Monday, October 13 2014 00:01

31 Days of Halloween: Monster 500 Vehicles and Playsets (Toys 'R' Us Exclusive)

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There have been a lot of sinister rides over the years. THE MUNSTERS had The Munster Coach and DRAG-U-LA (both of which were built under the George Barris Kustom Shop), Stephen King's CHRISTINE comes to mind, as does the star of the 1977 film, THE CAR (another from the Barris shop). Then there's some of the more cartoony, spook-centric vehicles like that car the GROOVIE GHOULIES cruised around in, The Mystery Machine from SCOOBY-DOO, and of course, the Ecto-1 from GHOSTBUSTERS (and it's animated counterpart, THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS). And then there was the work of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, who put creatures like his own "Rat Fink" into hot rods, and helped inspire a movement. That brings us to MONSTER 500, a Toys "R" Us exclusive line of vehicles and playsets that borrow a lot of inspiration from many of the above (especially Roth). Monster 500 races into my 31 Days of Halloween here on THE ROCK FATHER with a hands-on look at these wicked whips.

While the Monster 500 collection first hit my radar when it debuted last Fall (I had a little bit of back-and-forth with TRU about it), this year a nice assortment arrived here at Rock Father HQ for some rigorous evaluation and review in our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house), among them the Toxic Terror Trap Playset, the Graveyard Gauntlet Track Set, and a couple of vehicles, each joining a trio of Monster 500 rides that we picked up on a recent trip to Geoffrey's ourselves.

Monster 500 Diecast Vehicle Assortment:

At the core of the collection is a series of well-designed diecast cars and trucks, each placing a monster (or other creep) in the driver's seat for a lot of track play, much like Hot Wheels or Matchbox. Aside from their height, the Monster 500 cars are on-par with most 1:64-scale diecast, and many of our existing, non-monster rides work well with our Monster 500 playsets (more on that in a moment).

What's cool here is that the monsters are divided into five racing teams: TEAM OF THE DRIVING DEAD, LUNATIC LEGENDS, THE EXPERI-MENTALS, FREAK FORCE and ANIMAL ASYLUM. 

Kids can collect trading cards that come packed with each vehicle, or expand on their play by taking it online to the Freemium Monster 500 App for iOS and Android (free, but in-App purchases are available).


Monster 500 Large Car Assortment:

Freewheeling vehicles with a little bit of added "lights & sounds," we received Flattop Frank (yep, it's Frankenstein's Monster) who was immediately commandeered by Little Finley here, quickly taking to the driveway which tends to be the de facto outdoor track here at HQ. As seen in the video above, it's the motion that's important - NOT the lights or sound, which neither of my girls seems particularly impressed with, but that's not a knock. They love playing with Ol' Frank, they just don't seem to care for listening to him.

Toxic Terror Trap Playset:

If I were a kid, this would be the kind of thing I'd but my parents for. Maybe it's the nuclear green color scheme, but I can't help shake a MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE "Slime Pit" Vibe here. It also reminds me of a theme park ride akin to a roller coaster in that there's a chain of events that needs to be set off - push the guy on the top to activate the spring-loaded elevator, which in turn dumps the car off the top, and sends it flying down the track, through a set of break-away doors, and then on it's way to one of three possible outcomes: a clean getaway, the downing of the toxic monster, or by become alligator food.


The kids love it, and aside from some sorta vague instructions (a lot of toys seem to employ the IKEA-style of black-and-white instruction these days), Daddy loves it, too. We've had ours for a few weeks now, and it's obviously something that will be played with well beyond the Halloween season.

Graveyard Gauntlet Track Set:

If any part of the Monster 500 line was inspired by Mattel's long-running Hot Wheels collection, it's this. Trading in the iconic "orange track" for navy blue, here we have a classic drag strip set-up that uses the forces of gravity to posit a pair of Monster 500 racers against each other for a race to the finish... or perhaps, the death!

Press the skull at the top to send the cars flying, then watch to see who makes it through the pendulum of doom (that's what I'm calling it). Whoever reaches the end first will set off a flag to crown them the fastest beast in the land.

Rock Father Approved!Overall Impressions:

I dug these when I first heard about them, but after having them here at HQ, I can heartily recommend them. As it seems right now, the first two waves of vehicles are out there in the wild, while limited-edition "chase" variants are as well. There's some pretty sweet additional vehicles planned, but I'm betting the success of the line through the season ahead will determine whether or not those actually end up hitting the streets (common practice with these collectible vehicles).

Both of my girls, along with the "Neighborhood Testing Panel" (the other kids of the area) have stamped these with their seal of approval, and thus I'm giving it mine as well.

Monster 500 is absolutely Rock Father-approved!

Check out the official site to learn more.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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