Monday, September 01, 2008

The New 2008 Mad Gasser of Mattoon Toy!

Ever since my research on and subsequent publication of my first book on the maddening case of the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Illinois (very near where I grew up), this unsolved mystery -- be it a fascinating historical true crime, from my research, or a case of paranormality from the promalgation of other online writers -- has fascinated me to no end. I was thrilled when I found that the subject of my book was an actual toy from the 1990's. It was produced as part of a large series of mythical mosters and creatures (The Mad Gasser of Mattoon" was #110 in the series - left) entitled "Monster in my Pocket", made by the Matchbox Company. I had to have one and found it easily on eBay (in a lot containing some 40 others beasties). I was always disappointed though that the creature depicted -- though fittingly scary -- really didn't lend itself to the actual research on the case at all. In fact, the only characteristic that gave away its identity was the obvious gas mask. I was satisfied though with my prize...until recently.

The "Monster in my Pocket" line of toys was acquired by an El Segundo, California-based toy manufacturer named CEG and has been totally revamped for a new 2008 updated release. This new set features 48 initial creatures ranging from fictional favorites like the ogre, the vampire, the zombie, the invisible man (I wonder if that is just empty packaging) and a gremlin to cryptozoological classics like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, India's Monkey Man and even a Bishopfish! Thankfully this reissued set includes "The Mad Gasser". Ok, so they dropped "of Mattoon". In my research, I have found "Mad Gassers" in numerous locales, so I will accept that (reluctantly).

Each toy comes with a "power card" so that youngsters may play a game pitting monster vs. monster (I always wondered who would win between a hobgoblin and a ghost). The "Mad Gasser", I must admit, has pretty low attribute scores - it won't fare well in the battles, so it won't be a kid favorite, is mine.

The card bears the following description:

"This mysterious maniac, the Mad Gasser, haunts the night, releasing a strong,
nauseating and paralyzing gas into the homes of his innocent ictims and they
sleep! He has never been identified or clearly seen. The only proof he exists is
a trail of blue vapor and poisonous fumes. DON'T INHALE!"

Someone did their research. However, there are three contentions I have:

  1. As for "He has never been identitfied", the company must not have read my book on the subject or preferred to keep it a mystery as -- I will admit -- it is scarier that way.

  2. The desciption repeatedly uses "he", but the toy and accomanying illustration -- in my opinion -- clearly depict a female Gasser. My research does support this.

  3. Frustratingly, this series of toys is not available in the United States. I had to order mine from Great Britain...but it was worth it.

KUDOS to the Morrison Entertainment Group for this fine addition to my collection!!


Barbara Lewis said...

Dear Scott--Interesting to see your info on our Monster In My Pocket product line that was reintroduced in some of our International markets. Just wanted to set the record straight about our company name, however. We are MEG, not CEG. Maybe it was just a typo. MEG is the shortened version of Morrison Entertainment Group, the creator of the Monster In My Pocket line. Thanks for making that correction on your website.

Barbara Lewis-MEG
VP Licensing & Creative Services

Scott Maruna said...

Ms. Lewis...Yep, it was just a typo. Not unusual for me :) thanks for clarifying this.
Scott Maruna