Category Archives: Halloween 2006

Creature on the loose!

Last night I did some quick research on Hot Wheels and Matchbox die-cast cars and I was surprised to find out that Mattel Inc. owns both brands. Has this always been the case? I mean there is a very obvious difference in quality between the two products and neither really has anything different to offer. Well the Hot Wheels brand doesn’t have any cars or trucks that come with nifty plastic monsters, but they do make cars shaped like nifty plastic monsters. Their price points aren’t even different at around a buck apiece. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just more of the same thing that large corporations do when they buy out the competition yet keep the branding in place for people like me who tend to be brand loyalists.

Anyway, today we’re taking a look at my favorite combo in the monster/vehicle line that Matchbox has out right now, a toy that I was very surprised to find. It’s basically the Creature From the Black Lagoon and a kick-ass van that harkens back to the one the A-Team used to liberate the downtrodden the world ‘round.

Since these aren’t marketed with official names (the packaging just says “Unleash Your Imagination�? and “Monsters�?) I guess this could be the gill-man/Creature or just as easily a Chupacabra. Either way it’s pretty darn cool and has a surprisingly decent amount of paint application that makes him all that much cooler. The van he comes with, the Swamp Runner, is also pretty bad-ass with huge wheels and a fun amount of olive drab accenting. This is one Matchbox car I can really get behind.

This combo also comes in a larger set that also has a trailer rig to the van, and two little plastic guys, a movie cameraman and a little Tarzan looking dude with a trident (?), but the creature figure that comes with it isn’t painted and ends up looking too neon green. Over all I am really happy with this slimmed down set and a new creature to add to my very slowly growing collection.

There are four monsters in this series, the abominable snowman I shared yesterday, a giant squid, a T-Rex skeleton (which is pretty lame, I mean T-Rex skeletons aren’t very animate and not all that scary in terms of monsters and stuff), and a grizzly bear that I mistook for sasquatch, which would have been worlds cooler. There’s also an expanded set that has a neat Mummy, though it’s a lot smaller than the creature and snowman figures and not nearly worth the $5 asking price, and two super deluxe $20 sets that have either a mega giant snowman or Mummy for your Matchbox cars to fight and ultimately run from because that’s was toy cars do they drive.

I hope they come out with a second series because I’d love to see some more cryptozoology creatures brought to life in little plastic molds. Can’t you just see the Nessie play-set complete with little plastic lamb and a rickety old boat? How about an ogopogo? What about space creatures! I mean aren’t we supposed to be releasing our imaginations here?  Oh wait, they do have a Space Creature set.  Why isn’t it at a store near me!?!

More cheap pseudo-Halloween goodies!

I have most assuredly got the bug for buying all sorts of craziness during this Halloween season. Since my vision is in serious monster hunting mode, that’s typically all I see and it’s always a happy site when I do. In particular I’ve been suddenly obsessed with the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Is that because it was the first of about 40 horror and monster flicks that my fiancee and I are watching? Is it because it was the main theme in a series of articles in the new issue of Horror Show Magazine? Is it because C. Martin Croker did a fun feature on Creature stuff on his blog Arglebargle!? Is it because I drew a weird picture of him recently? Heck if I know, but lately I can’t get enough of the gill-man.

Anyway, I recently stumbled upon some neat monster toys in the last place I would have thought to look, the Hot Wheels car aisle in my local Target. I actually came across these a little while ago but that was before monster-hunting vision set in so I didn’t think to look past the mini-giant squid toy I found (it came with a horrible hovercraft that I has since hidden in the ceiling at work on top of one of the ceiling tiles):

Well now that my eyes have adjusted I saw this pretty sweet Matchbox abominable snowman and truck set:

Though this isn’t my favorite of the series, it is still pretty darn cool. I mean how often do you actually see abominable snowmen toys nowadays anyway. I also really dug the packaging, which had some pretty cool art, though most kids are gonna tear these open so fast they’ll never even see it. It’s actually pretty subtle as the blues and blacks sort of meld together and then fade to grey:

One thing that I noticed about these toys was how cheaply made Matchbox cars are compared to Hot Wheels. I mean Hot Wheels feel like they weight half a pound while the Matchbox truck I got with this snowman was light as a feather and didn’t drive straight worth a damn.

If nothing else, the figure is awesome and it’s pretty detailed for a little plastic add on. It’s even got a little bit of paint application on this version. I think the entire series (there are five in all) also has an upscale version that comes with a second vehicle and a couple little plastic people though for some reason the monsters in these more expensive packs aren’t painted.

All in all for $2 you can’t go wrong, though I did end up giving the truck to some lady at work for her kid.

Tomorrow I’ll cover my favorite figure/vehicle combo in this Matchbox Monsters series.

Green Apple Gummi + Chocolate = Hell

So today’s Halloween blog entry is all about candy. See I don’t really have a sweet tooth, I’m more of a salty/crunchy kind of guy, but around this time of year I get unnatural cravings for all things tooth decay and I pick up one mega bag of candy. When I do lean towards candy, I typically stay in the fruity, gummi, hard candy family, though I’ve been developing quite the taste for seriously dark chocolate (the woman went nuts when out local farmer’s market closed and put all their merchandise at 50% off, she bought like $25 worth of dark chocolate.) Every once in awhile though, I do like the smooth, creamy, oh-so-chocolate-y delights that the season has to offer, so this year I opted for a mixed bag of all of the above.

I thought this would solve all my candy issues and seeing as there are 80 pieces it’ll probably set me till Christmas. I was pretty excited to find this particular mix because of all the fruity candy, Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers are my favorite, and if I had to pick only on chocolate item to eat for the rest of my life it would probably be Take 5’s. Now I know it’s not regular Jolly Ranchers, but I’m all up for trying something new.

I broke open the bag in a fit of excitement at work and was immediately taken aback by the powerful waft of candy air that soon filled my entire mailroom. Pretty strong stuff. Not that great of a smell either. I was beginning to wonder if my perfect mix was anything but, so I unwrapped my first piece, a Kit Kat and took a cautionary bite. Capitol G-ross. Apparently all the gummi/fruity flavor had seeped into all of the chocolate in the bag. I even tested the Take 5’s that are sealed a little more air-tightly. Nope, even they were a noxious mixture of cherry & green apple Twizzler Pull-n-Peel. Ugh. $7.50 down the tube. Well not quite, the gummi portion of the bag is fine, though the green apple pull-n-peel’s are made of stuff from underneath the devil’s couch (I still can’t get that noxious aftertaste out of my mouth.) Well at least the Jolly Ranchers are good. What’s the moral of the story? Stick with individual bags, or at least segregated mixtures, it’s just safer that way.

Master of the Claw Technique…

So yesterday when I was out at lunch I decided to hit my local basic American food style buffet place because you can take out by the pound and so my lunch ends up only costing like $2 instead of $8 like what most of the places around here charge. One of the things I love about this buffet place is that they have a claw machine in the lobby area that’s well stocked, which I believe is the secret to mastering claw machine techniques. I never really came across claw machines until the last 10 years or so. None of the arcades where I grew up in Florida ever had them, or any of the Chuck E. Cheese or Showbiz Pizza places for that matter.

Well when I stopped in I was hoping they had loaded it with plenty of Halloween goodness but there was pretty slim-pickens in the seasonal department. As I was about to leave I saw something out of the corner of my eye that got me excited. There was a Homer Simpson plush in a black leotard with a skeleton painted on it, just like Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai wore to the school dance in the first Karate Kid. Holy crap I wanted that doll. I checked my pockets and came up with six quarters. Three shots at winning what must be the best claw machine prize ever (well until the next time I see one with Pac Man ghosts, but that’s a story for another time.)

I plunked in my first two quarters and checked his position, on his side, on top of a heap of Care Bear knock offs, primed for the claw. I took my shot and of course I missed getting him. Grabbed him around the head. That’s a beginners mistake as any seasoned claw machine junkie will know that all the weight is in the torso and you need a good balance to snag the prize. Plunked in my next two quarters. I had him this time. The claw picked him up under his arms, but he was on his side and he was just slim enough to fall halfway to the prize shoot. Crap, though he did fall on his stomach this time making for a wider target. Only two quarters left. Some where in the back of my mind I knew I’d get more quarters after I paid for lunch, but none the less I was done to the wire. I needed to prove my mettle or some such non-sense. I wanted that Cobra Kai Homer figure. I shot my last two quarters into the machine and positioned the claw so it would grab him under his arms again. The claw grabbed him, picked him up and as it reeled back in it shook for a moment. But only a second, and then it was whisked toward the prize shoot and this time he stuck. Winner! He is mine, all mine. I had to carry him around as I scouted the buffet for lunch, but it was worth the weird stares from all the uptight business people and off duty cops (who freaking flock to this place.) I was triumphant.

Even though his mask doesn’t really fit him, I don’t care, ‘cause unless Mr. Miyagi’s stunt double leaps over a fence to save the day, my Homer can kick the living crap out of Ralph Macchio any day.

Why am I’s covered in goo…?

Day 2 of my October Halloween blogging fun. As you can see here I am pretty darn near super psyched for the season this year. Well today’s post harkens back to that older post with a very similar set of items. Today I’m taking a look at more cheap plastic thing-a-ma-bobs suspended in colorful goo encased in a clear plastic coffins, you know, for Halloween.

As I said before, I didn’t want to open the skeleton in the blue goo because I was afraid it would lose it’s airtight seal and might not look as cool. Well I’m a dope, so sue me. Lucky for me though, Target put out more of these silly things, this time in the Halloween section proper, and packaged four at a pop for only twice the price. That’s like 50% off if I bought four, and who knows why I would want to do that. But I was suckered in because these were spiders (well actually they aren’t as cool as glow in the dark skeletons), and the goo was different colors, and I just plain wanted ‘em.

These four come in much more Halloween-y colors, well except for Mr. Magenta over there. It should have been blood red, but at $1.99, I’m not gonna complain.

It’s kind of funny, because as neat as these look (especially when compared to the other fare that was on the same end cap like themed flat erasers, silly straws, and plastic lizards?) I expected the fun factor to be next to nil. I mean, it’s a cheap plastic 1 cent spider in goo. In actuality, these were pretty damn fun. Here’s what it looked like when I cracked one open.

The goo has a very interesting consistency that lies somewhere between the stuff that used to come with one of those He-Man play-sets and Silly Putty. It’s very non-slimy though it looks like it is, and no matter what you do to it, it will go back to its shiny consistency within a matter of minutes. It bounces pretty well too, though nowhere near as well as a super bouncy ball.

I figured I’d try and experiment to see what the mixing properties of this goo is like by combining the colors. As you can see below I’ve got a lime green/magenta mixture, a purple and orange mixture, and a suicide all color mixture going. Maybe if anything interesting happens I’ll revisit them at the end of this Halloween blog fest.

Let me give ya a hand…

So even though I’ve started a little early with the gratuitous Halloween blogging, here is the first October entry in my month long look at all things creepy, crawly, scary, and just plain fun.

Today’s item is something I’ve pined for, for over 20 years (a common thread in this blog) ever since I saw one in an ad in the back of Fangoria magazine (see this entry.) Well not exactly that past entry, but that was the same company and type of ad. See, ever since I was a little kid I’ve had this weird fascination with gore and the latex equivalent. It started when I’d go to the mall with my mom during the Halloween season and we’d inevitably end up in Spencer Gifts where there was an entire wall of gross and gory latex, plastic and rubber masks. I loved this stuff before I even saw my first horror movie, and some part of me has always been enthralled (not disgusted) by gore.

For whatever reason, severed body parts were the ultimate example of this in my little brain, and ever since I saw the ad in Fangoria I’ve wanted a realistic severed limb. What would I do with one when I could finally afford one? Who knows, but I’d of put my money on odds that it would be good and fun.

Well this is the year when all of the factors converged to place an awesomely realistic, yet not overly expensive severed arm in my, um…, hands.

See, it’s not that I haven’t come across rubber severed limbs before. Heck there were fake severed arms akimbo at Wal-Mart and the Spirit Halloween store last year, but they were all kind of goofy. Either they were more of an "arm trapped in a door" kind of gag with a bit of shirt stapled to them or the color was just all wrong. In fact, I’ve found more hot pink severed limbs than you can shake a stick at. What I wanted was realism, and from everything that I’ve seen, realism comes with a mighty high price tag (like $100 a limb.) I’m not cheap, but I do have bills and responsibilities and at the end of the day I just couldn’t look my fiancee in the eyes knowing I blew a C-note on a silly rubber prop, no matter how much I think it fills this gaping gore hole that I’ve been carrying around for the last 20 years.

But this year, as I’ve said, the forces of good came together like the Monster Squad at just the right time to deliver me into the newly re-stocked sprit store where the first thing I saw upon entering was this:

I was speechless. As I lifted it off the rack to see how much it was I went from speechless to making silly happy chirping noises while dancing in the aisle. It was only $10. Ten Bucks! Purchase justified by that alone. So since I’ve picked it up I’ve made sure to find at least a hundred things I can do with this great severed arm.
Like pretending I’m a zombie at work.

I’ve even found that both of our pets love it as a back-scratcher, which is the equivalent of crack to them.

So until tomorrow, here’s my severed hand extended to ya.

We’re gonna need a bigger … Shopping Cart!

Yeah, so I know it’s only the middle of September (and if you’ve been reading the blog you’ll know this already), but I am so jazzed for Halloween this year. It’s not even like I’m waiting for the big day or anything, though I do think I’m going to dress up this year. I just want to be surrounded by orange and black, skeletons, and little Frankenstein baubles. I don’t know. So I’ve been staking out every store in the area that might even consider carrying Halloween swag and some have been cool (Target) and some lame (The Family Dollar, my so called Halloween Headquarters that had a grand total of 3 feet worth of crap that even the dollar store won’t sell.) Well in the back of my mind I’ve really been waiting for one store in particular to open, the Spirit Halloween store which is a seasonal place that floats from one derelict strip mall to another as the years pass.

Over the past two years it’s definitely wormed it’s way into my heart as one of my favorite places to unload all the cash that I should be spending on stuff like food and rent. Well I finally found the new location this past weekend and the fiancée and I popped in after work yesterday to see what this year’s set up looked like. I was kind of hoping that they had some new stuff because last year it seemed like leftovers from the previous year. Well I couldn’t have been happier to see that over half the store was filled with new stuff and they were still unpacking a ton of boxes. The store is in a very beautiful place this year. It took over a place that used to sell outdoor furniture and garden accessories or something like that so there is a ton of room. Here’s what the outside looks like:

Unfortunately it’s on the tail end of a run down shopping center that’s in the middle of having the entrances remodeled so that may slow down business for it, but that just means there will be more thing for me to pick though I guess. I don’t know how well you can see it, but the entrance to the actual store is really cool, there are two sets of stairs that lead up and converge on the door, which is set into the building at a kitty corner. When you walk in you are in a recessed pit that hopefully will be decorated all dark and creepily soon.

This year’s location is the largest one yet which is cool because it was pretty cramped last year. It was hard to get a picture that adequately showed just how large it was. Here are a few of the better ones:

Considering that all they sell are costumes, accessories, and every other Halloween branded item you can think of, this really is the biggest and best. This years they also tripled their rubber mask section which is awesome. Though I tend not to buy them, I do love looking through rows and rows of masks.

Then there were the more upscale masks (click to enlarge):

I’ve wanted that Herman Munster mask for three years now and I still can’t bring myself to drop $40 on it. Just don’t know what I’d do with it.

Best of all was their new severed limbs section. See if there is one thing that I’ve truly wanted for the last 20 years it’s been a realistic severed limb. If you look in the ad that I posted about a few days ago you’ll notice the severed leg at the bottom left. I’ve coveted that leg for so long that I never thought I’d find one that was cool looking and affordable. In the below picture you can see that there are two styles of fake limbs. The really pink one in plastic which they’ve sold three years running that looks just awful to me, and the super realistic ones to the right of the pink ones. I was ecstatic when I saw these because there were cool looking and only $10! Sweet Jebus. I think my next entry will be dedicated to that awesome severed arm I picked up. I need to go back for a hand.

On of the other things that I love about this place is that they not only cater to people who want to buy an entire costume in a bag, but also to the people who want to get a little more creative with their masquerading. As you can see below there is an entire wall (plus four short isles of additional stuff not pictured) of make-up and latex appliances. My get up will probably come from this wall this year.

As we made our purchases and started walking out of the store we were greeted by one last cool thing, this midnight cowboy of a life sized zombie that had a little more than a passing resemblance to a certain Fly Boy from the original Dawn of the Dead flick. Oh one day I’ll be able to afford props like this when I rule from on high, wielding my mighty Halloween scepter of affording. You’ll hear me yell, “I’ll take that!�? in my loudest and best impression of Dr. Orpheus from the Venture Brothers. Yes you will.

Halloween costs a buck around these parts…

Alight, I’m back with some more Halloween finds from around town.

First though, Kirk at the Secret Fun Blog found these awesome Creepy Classics monster figurines at Dollar Tree, so I thought I’d add my voice to let everyone know these are around. They’re pretty darn cool for a buck apiece, particularly the Mummy figure as it’s a neat detailed mold for such a small piece. There are a few other things out from the same company including thumb wrestler versions of all the figures, little buckets of goo packaged in Universal monster fashion, and as Kirk also mentioned in his blog, posters. There’s one for each of the six figures released and at a dollar that’s a steal even though they aren’t the best representation of Universal Monster posters (for instance "Karloff" is cut off the Mummy poster to distance it from litigation and junk.) I picked up a few of these and I’ll try and get some pictures up by the weekend.

The company also released decks of playing cards with the monster poster art on the backs. I picked up the Bride of Frankenstein cards because they were die-cut in the shape of the monster’s head, which is pretty cool. Though costing a dollar sure does effect the quality of the product. The slick laminate used on the cards is already chipping off, but then what do you expect from dollar store fare. Like Kirk said these can be found at your local Dollar Tree.

I’m almost considering limiting my purchases to a dollar each this year as I’ve found a lot of cool stuff already like the glow in the dark skeleton in goo at Target, the Dollar Tree haul, and now this cool rubber Frankenstein’s monster mask from Wal-Mart.

Considering the glut of Scream-like masks with hoods that seem to be permeating the market these days, this was a very welcome discovery. It’s pretty basic, sort of in the fashion of the thin hard plastic masks of yesteryear, yet with all the durability of the rubber masks of today. It even sports a pretty basic but cool bit of off mark spray coloring that adds that certain bit of nostalgia.

It’s also kind of cool because I think the mold is more based off of the Glen Strange version of the Monster than the Boris Karloff version, which isn’t my favorite, but it’s different, which is nice.

All in all, how can you go wrong for a buck. They have a few other masks including a weird scary toothed pumpkin, a pretty lame devil, and a skull that isn’t too bad.

The other thing I found at Dollar Tree were more stretchy monster figures, though these aren’t based on the Universal monsters at all.

Franky here looks a lot more like Frank Sinatra what with his very short cropped hair and his dapper green evening jacket.

The werewolf here looks more like something out of that one Howling movie where all the wolves were marsupials (if you’ve every seen the pouch birthing scene, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

So far it’s been a pretty fun season and we aren’t even into the middle of September yet.

My Halloween Haul, part 2!

Okay so here’s part 2 of my initial Halloween haul. I picked up this guy at Target, and I must say that even though I’m not a fan of mego-conglom-departmentstore-supermarket chains Target has got a pretty sweet product line or at least a distribution/purchasing executive because they always tend to have some really cool stuff at Halloween.

I’ve nicknamed him Senior Senior and he’s my personal mariachi skeleton/day of the dead representative and I love him so. I’m pretty big into skulls, have been since I was a wee kid, but I’ve never had one with a mustache before.

I think he’d fit right in with my severed head Feldman and Carrie’s collection of McFarlane’s Dragons on our DVD shelves.

I caught him on top of our refrigerator this morning causing god knows what havoc.

The other thing I found at Target, was this crazy glow in the dark skeleton suspended in blue goo inside a clear plastic coffin. He was in the dollar bin between cutesy Frankenstein post-it notes and mini decks of playing cards shaped like candy corns.

I’m afraid to open it because right now the goo has all congealed at the bottom and it sort of looks like the skeleton is all that’s left of a guy who downed in a sealed crystal coffin full of water and I want to keep it that way.

I found these next two guys at Toys R Us in their seriously dinky Halloween section.

There was a whole box of figures including Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster, and I was all set to get Frankenstein and the Wolfman when on another shelf I saw the Creature tucked behind a Dracula sippy cup. Someone was trying to hide the only Creature in that box assortment! Well, I dropped the Wolfman (who was way too Orange anyway) and picked him up lickety split because he needed to live in my home.

all these figures were of the “stretch�? variety sort of like Stretch Armstrong, which is alright but not my preference when it comes to toys. Aside from this though, the material they were made with makes it easy and fun to make them look like they are waving at you, or having a seizure, so I guess it’s all right.

When I went out at lunch today I saw that Wal-Mart has their section up, though it was pretty lame. I snagged a few choice things though which I’ll share tomorrow. Also there should be plenty more to come as I also found out where our floating Halloween store is opening this year, so I can’t wait for that to open.

Halloween is freaking here!

Well kids, Halloween is officially here as the local Target has finally spilled its Halloween beans all over the store (is that a horrible misused phrase or what?) I am so giddy right now, I just want to go out and buy 16 tons of candy and other related Halloween crap. But I’m trying to reel myself in on the spending. That doesn’t mean I haven’t splurged a little though. So today I present you with my initial Halloween crap haul culled from my local Target and Toys R Us.

To start, I’ll hit the candy I picked up at Target. First off, I am so not a candy person. My palette is much more geared towards salty than sweet or tart and even though I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for some 80’s staple candies like Nerds, Bonkers, and Jolly Ranchers, I tend to not be all that excited with the basic Halloween candy fare. Usually it’s nothing all that exciting anyway, just fun-size versions of basic check out line stuff like snickers bars and Skittles and stuff like that. There are a couple of fringe companies that try to go in a more gruesome direction like molding chocolate into roughly shaped body parts like ears and eyes. In fact you typically see bags of chocolate eyes, and I’m surprised no one has packaged cherry cordials as eyes now that I think of it. There is one type of candy that I do tend to like year round though, and that’s gummi stuff like bears and worms. I can’t take it in huge does, but if I have to pick something, it’s usually gummi in nature. Well this year Target is carrying a bunch of gummi candy and I couldn’t help but buy a bunch of it. First up, Gummi Boogers by Flix Candy.

When I saw this box I was in love. The design and gimmick are pretty damn awesome and the art department pulled no punches with their gruesome mascot, the gummi chef!

This is the first time I’ve seen a product mascot that looks like it was drawn by Evan Dorkin or Simon Bisley! Now not all gummi candy is created equal. There are very distinct differences in taste and texture, and I do have my preferences. Let’s see there is your basic gummi’s in the vein of gummi-bears and gummi-worms. Then you have your more marshmallow-like gummi’s like your gummi pizzas, tacos, and hamburgers. There’s your more dense variety like your Betty Crocker fruit snacks. And then there is the sugar coated marshmallow gummi’s like peach rings and Sour Patch Kids. Out of these, my favorites are probably the more dense fruity ones, but I can deal with most of them. If I had to pick one that I just don’t like it would easily be the sugar coated ones because they are too sweet and I just don’t like the consistency of the sugar coating, not to mention that because we are in the middle of a decades long sour candy boom, they are typically tart and I’m just not big on tart. Well unfortunately these gummi’s were of the sugar coated variety, which is a bummer because the picture on the box makes it look like the dense fruity kind. Oh well.

To make up for it I did take another chance on a similar product. Galerie Candy’s Monster themed gummi assortment.

Included were Gummi bats, brains, fingers, and teeth. This set was a little pricey at $3, but it more than made up for what the Gummi Boogers lacked which was great quality and to top everything off stickers!

Each box contained a bag of five or six gummi candies and a sticker of the box art. As far as Halloween themeing goes, I think I enjoyed these gummi fingers the most as they’re all Frankenstein-y.