Max, Chuckie and Monster.


Original medium: Toys
Produced by: AmToy
First appeared: 1986
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During the 1980s, before the FCC adopted such a bad attitude toward "half-hour commercials", TV cartoons as part of a coordinated marketing campaign, which included toys, abounded. He-Man, My Little Pony and many others of that ilk had their heyday during that decade. My Pet Monster fell into that category, but it was a little different from most. It was a doll marketed to boys, but it wasn't a set of hard …

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… plastic "action figures" like Crystar, Air Raiders and Sectaurs. It was a 22-inch (life-size, or nearly so, to many young players) plush toy, fuzzy and cuddly as all get-out, designed to look both cute and scary.

My Pet Monster was equipped with horns, a mouthful of fangs, and detachable shackles on his hands to keep him from mangling anybody else in the toybox. Its uses included scaring adults with player-created monster sounds and movements. It was manufactured by AmToy, a division of American Greetings, the card producer responsible for such toons as Strawberry Shortcake and Ziggy. It first appeared as both toy and video in 1986.

The original video version was a live-action straight-to-home-video movie. In it, a boy named Max, too old to be only 22 inches tall, had an improbable adventure much like a superhero origin, which caused repeated transformations into a much larger, living My Little Monster doll. It was a lot like Bruce Banner turning into The Hulk, only instead of being triggered by anger, Max's morphing happened when he got hungry. Max was played by Sunny Besen Thrasher, who also played Jason in Care Bears. The Monster was Mark Parr, who doesn't have other toon connections.

It came to TV the following year, beginning September 12, 1987 on ABC, Again, the human protagonist's name was Max, and again Thrasher (whose voice was also heard in a production of Garbage Pail Kids) played him. This time, the monster wasn't Max, but only a toy — at least until a magic key was used to remove his shackles. Then he'd grow to kid (as opposed to toddler) size and come to life, becoming Max's best friend. Since one never wants to go public with fantastic things in shows like this, Max kept it a secret, known only to his sister and his best human friend, Chuckie.

The other two human roles were played by Tara Strong (Raven, no relation, in Teen Titans, Timmy in Fairly OddParents) and Stuart Stone (Ramon in Beetlejuice, Bentley in The Raccoons), respectively. The Monster, whose name was simply "Monster", was Jeff McGibbon, who has very few other acting credits. Production was done by Canada's Nelvana Studio (Berenstain Bears, The Get Along Gang).

My Pet Monster did very well for a while, but the toy proved only a fad, available through the early '90s but not sold in great numbers after the first year or so. The TV show ran only one season of 13 episodes. An attempt was made to revive the toy in the first couple of years of the 21st century, but it fizzled. Today, it's practically forgotten — except, of course, by the now-grown people who used to play with it.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © AmToy Co.