On Target for a good Halloween shopping experience…


By Shawn Robare



So last year was sort of fun for me because it was the first year where I really took the time to seek out Halloween past the odd grocery store where I’d be doing my weekly shopping. I hit everything from Wal-Mart and Target to Dollar Tree and the many gas stations near my abode. I hit drug stores, discount chains, toy stores, department stores, specialty stores, convenience stores, party stores, you name it, in search of the best (or at least the most fun) schwag I could find. There were some awesome moments (like all of the Universal/Hammer monster stuff at Dollar Tree and finding all of the Friday the 13th flicks at Wal-Mart for $4.88), as well as a lot of misses (you’d think art and craft stores would be overloaded with awesome stuff, but not really, at least not in my area.)

This year I was hoping for the same experience, if not better. Though there’s been some great stuff around, I haven’t really had that jaw dropping moment yet (well unless you count the Frog Dissection kit.) Most of the stuff I’m finding on the shelves this year is more or less the same stuff that was out last year. There have been some interesting finds (particularly in the candy department), but overall it has been kind of "eh." That’s all right though, I’m really not complaining (and hopefully I don’t sound too whiney), I guess I’m just lamenting. Actually, I think the problem I’m having is that I really hoped there would be a second set of the Universal/Hammer monster figures. I love my disconcerted little Frankenstein’s monster, my Dracula that looks like a little kid, my spot on mummy, my unfortunate if not poster-accurate King Kong, my fearsome Hammer-influenced werewolf, and my not-quite Godzilla. I so could have done with a goofy creature from the Black Lagoon, a snide un-masked Phantom, a lackadaisical mad scientist, a swanky Invisible Man, a bulbous little hunchback, and maybe even a crazed little London After Midnight vampire in a top hat. A guy can hope right? Maybe next year (you hear me X One Archive Inc.?)

Anyway, continuing my look at the various places pimping Halloween this year (see my Wal-Mart entry), I’m going to take a look at what you can expect to find at your local Target (Tar-jay if you’re so inclined.) Now I don’t typically cover costumes all that much, especially at places like Target, because honestly they’re hard to photograph. Suffice it to say there is a whole new movement in children and adult’s costumes that is both very similar to the whole Ben Cooper thing, and amazingly different. You can pretty much find a pre-made, and pretty darn accurate looking costume of any big pop culture character these days, from full on Spiderman suits (with muscles included) to Ghostbusters jumpsuits (including inflatable proton pack.) What really gets me jazzed though, are the awesome selection of inexpensive props that are turning up in stores these past few years, offering kids and adults a chance to have some really nice accessories…



The selection of plastic weapons available at your local Target is crazy. I remember when you’d be lucky to find anything other than a meat cleaver and a scythe, and now you can have anything you could dream of up to and including a pretty realistic chainsaw with working chain and sounds. I don’t know, I just find this fascinating.

One of the things I enjoyed last year was Target’s dollar bins as they were full of all kinds of cheap fun. This year’s selection was sort of dull (though there is a pretty fun three pack of little gargoyles that would darken up any cubical for the season.) In stead there was a display of blister packs that where a little more expensive but not too much. It was mostly little party gifts pens, pencils, plastic spider rings and the like…



…but there was also a couple of fun packs of gore balls, as well as a nice little eyeballs in a plate of worms deal. You can also see that Target is indeed going for the whole Edgar and Ellen Halloween theme this year, ditching their cute and more original spider/ghost/witch/vampire characters from years past.

There was a nice selection of Styrofoam tombstones and gargoyles, though noting really new.



Another trend I’ve been noticing is the influx of cheap statuary for the front yard. I’m a pretty big fan of this type of thing, especially considering the price, and the stuff is decent quality and should last a number of years (unlike the almost totally Styrofoam/balsa wood fare at WalMart.)



There were a few new items in the little knick-knack section including some really nice (and quite hefty) metallic skulls. For some reason or another I’ve managed to amass a pretty large collection of skulls and these were a nice addition.



There was another larger (and I assume outdoor) item that caught my eye and seemed to be new for 2007, these oversized metal spiders…



…but I wasn’t what in the heck I’d do with one. We live in an apartment and I know they’d get stolen if we left them outside. They are pretty cool though.



There was also a nice selection of party items, including a very awesome skull candy dish (2nd from the right on the second shelf) that I also have no idea what I’d do with (I actually have two other skull candy dishes already.) I really do like the designs on some of this stuff. It’s a little cute, but still interesting and pretty easy on the eye…



Coming back for a second year are the seriously awesome mariachi skeletons. I bought one last year and it’s worked its loveable way into our year-round decoration scheme. For $10, it really is a steal. When I was down in Florida this past summer we went to Epcot and there were some amazing wooden hand carved Mexican skeletons, but all of them, even the small 3 inch ones started at $50.



Though I’m not all that fond of the Edgar and Ellen theme, I was impressed by the huge mechanical cardboard house in the in the center of Target’s Halloween section…



Now when exactly did pirate and Halloween themes start converging? Sure, I realize that pirates are all the rage right now, but there was a ton of if pervading the merchandise I was seeing. I mean, I guess I get it, skeletons and Halloween go hand in hand, but really, enough already.



Another thing I like about Target over say Wal-Mart as far as discount places go, is their attention to detail in design. Wal-Mart hit a nice note this year with their awesome Frankenstein packaging, but Target has been pretty steadily producing nice eye catching design work for years. There are a whole series of pumpkins that are gracing the candy shelves this year that have some really fun artwork to them…



In the candy section was where the real new and fun stuff was. Take these molded white chocolate confections for instance…



That is probably hands down the coolest looking skull and jack-o-lantern candy I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I really don’t like white chocolate, but still…

There was also an expanded section of ‘gourmet’ candy including Halloween themed gummi candy as well as wacky flavors of candy corn. I tried the candy corn last year and hated it, and though the gummi candy looked fun, it was nothing more than interesting than you’d find in a candy shop any other time of year, just in spiffier packaging.



There is also a nice section of drink mixers. I particularly liked the ones in the beakers…



My favorite candy of the year has to be the Edgar and Ellen themed stuff. There’s an end cap dedicated to it with stuff ranging from the Gummi frog dissection kit, to test tubes and beakers full of candy powder, and even a 13 day Halloween advent calendar.





There was also a nice selection of more Target specific candy including various gummi and hard candy…





My favorite of which had to be the gummi vampire tongue…



I thought it was an ingenious way to repackage and sell your tried and true plastic vampire teeth, both as a novelty and as part of the packaging design.  (You can actually find these elsewhere, so apparently there was a ‘how to repackage vampire teeth’ conference that I wasn’t invited to…

I also liked these hard candy snakes (which I mistook for gummi snakes when I bought them.)



They’re nothing more than glorified granny candy, but they were still fun.

Next week I’ll make sure to talk about the Spirit store as well as the secret (if it really is one) to the store’s origins…

  • Kirk D.

    I appreciate the report. I haven’t been to Target yet this month. The thing that I jumped out at me from your photos is that cool metal looking haunted house. Modern products don’t usually do haunted houses well, but I’d be proud to display that one.

  • Max the Drunken Severed Head

    FANTASTIC post. Target always has some good stuff. I was gonna do a post on their offerings, but you beat me to it, AND did a better job than I would have. Fun to read! Thanks!

  • Jay

    Shawn, I’m convinced that all Targets are exactly the same because the Target by me has the exact same setups to a tee. I wanted that Pirate ship real bad but it was about $75 bucks! I bought a 5.99 light up pumpkin which came in small, medium, and large for people on different budgets…how considerate of them! lol.