Professor Morlock merchandising

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Professor Morlock trading cards

A rare find for serious Morlockians are these Professor Morlock trading cards issued after the premiere of the first "Morlock."

So obvious was it that the studio didn't realize what they had on their hands that only top-billed Mara Marini, Jonny M. and Winston the Wonder Pug (fresh from his box office smash "Winston the Wonder Pug Saves New York") were featured on solo cards. Jesse Merlin as Morlock and Amy Ball as Amanda Globe (then billed only as "Ghoul Girl" - she didn't acquire a name until the follow-up "The Return of Professor Morlock") were only pictured on a card together.

Those only familiar with the most recent Morlocks in which Amanda Globe is portrayed as a bitter badass with super powers will be surprised to learn that in the first films she was a timid former nurse at the asylum in which Morlock makes his evil headquarters and was enslaved by him. It wasn't until "Professor Morlock's Daughter" that she escaped his clutches to live on the alien planet that she acquired her super powers on and became the fighting machine that audiences know today.

The Professor Morlock lunchbox

The Professor Morlock lunchbox was the best-selling lunchbox of all time and may be the key to the series being continued.

The box depicted the famous climactic scene where ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton (played by Mara Marini) is tied up in her underwear in the professor’s laboratory while he prepares to transplant her brain with that of a gorilla. Pubescent boys of the era were so obsessed with the sight of Ms. Marini in her skivvies that they would insist on their parents buying them the box, which would immediately be confiscated by their uptight and sexually-repressed teachers when they were brought to school. The boys would come home and demand a lunchbox to replace the confiscated one and since their fathers liked the picture of Ms. Marini as much as the boys, they would sometimes replace the box six or seven times throughout the semester.

The success of the lunchbox was the deciding factor in the studio green lighting “The Return of Professor Morlack.” By that time, Ms. Marini was already committed to “Bikini Party on Waikiki Beach” (for which she would receive her first Academy Award nomination), so the budget was cut in half and Amy Ball’s role of Amanda Globe (known only as “Ghoul Girl” in the first Morlock) was beefed up and her costumes made more revealing. The rest is history.

Because of the huge amount of Professor Morlock lunchboxes that were manufactured to meet the demand, they are among the most affordable Morlockian memorabilia at about a buck each on eBay.

The Professor Morlock model kit

This is one of the most sought-after "Morlock" collectibles.

After the unexpected success of the original "Professor Morlock," the studio scrambled to cash in on the franchise as quickly as possible. One of the first items they rolled out was this Professor Morlock plastic model from Aurora Hobby Kits. Jesse Merlin immediately tried to sue to keep them from using his likeness without recompense, but the first film contract he signed after rising to fame as a star of the Barstow Opera Company was hopelessly in the studio's favor and he failed to make a dime off the lucrative Morlock licensing gravy train. It resulted in a bitter feud over money that lasted for years.

A mint-in-box "Morlock" Aurora model can fetch up to $5,000 on eBay.

Professor Morlock comics

Another money grab for the studio following the success of "Professor Morlock" was Professor Morlock Comics. The film's top-billed stars Mara Marini and Jonny M. were richly rewarded for using their likeness in the popular comic book, but Jesse Merlin (still under his back-breaking original contract) wasn't paid an extra dime. In their haste to crank out the comic, ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton's name was misspelled as "Janet Lawson" on the cover. No one noticed.

The comic was known for lurid content which depicted unspeakable perversion and kinky sex beneath its horror facade. It ultimately ceased publication after a campaign against it by the Catholic Legion of Decency.

A mint condition "Professor Morlock Comic" #1 fetches at least $2500 on eBay.

Professor MorChoc cereal

One of the few merchandising misfires of the first "Professor Morlock" cycle was Professor MorChoc cereal. It was manufactured by Mom's Kitchen, a shortly lived food division of Monsanto, and contained eight times the amount of processed sugar that can legally be included in cereal products today. Professor MorChoc was taken off the market after numerous lawsuits against Mom's Kitchen from parents whose children died of Type II diabetes after eating it.

An unopened box of Professor MorChoc sells for about two hundred dollars on eBay.

Maytag Ovens

When the studio gave Amy Ball the full star build-up with the release of “The Return of Professor Morlock,” they depicted her as the definitive Madsion Avenue housewife and mother of the period. The ad on the left is a typical example of the appearances her contract required her to make. The studio had to go to greater and greater lengths to conceal her radical leftist political activities, and she became a role model to middle class homemakers all over the United Stated. Her popularity grew to the point where she was about to finally break free of her “Professor Motlock” typecasting with a sitcom called “That Wacky Amy!” in which she would play the scatter-brained wife of a by-the-book army colonel who always gets into hot water when Amy keeps sneaking on the base to launch her own private war against Communist Russia.

That all went away when the famous mugshot on the right was made public after Ball was arrested at yet another war protest shortly after the release of “The Ghost of Professor Morlock.” She had actually been arrested over a hundred times prior to this incident but this was the first one that their publicists couldn’t cover up. When the mughot appeared on the front page of every newspaper in the country, the studio wired her that her contract was terminated.

She wired back “F—k my contract.”

The Professor Morlock board game

A treat for Morlock fans was when two of the stars of the original film, Jonny M. and Jesse Merlin, appeared as panelists on "Match Game" at the nadir of their careers.
After the debacle of “The Ghost of Professor Morlock,” the Morlock merchandising gravy train appeared to have ground to a halt. Only the career of Mara Marini, star of the original “Morlock,” continued on like an unstoppable juggernaut. Jesse Merlin eked out a living as a celebrity guest on daytime game shows and starring in an embarrassing stage production called “Professor Morlock Live” that he did at kiddie matinees of old “Morlock” movies. Amy Ball dropped out of show business and went to work for a coffee company. Jonny M. became a superstar in the golden age of porn. And Tom Ackerman descended into the reefer addiction which made him unemployable as anything other than Morlock’s evil assistant Ruprecht.

But the fans’ letter-writing campaign and subsequent Morlock conventions made the studio give the Morlock franchise another look and cautiously released a few Morlock baubles to gauge popular interest. The first was this Professor Morlock game produced by Milton Bradley in which the players tried to keep the evil professor from achieving his dream of transplanting an ape’s brain into ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton. So passionate were the fans about bringing Morlock back that the game became the fourth highest selling in history, behind Monopoly, Clue, Candyland, and Winter Olympics Trivial Pursuit.

The game pieces were icons from the Morlock series: the professor’s test tube, an evil skull, an ape’s brain, the globe that caused Amanda Globe to vaguely remember her former identity after Morlock enslaved her and erased her memory, a tesla coil, and Winston the pug. The last piece got the studio into trouble because they didn’t have contractual permission to use Winston’s likeness and, unlike the other actors from the Morlock series, he had very deep pockets from successfully investing in real estate and could fight his former bosses in court. The studio had to pay the pug a hefty settlement and remove the Winston piece from the game, replacing it with the bra that Janet Lawton was always wearing when she was tied up.

Professor Morlock games containing the Winston piece sell on eBay for up to $2500.

Professor Morlock Fan Fiction

An oddity between “The Ghost of Professor Morlock” and the series reboot “The Bride of Professor Morlock” was the appearance of the publication Professor Morlock Fan Fiction. Here, Morlockians found an outlet for their need for additional accounts of the mad professor. The first few issues contained exciting supernatural tales of Morlock & Company, but it was ultimately taken over by a kinky fringe who offered up stories of disturbingly angry fetishes that inevitably cast Morlock as a perverted deviant. The periodical was finally ended after a lawsuit by the studio just before the premiere of “The Bride of Professor Morlock” The last story published in the magazine was titled “Professor Morlock’s Mystic Butt Plug.”

Strangely, issues of Professor Morlock Fan Fiction #1 only sell for about five bucks on eBay but the later issues (including the one that contains “Professor Morlock’s Mystic Butt Plug”) go for around three hundred.

The Professor Morlock DVD box set

The deciding factor is green lighting the series reboot was the release of the boxed set of the four original Morlock movies on DVD. They proved to be the best-selling non-porn DVD set of all time.

The Janet Lawton model kit

Another rare Morlockian collectible is the Dragon Model kit of Mara Marini that was rolled out for the series reboot “The Bride of Professor Morlock.” It depicts ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton in a typical pose tied up in her underwear as Morlock prepares to transplant her brain into a gorilla. The model kit was made without Miss Marini’s authorization and when she saw it, she pronounced it “unbelievably creepy” and issued an injunction to halt production. Only a handful went on sale as a result and the few remaining models are only available on the lucrative Morlockian black market for an astronomical sum.

The Amanda Globe model kit

The dynamic entrance of Amanda Globe in "Professor Morlock's Daughter" and the unexpected news that she had acquired super powers after living on an alien planet suddenly made her the most popular chraracter in the franchise. Dragon Models introduced this Amanda Globe model kit to coincide with the release.

Professor Morlock McDonald's collector glasses

Because I'm bored, we continue our display of Professor Morlock promotional items with these cool McDonald's collectors glasses advertising "The Wrath of Professor Morlock." Included in the set were the two new characters introduced in the entry, the sexy zombie Priscilla (played by Robin Greenspan) and Morlock's brutal sex slave Günter (played by world-class bodybuilder James Cleveland).

Priscilla immediately became one of the most popular characters in the series but Günter was despised by audiences and his glass was quickly withdrawn from circulation. Pristine samples of the Günter glass sell on eBay for a minimum of one thousand dollars.

Professor Morlock action figures

The Professor Morlock action figures, rolled out to promote the premiere of "The Curse of Professor Morlock." A clause in Jonny M.'s original contract required the Jack Mannix figure to be anatomically correct.

The Priscilla model kit

The sexy zombie Priscilla was so popular with Morlock fans after debuting in “The Wrath of Professor Morlock” that a model of the character was rolled out by Dragon Models following the movie’s premiere and immediately became the top-selling model in the company’s history.

When the original Professor Morlock model was introduced, Jesse Merlin unsuccessfully tried to sue to get a small percentage of the profits for the use of his likeness. After he lost the suit, he was thousands of dollars in debt from legal fees that left him financially devastated for years. When he learned that actress Robin Greenspan was paid over a million dollars for permission to use her likeness for the Priscilla model, it’s said that Merlin climbed to the roof of his house in order to jump and it took the combined efforts of a police negotiator, his therapist and his life partner Klaus to talk him down.

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