I wasn’t alive when Dark Shadows was on TV. I do have faint memories of seeing it in reruns and on the Sci-Fi Channel, when the Sci-Fi Channel was good. Surprisingly enough I have more memories of seeing old models and toys at flea markets and comic conventions than of the show. I was hooked by Barnabas’ (Jonathan Frid) crazy vampire smile. It somehow always found a way to grab my attention. I did a little research and came up with some pretty cool Dark Shadows toys and collectibles. So here is the Toy Maniac’s 6 Dark Shadows Collectibles I would have bought, given the chance.
6. The Dark Shadows Halloween Costume
It’s a given that a Halloween costume from that era is going to be terrible. It is also a given that it will say the name of the show on the chest. Without a doubt a little makeup, a black ring, and a cane would have been easier to do. Call me nostalgic, but I kinda wish they would bring back these plastic suits for adults. Halloween night belonged to us kiddies and these costumes made you feel devilishly alive.
5. Barnabas’ Ring
If Tim Burton’s movie takes off or not, expect to see these reappear regardless. I’ve already seen a Barnabas Collins out pan handling on Hollywood Blvd. He had the ring. It’s the essential prop and as important as the cane. If you wanted an original Barnabas ring you could get one via a mail order. All you had to do was send in 5 Dark Shadow bumble gum card wrappers. I’ll bet you a lot of fans wish they still had those wrappers.
4. The Vampire Van
Out of the three Dark Shadow models only one was a car. It looks more like the Munsters’ Dragula than anything else. This is one of those crazy items I always saw at the flea market. Its only on the list for the kitschiness of it. The box is awesome as it displays Barnabas means of travel during the day time.
3. The Barnabas Model Box
Personally, I’ve never been good with models. Perhaps I am just too nervous or maybe it’s because I never got one right. I practically despise them. The box, like the Vampire Van, has that certain charm. It is a product from another era. I love how the character is drawn here (hence the header image). The box is always more rare, anyway.
2. The Barnabas Collins Dark Shadows Board Game
This is the one that I remember playing more than anything. Yes, I actually played it. A weird cousin of mine had it and it was still in pretty good shape. My aunt replaced the fangs every halloween. This is a fairly common Dark Shadows collectible. According to Dark Shadows Collectibles, it was the only “Milton Bradley board game whose pieces include a coffin, tiny wooden stakes, scaffolds, and plastic bones. Players twirl a spinner and receive a bone that matches the picture on the square the spinner stops on. Using these bones, players race to complete an entire skeleton.The winner gets the right to wear an included set of vampire fangs. The game was manufactured in 1969”. That board game sat around a long time before I ever played it.
1. House of Dark Shadows Japanese Poster
TV shows becoming movies is nothing new. Only then they used the same actors in the roles instead of reducing them to cameos. There are several strange and disturbing posters for the House of Dark Shadows (1970) feature. The best and most disturbing is this one from Japan. One has to appreciate the how much white is on this poster especially for a film with dark and shadows in title.
In my search for retro collectibles and toys I found no images of Barnabas’ cane from that era. It is as iconic as his ring. Now it is an easy thing to find (UniqueCanes.com). My trip back to the past and Collinwood unlocked a few memories. Much like the Best of Dark Shadows DVD, I found myself strangely attracted to this dark world of shadows.
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.