, The Pirates of Dark Water, Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron). The cartoon portrayed a constant battle between villains lead by Vampire and heroes lead by Dr. Henry Davenport aka the Invisible Man. Originally airing on Halloween then released on VHS through Vidmark Entertainment. Originally this special was suppose to be episode two of what was rumored to have be an intended six episode run series, the other episodes never saw the light of day.
In 2003, a CGI animated series was created by Peak Entertainment with the intention of airing on Cartoon Network, but in the end was never picked up. The series would of revolved around monsters trapped inside a “Tapestry of Terror” that became shredded during a battle between two Warlock brothers.
Monster in My Pocket has always been one of those toy lines that should have been a cartoon early on in its lifespan but for some reason never managed to take off like other toy driven cartoons in my book. I have many happy memories surround these silly little rubber guys constantly found myself smiling during my research for this installment of “Saturday Morning Monsters” I hope you have enjoyed this and feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite Monster in My Pocket character!