This one goes out to Mich, sorry it took so long! :)
What's with all this taboo nonsense over it being uncool to 'thank the little people'? That's bullshit. The little people deserve thanks. And I'm gonna thank the little people right now...some of the most important little people out there.
Monster in my Pocket! Yes, the infamous MIMPs. The little toys that could came to us in the early 90s, proving that size and articulation aren't always the most important things a toy can have. These little guys met with a decent amount of success for the short run they had, leaving the millions of us smart enough to realize these were incredibly easy to steal from Toys R'Us with at least enough MIMPs to cover the top of our computer monitors. So...what were they?
MIMPs were little neon-colored figures made of rubber fashioned after virtually every creepy monster you can think of...from vampires to ghosts, witches and spiders. But these weren't any ordinary monster figures...they were monster figures in the most inappropriate poses ever made! Every one of them seems to tell a little story of its own just by the way the monster is standing. The Vampire, for instance, looks like he's disgusted over a magazine article on abortion he just read. Even the Kraken gives you a look that tells you there's more here than meets the eye.
Assigned point values, the monsters weren't of universal value. Many of them were imprinted with a lowly 5-point value, rendering them completely useless against those who were worth a whopping 25 points. Some extra-special figures went as high as 100 points, and they could even kick your ass. The point values also made trading sessions with friends a bit more interesting.
Your friend wants your T-Rex figure. T-Rex is worth 25 points. He offers up the witch figure that you've been dying for for all these months...but that son'bitch is only worth five points. So even though you both can make a fair trade, its time to pull out your point trump card and be a bastard. Your T-Rex is worth 25 points, so you're entitled to five of his 5-point figures. Generally, friends are stupid, so this trick would've worked. It was a great way to boost up your collection.
In the first two series of MIMPs, there were a ton of monsters given to you, even the Loch Ness Monster and The Jabyrwocky from Alice in Wonderland. Chances were good that while collecting, you'd end up with some doubles...but chances were also good that one of your doubles would be lime green, the other dim purple. So you could technically convince yourself you weren't getting ripped off and buying the same toy over and over again.
Of course, after time the line waned in popularity, leaving Matchbox with two choices: fold up and collect their winnings, or up the ante with yet more crazy monsters. Well, you know Matchbox, those guys are gamblers. Risktakers like the world's never seen. So we got some more MIMP items...and they kept getting stranger and stranger.
The Super Scary series had monsters that were larger than what we were used to, painted in two colors and given totally excessive point values, some as high as 100. The genius of this plot was that you could usually only get a Super Scary figure if you bought a multi-pack of regular figures, so while you'd be kicking yourself after purchasing your 27th Minotaur, once in awhile you'd land yourself the elusive 'Mad Gaser'. It balanced out.
Howlers went against all the previous rules - these weren't little, and they weren't soft rubber either. Monster figures that light up and howlllled their way straight into your hearts with totally incomprehensible jibberish and a battery that would drain immediately, making that jibberish somehow even harder to understand. On the plus side, they had eerie light-up eyes.
By the time the Space Aliens line came out, Matchbox had completely forget what MIMPs were supposed to look like. These guys were painted all different colors, and most of them were holding chrome colored grenades and machine guns. Now, unless these guys were given values of 15,000 points, this series really eliminated the validity of the point values. I don't care if you're 100 points or 1000 points, you're always gonna lose to the gun-toting alien.
Pogs?! Yes, pogs. As part of the Ninja Warriors assortment, you could double your hobbies by also collecting weird pogs that accompanied the figures like little pilot fish on MIMP sharks. These 'ninjas' were literally action figures. They had weapons, were fully painted, but for some reason, it was still perfectly legal for them to kick the crap out of the original Monster In My Pockets, who by this point are starting to look like a bunch of nancy boys. Its a good thing this line stopped putting out new stuff, or by now the MIMPs would be so evolved they could overtake us.
Since the line was pretty popular in its initial heyday, Matchbox saw no reason to unleash these guys in outlets other than the toy aisle. After the eternal debate over whether to make character soap or a video game, they finally contacted Nintendo, and we got this: The Monster In My Pocket Nintendo Game!
Ugh. I've played this one a few times, and you're really not missing much unless you're the world's biggest Monster In My Pocket fan. And if you call yourself that, chances are someone already beat you up and stole your Nintendo for it. The game lets you play as Dracula or one of the other monsters, and you run around doing your best to punch all the assorted other baddies in kitchen enviroments, bedrooms, etc. They didn't make it nearly exciting enough to warrant putting up with how difficult the game gets, and generally, it didn't sell well in stores.
Unwilling to accept failure, Matchbox opted for a smaller venture and created a really fucked up board game...
Interestingly enough, if successful playing, you can break out from the seedy underbelly of New York City and live it up over at 'The Ice Cave', or best of all...'The Swamp'. In another brilliant marketing move, Matchbox offered 10 figures with the game that were exclusive to this set. Meaning? Even if you were totally satisfied playing Monopoly on your board game night for the rest of your life, if you wanted a full MIMP collection, you needed to buy the game.
Since nobody would buy Monster in My Pocket cars or themed houses, our story really ends here. But MIMP did make one last run, this time to the cereal aisle, teaming up with a cereal predominantly eaten by old ladies. I can see the people working in the demographics research department were really pissed off at their bosses that week...
You know, I could've sworn this shit was called 'Frosted Shredded Wheat'. Isn't that what everybody calls it? Frosted Wheat Squares? I've never heard someone use that term in my life, but the monsters must be pretty impressed with it, as they've chosen Nabisco as the sole distributor of their zany coupons.
In closing, the little people count, and they deserve our respect, and yes...our thank yous. But Monster In My Pocket wasn't the only viable source for great little people to collect...check these out...
ARMY ANTS! I would've really liked to give Army Ants a full article, unfortunately there just isn't enough to tell. I loved these things as a kid...one of the few action figures I literally cried and pleaded my way into getting. Of course, by few, I mean one of about 6,000. Anyway, these guys came in blue and red hard plastic with soft, rubbery asses that could be taken off an interchanged, thus enabling you to make mulatto Army Ants, ostracized from military life and forced into slave labor on the spice mines of Kessel.
And for those curious...
Yes, there was a Monster In My Pocket cartoon. Hey, if frigging MC Hammer got one, these guys should've too. Meanwhile, you might be thinking to yourself... 'These things...they're cool...but I feel like I've seen them before.' If that's the case, you're probably thinking about M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, so before you e-mail me to explain to me how heinous I am for leaving them out, check yo'self and read up on this article.