A History of Aurora Monster Model Kits
Aurora monster Model Kits are among the most fondly remembered by monster fans and model kit hobbyists alike. Hobbyists who grew up in the 1960s would surely remember seeing the colorful ads for these model kits at the back of DC comics and in the pages of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, and may even have had one or more of these models in their room. These days, Aurora Model kits are valuable collector’s items that can fetch hundreds of dollars in the collector’s market.
Aurora initially made its name in the early 1950s with its “Famous Fighters” line of aircraft that included WWI and WWII fighters as well as its “Guys and Gals of All Nations” line that featured figures from different countries. However, in 1956, Universal sold its classic monster films to local TV stations, sparking monster-mania among the youth of America. Aurora decided to cash in on the fad by getting the rights to produce Monster Model Kits based on their popular monster characters. The first to be released was the Frankenstein Monster in 1961 and the kits sold so briskly that production lines were run 24 hours a day to meet the demand.
Aurora would eventually produce thirteen monster model kits in all over the next six years. The Frankenstein Monster was followed by Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aurora also produced model kits of Godzilla, King Kong and Mr. Hyde, as well as two original characters – the Salem Witch and the Forgotten Prisoner of Castel-Mare, which was the last of the original line.
By the late sixties, monster-mania was starting to wane, prompting Aurora to diversify its line by merging monsters with the burgeoning hot rod fad by producing Monster Rods. These kits featured classic Universal monsters riding wacky vehicles such as Dracula and his Dragster, the Mummy’s Chariot and the Wolfman’s Wagon. Around this time, Aurora decided to re-release its classic monster model kits in glow-in-the-dark versions under the Frightening Lightening line. These new kits sold well despite an initial snafu involving packaging that made the new boxes indistinguishable from the original kits.
Aurora would go on to release two more lines of monster model kits. The controversial Monster Scenes featured a mix of old (Frankenstein’s Monster) and original characters (Vampirella, licensed from Warren Publications, and Dr.Deadly) with gruesome backdrops such as The Pain Parlor and The Hanging Cage. The line sparked a protest from outraged parents and the line was withdrawn from stores. Finally, Aurora produced the Monsters of the Movies line that combined new sculpts of classic monsters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Wolf-man along with Japanese monsters Rodan and Ghidrah. Although collectors liked the new line, sales were weak and Aurora Plastics was eventually closed down by new owner Nabisco and sold to rival kit maker Monogram. In recent years, however, many of Aurora’s classic monster model kits are being re-released by companies such as Revell and Polar Lights, to the delight of collectors.
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