Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Nobbies 2016!

Nobbies is a party supply store I only ever encountered in Des Moines, Iowa, and as I finish this article, we no longer even live in the state. Nope, I'm uploading this one from a hotel in Oregon, where we're living until further notice, so this may or may not prove to be the last time I ever review Halloween things from Nobbies. You better appreciate the heartbreak I endure to entertain all five of you.

One of the best things about Nobbies is their giant, hydraulic spider, which isn't for sale, but serves as their Halloween mascot and can still be seen crouched above their front doors the rest of the year, the Queen of Nobbies Halloween Season awaiting the call of her dark brood.

A dark brood populated by such ghouls and ghosts as.......


What...is this? It almost looks defective, like a plush doll that was accidentally sewn inside-out, but there were half a dozen of them on the shelves and they all had the same bizarre appearance. What's the intent of the little black stitches on its face? What kind of entity does this even represent? It's like the bust of a skeletal clown glitching out of our reality...or into it.

What I'm trying to say is that it's perfect and I love it.

Pallid Pumpkin People

I like how many grey and white pumpkin characters I've been seeing lately. It was about time we started seeing some of the other major pumpkin colors in the mix, if only they'd do something with those green, warty ones I love so much, and maybe some more characters with freaky curly gourd-o-lantern heads.

Anyway, these decorative dolls have a pretty cool, gothic, vintage look to them, especially with those half-moon orange eyes and tattered clothes. I'd fully expect to encounter these two tending to a haunted farm, possibly where they grow human heads instead of regular pumpkins.

Plush Vampire

Seemingly related to the pumpkinfolk, this vampire kind of looks bored to exist, but that's always a problem when you're undead and you lack imagination. I can tell most vampires lack imagination because they haven't used their vampire powers to do anything obvious, like spend a few years walking around the bottom of the ocean and documenting new kinds of tube worm, or hang out a while on the moon carving elaborate structures to confuse and baffle NASA.

Even if you're not that ambitious, more movies, books and video games are made every year than any one person can normally consume. There's already millenia worth of solid entertainment piling up on our planet and these pasty stiffs are gonna angst that there's nothing to do?

Ugh. Vampires. Seriously.

Mini Skull Spiders!

Look how wonderfully cheap this thing is! It's a styrofoam skull so simple and crude it barely even has a mouth, with a clump of stringy hair glued on top and bendable gauze legs. I don't even want to interpret this creature as an actual tiny skull with actual arachnid limbs. I want it to be exactly what we're seeing here. I want to think of it as a magically animated construct of styrofoam and cloth.

Metal Vampire Teeth

This is just tabletop decor, I guess, or maybe something to frame a tea light with, but it's pretty killer. It's not at all how jaws and teeth work, anatomically, but who cares? It looks awesome and it's made of solid metal. You could really hurt somebody with this thing.

Spooky Wall Scene

There's more to this, but I've cropped it to the important part. Namely, the part with the adorable witches conjuring some sort of one-eyed ectoplasmic vapor. I hestitate to say it's a "ghost," because we're already seeing a ghost about five feet away. This is clearly more of a sentient mist, or a hex-creature born directly from the brew itself.

You know, you always see smoky green ghosts and skull-faces and stuff rising from a witch's brew or a concoction of poison, but nobody ever talks about what the hell those are. I refuse to take "visual symbolism of magical and/or toxic potency" as a satisfactory answer. Give them a name.

Giant Nesting Ghosts

I love the dirty, imperfect paint jobs and simple carving on these wailing bedsheets, and even moreso, I love that the three available sizes can all fit inside each other; several of them were for sale already "nested," and I'm not sure if the $50 price is for a set of all three or what, but it's the only sticker on this particular shelf. I never thought about ghosts carrying other ghosts inside them, but it makes a world of sense to me, and I'm surprised there's never been a cartoon gag where someone tries to pull the "costume" off a ghost and there's just a smaller ghost underneath. Then another smaller one. Then another. You know, like the doors in Alice and Wonderland, but with dead people.

Tiny, Bendy Mummies

It's about time. Bendable skeletons of roughly this size have been around forever, but these one-eyed mummies are completely new to me. The rubber they're comprised off is unfortunately too hard to pose them very well, but they compensate by being cyclops mummies - the best kind! - and coming in three subtly different shades of dusty bandage. You can barely even tell two of them apart in my photograph, but trust me, they are three different colors. Totally unnecessary, easily missed details are my favorite details of all.

...What are YOU doing here?!

That wonderful, needle-toothed owl-man is the same one I found at Gordman's actually the very same day, but here at Nobbies, they cost almost twice as much and brought a couple friends with them. The owl is still the most fascinating of the bunch, but the gaping, saw-toothed mouth on the ghost is pretty cool, and the black cat stands out for just how weird its face is, more like it's something wearing a crude, simplistic mask of a cat than an actual feline head.

Actually, if the middle one is an "owl," there's no reason why the other two aren't also "owls." Just a bunch of regular, owly owls owling it up around here, hooty hoot hoot.

Rattly Skull Pencil

This is a pencil topped with a plastic skull. Nothing special, until you discover that the skull is hollow and emits an incredibly satisfying bony clatter when shaken. You can waggle this thing around forever, or at least until you realize you're a grown adult completely mesmerized by a rattle.

But then, you remind yourself that YOUR rattle is in the shape of dead bones, which makes it very grown up. Babies do not have the cognitive capacity to truly appreciate such finer things.

"Exploding Pickle Candy"

This isn't really a Halloween item but you needed it scarred into your mind.