Written by Jonathan Wojcik

13 Ghosts of Alibaba.com

Alibaba, Aliexpress and related websites have become something of a Bogleech staple the past couple years, from the surreal Halloween masks offered on the knockoff everbuying to the sad tale of Those Trick, these booming online catalogs of cheap, Chinese goods are a veritable smorgasbord of unique and interesting treasures, assuming you have the patience to sift through hundreds of pages of redundant and nonsensical search results. How nonsensical?

Here's the first thing I'm going to show you. I'm going to count it towards our thirteen "ghosts" this time, though only to emphasize how loose Alibaba's own use of the word really is and how much time I actually had to spend wading through the junk to bring you genuine, grade-A Halloweenery. Well, at least an upper C+. Chinese manufacturers seem to use "ghost" to denote any vaguely spooky Halloween object...and a whole, whole lot of riff-raff like whatever the hell this is. You will notice that it's definitely lots of things, but 100% none of those things are a "toy ghost chair," unless this baby is supposed to be dead and you're supposed to sit on it. I guess that's pretty scary. Fortunately, the remainder of our items are described as ghosts with valid reason, though if you prefer to see more gibberish, you can always search the sites yourself.


Like "Those Trick," many of these items are exclusively available in massive, massive bulk supplies, leaving me waiting and praying that some day, some retailer will finally order Explode Your Eye so that I, in turn, will be able to purchase significantly less than $500 worth of them. As you can see, these entities are basically just spherical, one-eyed mummies with no other apparent facial features, unless one of those rows of stitches represents a mouth. When squeezed, the eyeballs pop out and even light up, apparently to simulate "exploding," or something. What I like almost as much as the bleeding, bandaged orb-creatures themselves is the giant child face on the box, so excited by these rubber toys that his own eyes have long dissolved into the burning white light of infinity as he screams through the eternal void, singing the praises of mummy toys in the tongues of a thousand dead worlds. That's the life for me.


Alibaba assures us that these are, indeed, the latest ghost skull drumming toys, and I'm glad they're not trying to hock yesterday's tired ghost skull drumming toys. I always appreciate a good skull with arms directly attached to it like mine, and these skulls use their little limbs to bang on drums they hold in their teeth, which is far too cute. I hope those spiders are okay with it, though.


You probably can't tell from the image, but this "scream" ghost face is a head lamp. You strap it to your face and its eyes light your way so you can look even creepier than usual on late-night walks, or, I guess, for exploration of unlit barns, as the name implies. How the jungle animals factor into things, I'm not entirely sure. I guess it might be a tropical barn, and you need your forehead ghost to check and see if anybody stole your milk hippos or your panda eggs.


Alright, so these are just yellow plastic balls with somewhat ghostly red eyes, but I really really like that for some reason. Their design isn't so obviously that of a "ghost." They're floating, yellow orb-like spirits of some sort, like maybe Will O' Wisps or something. I've definitely seen these in white plastic with black eyes, which communicates a typical ghost a bit better, but that just kind of loses all the charm.


This is some sort of motion-activated decoration, and I just love the idea of a haunted house occupied by nothing but one big, giant, flashing skull. This skull is so pissed that you're walking so close to his lawn and might get dirt on his exposed, featureless white plastic foundation. About the only thing cooler than the item itself is the box it comes in, which would make an awesome decoration on a shelf all its own. I really appreciate how gorgeous that artwork is, and especially the word "KILL" just sort of floating around the front door. I just wish I could tell what the note posted on the door says. Is some fool trying to evict a giant skull? Do they have any idea what they're toying with?!


I'm not sure it's safe to buy something from another country that says "TERRORIST" on the box, but boy would the feds feel silly when they rip it open only to find these asinine glasses with grumpy skull-shaped lenses and an entire huge rubber spider for a nose. For a nose! What kind of ghost has a spider for a nose and skulls for eyes!? Mine? Is it my ghost? I think it's my ghost. Why did my ghost become a terrorist? Or is it just that the "glasses spider" itself is a terrorist?


I get that this is probably called an "air dancer" because it's a hanging, inflatable decoration, but it's honestly a pretty bad-ass sounding name for an eight-armed spider-shaped skeleton. It conjures visuals of this being undulating through the sky like a swimming feather star. A similar, life-like skelespider has been around for years on the Halloween market, but it's even more charming to see it in cheap, inflatable toy form.


I really like the clash of moods here. You've got a pink and blue, squeaky hammer decked out with cartoon animals and the word "FUNNY" on it, topped by a human skull oozing with blood, perhaps a spirit bound to the funny hammer by its original wielder, who blessed it to slay the undead. Blood skull is cool with it, though. I mean, he would kill you if he had the chance because that's just what blood skulls do, but he doesn't mind offering advice on smashing his dark brethren either, cause he's a dick and he thinks it's hilarious.


What does this mean? Is it a dancing or hanging skeleton? Is it both? What does it even do? There was no intelligible explanation. All we know is that it's a skeleton with a very huge head and a black hat that does something. What it probably does is light up and make the same generic ghost sounds as most of these other things probably do, but damn it, how do we KNOW?


That's what the listing called it, but that beautiful box, which they flipped backwards before adding their watermark for some reason, says "VAMPIRE'S EMPIRE" in bloody letters, easily the most awesome brand name I can imagine for a hairy, gasping skull with an entire baby cobra on its head. I guess this object is part of some vampire's empire, but what role it fills in the hierarchy, nobody knows. It could be anything. A million flying skulls wearing snakes as hats could be the empire's lowliest mooks, its goombas if you will, or just one of these apparritions could be second in command to the vampire itself, armed with all the terrible powers of a flying head with a cobra always on it. If it's a spitting cobra we're really talking.


This is not actually sold under the name "skelephone," but how could I rightfully call it anything else? The very existence of this delighted skull telephone just makes me sad that nobody really has much use for a land line anymore. I would love to actually make and answer calls on this ridiculous hunk of plastic. It holds the bone receiver in its mouth! That's hysterical! What's more, it seems to be designed so its eyeballs bulge and maybe also light up when it rings. Don't you want to start paying for a land line as we speak so you have an excuse to buy this? Then again, maybe there's a way you can convert it into a cellular phone, and just carry the whole thing around as a belt buckle, or maybe on the top of your head. Yeah! Glue it to a hat!!!


This is a big, hard plastic burlap bag head with light-up eyeballs, probably cast from the same mold as a Halloween mask. It's pretty neat, not quite neat enough to spend fifteen bucks on, but I appreciate any ghostly being with a burlap bag on its head, even moreso when it's only a head. There's just one thing about this listing that kind of overshadows everything else...