Written by Jonathan Wojcik

2013 Halloween Crane Machine Prizes!

  At the time of this writing, there are only five days left until Halloween, and I feel like I should really be cranking out nothing but the big stuff right about now, but sometimes, I still just want to talk about a few stupid, weird toys. Year after year, some of my very favorite Halloween items prove to be cheaply made, nameless stuffed whatsits I've managed to win out of money-eating claw machines, especially those manufactured by two specific companies: K&K Games and Sugarloaf. Both tend to really scrape the bottom of the barrel for ideas, and in my book, that is absolutely never a derogatory phrase. Glorious things fester and grow in the bottom of barrels, and that's especially true of arcade and carnival prizes.

First, I'm going to show you what I didn't get to take home with me.

   AUGH. Can you believe I failed to win this guy? What the hell is he?! Is his entire head just one big, filthy, malformed bone with teeth? Is he made of driftwood? I spent six dollars trying to free this thing from its glass and metal prison at a Palm Bay Wal-Mart, but the machine wasn't a kind one. Not to me, anyway. Two days later, he was gone, and my ebay searches for K&K Halloween plushes have yielded nothing like him.

On the upside, I won something just as interesting at another Wal-Mart, and still other treasures were revealed to me in the aforementioned ebay searches. I'll go over the best of these next, then finally show you what I managed to snag on my very first try at that other, more user-friendly machine.

   This first Sugar Loaf item would be nothing but a drab, generic ghost plush if not for their exquisite choice of fabric, transforming the otherwise friendly-looking specter into an entire legion of wailing, tormented souls. So many stories can be gleaned from this. Does this cute little spook consume and assimilate the souls of its victims, or did these anguished spirits deliberately form such a cheerful composite? If so, is it to lull living prey into a false sense of security, or do they just sincerely want to make a friend?

   Here's another simple one - even simpler, in fact - made awesome just by its pattern. Clearly, this is meant to be a human corpse wrapped up completely by a horde of spiders, who have probably already drained the last of its nutrients. The "spider victim" has become a wide-spread Halloween decoration in recent years, ever since someone realized that any old plastic skeleton could be cocooned in phony webbing and plastic bugs to sell for an extra buck or two, and I think this is a sign that the "spider victim" is starting to become its own bona-fide monster. Many of those same decorations come with motion and sound gizmos, so we were already halfway there. Normal spiders don't really cocoon and devour large vertebrates in the first place, so there's no telling what sort of supernatural, reanimating powers they might also be imbued with.

   By far the coolest Ebay discovery has to be Sugar Loaf's "Zombot" line, which I have not seen in any of our local crane machines. Undead zombie robots are a nonsensical but automatically awesome concept I haven't seen nearly often enough, and unlike other items intended as crane prizes, the Zombots are even blessed with individual names:

   As you can see, they're all fairly cute, but "Max Overload" is the clear winner. He's got a buzzsaw arm, a veiny robot eyeball, and he's dripping green slime! Why does a robot have green slime inside? Fuel, lubricant, or metal-eating mold?

A Max Overload is flying through the mail and into my life as we speak, but it's time to share the one plush I actually, personally won this year, and even if I hadn't, it still would have deserved the top-most spot.

   Just look at this thing. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be the severed head of a zombie, with an entire cobra threaded through its eye socket, but it looks a hell of a lot more like the severed head of a humanoid lizard, possibly the same humanoid lizards who, according to idiots, control a global shadow-governent in disguise as relatively normal people.

   What I love most about this plush, besides the fact that it is a bloody, severed head with a cobra impaled through it, is the contrast between the head's horrifying, emotionless fish-eye and the cobra's adorable, grumpy little cartoon-eyes. It just makes me so happy that anyone ever decided this specific imagery needed to be a soft, huggable stuffed animal for kids. Any parent who gave this to their offspring would be demonstrating some pretty refined taste, though any parent with the finest taste would keep one for themselves.