Monday, November 10, 2008


Mighty Men & Monster Maker

I'm still trying to get back up to speed after WFC. As I mentioned obliquely last week, both of my working computers were not-so-working when I returned from Calgary, and I've spent most of the last few days reloading all of my software on a new (well, "new to me") laptop, restoring from backup, etc. (And how awesome is the introduction of hardware that can turn a Serial ATA drive into a USB drive with a brushed aluminum enclosure and four screws?!)

I've also been trying to catch up on what the internets got up to while I was traveling. Just before Halloween the nostalgia blog Plaid Stallions posted a bit about a toy I'd completely forgotten about owning. Behold, "Mighty Men & Monster Maker":

Looking back now, I realize I probably spent more time futzing with this thing than any other single toy I got as a kid.

The idea was simple but brilliant. In the box you got all of these little bits of plastic, on each of which was stamped a head, torso, or legs. You could mix and match them to creature different figures, and by putting them in a little plastic frame with a piece of paper clamped down under it, you could do a rubbing, creating a little print of that figure. Then with pencils, markers, crayons, what-have-you, you could fill in the details as you liked.

I remember now thinking about this a few years ago when stumbling across an online applet that did much the same thing, but apparently promptly forgot it again.

When I was a kid I filled my room with pictures cranked out on this little plastic lathe, characters from comics and movies as well as my own creations. (I remember in particular a spectacularly ill-advised "updating" of Lone Ranger in the modern day that I cooked up at age nine or ten.) I have no idea what became of my "Mighty Men & Monster Maker", but I'm now deeply tempted to hunt down a second-hand set on eBay or elsewhere. And what's this? According to the internets and his official site's checklist, the figures stamped on the plastic were the work of Dave Stevens?! Holy cow!

Yeah, that thing was pretty much the definition of awesome, my brothers and I picked up ours at a garage sale when we were kids. Man that takes me back. I doubt it's in anything resembling functionality now, as with so many of the best things of youth, but gosh it was swell.
Wow, I hadn't thought about that thing in years. I wonder if it's in storage or if it went the way of the rest of my kidhood toys. .
We had one too. Awesome indeed!
When I was working in the TSR art dept, and briefly had the job of reviewing outside submissions, I received a package of single-character drawings that were being offered to Dungeons and Dragons for use in our books and game modules.

All of the characters were made using the Mattel Mighty Men and Monster Maker.

The best part? The three page letter attached threatening to sue us for millions if we used his characters without paying him.

Oh how I did love that toy.

Bill Willingham
That's classic, Bill.

Yeah, I had one of these, when I was a kid. I even tried gerry-rigging the thing when I got tired of the combos, until the idea dawned on me that I should just junk it and do my own drawings from scratch. :) Very cool toy.

I think my mother kept it and passed it on to my nephews who put it through its paces even further....
Oh, man that brings me back. I forgot about that too. I used to love that thing.
AWESOME POST. My brother had that and we loved it. But I did love my Fashion Plates more.
That's what I wanted. What I got were those crappy fashion plates. Damn, it was no fun being a girl in the 70s! At least not with a mom who was convinced I needed a Barbie car more than the General Lee.

K. Hutson Price
I just found mine buried in a box in my crawl-space. I'm missing a few pieces for the head but what memories. Best toy when I was a kid and it paid off since I'm a professional artist.
Scott, I burn with jealousy that you've found your set. I'm sure mine ended up in a landfill years ago.
I too got the pink girly version "Fashion Plates" that Christmas. Alas, my boy cousins got the Mighty Monster Maker.I recall being pretty miffed. Only to be further disappointed when an attempt to mix and match my kits pieces with their plates failed. I found they did not fit together and stay in the holder securely.(as the fashion plates pieces went straight across) I solved this by scotch taping them all down in place (to my Aunt's coffee table) and moving the paper instead to make the pencil rubbing work.

I am pretty sure I also recall being asked who ruined the finish on that table too.
Well, it isn't as if tables can't be refinished, is it?
Thanks for the memories guys! I'm in Australia and had one of these bad boys too. I now have a 6 year old son and the hunt has begun...

Good luck with the hunt, Lex!
Egads. Sorry it took me so long to see the response to this Chris..yeah they did refinish it, matter of fact my Dad was assigned that boorish chore. Hey, why am I not following this blog? I'll have to fix that straight away.
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