Sunday, September 27, 2009
DIENER SPACE CREATURES AND MONSTERS
A large portion of my blogs gravitate around my weird quirks and obsessions and along that same track I thought I'd share a recent stop.
This summer I made a special effort to frequent the local thrift stores and garage sales and it was at one of these sales I came across a little red swamp monster made of rubber. It was buried down at the bottom of a box of old toys and as soon as I dug it out I found myself suddenly ripped back to the early 1980's file of my mind.
When I was probably three or four years old my grandma would take me on stroller rides on afternoons she babysat me and we would always stroll down Main St. where we would stop by Latta's. In the early 80's, Latta's was the equivalent of what would nowadays be a Hobby Lobby or craft/supply store. The first Latta's store was opened in 1898 by John Stuart who came from my home town of Cedar Falls. Latta's is one of the oldest school supply companies in the United States with a variety of categories including: arts and crafts, audio and visual, children books, early childhood, games, mathematics, multilingual, office supplies, science, social studies, teacher resources and more. My grandma was interested in Latta's large assortment of sewing supplies and would always stop in to pick up thing on our walks. To me the store seemed pretty boring with the exception of the eraser bins. Latta's had a long Plexiglas bin filled with hundreds of brightly colored erasers with dozens of different themes. If I behaved myself while she shopped she would always let me pick one out to take home. There were so many different ones to choose from. Farm animals, sports equipment, dinosaurs, airplanes, sea creatures, cars, popular cartoon characters like Popeye and Mickey mouse. I would pick through them to find the one I liked the best. Just holding that rubbery little figure in my hand as we strolled our way home was as good as it gets.
Flash-forward to that garage sale where I knelt by that cardboard box at the age of 32 holding that rubber monster I could remember that feeling. I recognized the little red figure as if I had just seen it yesterday.
I regret to this day tossing it back in the box because about a week later I found two more monsters from the same series at the thrift store. This time I didn't let them go, I was determined to find out more about these neat erasers and who made them.
After a quick search on the computer I discovered these erasers came from a series of monsters and space creatures created by Diener Industries the leader in eraser toys during the early 1980's, and there were a whole lot more of them than I remembered. If you were a child in the 80's you most likely ran into these at one time or another. Here is just a sample of some of the erasers:
My personal favorites are the Monsters and Space Creatures which were actually used as McDonalds Happy Meal toys in the 80's
The cool thing is these were mostly based on actual movie monsters and aliens. Lets take a closer look...
Horned Cyclops - I’m guessing this one might be an amalgam of different cyclops. Pictured is the Ray Harryhausen’s Cyclops from The 7 th Voyage of Sinbad, the Lost In Space Cyclops and the Siamese Cyclops from The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.
Winged Amphibian Creature - design based after the creature in the 1966 movie Destination Inner Space.
Vampire Bat Creature - design based after the Batman comic book character Man-Bat.
Insectman - design based after the Fly from the 1958 movie The Fly.
Lizard Man - design based after Ray Harryhausen’s creation the Ymir from the 1957 movie 20 Million Miles to Earth.
Tree Trunk Monster - design based after the aliens in the 1958 movie I Married a Monster from Outer Space.
Veined Cranium Creature - design based after the Martians in the 1957 movie Invasion of the Saucer Men.
Gil Face Creature - design based after an alien named Ikar from the 1964 television series The Outer Limits in the episode Keeper of the Purple Twilight.
These erasers are now collectables and not only are tough to find but usually sell for $10-18 a piece. I'll still keep my eye out for them but I definatly won't spend that amount of money on a 2 inch eraser. Recently I scoured a large flea market in the hopes of finding some and ended up finding one Ronald McDonald Diener figure. I wish I would have bought that "tree trunk man" swamp monster from that garage sale but, oh well.
Here's a pic of me with my 2 monsters!!
Here's my Ronald McDonald and Popeye Diener figures.
I'll post another blog if I find anymore.