Thank You ! I am speechless ! You had the exact Marx train I once had! What a really cool set to play with. You've mentioned all the monsters, between my brother and I, we had most of them. No Godzilla, or Bride of Frankenstein, but we had:
Frankenstein ( standard, and the steroid version )
And the Phantom
what I have currently is just Frankenstein ( about 1983 production)
and the Phantom ( about 1967 production, Frightening Lighting)
wow, sometimes it seems like the world moves in very small circles !
Hey Paul, I remember those Aurora monster models, I did the Dracula one myself. Believe it or not they're back in production, I forget the name of the maker but they're the same old monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Bride of Frankenstein, even the obscure "Forgotten Prisoner Of The Castel Mare'." Remember him? Probably inspired by "The Count of Monte Cristo," except the forgotten prisoner died in chains, his skeleton still hanging from the cell wall. That one was kinda gruesome, gave me the creeps.
Check with some of the hobby or sci-fi shops if there's any in your area for a trip down memory lane.
Those old Universal monster movies were the best. Scared the hell out of us kids without all the blood n' guts of todays horror films. Todays horror films are just gross-outs.
Just did a little research. The outfit making the monster models is called "Polar Lights."
once again, you are a source of great info. Those models were so popular at that time. Many kids on my block had them built, and displayed. My brother and I each had Dracula. My dad assembled them ( because of that nasty glue ), and we got to paint them. My very first was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. My cousins were afraid to go in my room ! We had all the main monsters, and the guillotine.I even had the jumbo Frankenstein that was about 2feet tall.And we had the whimsical "Dracula's Dragster", and "Frankenstein 's Flivver". You are right, those monsters were scary without the gore. I'm glad they are still being made. The tooling survives, like so many stories about toy trains in CTT.
The HO set was really cool. It had a U.P. F unit, molded in yellow plastic with a black U.P. Logo. It had oval of track, and a grade crossing with an H.O. Slotcar set. I would run the train (of course), and my brother would always make sure we had a grade crossing accident! The track was a little funky, though. It was tubular steel H.O. Track on fiber ties, and it was a very rough ride ! Talk about washboard track profile. We tried to upgrade to Atlas track, but could not because of the grade crossing section. Nothing else mated with this track. Only the caboose, and a covered hopper survive.This was about 1962.
Then , the Beatles came.
Your set appears to be like the one I had also!
Here's a pic of what it looked like:
Those cars took a beating, but they continued to run well even though they'd sometimes crash into the train or get hit by the Union Pacific engine time after time again!
As for the monster models, there were originally 13 of them produced by Aurora.
Frankenstein (Boris Karloff/Universal Pictures)
The Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester/Universal Pictures)
Dracula (Bela Lugosi/Universal Pictures)
The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr./Universal Pictures)
The Mummy (Lon Chaney Jr./Universal Pictures)
The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Universal International Pictures)
The Phantom of the Opera (James Cagney/Universal International Pictures)
Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde (Fredric March/Paramount Pictures)
King Kong (R.K.O. General)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Anthony Quinn/Allied Artists Pictures)
Godzilla (Embassy Pictures/TransWorld Releasing Corporation)
- The Witch (An Aurora original design)
Forgotten Prisoner of Castel-Mare (An Aurora original designed by Famous Monsters of Filmland
Aurora also came out with the Monster Rods:
Wolf Man's Wagon
King Kong's Thronester
Godzilla's Go Cart
Aurora went out of business in the 70s when it ended up being bought out by one of its former competitors, Monogram. Since then, Monogram has reissued many of the Aurora-designed models including some of the monster kit line. Evidently some of the molds haven't survived the years.
Polar Lights, a division of Playing Mantis Inc., reissued all but two (Phantom of the Opera and Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde) of the monster kits---including the monster rods---in Aurora-style long box reproductions beginning in 1999. They contracted Monogram to use their molds to produce the kits. In cases where the original molds weren't available, Polar Lights created NEW molds using vintage Aurora-produced kits as patterns. They also created new horror kits (Psycho House, Sleepy Hollow Headless Horseman, and huge, 16” tall Godzilla), but ceased production in 2004 when Racing Champions (RC2) bought out Playing Mantis for its die-cast division, Johnny Lightning.
Former Playing Mantis Inc. owner Thomas Lowe later bought back Polar Lights as part of his new company named Round 2. His company continues to reissue Aurora kits, but now in the square, “Glow In The Dark”-type boxes Aurora used in the 70s.
Later, a former distributor of Polar Lights products created a new company named Moebius that released Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde and Gigantic Frankenstein (A.K.A. Big Frankie) in Aurora-style reproduction boxes also. Moebius has also created new monster kits of The Mummy, Frankenstein (alone and with his bride), Dracula, The Munster's House, and many sci-fi TV series based kits.
Monarch has also entered the market creating NEW kits packaged in the Aurora-style long boxes. Nosferatu, The Ghost of the Forgotten Prisoner, and Gorgo are a few of their offerings.
Some of the original Aurora models have been changed over the years:
Frankenstein came in a deeper box (It conformed to the same size as the other monster boxes)
Dracula's face was resculpted to avoid having to pay a royalty to the Bela Lugosi estate.
Hunchback's face was made to look more like Cagney's version of Quasimodo.
Some of the vegetation on King Kong's base was eliminated.
Some of the pieces were eliminated from the Bride of Frankenstein's kit.
Strap was added to Godzilla's Go Cart parachute
Godzilla's Go Cart was renamed The Go Cart
It's still possible to complete a collection of the original 13 Aurora kits without paying too much. The most difficult (and therefore most expensive) kit to find is the Phantom of the Opera. Luckily, Monogram issued it as part of their Luminators line of glow in the dark kits in 1992. Two years later they reissued the Phantom as just a regular kit. Both can be had for less than $30 each. CineModels reissued it in 1994 in the Aurora-style long box. That is the most expensive of the lot and usually commands at least $50.00. Each of the other 12 kits can probably be attained for less than $20 each.
The reason I happen to know quite a bit about this subject is that I collected as much of Polar Lights' output as I could. I kept track of all variations I found, and I compiled it on-line for sharing with others at www.phrankenstign.com. It is a free, not-for-profit reference site I put together over the years. It's nearly complete. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it this year.