Halloween, discount Wal-Mart style…


By Shawn Robare



One of the things I wanted to do this year for Halloween countdown was to document the various store displays and schwag that I’ve seen, so I figured I start with one of my least favorite places and work my up the list. Now it’s not that I hate Wal-Mart for its principals and all that rut per-se, it’s more that I really don’t enjoy the shopping experience all that much. Since all the locations in my area have switched to the Super Wal-Mart format I’ve noticed two things: One, checking out of the store in a timely manner is impossible, even with self-checkout lanes (there seems to be a 30 minute minimum no matter what time of day you shop, and this grows exponentially at night), so even though you’ve found that great cheap piece of Halloween joy, you’re really paying for it in time; Two, the stores are a disaster area with stuff lying around everywhere. It’s not uncommon to find a package of hamburger meat in with the toys or DVDs in the freezer section (I’ve seen both numerous times.) As far as their Halloween selection goes, it’s about 80/20 in terms of a boring to cool ratio.

I do have to admit though, that this year they’ve managed to score some points with me in their package design department. In the past it’s been very innocuous and sort of bland, but this year something awesome slipped through in the form of a little spot illustration which adorns practically everything they’re shilling, from age old paper cut-outs, to the more modern cheapo rubber masks. When I saw this drawing my heart skipped a beat for a second (I know I’m building this up a bit too much, but I love it, so you’ll have to bear with me.) Without further to-do I present the 2007 Wal-Mart Halloween mascot, Little Frankie Forehead (actually I have no idea what his name is, but that’s what I’m calling him…)



It’s a pretty simple drawing, something that an ad guy probably whipped up in Illustrator in a jiffy, but it’s really iconic and has all the qualities I like in a good cartoon-esque Frankenstein’s monster mascot (cel shading color, exaggeration, and a touch of sadness.) It’s nowhere near as cool as the Target Halloween ad campaign from back in 2003, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

As far as what Wal-Mart has to offer in terms of products this year, well it’s not all that different from last year. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they just had all of the same stuff stored in a corner of the warehouse and just hastily repackaged for the next year.  There was the same selection of electronic lack-o-lanterns, even the seriously odd sports themed ones, as well as the same discount candle holders and figuries…



…though thrown into the mix of the same old wooden yard signs was the nice addition of a Frankie Forehead sign.





There was also a really cool oversized skull wall plaque, which on the one hand was pretty darn large and seemed worth the $10 they were asking, yet on the other it was made of very cheap Styrofoam, so light in fact that think it would break very easily, and therefore very over priced at $10…



They did offer a pretty neat string of skeletons which makes a very fitting bit of Halloween garland…



They had all sorts of trick-or-treating pails, though none of which looked to be in the spirit of the holiday. I’m not really against this idea (of having matching costume accessories), but then again I have a ton of nostalgia for the old orange plastic standbys (not to mention the handy pillowcase which has a much better candy gathering capacity.) I was surprised that there were no Optimus Prime heads in honor of this summer’s blockbuster. For that matter, where are the plastic Venom and Silver Surfer heads?  I would have bought a hollow Norrin Radd head in a second…



They also had their usual selection of Halloween themed party favors, though only about 95% of them are actually Halloween themed as Matt over at X-Entertainment talked about last month





Apparently Frankie Forehead isn’t the only new character created for this Wal-Mart Halloween season as I spied a vampire and a pumpkin in the holiday house wares section…



The vampire is pretty cool but I still prefer the Frank design…

Rounding out my Wal-Mart shopping experience was this awesome Frankie Forehead placemat, which I was (and still am) tempted to buy, not for the table, but to put up on the wall or something. I’m not sure. Maybe I could it get it framed and have a nice piece of felt Halloween art, but then I’d have to track down a nice picture of Frankenstein painted on black velvet to offset it, and I’m not sure if a trip to Mexico is in the cards anytime soon. I can dream though…



Hey, there are some nice plastic pumpkins up on the shelf there, thank goodness. 

I would have taken pictures of their Halloween candy, but honestly it was pretty darn boring. Pretty much, besides the two million bags of candy corn, they really only seemed to have the mega bags of mixed candy, nothing all that special. I guess that’s more of Target’s gig these days…

  • John Rozum

    I’m completely in agreement with you. The items for sale were pretty lackluster, but I like the Frankie character and may go back for the paper plates which had him, a Dracula, and maybe a witch. I’ve heard from other people that their Wal-Marts often have really good stuff, but never at mine. Last year the Halloween stuff wa spretty much thrown in an aisle, some of it still in the cardboard boxes it shipped in.

  • Dr. Terror

    Whats even cooler..that grey green witch mask under the Hockey masks is almost a dead ringer for the Witch mask from Halloween 3.

  • Belle Dee

    AAAHH!! I’ve got to get that Frankenstein handtowel!!!