Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Party City 2013!

   We're fortunate that absolutely nothing unusual happened to Bogleech on Friday the 13th, 2013, considering what a super spooky date that was, and now we can get back to my usual dumb writing! I mentioned Halloween was taking its sweet time to invade store shelves, and it's now mid-September as I upload the year's first proper article on current Halloween merchandise offerings. Party stores are always a treasure trove of holiday trinkets, and my first visit to Party City was a fruitful one, even considering the fact that they were still putting up their stock!

   As you can already see, the chain seems to have a bit of a clown infestation this year; a skeletal clown infestation! This "CREEPY CARNEVIL" lenticular sign might have been more interesting if the clown started out completely normal and innocent before its flesh rots away, but I do really enjoy the look of its fleshless, maniacal skull. I'm sure those are supposed to be spiders all over it, but their outline is distinctly that of ticks.

   Even the one-legged skeleton clown flower from last year has made a return, though I have mixed feelings about its far cheaper paint job. I suppose that in itself has a certain special charm to it, more like some actual generic carnival prize, and more people have access to it at a chain like Party City, but might I remind you that last years version looked like this:

   Besides the strikingly lazier coloring, 2013's Flower Skull Clown inexplicably has a much fatter, wartier tongue. What a strange thing to bother completely re-sculpting. Now it just looks like he's been licking bees again. If I told him once, I told him a thousand times.

   Steering away from clown corpses for now, these lovely plastic alien figures are a product I've truly never seen before. They're light, hollow, inexpensive plastic, not unlike the most generic fake skeletons and zombies, but unlike Skeleflower, the coloring on them is just beautiful. They really look wet and fleshy from a distance.

   I opted for the one with much larger eyes, since if you're going to get a "grey" (or off-pink) alien, you may as well go the whole nine yards and get one with their single most famous feature. These little guys were somewhere between six and ten dollars each, which is a fair price for what we have every right to interpret as a life-sized baby alien hybrid.

   Speaking of babies, these dolls are being sold as costume accessories, but that's obviously not the only context they're suited for. It even has traditionally creepy baby phrases, like "come play with me" and "I can see you!" in a hauntingly eloquent voice you might expect more from at least a seven-year-old. It's really disquieting for something that otherwise looks like any normal, healthy baby before their eyes grow in.

   The best items, as usual, are also the cheapest. I've seen these hopping vampire teeth before, but not for a very long time. How can you not love a fanged monster who consists entirely of bright orange gums, fangs, blackened human feet and bugged-out frog eyes?

   You're probably familiar with these rubber "poppers," toys that you flip inside out to send launching across the room, and of virtually every popper I've ever encountered - with the sole exception of the Snailiens toy line - these appropriately skull-shaped editions are most likely some of the most dangerous ever produced. The rubber is extremely thick and tough, giving its "pop" an intimidating level of force. Tell me that wouldn't shatter a thin enough window or a young enough eyeball.

   Significantly less hazardous to young facial orifices are these rubber-covered wind-ups with ridiculous rubber hair that flails wildly as they bounce around. I know this little guy is supposed to be a skull, but his squishy rubber face is so malformed that he comes across more as a jumping head-monster with just very, very pale, sickly skin.

   Finally, we have these beautiful pop-out rubber eyeball rings, at only a dollar each! If you're wondering, I've been taking these photos at an old farmhouse in Iowa, where we're visiting my girlfriends family. They are currently taking care of ten million orphaned kittens.

   A good squeeze pops the eyes out in a highly satisfactory manner, and the three varieties complement each other well, but I think the real prize is obviously the one with warty, green flesh and teeth. Is this an eyeball creature with teeth for lashes, a mouth creature with its eye in its throat, or is it just a mouth creature eating an eyeball? An eyeball that keeps trying to escape? Poor litte mouth-guy. That's always kinda fun at first, but sometimes you're just plain hungry and it's nothing but a nuisance.