I noticed that most of the fast food chains have put a little Halloween into their Happy Meals -- McDonald's is serving up fries with "Stretch Screamers" figures, Burger King is flame broilin' with the powers of Halloween-themed "Hamtaro" toys, and Taco Bell? I forget what they had exactly...something to do with salsa and coffins. It's always great to see the holiday spirit shine through, even if it is on a "for the money" level, but this year's crop pales in comparison to some of my favorite spooky fast food giveaways of yesteryear. As we dwindle down to the final days on the Halloween Countdown, I'll be showing you some of those mysterious favorites. Here's the first: just a few years back, Burger King unleashed a quartet of terror with some of the most familiar faces a horror fan could see. It's the "Universal Monsters" collection!
Affording four faithful renditions of four classic characters, fans were given Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The quality of these figures was phenomenal; with slightly more detail, they would've been well suited for the regular retail shelves. Burger King, formerly most famous for giving away dumb paper crowns, really went the full mile with these bad boys. Let's meet the troop...
Each of the figures stood around four inches tall, and except for the Creature, they all came with little "playsets." Still widely traded on the collector's market, these guys are easy finds that usually don't run more than ten bucks for a complete, still-packaged set.
"Down for the Count Dracula" was almost as well-crafted as the older and more valued figure from Remco, complete with all the intricacies that make the Prince of Darkness what he is. You had the widow's peak, cape, black suit, and weird stalking hands. Best of all, he came in a plastic and oddly pink coffin that the figure could spring out of for a sneak attack. If this wasn't enough to make you a fan, the dude's head and hands glow in the dark.
"Bolts & Volts Frankenstein" wasn't a very pretty figure when compared to the others, but he certainly had the coolest gimmick. Packed with a plastic laboratory table, Frankie's head actually lit up when you pressed a small lever on the table. Fast food giveaways are rarely this involved, especially when there's no big cartoon or toy line someone was trying to promote.
"The Wolf Man Cellar Dweller" came in a wood crate that'd pop open along with a "midnight moon" scene, rushing Wolfie into a vertical and more murderous position in one second flat. I've always been a bit bias against the Wolfman -- of all the Universal Monsters, even including Frankie's Marge-haired wife, he's my least favorite. No idea why. Maybe 'cause I've seen "Teen Wolf Too." Burger King and pals decided to forgive the powers of realistic scale, making Wolfie just as tall as Frankenstein. Nobody complained, because hey, free stuff is even better when it's bigger.
And on the top shelf, the "Scaly Squiter" took the Creature from the Black Lagoon to new heights by letting him spit at people. Yeeeeah. After filling his head with water, kids could press his belly and unleash a barrage of unholy liquid on their unsuspecting victims. The Creature didn't come with any boxes of coffin or lab tables, so to the uninformed, he might seem to be the least worthy of the pack. Not so. He's green and scaly. That negates the playset part well enough, but once you factor in that whole spitting thing, we've found our #1 Universal Monster.
To think! Not only did you get these great creepy monster figures, but also a cheeseburger. Also a cheeseburger! As said, the sets have remained cheap finds on the collector's market, and in fact, they're probably the cheapest toys featuring these classic monsters anywhere. Go check eBay or someplace that isn't eBay. Somewhere will have them, I promise you.