Saturday, April 11, 2015
Wonder Grow Monsters (Geoffrey Inc., 1987)
I've never been a big fan of toys that grow when you put them in water. Usually they're made out of a material that gets funky and disintegrates after a while, even if you never grow them. Take the recent dollar store gems Braindead Zombies, for example--they're cool figures, but they would be much cooler if they were made out of a normal rubber or plastic.
That said, there's a set of grow toys that holds a special place in my weirdo heart, mostly because I remember owning some when I was a very little kid. I'm talking about some of the obscurest of the obscure: Wonder Grow Monsters!
These might be called monsters, but they're actually aliens. The idea behind the Wonder Grow Monsters is that the figures depict "actual" creatures from outer space that were encountered in different locations on Earth from the 1950s through the 1970s. The front of the package says:
"Encountered and witnessed on the Earth. Grows 100 times its earthly size."
Somehow I doubt the 100 times its earthly size thing, but whatever.
Two figures came in each package, with the back showing drawings of all 11 creatures available as well as when and where they were encountered. I'm no expert on alien encounters, so I'm not sure how factual this information is. Does anyone reading this know?
I know for sure that as a kid I had the Koufu, Japan alien in forest green. I think the other figure from the package was the Nebraska one, but I can't really remember as that figure bit the dust long before the Koufu one. I do remember really wanting to get some of the more interesting-looking creatures shown on the back (like Hokkaido or Bristol Lake), but not seeing them at the store. I think my mom bought me a pack when they were on clearance, so it would figure that all the best creatures had been snatched up by then.
Recently I was able to purchase the sealed pack shown here from another collector. For some reason, it includes two of the same sculpt--the Carni, Italy alien. Which sadly is probably the dullest of 'em all. Even so, I couldn't resist bringing some Wonder Grow Monsters back into my life after years of being without.
As far as release information, the package says these were put out by Geoffrey Inc. in 1987, and that they were manufactured by Shin Nihon Tsusho Co., LTD of Japan. I'm pretty sure Geoffrey Inc. means they were Toys R Us exclusives, which would make sense as I know the ones I owned as a kid came from there.
But wait, surprisingly there's even more to the Wonder Grow Monsters story. Collectors in a thread on LittleRubberGuys.com talk about getting some of these figures in random lots, but say that they're hard plastic and change color in water instead of grow. My guess is that this is how these sculpts were released prior to being produced in grow form for Toys R Us, but that's just speculation. I guess they could have come after, too. Instagram user jedwardgregal sent me a photo of a few of them and gave me permission to include it in this post. He said they're marked with ©HIRO on their backs.
And here is another hard plastic example contributed by Bigazzhead.
I've never personally come across these plastic versions, but would really like to get some. The sculpts are pretty cool and would fit nicely alongside MUSCLE figures.
If anyone has any additional information or photos of these figures, or remembers coming across Wonder Grow Monsters back in the day, be sure to leave a comment!