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This story appeared with additional imagery in the Oct/Nov '04 of Non-Sport Update. The accompanying Munsters episode guide is exclusive to the web.


Munsters Mayhem

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary With The Munsters: The Complete Original Series Trading Cards

by Charlie Novinskie

The Munsters: The Complete Original Series Trading CardsHerman, Lily, Eddie, Marilyn, and Grandpa Munster are packing their bags and headed out from their spacious Victorian digs at 1313 Mockingbird Lane—and they're headed your way just in time to scare up the ghouliest of Halloweens. An entirely new set of The Munsters trading cards are on the horizon and you can bet your woof-woof doll that they'll be cooler than a cruise down the Dead Sea ! Sure, cards based on the classic television series have been done before—but none as detailed and true to the series as the set being released by Rittenhouse Archives.

The pilot for The Munsters was actually shot in color and was titled, My Fair Munster. Directed by Norman Abbott, the pilot featured Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis as Herman and Grandpa. Joan Marshall played wife Phoebe, and Happy Derman played Eddie. Beverley Owen played the role of Marilyn. Several other pilots were shot with Yvonne De Carlo as Lily, and Butch Patrick as Eddie. In April of 1964, The Munsters we've come to love had been born!

Over At The Frankenstein Place
The Munsters, which ran for a relatively short 70 episodes, captured the fright-fest hearts of fans everywhere. A product of the sixties, the sitcom premiered on September 24, 1964 and ran until the spring of 1966 when CBS Studios ceased production. The sixties was a time period renowned for producing classic television—and CBS Studios had a bona fide hit with The Munsters . And why not—The Munsters were your typical family with typical family values—with a few twists and turns—like a husband and father built by Dr. Frankenstein, a beautiful niece Marilyn (considered the ugly duckling of the family), a widow-peaked, pointed ear child that carried a woof-woof werewolf doll around everywhere, and a beautiful-yet-ghoulish wife that that cooked up receipts using eye of newt and batwing powder! Added to the mix was Grandpa—a tuxedo-wearing, mad scientist that just happed to be able to turn himself into a bat, or wolf, or whatever the situation warranted. Judging themselves to be your average family, the show applied family values to the most unlikely of families—The Munsters--and the results were spectacularly funny!

The real dynamics of the group could be attributed to actors Fred (Herman) Gwynne and Al (Grandpa) Lewis who had a Vaudevillian approach to their delivery. It was no fluke that the two were cast together on The Munsters —Fred and Al had just wrapped up another successful sitcom in the form of two bumbling cops on Car 54, Where Are You? Produced in conjunction with Universal Studios, the owner of the Universal Monster film rights including Frankenstein, allowed CBS to mimic the Frankenstein-like facial features that viewers were familiar with. Fred Gwynne, in the guise of Herman Munster , applied very human qualities to a character labeled a monster. Herman was, in effect, the monster that everyone learned to love!

Yvonne De Carlo had made a name for herself at Universal Studios and had been in over 20 movies before making the transition to television. Butch Patrick starred as “the wolf boy with pointed ears”, i.e. Eddie Munster, for the entire series. A little know fact is that Pat Priest, also know as Marilyn Munster, was the only actor to not play the part for the entire run of the series—Pat came on board late into the first season after Beverly Owen, the original Marilyn, left the show.

The appeal of the show is evident by the interest shown in the series and the amount of memorabilia available for sale online. A set of trading cards paying homage to this wonderful sitcom has to be done right in order to please long time fans. The gang at Rittenhouse Archives has been working hard to ensure that this card set will be the definitive version of The Munsters for boys and ghouls of all ages.

My Favorite Munster
Everyone has his or her favorite episode of The Munsters —from Herman trying out for the baseball team to Herman souping up the Munster Koach for a drag race! (Editor's Note: Click here for our special online only Episode Guide). And the folks at Rittenhouse Archives are providing a card set that will satisfy even the largest of munster-appetites by providing detailed information on every single episode! Steve Charendoff, president of Rittenhouse Archives, outlined the detail being put into the set, “every card will feature four photos. In fact, many of the photos we're using are never-before-used photos. The degree of detail will really please diehard Munster 's fans.” Indeed, with four photos per card, this set will contain a plethora of screen shots—over 300 photos in all have been culled from The Munster archives to make up the basic set. The advent of DVD technology means that many of the photos being used are being reproduced from high quality, DVD images making for sharp, clear photos.

The set will have a basic 72 cards that will feature episode guides of all seventy episodes. The first and last cards of the set will be the title card and checklist card respectively, with the other 70 cards presenting episodic information at the rate of one card per episode. With four photos per episode on a card and detailed episode synopses, this set will be ghoulishly good. From the very first episode, Munster Masquerade, clear through the last, A Visit From the Teacher, each card will be packed with fiendishly fun facts and photos!

With the resurgence in interest in sixties sitcoms, (thanks to TV Land and fan support), The Munsters are reaching an even larger audience than when they first premiered. The timing of the card release coincides nicely with the resurgence of the show. Given that Rittenhouse has built their reputation by providing quality card sets based on science fiction and horror television shows, The Munsters are the perfect match for them!

If this card set had nothing but the 72-card base set with all 70 episode synopses, I'd rush out and buy it. Given that the set is fraught with features in the form of bonus sets, it is sure to become a must have set for Munster mavens! Bonus cards play a big part in the making of the Munsters set, including a subset of 9 bonus cards dedicated to the pilot episode. The most common of the chase cards, the Original Pilot cards can be found at a ratio of 1:5 packs.

Munster Movie Madness
In addition, Munster , Go Home cards can be found at the rate of 1:10 and feature a close-up look at the Munster feature film. Also included as chase cards are images from the second feature length Munsters film, The Munsters' Revenge . Some of the rarer cards will be inserted at a ratio of one per 20 packs. Family Album cards—five photo cards featuring Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie, and Marilyn provide a great family portrait of America 's number one family of fright! Fans of show props will enjoy the 1313 Mockingbird Lane cards that will feature a plethora of fun-fraught items found in the Munsters ' house.

SketchaFEX cards, also inserted at a rate of 1:20, will feature hand-drawn sketches of The Munsters created by artists Warren Martineck, John Czop, Darren Auck, Chris Bolson, Pablo Raimondi, Eduardo Pansica, Sean Pense, Emir Riberio, and Dan Schaeter. Original sketch cards have become a fan favorite bonus card in most sets, and given the caliber of talent listed, these cards will be hot items. At press time a total of 20-25 different SketchaFEX cards were planned. Rittenhouse Archives guarantees one base set of 72 cards and one SketchaFEX card in each box. Packed at five cards per pack, each box will contain 40 packs.

Limited case topper cards will include exclusive TV Guide cover cards with multi-case incentives (minimum purchase of two cases) featuring a Herman Munster SketchaFEX card by Warren Martinek.

Unfortunately, Fred Gwynne, the brilliant actor that portrayed Herman Munster , passed away in 1993, but the other members of the Munster family have signed on to provide autograph cards. Four autograph cards will feature Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster, Pat Priest as Marilyn Munster, Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster, and Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster . The autograph cards will be the rarer of the bunch averaging one card per sixty packs. All of the cards can be stored in The Munsters: The Complete Original Series official collector's album that also features 12 plastic sheets and a SketchaFEX card by John Czop.

This Halloween why not consider giving all the ghosts and goblins at your door a real treat—a pack of The Munsters trading cards by Rittenhouse Archives!

Online Episode Guide Continues Here....



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