|Halloween 2009: September
|-THE COOLEST PAPER BAG IN THE WORLD-
Click any of these scans for a closer view! These small paper bags (presumably treat
bags) were only 29 cents each at Walgreens, so I thought I may as well buy one due to the
really colorful, cool-looking artwork. Vampires on one side, mad science on the other! All
that seemed to be missing was a little mummy action....or so I thought. It wasn't until I got
the bag home that a friend unfolded the sides to make a stunning discovery;
Holy. Crap. Yeah, there's a mummy all right...but who the hell needs a mummy when the
freaking FLY is scrambling down the roof for a taste of gutter-candy?! My single favorite
cinematic monster of all time, so rarely represented in merchandise but beautifully
cartoonified for this humble little throwaway product. We also get a purple Hentai
monster, a darling gill-man, a werewolf who just ate a human being, a dapper-dressed
zombie (or maybe just an elderly banker. That's a monster too, right?) and even an
invisible man! There's seriously something for everyone...you can even have your pick
between "sexy" vampires and a "Count Orlock" style vampire! An artistic vision of this
caliber is wasted on a paper bag....those folds that will never come out may as well be
folds across the Mona Lisa's face. If I could find the artist responsible for this, I'd ask him
to sign it and frame this paper bag.
It's adorable how they're Trick-or-treating with each other at their own house. In fact...they
appear to have the front doors boarded up and heavily guarded. They only Trick-or-treat
with each other.
|-Pop-Up Halloween Jack-in-the-box-
If you're a fan of creepy clowns, I have found your holy grail. This high-quality tin box is
decorated with beautiful artwork by some uncredited mystery artist, washed out to make
the whole thing look dirty and ancient. When the handle is turned, it not only plays your
classic "pop goes the weasel" tune but throws in some eerie child voices whispering
"come closer" and "I have a secret."
The clown that pops out is no generic afterthought; he's actually dressed exactly like one
of the clowns on the box (look for the fish tie). It's almost impossible to predict when he'll
actually show himself, which is accompanied by absolutely ghastly cackling, flashing
lights, and voice clips that sound amazingly like the Cryptkeeper.
"DID I SCARE YOU? GOOOOOD!"
Oddly, the vivid PURPLE of his lips and clothes come out blue in every photograph, even
including photographs on other blogs, online stores and ebay auctions. Seems like he's
trying to hide something. What horrible secret might lie behind his purple?!
These things are fifteen dollars at Walgreens right now, if you can find one. People on
ebay are asking up to four times that.
Target brings out new mascots for every Halloween (last year, it was inexplicably
Domo-Kun) and this year's are a pretty rad set of cartoonish creatures under a
"MONSTER MADNESS!" label. I decided to start off with these two ghosts, as they were
extra-cheap and I like their little stitched-on patches. They're cute as hell, but Target's
MONSTER MADNESS only gets cuter from here...
|-MONSTER MADNESS Ghost Figurines-
|...Seriously, is this not the cutest freaking witch you've ever seen in your life?
She has this sort of sexy ragdoll style going on, giant leather boots and
she's completely batshit crazy, which everybody loves, right?
There really seems to be a subtle flirtatiousness, even suggestiveness to
her phrases...but she also has that distinct "I will sew your face to my cat if
you ever leave me" sort of laugh.
|-MONSTER MADNESS Hanging Witch-
|A seasonal line of big-headed latex monsters were once quite common at a number of
shopping chains, but though I heard from a good friend that a mummy was produced, I
never once saw the little guy in the flesh and the line hasn't made a return to stores since
2007. Now, at long last, I've managed to snag a three-foot, madball-looking rubber
mummy off the internet, and my only regret is I don't have a whole army of them. Perfectly
shaped to wallop people with, I just adore the skinny little body of this blue-skinned
corpse, making his head appear even bigger than his brothers and sisters!
For a change of pace, let's take a crisper look at some older crap! Some of my all-time
favorite discoveries were last photographed three cameras ago, and the quality of the
original journals is downright shameful. I'm leaving those where they are for posterity, so
let's honor a few old pals in a new blog for once!
I found this squeaky, plush dog toy at Petsmart waaay back in 2002, and have always
regretted not buying at least one more for safekeeping. I've never seen them again,
though I have heard of just their head cropping up on completely different, less interesting
but somehow more confusing toys. This is most likely the original incarnation, since it
also wears a pink, dog-bone badge of its own face smoking in a top hat.
Let's say that again: this monster wears a pink, dog-bone badge of its own face,
smoking, in a top hat. Why would you wear such a thing? What could it possibly mean?
After all these years, this baffling case of egocentrism has never ceased to both amuse
and confound me.
Also of interest is the fact that a bat seems to have crashed through his skull. Was it
coming or going? This little bastard is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, I swear.
Discovered at a flea market, this had a sticker right on it that said "BRAIN INVADERS"
but I have no idea where they were originally sold. I really dig the crazy, Ed Roth sort of
look to the alien face, and as a lover of all bug-eyed monsters, this is definitely my favorite
candy-related toy of all time, though I've never actually eaten the rock-hard little balls it's
still filled with.
When the button on top is pressed, his eyes cross even more, his jaw opens up, and a
candy is released to spiral all the way down from his brain and into his mouth. Is this his
invasion plan? Are these mind-control candies? Can't he think of a more marketable way
to distribute them than frenching?
Oh Brain Invader, you have so much to learn about Earth!
I guess that's why you need to invade brains in the first place. It's a vicious cycle.
These neat little porcelain whatsits were sold as
candle holders at Joann fabrics, another item I've
never seen again. I bought the Pumpkin just for the
heck of it, and a cat head was also available, but the
cauldron monster clearly overshadows its buddies.
How often do you even see a cauldron monster? A
one-eyed cauldron monster with skeleton limbs!
One thing I originally neglected to show - and
consistently forgot about - was the presence of an
adorably innocent-looking purple bat on the back of
the cauldron, equipped with what are no doubt
blood-sucking fangs. Unlike any actual bat, all
Halloween bats suck blood through their fangs. Basic
Barely more than an inch in height, I found these guys as far back as 2001 at a
convenience store in Ocean City, New Jersey. These are my favorite type of monster toy:
they're small, they're colorful, they're totally weird and they don't really do much. They're
only big enough for one good shot with their water-squirting feature, but that one shot will
be stylish as hell...which is where these ghoulish freaks really look like they just came
from. I think the warty green guy with the gouged-out eye is my favorite, but the blackened
skull with half-eaten scalp is a close contender, and the bloody man-face is probably the
|-The Gruesome Squirt-Monsters-
These rubber monster heads exhibit a classic action feature; squeeze them to unfurl a
rubbery tube. Simple enough, except that every other unfurly-tubey-thingy I've ever seen
on any other toy was supposed to be a tongue, or in rarer cases, some obvious
appendage like a tail or arms. These are the only toys I've seen where the
unfurly-tubey-thingy is popping out of a freaking eye socket, so what we're probably
supposed to interpret here are worms. They could just as easily be taken as spurts of
blood or severed nerves, but a dangling red worm in the eye is a pretty classic icon of
Halloween corpses. Now, a vampire and werewolf in the same line had
unfurly-tubey-thingies for actual tongues, but that's just so yesterday.
For some reason, I always thought the Mummy looked a little bit like Rodney Dangerfield.
|-The tongue-eyed Monsters-
|These squeaky vinyl dog toys were originally sold at
Wal-mart, appearing only one year. I'm glad I got a full
set, as the hairy blob and egg-shaped mummy
certainly have charm, but the major attraction is of
course the alien...a googly-eyed, octopus-like brain
monster (and we all know how I feel about those)
riding a hilariously tiny flying saucer! The little guy is
without a doubt a major favorite of my entire vast
collection, Halloween-related or otherwise, and I really
wish I could get my hands on many, many more. I'd
make a whole damn mobile of adorable flying
space-brains to hang from my ceiling, with just one fo
them hanging at perfect face-level for people to bump
right into, because adorable, tentacled space-brains
demand attention and have earned that right.
You may have known I had MONSTER BALLS or even MOST FANTASTIC BALLS, but
I'm bringing them to your attention once more.
|-The Most Fantastic Monster Balls-
|I'm holding another one of my art galleries for Halloween 2009! Simply click through my
Halloween collection archives and draw, paint, sculpt, knit or otherwise create ANY
work of art based on any of the weird, generic monsters you see in my odd Halloween
finds! If I've blogged about it for Halloween, you can use it in your submission and send it
to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 27!
|September 17 - Toys R' Us
Can you believe something of this quality was only four dollars?! These are actually
full-size, well-stitched tote bags over a foot tall, not counting handles. They were also
available in Pumpkin and Frankenstein's Monster styles, but the Mummy had the most
irresistible goofy eyes. It's also large enough to pull over your entire head, so with a
couple of eyeholes, one could make an uncomfortably hot, curiously square-shaped mask!
|September 20 - Back to Target
| Last year, Target stores were taken over by Domo-kun, which was cute, but a little
underwhelming. Fortunately, Target has really outdone themselves for 2009; if you're still
into Domo, he's back with some small plushes and candy. If you're into the Skelanimals
product line, they've struck a pact with those guys for all sorts of girly accessories and
dolls. If, like me, you love to see all-original ghouls & ghosts each season, then the
"Monster Madness" series delivers.
The three snazzy creatures here are the main focus, and while not many of their products
demanded my hard-earned money, I'm incredibly impressed by the selection. The
three-eyed guy is Zen, the chocolate-loving cyclops is named Münch, and the reptile is
Trex. Together, they're on at least fifty products, including stuffed toys, treat bags,
flashlights, figurines, metal bobblers, flags, banners, stickers, erasers, plates, tumblers,
candy and Yog knows what else. I may be picking up a few when they're on sale, but due
to the sheer volume here, I get the feeling we'll be seeing these guys haunting thrift stores
for years to come.
|-Target's MONSTER MADNESS: an overall review-
I mentioned above that Target had a set of cool new mascots this year, but at the time,
they had barely begun stocking their shelves. Having now seen everything Target offers
this year, I thought I should put in my ten cents.
Other characters are on a handful of fringe products. Our beloved blue Witch can be
found frolicking with the cutest damn spiders in the world on a box of tissues, of all
things, and just in time to help me through a cold. A pumpkin-headed character seems
to serve as her male counterpart, and the ghosts I picked up as figures have some party
favors, lawn signs and pillows.
Sadly, one of my favorite "Monster Madness" characters besides the witch appears
mostly only as background decoration on various packages and some playing cards; a
cool little cyclops-bat. The only decent product it gets to itself is this $1.99 tealight holder,
which doesn't look quite as neat as the artwork.
Every year brings us a few new varieties of the "pocket screamer" toy, and while there
were some kick-ass additions last year, these two newcomers are quite striking. They
actually emit deep, malicious laughter rather than screaming, and my photo doesn't do
justice to their fine detail. I'm not usually a big fan of Frankenstein's monster, but the huge
head and snaggly teeth here are really endearing, and the ghoul tearing clear through a
tombstone is one of the most creative "screamers" yet! These are also noteworthy as
some of the few screamers/screechers without any troll-hair.
This gruesome, hand-chomping plant monster came as the lid to a tube of gumballs, and
has a stamp of its own face on the underside. Predatory vegetation is tragically hard to
come by in any sort of collectible form, so this has always been one of my favorite little
figures. Unfortunately, I no longer seem to have it, and couldn't take a new photograph. It
was no doubt left behind in one of three moves made between 2007 and 2009, so it
could be anywhere along the East Coast by now. Wherever you are, carnivorous plant
stamp, I hope that hand is just as delicious.
|-The Carnivorous Plant Stamp-
|September 31 - Value Thrift
It's always wonderful to see what thrift stores put out for the season - sometimes you find
recent items dumped off at a fraction of the price, but more often you find weird and
mysterious items you've never encountered in your entire life, no matter how many stores
you've hit up every Halloween or for how long. Here we have a way-too-cute spider with a
pom-pom body riding a way-too-cute pumpkin with an overbite. The lighting sort of makes
the spider look like it has a smiling mouth, but it really only has a bulbous nose.
With its ridiculous pointy head, this looked like a sheet ghost from a far; but nope, what
we have here is a lovably doofy-looking green-skinned cadaver in gauze; one that also
happens to say "YIKES!" across its legs. I actually do have a ghost jar exactly like this,
which says "BOO!"
I know the ghost is twisted the wrong way, but that's how I found him and that's how he
shall remain as he so protectively clutches his gigantic worn-down candy corn.
Why would a sign point the way towards "BOOOOO?" Do we want to go there or not want
to go there? Is it just ghost language for "Restrooms?"
Maybe it's ghost language for "OCTOBER," because it's time for you to click on through
to the final month of 2009's season!