Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Awesome Things You Can't Afford from Bethany Lowe

For apparently thirty years now, a brand by the name of Bethany Lowe has been a major source of fancy holiday ornaments you'll be lucky to find for normal, mortal prices. Now and then, one of them might trickle into discount stores like TJMaxx or even my friend Gordman's, but most of what we're about to see will run you anywhere from fifty to a couple hundred dollars, and with good reason - this is, to use terminology probably unbecoming of the brand and its intended consumer market, the good shit. Browsing through their catalog, I feel like one of those raggedy orphan kids pressing their faces against the window of a 1930's London toy store.

And now, you can too!

Grimoire Owl

See? Bethany Lowe maintains such a quality standard that when they say "skeletal owl," they mean a skeletal owl, biologically accurate to a hooter's underlying bone structure. Anyone who doesn't know their avian skeletons probably takes one look at this and thinks it's a crow or a raven, but you can tell an owl not only by the more hooked beak, but those wonderful bone-goggles in their sockets. Yes, an owl's skull has equally funky eyeballs.

This skeletal owl also sports a fancy little top hat and a rusty key in its beak, as it perches atop an apothecary bottle, a musty old book and a pocket watch. These are, without a doubt, absolutely all of the things the phrase "Grimoire Owl" should entail.

Into the Woods

I've seen my share of pumpkin witches in my time, but this is easily the most pumpkin witch of all pumpkin witches. With green, twiggy hands and a twisted stem for a nose, I truly get the impression here of a magical plant-sorceress. Her accompanying poem describes entirely the wrong witch, since she doesn't have any prominent chin at all and the prose is inexplicably overlooking the fact that SHE IS A GIANT GOURD WOMAN, but I'm not gonna argue, since she probably just ate some other witch and stole her poem. This is possibly just a thing that witches do, or maybe just witches who are also vegetables.

Tombstone Headband

They say "tombstone" headband, but I'm gonna have to say that the tombstone only feels incidental to the two entire skeletons sitting on your head. I'd have definitely called it the "two entire skeletons sitting on your head" headband. I like their suggestion of not even wearing it, but merely displaying it, preferably on one of their own decorative skulls.

"I've Been Framed" Skeleton

I love this concept. Not enough to trade a kidney for it, but I've got plenty of my own skeletons lying around. Putting a skeleton in an empty picture frame is just a thousand times classier than either putting a mere picture in a picture frame or putting a skeleton in most other places.

Queen of the Night

Whatever romantic orientation you could possibly have, I'm pretty sure this is now your new crush. I don't think I've ever seen a skeletal witch this menacing, much of which is owed to the presence of eyeballs in her sockets, but the rest of which is owed to her positively killer fashion sense, obviously dressed for one hell of a mission if her spellbook, keychain and crystal ball are any indication.

Steampunk Halloween Containers

These are basically a couple of glorified cardboard boxes, but what a couple of glorified cardboard boxes. "Steampunk" doesn't begin to categorize the madness on display here, and I can't imagine many things you could keep inside them that could ever live up to the promises of their exteriors. If anything less than an actual, tiny, haunted skeleton in a top hat pops out of these things you're going to be disappointed.

Jack Juggling "Owl"

Another in the "things referred to as owls that are clearly a lot more than owls" category, fast becoming one of my favorite categories of holiday specter. This one's extremely human proportions and blank stare are ghostlier than usual for a quasi-owl; I think I'd be pretty genuinely unnerved to see this thing juggling and dancing around in the fog.

Midnight Mischief

That's, uh, that's definitely some mischief going on, I'll admit. That's either a very small skeleton riding a regular black cat, or a regular skeleton riding a gigantic goblin-cat. Either way, nobody riding any kind of cat is ever up to any good. He's even got his mischief-making bow tie and mischief-making owl hat ready to roll, and I've decided that little witch head on a stick is probably real, alive, and capable of casting spells.

Stirring Up a Ghoul

Look at the face on this witch. I adore that face. She is so completely unimpressed right now, even though that is one QUALITY ghoul she's stirring up. Look at that wonderful Bat-Boy face it has. I guess this lady's been around the block enough times that she's stirred up better. "You stir up one ghoul, you've stirred up them all" she sighs.

Woodland Jack

This is a really cool one; I haven't seen a lot of pumpkinheads with obviously wooden bodies, and the sawed-off stumps of branches are a really nice touch. He basically looks like a take on Jack Pumpkinhead from the Oz books! The sheer variety of pumpkin-beings is amazing, isn't it? Some of them are just artificial constructs, some are more specifically scarecrows, some are made entirely of vegetables and some just seem to be dead people who needed a replacement head.

Mugwort and Stinkweed

Something about these creepy man-faced bulbs makes me think not just of vintage Halloween art, but of Courage the Cowardly Dog monsters. There was never even a character like this in the show, but it strongly feels as though there may as well have been.

It's hard to pick a favorite. Stinkweed has one of my favorite plant names and a snail friend, but Mugwort looks so wonderfully pestilent. In both cases I admire that these are just sort of nondescript mandrake-like vegetable beings and not more specific, more common Halloween creatures. We need more of this stuff.

Like I said, this is the good shit.

Leader of the Patch

Speaking of nondescript, there's almost no telling exactly what we're looking at here. She kind of has a pumpkin for a head, but it seems more like a pumpkin pail. The vines constituting her arms and legs may not even stem from the same gourd, and is that really her face, or does she wear a startling life-like mask?

Goblin's Midnight Walk

In the same vein, we have this being whose head is an elongated pumpkin, but whose face is that of a very human clown, and oh yeah, its body is a wooden clock. For once, we're explicitly told that we're looking at a goblin, and I'm always happy to see the older meaning of "goblin" dusted off. The more modern understanding of them as a green-skinned fantasy race is nowhere near as exciting as their original definition as "whatever, I don't know, some weird thing I guess."

Uptown "Owl"

Okay, this guy's at least fairly avian, but I'm still not sure I'm completely ready to trust his Strigiformitude as far as I could throw it, and I don't even know how you would throw that. That's pretty damn shady, "Uptown Owl," if that's your real name.

Dapper Jack

The instant I looked at Dapper Jack, I heard the melodious voice of Tom Kenny. The one he uses for The Ice King and The Mayor. There is nobody else fit to be the voice of the maniacally grinning, pointy-nosed, abnormally-long-torso'd Dapper Jack here, except of course when he's speaking through his skeleton hand puppet, and maybe you think that should be Kenny too, switching to Spongebob mode or something, but I'm gonna have to nominate Richard Horvitz. Actually, have those two ever interacted directly in a cartoon? Have we ever had those two beautiful siren songs in one conversation? I can't for the life of me think of when, or how. I believe that may be a well documented type of crime.

Let me also establish here and now that Dapper Jack definitely speaks in the third person.

Mr. Hyde Crow

This might be one of the coolest looking figurines in the entire Bethany Lowe catalog, especially considering that the key change between their "Dr. Jekyll" crow and their "Mr. Hyde" crow is Mr Hyde's completely skeletal head. This is an instace where Dr. Jekyll's face melts off when he goes into Hyde mode, and also he is a bird in a hat. It doesn't get better than this, folks.

Yeah, I could show you a phot of Dr. Jekyll crow, but I have it on very good authority that he is a scoundrel and a charlatan with an inferior, unappealingly fleshed visage who should never be trusted.

"Calendar Skeleton Doctor Death"

That's what this is called, and I'm not really sure what the "Calendar Skeleton" part means, but when the other half of your title is "Doctor Death" and you have an actual skull for a head, I'm not gonna question what kind of skeleton you profess to be or why.

Calendar Skeleton Doctor Death with a Bigger Head

The really amazing thing about Calendar Skeleton Doctor Death is that there's a newer, more detailed, more expensive figurine of him and that the most immediate difference is only that his head became twice as large. Now that's a doctor I can really trust.