Every Halloween, Tatuaje cigars releases their much anticipated Monster Series. Each release is based on a classic or newer monster, both in the size and the look of the cigar itself.

In 2010, the Monster Series release was The Face, after the character Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. The cigar was covered in a Mexican wrapper, and Pete Johnson had this to say about the blend, which is the same as the Baby Face:

It has a Mexican wrapper. We don’t use a high priming; it’s a Seco leaf, so the shade is more like Café Rosado color. But gnarly-looking! The crazy thing about Mexican wrapper is that when it’s drying out, it’s almost like the oil pockets [in the leaf] explode . . . and turn white. When we went through the production, a few thousand sticks had these white spots all over them; those cigars look perfect for The Face, but Jaime and Pepin don’t want to put them out on the streets. I liked it, because I thought it fit perfectly for Leatherface, but they re-wrapped a bunch of them. But I told them to keep some of the ugly ones, because I liked it.

The following is from Charlie Minato’s review of the Mini Mum.

Pete Johnson announced the Little Monsters on the Jan. 14 episode of Smoke Inn’s Kiss My Ash Radio show. We posted this news story in January:

Earlier this morning on Smoke Inn’s Kiss My Ash Radio show, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje announced that he would be releasing the Monster Series in smaller vitolas. The popular Monster Series has previously been regulated to larger sizes, hence the Monster moniker. During the show, which will be available online later this week, Pete said that he is working on thinner RGs and shorter sizes. Early reports indicate that it will be available in samplers. As of now, the only mention of a release date has been June. Update (January 14, 2011):The names for the cigars are:

  • Frank Jr.
  • Lil’ Drac
  • Baby Face
  • Wolfie
  • Mini Mum*

*Mini Mum is based off of The Mummy, the next Tatuaje Monster Series.

In March, Johnson confirmed the sizes, pricing and the reason behind the increase in production:

Pete Johnson of Havana Cellars/Tatuaje has confirmed the five dimensions for the much anticipated Tatuaje Little Monsters release slate for June. Tatuaje Little Monsters.jpgThe five sizes are (in order of appearance):

  • Tatuaje Mini Mum — 5 3/4 x 42
  • Tatuaje Wolfie — 5 1/2 x 48
  • Tatuaje Baby Face — 4 3/8 x 50
  • Tatuaje Lil’ Drac — 5 x 48
  • Tatuaje Frank Jr. — 5 5/8 x 44

Johnson has slowly leaked information about the release since announcing it in mid-January. The concept takes the four released Monster Series blends and the Mini Mum, the fifth in the series scheduled for later this year, replicated in smaller sizes. For Tatuaje fans, the names and distinct appearance makes them easy to coincide with their larger brother: Lil’ Drac based off of “The Drac,” Frank Jr. off of “The Frank,” etc. In the past month, Johnson has announced that he will make 10,000 orange boxes that will include two of each cigar, this is double the original 5,000 he originally planned. The Tatuaje brand owner also told halfwheel that he expects pricing for the boxes to be around $75.00. The Little Monsters sampler is expected in June. Johnson hopes that the increase in production numbers will keep them on retailers’ shelves a bit longer, as opposed to the normal Monster Series releases which often sell out before retailers receive their shipments.

And last week, the Little Monsters began shipping.

The Tatuaje Little Monsters, a limited edition project for Pete Johnson’s Havana Cellars, began arriving in stores Monday in what is expected to be one of many shipments over the course of the next few weeks. The Little Monsters, which constitute five smaller versions of Tatuaje’s Monster Series releases are a 10,000 box release Johnson hoped would stay on shelves, something the larger versions traditionally have failed to do.

However, a sample of a few retailers indicate the initial shipment seems unlikely to stay on shelves as retailers are reporting frantic purchasing.

Last week, Johnson tweeted the following, asking his fans for patience:

Pete Johnson Little Monster Tweet

To recap, the Little Monsters are based off of the four original Monster Series releases and the upcoming 2012 release, theTatuaje Mummy. Here’s a picture of the four original releases and their Little counterparts (left to right):

Tatuaje Monsters + Little Monsters

The cigars are smaller versions of their original counterparts with a slight change to the bands, which read “Little Monster”except for the Baby Face, which features a tobacco band like the original The Face.

We e-mailed Pete Johnson to ask him to explain his motives behind blending, specifically how he was approaching making smaller versions of blends that debuted a few years ago:

I used the same blends as the original, which was the best way to represent the original cigars. The tobacco varietals did not change. Only the crop years.  Of course the Mimi Mum and The Mummy will be from the same crop.

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 1

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 2

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 3

The Little Monsters are packed in pairs from newest release (Mini Mum) on the left to oldest release (Frank Jr.):

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 5

Interestingly enough, the boxes originally depicted the Little Monsters on the outside, however, due to concerns about marketing products to children, Johnson decided to place the artwork underneath the cigars and instead the outside of the boxes read “Little Monsters.” The original boxes looked like this:

Tatuaje Little Monsters Boxes.png(via Sean “Casper: Johnson)

On the production boxes, you will find this underneath the cigars:Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 4

Each box was supposed to contain a single trading card depicting one of the monsters. In addition to the five normal cards, there are two limited edition cards: one is a version of the Baby Face card that has a depiction of Pete Johnson’s face instead of the normal monster face and the other is reportedly a foil printed card. However, Pete Johnson has stated that there will only be 5,500 cards because of a printing issue. A little over 1,000 of each of the five regular cards were produced.

On top of that, the Mini Mum card that has been shipping in the first shipments contains a printing error. Under the Favorite TV Show section, it says, Unwarpped, which is obviously supposed to read Unwrapped.

Here’s a picture of the boxes being packed at My Father Cigars S.A. with the card inside and various cards on the table:

Tatuaje Baby Face 1

  • Cigar Reviewed:Tatuaje Little Monsters Baby Face
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola:Petit Robusto
  • MSRP:$7.50 (Boxes of 10, $75.50)
  • Date Released: June 11, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released:10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review:2

*Each sampler contains two Baby Face, in total, there are 100,000 Little Monsters

The Baby Face is a nice looking cigar with an extremely dark mottled brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch. Like The Face, it has a nipple cap and an unfinished foot with a piece of light brown Connecticut Ecuador shade wrapper glued on top of the regular wrapper to serve as the band. It is very hard when squeezed, but just short of rock hard, and smells strongly of barnyard, wood, leather, hay and coffee.

The first third of the Baby Face starts out immediately with flavors of sweet tobacco, hay, earth and leather. There is just a tiny amount of spice on the tongue and some pepper on the retrohale, but not enough to really affect the profile in any major way. There is a wonderful dry sweetness that is also present, tasting almost like graham crackers and it is noticeable for the entire first third. Construction is wonderful, both burn and draw, and the strength starts off with a bang — a solid medium, but is only getting stronger.

Tatuaje Baby Face 2

Coming into the second third of the Baby Face and the flavors are getting more distinct, although they are not changing all that much. Earth, dark chocolate, wood and hay, along with that wonderful sweetness all blend together wonderfully. Sadly, the spice from the first third is gone, but a bit of the black pepper on the retrohale remains. Burn and draw remain excellent and the strength continues to increase, ending the second third at a strong medium, just under the full mark.

Tatuaje Baby Face 3

The final third of the Baby Face is sees creamy overall, and does get quite a bit a lot stronger at end of the smoke, ending at a solid full. Flavors remain fairly constant but wonderful: dark chocolate, oak, earth, espresso and a hint of leather. The sweetness from the first two thirds seems to be disappearing in direct proportion to the amount of strength that is present, and there is just not much left by the end of the smoke. Construction stays the course as well, but the Baby Face does get bit hot at the end, forcing me to put it down with about a half inch left.

Tatuaje Baby Face 4

Final Notes

  • The strength of the Baby Face gets quite a bit stronger at the end of the cigar, much like the The Face.
  • The piece of Connecticut Ecuador wrapper that forms the band on the Baby Face is not only significantly lighter in color than the original Face, it is also placed quite a bit higher on the cigar, in proportion to its size, than on the original release. Not only that, but the wrapper color itself is noticeably darker on the Baby Face compared to The Face.
  • Both the The Face and the Baby Face have the largest ring gauges of each of their respective series so far. Interestingly, the Baby Face is exactly two inches shorter than the original release of The Face.
  • I smoked two of the Baby Face and one of the The Face to compare to each other. One of the Baby Face samples I smoked literally as soon as it came in, and there were some slight issues with burn and with the flavors being a bit muted. The second sample was smoked one week after that was much better and was the sample I used for review.
  • As far as I can tell, there was absolutely no difference in flavor when you hit the Connecticut Ecuador band.
  • I have said it before, but it bears repeating: I absolutely love the unfinished foot on cigars, not only for the look, but also for the fact that you get some straight wrapper flavor when you first light it up.
  • This is the only Little Monster not to have “Little Monsters” on the band.
  • For those wondering about The Boris, Pete has long talked about doing a Little Boris as an exclusive for Jeff Borysiewicz’s Corona Cigar Co. The Boris was never part of The Monster Series and as such it wasn’t included in the Little Monsters. The Little Boris is currently being offered as a pre-order from Corona Cigar Co. MSRP is $9.00 per cigar for the 5 x 48 Robusto with $1.00 per box being donated to Cigar Rights of America. It features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The initial run is set as 5,000 cigars.Borysiewicz has requestedan additional run, but wrapper supply has prevented Johnson from confirming anything beyond the first batch. You can read more about the Little Boris at the bottom of this post.
  • Like the original The Face, the Baby Face is a slow smoker, and the final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes.
91 Overall Score

When I first heard that Tatuaje was releasing smaller versions of each of the Monster Series, The Face was one of the ones I was most interested in comparing. While I liked the original, I felt the profile was hurt by the larger size. I must say, I am quite happy with how the Baby Face ended up. While the profile is essentially the same between the two versions, the smaller vitola of the Baby Face really intensifies the flavors leading to a significantly more flavorful smoke. Add the wonderful construction and you have a winner. While it has never been the most complex of blends, if you liked The Face, you are going to love the Baby Face.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.