Written by Jonathan Wojcik
BIG LOTS 2018Big Lots is always one of Halloween's earliest bloomers...so early, they spoil almost everything they're stocking on their website as early as July. It sure takes some of the fun out of actually exploring and discovering these things for myself, but I guess it makes my self-imposed job a little easier. Let's see what Big Lots has in store this year!
ANIMATED HATCHING DRAGON
A hatching baby dragon isn't what most of our culture really categorizes as "spooky" or "creepy," which is too bad, because they certainly used to be. Somewhere along the line, we rejected the notion of dragons as Freaky Crawlies in favor of dragons as majestic and radical, but can't they be both?
The hatchlings are also advertised as part of a "dragon family" collection, including the two sizes of purely skeletal dragon they began to offer in 2017. This, to me, implies one of two possibilities: either skeletal dragons are born with flesh, or a couple of dragon parents died guarding their eggs and refused to stay dead. Such is simply the strength of dragon love.
SNARLING WEREWOLF RUG
Haunted animal-skin rugs have been a concept for as long as haunted mansions have been a concept, yet I didn't start seeing them as Halloween novelties until 2017. I like how this one is some sort of white-furred, blue-faced werewolf. Shouldn't it be more of a yeti? I also like that it comes with two different eye color options, which they didn't need to do and I don't think anybody would have necessarily demanded, but they did it anyway and I think we can all appreciate that attention to detail.
This is the last thing on this list that isn't a skeleton.
Why haven't I seen this more often, either? It's a simple, flat monster, like a signpost, that can pop out from around a tree or a corner as people approach. I've definitely seen more elaborate, more "animatronic" sort of props that do this, but never a version this streamlined, inexpensive and lovably quaint.
I love the crude cartoniness of the skeleton. Like, REALLY love it. Perfect skeleton face, all set to bombard you with terrible bone puns.
The more detailed reaper, meanwhile, should be the more frightening option, but they accidentally made him look even friendlier. Look at that face. That's not an "I've come to collect your soul" face whatsoever. That's more of an "I'm so glad you made it to my barbeque!" face. "I can't wait for you to meet the kids! We've got FIVE kinds of non-alcoholic drinks right this way!"
MINI GRAVEYARD GANG
Also returning from 2016 are the "Graveyard Gang" noise-making and vibrating skeleton pets, but this year they're adding spiders and lizards to the selection. Lizards are always welcome as Halloween creatures, another animal whose "spookiness" was kind of lost over the years as we realized how adorable they actually are. Sure, I'm glad people don't find reptiles so "disgusting" these days, but that doesn't mean they can't still be Halloweeniful. Nobody thinks of owls or black cats as "creepy crawlies" either, right?
This is also a superb specimen of a sklider. It doesn't follow logical spider anatomy and really could have used some bone chelicerae instead of mandibles, but it's got a nice, chunky fatness and I just adore those HUGE round eye sockets. This is totally a skeleton jumping spider
MOUNTED DINO SKULL
Dinosaurs in "spooky" context are also pretty novel aand also on the increase since last year or so, but usually only in skeletal form. That's fine. Almost all dinosaurs became skeletons anyway, except for the ones that became turkeys and geese. Triceratops is an interesting and striking choice for a wall-mounted head, which of course lights up and emits nondescript moaning, screeching horror sounds.
It is, however, clearly the skull of a mature Triceratops, and there's no way this item is even a fifth the right size. I suppose it's even spookier to wonder where this person not only hunted a Triceratops, but a mysteriously miniaturized Triceratops.
ALLIGATOR SKULL CANDY DISH
Alligator skulls have already appeared on Halloween shelves, but this one is marketed specifically to put your candy in, and clamps down or threatens to clamp down on grubby little candy-snatching hands! I don't know why we go to all the trouble of putting candy out if we're going to guard it with the souls of the dead anyway.
More skeletons return from past years, but now with a goat, or something, and a smilodon I guess. I'll admit the latter is a case where the bone ears and flesh-like details truly weren't necessary. Anyone can tell what they're looking at from those fangs!
...A very, very fun idea that I can totally get behind, except for the three identical fish that are also just scaled-down versions of the Graveyard Gang fish. Some variation would have been killer! Yes, you get three of these fish plus the aquarium for only twice what a single, slightly bigger fish costs, but I think it'd be even more desirable if it had only one fish, but threw in some other skeleton creatures. Even if they weren't animated, a bone crab or bone octopus would have made this a must-have item.
LIFE SIZE SKELEMINGO
Now THIS is rad. Halloween flavored lawn flamingos are old news by now, and yet, this is the very first time I've seen one as a fully sculpted, realistic skeleton, and really realistic, too. No additional, made-up anatomy that I can see; it's about as close to actual Phoenicopteran bones as you could ever expect from a holiday ornament. If I've got the money to spare, I'm probably going to get one of these for a corner somewhere.
What!? I've got corners without skeletons already in them! PLENTY of corners!!!!!
...Part of a corner.
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