HISTORY OF THE LINE
It would be impressive if any avid cigar smoker had not heard of Tatuaje’s annually released Monster series of cigars. Sometime around 2008, Tatuaje’s bossman, Pete Johnson got the novel idea to start a line of stogies based on classic monsters from the film and literature’s horror genre. They debuted the line with The Frank in 2008 and it became an overnight success due to the limited accessibility to the smokes and, of course, the high quality Tatuaje has become known for throughout the years.
Tatuaje dropped The Frank in 2008. At the time, they only released 666 boxes to 13 randomly selected retailers, both online and B&Ms. The tradition of 13 retailers continued – each year, 13 new shops are selected to receive most of the 666 coveted dress boxes while the balance of the cigars are released to a much broader selection of shops. Since, they’ve been dubbed “the Unlucky 13” for a couple reasons. First, several of the earlier selected shops went under the following year. Also, there was some backlash from the public because often the shops did not have the supply to meet the insane demand for the cigars.
Each year, a newly themed cigar was introduced to the Monster line. Here’s a quick run-down of the original full-sized Monsters:
- 2008 – The Frank
- 2009 – The Drac
- 2010 – The Face
- 2011 – The Wolfman
- 2012 – The Mummy
- 2013 – The JV13
- 2014 – The Jekyll
- 2015 – The Hyde
- 2016 – The Krueger
- 2017 – The Michael
- 2018 – The Bride (was to be the final cigar in the line)
- 2019 – The Tiff
- 2019 – The Chuck
The Frank came exclusively in dress boxes – basically a gussied up wood box – and was extremely limited. Once Tatuaje saw the hit they had on their hands, they released two types of boxes the following year and that’s been the typical process since. Since 2009, with The Drac, they release 666 dress boxes and a varying number of non-dress wood boxes. Dress boxes usually contain 13 cigars whereas the non-dress boxes hold 10 cigars. As you can imagine, the dress boxes often command an exorbitant sum on the secondary market.
THE ACTOR SERIES
Pete took a great idea and made it awesome. In addition to the Monster line, he intended to release a line of cigars based on the most prominent actors who portrayed each monster on the silver screen – beginning with Boris Karloff, who famously took on the roles of Frankenstein and the Mummy in the 1930s. When asked, Johnson has publicly stated he does not really consider The Actor line to be officially part of the Monster line, but I figured I’d include it in the summary since it’s regularly mentioned in conjunction with the series. For whatever reason, Tatuaje killed the line after The Boris was released. Only two cigars make up the line:
- 2009 – The Boris
- 2012 – The Little Boris (Corona Cigar Exclusive)
THE LITTLE MONSTERS (2012)
With the unbridled success the full-size Monsters brought, Tatuaje developed The Little Monsters based off of the original four Monsters. In 2012 they released 10,000 sampler boxes of The Little Monsters which included 10 cigars – 2 each of the original four. As the name implies, The Little Monsters were smaller vitolas, thinner ring gauges and shorter length. The Little Monsters also retained the general shapes of their full-size counterparts – ie, The Lil Drac was a torpedo shape just like full-size OR The Drac. Additionally, The Little Monsters used the same blends (albeit from different years, except for The Mummy – which was released the same year). Here’s a run-down of the Little Monster line-up:
- Frank Jr.
- Lil’ Drac
- Baby Face
- Mini Mum
Originally, each box was meant to contain one card depicting one of the Monsters included. There were two variants on the Baby Face card where one showed the Texas Chainsaw legend and the other showed Pete Johnson’s mug. However, some issues arose and only about half the boxes ended up containing the cards – pushing an already highly collectible box into a legendary rare category.
THE PUDGY MONSTERS (2014)
Full-size Monsters – mega hit. Little Monsters – instant cult hit. Next, make more/print money. In a somewhat predictable move, Tatuaje made the obvious move – they combined the ring gauge of the original five Monsters with the length of the Little Monsters. Again, these were released in sampler boxes of 10 – but instead of two of each Monster, three new Monsters were introduced. The set included a Pudgy JV13 (that year’s Monster release) and two each of previously unseen Monsters – The Chuck and The Tiff (from Child’s Play). In 2013, Tatuaje released 20,000 boxes of the Pudgy Monsters.
Here’s the summary of the Monsters included:
- Pudgy Frank
- Pudgy Drac
- Pudgy Face
- Pudgy Wolf
- Pudgy Mummy
- Pudgy Jason
- Pudgy Chuck (x2)
- Pudgy Tiff (x2)
THE SKINNY MONSTERS (2016)
There’s a theme here. Tatuaje releases Monsters; everyone buys them like hotcakes. In 2016, Tatuaje’s Black Label corona was the belle of the ball. So Tatuaje decided to capitalize on the two lines’ success by marrying the vitola size/shape of the Black Label corona with the blends of the original ten Monsters. Spoiler alert, it was a mega-hit …. again. This did mark the first time that Tatuaje abandoned any vitola characteristics of the original Monsters. Instead, each came in a petit lancero format – 6″ x 38. Additionally, this was the first time Tatuaje offered the cigars in individual 25-count boxes to compliment the sampler boxes. Again, 10,000 sampler boxes were released, but in a cool twist, Tatuaje let the cigar smoking community vote to determine production quantities of the 25-count boxes, but held that at least 400 boxes of each Monster would be released.
Here’s the lineup for the Skinny Monster sets:
- Skinny Frank
- Skinny Drac
- Skinny Face
- Skinny Wolf
- Skinny Mummy
- Skinny Jason
- Skinny Jekyll
- Skinny Hyde
- Skinny Chuck
- Skinny Tiff
THE SKINNY MONSTERS - LANCERO & CAZADORES EDITION (2016)
In a surprise to pretty much no one, Tatuaje continued to build on the Monster line’s success this year by released two new sampler boxes simultaneously, Skinny Monsters in lancero and cazadores vitolas. Again, these were a departure from the original vitola’s shape and length and rather continued with the Skinny Monster format. The cazadores vitola is a 6-3/8″ x 43 whereas the lancero is a traditional size of 7-1/2″ x 38. Production numbers aren’t known yet, but the sampler sets began getting shipped to retailers in May of this year (2017).
Here’s the lineup for the Skinny Monster Lancero & Cazadores sets:
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Frank
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Drac
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Face
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Wolf
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Mummy
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Jason
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Jekyll
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Hyde
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Chuck
- Skinny Lancero/Cazadores Tiff