TARGET IS KILLING IT THIS YEAR.
Exactly ten years ago, Target brought the Magnificent Maggot into my life, and has been imprinted in my mind ever since as the major retailer to look forward to.
And yet, most years, Target hasn't really yielded all that much of note. Its selection is always large, varied and impressive, yes, but in terms of new, exclusive Halloween items, I'm lucky if I find more than half a dozen at Target to write home about, or I guess write website about. Last year, it didn't even get a review of its own at all, with its most notable offerings sorted into my "miscellany" articles.
All that seems to have changed in 2017, because for once, my review of favorite Target items won't even cover everything I liked. In fact, for once, a second Target post might be warranted after this one, but we'll see how things go. For now:
$1 MUMMY SOCKSWhat, you don't think a pair of mummy socks for a buck is exciting? Look at them! Each sock is seemingly several mummies sharing the same bandages, or maybe just one mummy with a whole lot of eyeballs. The effect is even better from basically any other angle:
Light-Up Lawn CreatureWe're off to a pretty grand start, here. These sparkly outdoor decorations came in the obligatory ghost, pumpkin, skeleton and cat forms last year, but this little guy is clearly a gill man. That makes two surprise appearances by off-brand fish people this year, counting the little neon one from Petsmart. With Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water already getting rave reviews, I'm predicting fish-guy popularity to really spike in the coming year or so, and we're off to a great start already!
Universal Monster Pocket ScreamersSpeaking of, Target is apparently carrying a new line of Pocket Screamer toys featuring the Universal Monsters, in case you've ever wanted to hold the original gill-man in your hands and make him shriek at people. Only these two were on the shelves when I visited, so either the rest were quickly bought up or the staff are still busy unpacking little movie monsters.
Mad Science Pocket ScreamersWhile I certainly respect the Universal monsters, they're exposed and predictable enough that I'm quite a bit more impressed by Target's other, more original line of screamers this year, available in both a skull-faced, brain-headed scientist and screaming green monster scientist, either one of which may have been the creation of a mad scientist.
Maybe they created each other.
Once again though, only two were on the shelves. I don't even know if these are the only designs!
"Anna Conda" TombstoneLast year, Target was selling a great "Terri Rantula" tombstone with a big spider on top, which of course I did eventually pick up - on clearance!
I like that they've followed it up with a snake equivalent. Not only is it beautiful, but it makes the perfect decor for snake enthusiasts, indoors or out! If you're still more into spiders, however, Target has you covered once again:
Spider Warning StatueI mean, I guess that's what you call this? It's not a tombstone, but it's like a tombstone. It would look great at the entrance to a garden, obviously, especially if your garden is infested with spiders. The risk, of course, is that someone might accidentally hurt the spiders, and then if they're any kind of decent person, they'll feel very bad. Should have listened to the warning statue.
Spider Jar String LightsAnd what better to illuminate your forbidden spider garden than these adorable string lights, featuring fake spiders in little, plastic jars? That's so snazzy I'm surprised I never thought to just make something like this myself. Can the jars be opened? I didn't buy these (yet) so I don't know if the interior is accessible. If it is, I can change up the spiders with all sorts of other fake insects, arachnids and myriapods.
Haunted ClothThis is honestly pretty awesome. It's difficult to get a photograph of it that looks as good as their own, but trust me, it definitely looks like this in person. You won't see the shadowy figures as easily from certain angles under certain lighting conditions, but that just adds to the fun.
I just wish they sold this in larger sizes, and in a whole square. They give you basically a "strip" of it that can hang in an average sized doorway, which is nice, but it'd be even nicer as window curtains or an entire wall.
Lattice SkullFancy! These are thin, hollow plastic with open bottoms, perfect for placing over a light source of your choice, and come in multiple sizes as well as both black and white color options!
High Quality Semi-Bendable SkeletonMost bendable skeletons are just one solid hunk of rubber, but this skeleton has a nicely detailed, hard plastic torso with arms and legs that both twist at the first joints and bend with a wire armature! Amazing! I don't know if it's three entire dollars of amazing considering the head can't turn or pose in any way, but still!
Plush Zombie BirdsWhat do you do if you're the kind of person who likes decorative, felt songbirds but you're also a punk rock horror fan? Usually, you would have to make something like this yourself or find somebody else doing it on etsy, but at long last, you can just walk into a store and feed both those cravings in one go.
The green one feels like the star here, but my favorite is the half-blue, half-skeletal bird. The purple cyclops with inexplicable cat ears isn't bad, but it feels a little plain with its bare, black front.
Mummy Bowling Pins!I have next to no interest in bowling, but I still purchased these, because they're still ridiculously cute, weirdly tomato-red bowling-pin-shaped mummies with little spooky black eyes and everything about them is lovable.
Talking Pumpkin GhostI feel like this probably isn't 100% new, but it's the first time I've seen it, and it's pretty novel! Most people aren't going to turn this guy on until the Halloween season, so it's only fitting that he won't even have a face the rest of the year.
Plasma SkullNow this kicks ass. We've all seen these plasma ball lamps, and I know they've been shaped into skulls and other objects before, but this one is marketed as evil laboratory equipment, and just those fake wires going into it from its base feel like they lend a huge boost to its entire visual appeal.
It's amazing inexpensive for what it is, too; under fifteen dollars, whereas I'd expect to see this at a place like Spencers for twice that or more.
Bendy BatEarlier I mentioned that most bendable items are lower in quality because they're just a single, solid rubber piece. I didn't mean it. I LOVE things that are just one big hunk of rubber, and this solid black bat with bendy wings is perfect exactly as-is, including for three bucks.
Big, Black Plastic BeetleStag beetles aren't something I ever thought of as a Halloween animal before, but I guess the average person just thinks of "bugs" in general as something at least gothic, which is alright I guess. The detail on this is amazing, and it's a nice, sturdy piece of semi-flexible plastic for just five bucks. I do wish there were a few other designs, but we at least get something complementary we'll look at in a minute.
Black Jackalope SkeletonOh man! Halloween has really turned into a skeleton animal arms race, hasn't it? Skeleton spiders, skeleton frogs, skeleton everything is cropping up year after year, but the last thing I might have expected was a skeletal rabbit with antlers.
What's even more amazing than the fact that this exists is the fact that it's almost accurate. No fake, bony bunny ears here; this looks enough like an actual rabbit's skeleton that most people probably have no idea that's what they're looking at. This is probably the reason why this type of item usually has the bone ears and others made-up anatomical quirks, so kudos to this designer.
My only complaint? Black may be pretty damn cool, but it would have been nice to have the option of a bone-colored version.
Which brings us to the very coolest thing at Target this year...
GIANT, BENDY CENTIPEDEHoly cow! This beautiful black centipede is almost the length of an entire adult arm, almost accurate except for the lack of venomous front claws, and actually consists of separately molded, individual segments! These segments are threaded tightly through a thick, sturdy coated wire that allows the centipede to keep almost any shape you bend it into, and it's amazing just how well it holds together; you almost couldn't damage this thing if you tried.
Again, it might be nice if it came in at least one other color, but at least blackish centipedes really exist...and how much would you expect to pay for this? Thirty dollars? Twenty? I've definitely seen less for a lot more than that, but no...try ten. That's as little as two fives!
In fact, that's the thing that's struck me the most about Target this year: almost all of these items are at least five to ten bucks cheaper than I'd have expected them to be from past experience. It's like Target knows and possibly even cares that people don't have a lot of spending money these days, and it's not willing to double down on exorbitant prices like so many other retailers have.