The Aurora Plastics Corporation is an American toy and hobby manufacturing and marketing company founded in 1950. It is known primarily for its production of plastic model kits in the 1960s, most notably the line based on classic horror monsters.
Aurora acquired a license from Universal Studios to create a line of kits based on Universal monsters, which became the company’s most popular offerings. Aurora’s kit of Frankenstein appeared in 1961, and was followed by twelve other monster figures that were issued and reissued in various versions through the early 1970s (Castile 1996).
The Aurora characters were Dracula, The Wolfman, King Kong, Godzilla, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, The Forgotten Prisoner of Castelmare (a skeletal figure chained to a wall) and the Guillotine. The company also made kits based on The Munsters and The Addams Family.
The monsters series was initially released as straight forward model kits, but were soon joined by the better known ‘glow in the dark’ versions, which had various parts of the kit – the head, the hand, the feet, etc – in optional luminous plastic as well as the regular version.
In later years, Aurora redesigned and expanded the range. The Monsters of the Movies series featured Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (this time as two separate kits), Rodan and Ghidrah.
They also produced the snap-together Monster Scenes series, featuring Vampirella, The Victim, Dr. Deadly, Giant Insect and the controversial torture chamber kits The Pendulum, Gruesome Goodies and The Hanging Cage, plus a car-based series featuring Dracula’s Dragster, Frankenstein’s Flivver, Wolfman’s Wagon, Mummy’s Chariot, Godzilla’s Go-Cart and King Kong’s Thronester.
Aurora’s founders retired in the late 1960s and the company was sold to outside investors in 1969. After expanding into the toys and games market with limited success, the new owners sold the company to Nabisco in 1971. Nabisco in turn sold the model kit division in 1977 to Aurora’s one-time rival Monogram.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, toy and hobby company Playing Mantis created a division called Polar Lights (as a reference to “aurora”) which reissued some of Aurora’s most popular kits. Other companies following in Aurora’s shoes have reissued earlier Aurora kits. These include Moebius, Atlantis and Monarch, which mostly have focused on the Aurora trend of sci-fi and horror TV and movie figures and scenes.