Here’s a toyline that is virtually unknown, which is a travesty. It’s actually so unknown that I couldn’t even remember what the toys were called even thoughI owned some of them as a kid. I had to ask the guys on a Monsters in My Pocket forum if they could offer any information as to what the toys were, with a very vague description that was all my hazy memory would permit me. Luckily it was enough for them to give me the name of the series and after a bit of searching I ended up with a few of these very unknown, but very awesome spooky toys.
It’s Pocket Shockers! (like Monster in my Pocket, the name of this toyline miiight cause confusion. In this context, the phrase ‘Pocket Shocker’ relates to children’s toys and nothing else!) I managed to pick up three different sets, including the one I had as a kid. All of the toys in the line work the same way. Each set comes with a base and at least one monster. There are little magnets in the bottom of each monster and one on the base and moving the lever on the bottom makes the monster jump or move on the base. So let’s have a look at ’em!
This Frankenstein set was the one I remembered very well from my childhood. My cousin gave it to me as a present after he went on a school trip away and came back with it. He must have thought it was an awesome toy as well, as he saved me the trouble of opening it before he gave it me! I LOVED this toy. I can nowadays see that it really isn’t that spectacular, but it still pretty neat.
The set is comprised of a Frankenstein monster head and the base which is a table. On the left side of the table there are Tesla coils moulded in yellow plastic, which are obviously a staple of old Frankenstein movies. Do you know what I thought they were when I was a kid? Microphones. And I thought the table was a disco floor for the head to dance on… Jesus Christ.
On the back of the monsters head is a kind of plate with a hoop attached, so you can hook the monster onto the protruding thing on the top right of the table so he doesn’t fall off when you move the lever underneath him.
The thing I remembered the most was that the monsters head opens up (like a toilet lid) and his brains can pop up. As a kid I somehow lost the top part of the head though holding this new one in my hand, I really don’t know how I managed this as it is attached really well.
When you move the lever underneath around, he jiggles about, his flappy head opens and his brains pop up and down. It’s a real fun gory little gimmick. The one downside to this toy though is you have to pick the platform up to move the lever underneath. If they had a lever on the side it would be much better. Without a brief demonstration, it is hard to convey how unimpressive this toy really is so here you go.
Unimpressive it might be, but as a kid this toy was perfect. Who wouldn’t want a Frankenstein monster head on a disco floor with microphones?
The other set in the series that I owned was a huge blue haunted house, called Manic Mansion. It was awesome and had a mad scientist that came with it that was magnetic like this set, had trap doors, a revolving book case, electronic sound effects like a creaking door and a scream, and slime that poured through the ceiling which was almost obligatory of playsets in the ’80s and ’90s. However try as I might, no matter how much I search for another, they just can’t be found! These toys only seemed to be on shelves in the UK which makes this toyline a lot scarcer than many other lines.
But I shall try and curb my longing for my long lost haunted house and will instead look at two more playsets.
This set comes with two figures, one is a Venus flytrap kind of thing, and the other is a skeleton in a coffin. I instantly loved both of them as skeletons in coffins were always cool and after watching The Little Shop of Horrors, I have an appreciation for anything resembling the Audrey II plant. Like the Frankenstein set, they have little hoops so you can hook them onto the side of the platform, and if you move the lever under the platform (this one being a stone slab with iron railings surrounding it and vines/creepers growing around the railings) then it makes the placed monster jump or move about.
The Venus flytrap doesn’t move much, the magnet just makes the mouth open and close a little, revealing the bug inside. But the skeleton is a right marvel. I thought it would just move about in the coffin, but the Skeleton can be removed from the coffin entirely, and if you put the coffin on the platform and jiggle the lever, with some patience he will actually slowly get up out of his coffin. I left the iron railings off so I could take a better picture.
Such a nifty little feature. Anyway, time to look at the final set of this post.
This is the weaker of the three sets in my opinion but still has a few redeeming features. My main issue is that the cobweb cage is a pain in the ass to take off to fit the creatures on the hook, and it feels like you are going to break it putting it back on. Something I do like is that it comes with three teeny spiders, which have no real purpose but you can stick them on the web cage. I chose to feed them to the flytrap in the other set.
The creatures in this set are a spider and a skull. The spider isn’t hugely impressive and moving the lever just makes its legs scuttle a little. The skull is a lot more interesting though. As the base of this one was a pain in the ass I used the Frankenstein one.
The lever makes the jaw open and close and the eyes appear in the sockets giving it a real animated look. It reminds me of an enemy in an old video or computer game but I can’t recall what exactly.
So there you have it, another look at some spooky old toys! If by any chance a reader does have a Manic Mansion set they want to get rid of, shoot me a message. Would love to get hold of one for a future post!