Monster in My Pocket – remembering these rad mythological monster toys

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As part of our Halloween “coverage” this year, we ran all the way through NES kinda-hit Monster in My Pocket, a licensed platformer that lets you play as a toy-sized “Vampire” or “The Monster” and fight other monstrous toys throughout town. It’s not as hot as, say, DuckTales or Rescue Rangers, but it’s up there with Konami’s other NES goofabouts like Tiny Toons or Bucky O’Hare.

If you played with these toys at all, the game is extra fun because it bothers to integrate just about every monster from the first series, and awards you points accurate to the toys’ given point value. So for example, if you encounter any of these fine foes in the game, who are all categorized as “5 Pointers” aka “losers,” you actually earn 5 points.

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That’s hunchback up front, with winged panther, Charon, Invisible Man, Mummy, Witch, Beast and Spring Heeled Jack rounding out the back. These and the 10 pointers were the most commonly found figures, as they were in 4-packs found at a lot of retailers.

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Your 10 pointers were Vampire (star of the game!), then a real grab bad of stuff like a zombie (on the left), Medusa (green, behind the yellow Roc wings) and a Phantom of the Opera type dude (red, holding arm outward behind Medusa). I also really loved the gremlin (red, arms curved upward) and would pretend he was flying all around my house.

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By now you’ve noticed all the crazy colors – they were great, right?! A little bit of that early ’90s neon combined with ’80s garishness. But yeah, 15 pointers included another fave, Hobgoblin (up front) as well as Karnak (purple, left), which is how I learned what Karnak even was! So that was the other great angle for these toys – you actually expanded your little mind! How else would I learn about Catoblepas or Coatlicue?

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To obtain 15~25 pointers, you had to buy a bigger pack, and this larger offering was typically not seen in Wal-Marts or K-Marts – at least not where I was. You had to go to a mall or two towns over or something and then you’d see creatures like these 20 pointers: Tengu, Kraken, Cyclops, Cockatrice, Triton and that awful pile of heads in the back is a Jotun Troll.

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And if any of them were considered “bosses” on the playground, it was the 25-pointers. Not only were they the highest point value, but I think they were also one to a pack, maybe at most two, making them highly sought after. Leading the charge is The Great Beast (aka the friggin Antichrist or whatever blows up the world in Revelations), a griffin, the Behemoth, Hydra and a plain ol’ werewolf.

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But wait! Their popularity led to even wilder colors down the line (most of which I never saw). Shout out to friend of Laser Time KREATIVEAssassin for the photos, by the way, and I STRONGLY urge you to look at his breakdown of how the game and toys compare to each other.

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Surely you can see why this game, and these toys, were so appealing to a young’un? Much like dinosaurs, how could “badass fictional monsters” ever become uncool among kids? How are these toys – or at least this concept – not permanently on toy shelves?

MIMP also had, to a degree, the random element common in a lot of these small-toy lines. When you got a big box with a 25 pointer, you weren’t entirely sure what was inside, so you could trade with friends, obtain variant colors etc, all things that encourage kids to pester their parents for MOAR TOYS.

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Series 2 added more monsters, higher point values and the 30-pointer Warlock baddie who’s basically the villain of the video game. Speaking of the game, it came with a unique monster – Blemmyae, who was based on an actual race of people that apparently hunched their shoulders and earned a legendary trait of being headless. He was considered part of series three, but…

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…series three is kind of a mystery, as it wasn’t widely released and I’ve likely never seen them. Series four, however, became “Super Scary” with additional colors and detail. Never had these, but again KREATIVEAssassin came through with pics of them in action!

After this point they became aliens, wrestlers, dinosaurs etc… I guess they either mined mythology enough or sales dipped? Either way I was pretty disconnected from the toys after the first wave so that entire era is foreign to me.

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With the line long gone and the game unfortunately without a Capcom-Disney level of nostalgia, I wanted to give it a “final” shout out with a playthrough of the game AND talk about how cool these toys were for kids starting to learn about other cultures’ monsters. Look, middle America schools aren’t going to teach me about tengus and charuns!

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Though there were toys, a game, an animated special, comics and all the usual tie-ins you’d expect from a “big thing,” MIMP apparently burned bright and then fizzled within a few years. No follow-up game, no ongoing animated series, none o’ that – just these lovely 1990 memories tucked away forever.

But thanks to the internet, we can ‘member anytime!

5 thoughts on “Monster in My Pocket – remembering these rad mythological monster toys

  1. Great article, Brett. Wow, Blemmyae. I’ve seen pictures of these before, but I never realized the history. The Wikipedia article also said that it’s also possible that they carried shields with faces painted on them. THANKS, MONSTER IN A POCKET!

  2. Brett, I’m wondering if you remember another similar ‘small toy’ line, from around the same time — maybe 1 or 2 years earlier? They were like a cross between MIMP and Micro Machines; there were dozens of different designs, and I believe they were fully painted with multiple colors (unlike MIMP or Kinnikuman/MUSCLE). I remember one design was like a Ghost Rider-ish skeleton biker…. they all had working (tiny) wheels underneath, so you could kind of race them.
    .
    I’ve tried googling this over the years, but haven’t managed to ID them; my friends and I absolutely LOVED these things, and our teachers frequently confiscated them…..

  3. I had my green Hobgoblin Monster for years that I took everywhere as some kind of odd lucky charm. I loved that little guy.

    In the pictures’s above he’s the red one in the middle standing on his hand and foot.

  4. All I can think of now is how cheap those figures look to produce, just one color of plastic poured into a mold. Just goes to show you can never tell what kids will latch onto.

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