Written by Jonathan Wojcik
TWO "GROSS" MINI TOY REVIEWS IN ONE
Except for some remaining Nightmare Being posts, I almost considered the Grinch Night review to be the official end of 2018's Halloween season...but I'm still in the mood to review some spooky little knick-knacks and video game monsters, and that's why I buckled down and wrote up five classic style Halloween posts for December 31st, beginning with what will probably be the weakest entry to your refined tastes, but my standards for entertainment sure are lower!
See, at least two little "creepy" toy lines cropped up this season, but I didn't think either of them were really quite striking enough to warrant articles of their own, both of them feeling like attempts to cash in on the success of The Trash Pack or Grossery Gang, and you all pretty much got more than your fill of me reviewing those a couple of years back. As a two for one article, however, I think we can squeeze some fun out of going over these two spiritually similar, but otherwise very different little toy sets:
Squish Dee-Lish is a line of soft, mushy foam rubber shapes with cutesy faces printed on them, and they're usually found in the aisles still designated as "girl" toys. It's obvious the company wanted to branch out into the so called "boy" toy market with this new "wacky" series, a distinction rapidly dwindling as more and more "girly" toys turn to monsters and toilet humor themselves. In fact, I've repeatedly seen this line still stocked in the same aisles as The Littlest Pet Shop and a wide array of sparkling unicorns, which is cool. Every child deserves to enjoy all the bleeding guts and sparkling unicorns they want.
SQUISH DEE-LISH "WACKY" SERIES
Anyway, we're just gonna look at a quick top ten of my favorites here, none of which have any official names. This overflowing bottle of some unknown chemical concoction is actually a regular dee-lish figure with a new color scheme and a different face, the original "girly" version boasting more anime-like eyes and a cheerful smile. I guess that one was feeling optimistic about its contents spilling out into the outside world, but this one's feeling not so hot about it at all. The question is, how dangerous are those contents? The answer will tell us a lot about the moral character of these sentient glass vials.
Only one arthropod has existed in each of the three Wacky lines thus far, and the very first one they picked was very generously a fly. An interestingly magenta-colored fly with purple wings and lovely, pale blue, "dizzy" eyes. I actually managed to score one right away just by feeling the bag carefully enough, because there's obviously nothing wrong with a 30-something year old guy standing in an aisle of children's toys fondling a plastic bag to make sure there's a fake bug in it.
Each character comes in two possible color schemes, so you can also get this skull in actual pale bone colors with a green snake (worm?) winding through it, but that's not nearly as cool as a neon green skull with a purple parasite. I like the choice of eye they decided to give the slithering occupant, too, like it wears a lot of mascara.
Series three has introduced a MUMMY sculpt! Sweet! And it comes in a version with bright blue wrappings, a refreshing change from the usual dingy white to yellow gauze! I feel like the underlying flesh should have been something other than dull grey, though. Completely black would have looked great, or maybe a nice pale green.
As you can see, there's a limited selection of different eyes they print onto these things, but that's fine. These bloodshot eyes are probably the best looking option in the series. Putting them on a space helmet is hilariously morbid, because I just can't look at this and only think "ah, this space helmet has eyes." The only place my mind goes is "ah, this space helmet still has a head inside."
Yeah, another one with those same eyeballs, and a simple roll of toilet paper with eyeballs on it isn't all that exciting of a character...except for the fact that this is another one with a "happier" counterpart in the original series. One roll of toilet paper LIKES being a roll of toilet paper. There's no ambiguity here like there was with the potion bottles. We know exactly which sentient toilet paper roll is a nasty ass freak, and it's not even the one in the "gross out" line.
Speaking of freaks, this living toilet complete with a tongue (EGGCCHH!?????!) is exactly the same shade of blue and exudes exactly the same aura as Chairy, the sentient Chair from Pee Wee's Playhouse, who constantly suggested, sometimes downright begged people to sit on her. I am now completely unable to imprint any other personality onto this commode, and I'm not happy about it.
The spaceship is here because it makes a great counterpart to the severed spaceman head, and I think we can surmise how badly this mission must have gone from the fact that they chose the "dizzy" eyes and off-center, drunken looking mouth for this one. Imagine being in any kind of vehicle when it not only comes to life, but this is its personality.
So the second series also had only one arthropod, and what they went with was another, even better fly. In fact the perfect fly to me, distilling everything that is both weird and adorable about these scuzzy, buzzy trash-eaters in a design so perfectly compact and bumbly and sweet that I can only hope Pokemon might ever come out with something similar if they ever finally portray my all-time favorite animal.
Unfortunately, I'm not spending $3 a bag to find out if I'm going to get one of these, and even standing around fondling them again has yielded no success.
So I'd say this is the winner of all three waves so far. A filthy sock with fangs is already a novel enough idea, but it' also crawling with spiders, including a spider web molded right onto it. That's the concept here. It's a sock full of spiders and it's alive, like Oogie Boogie's screwed-up little brother he doesn't like to talk about. Due to the arachnid theme already present, I can't help but assume the sock's fangs are also venomous themselves, and it's just...SUCH a great concept. It's SUCH a great concept. I'm so upset I didn't think of it first and it only exists as a nameless piece of foam.
These are sold through oriental trading and presumably various party supply stores, and you get a single random figure per bag. They're larger than the similar Trash Packs, made of a harder plastic, and they have the fun bonus twist of being double-sided, each food character displaying either its fresh, safely edible side with a friendly little smile or its putrid, rotten, spoiled side that looks like it just wants to die already.
"SWEET & SOUR" FIGURES
These toys are sold by the display box, and each display box is supposed to contain exactly one of every possible figure. This makes "Keep an eye out for our rare STRAWBERRY!" a meaningless phrase because none of them are more or less rare than any other, and an even more meaningless phrase when my box gave me an extra strawberry instead of the wormy apple. That's alright, though. The strawberry's "sour" face is honestly one of the very coolest looking, with X's in its red eyes and leaves wilted into greasy-looking black bangs.
Despite the fact that they aren't something people buy as food all that often, the set is gracious enough to include a pumpkin character. I feel like its "sweet side" could have still had more of a Jack O' Lantern face, but at least the sour side compensates with a rare instance of a rotten, moldy green pumpkin creature. WHY that's rare, I have no idea. One would expect it to be wildly more common Halloween imagery.
I'm a little torn on the t-bone steak. I love the vivid colors and expressiveness of the sour side and I love the use of the bone as a nose, especially how they flip the nose on each face to add just one more unique little difference between the two personalities, but the bright blue flesh with the red edge just doesn't read as "rotten" to me. This is one that really ought to have been green and brown.
Though the missing apple is the face of the series on its packaging art, I feel like the tomato is the most basic, and not in a bad way. They chose a great shade of blue-green, and the face truly looks like something decomposed, with little beady red eye-lights in its sockets for a truly ghoulish look.
Of all the fruits and vegetables present however, I think the pepper is the coolest. It looks even more like a spooky pumpkin than the actual pumpkin, and I'm really digging the big, deepl, black hole in the side of its head.
It's genuinely difficult for me to pick favorites here, but the milk jug's sour face is easily one of the most delightful. It's got the "spooky black eye sockets" thing I enjoy about some of the others, but it also truly looks like it just wants to be out out of its misery already, and how else would you look if your entire body were just filled with rotten ass milk?
I have a pretty soft spot for banana-based characters and especially the idea of a spoiled banana as a character, but regrettably, the banana is probably the most underwhelming of the Sweet and Sour mini figures. The sour face is funny, yes, but I definitely prefer the sicklier, ghostlier look of our other figures, plus, this one is just so tiny.
The pumpkin, to be fair, is the heftiest of all these figures, but none of the others are nearly so dinky as the banana. You're just not getting your money's worth if you buy one of these for their suggested retail price of up to $3 a figure (the full box is a lot less, or I wouldn't have bought one)
There's something I really love about the cheese figure. Maybe it's just the simple, satisfying feel of this simple, chunky plastic square with big holes drilled into it, but I also find the color scheme of its sour side to be the most pleasing here, the dark magenta of its tongue, eyelids and "goo" a perfect contrast to that sickly yellow-green, and the facial expression is just too delightful.
Sorry for the poor photo quality. My window between waking up and still having any sunlight to photograph tiny hunks of plastic under is pretty slim in the middle of winter. Regardless, you can see that the egg is objectively the coolest one here, even if it's not my own personal favorite, because they saw fit to give it not only the obvious jagged fracture mouth and dribbling yolk, but just a single little cyclops eye, making its sour side more of a "monster version" than any other figure in the set.
The fish another favorite of mine. Skeletal, rotten fish just look so cool in any context, don't they? I think they might actually be my favorite skeletons of all possible skeletons, as a matter of fact. This is the only character that isn't looking directly at us, but it couldn't really worked any other way. It's also not explicitly "rotten" on the other side, but does appear to have been actually eaten, which is if anything even more morbid. This is, after all, also the only figure representing an actual, sentient animal on its "sweet" side.
Surprisingly in a set with a putrid cyclops egg, a half-skeletonized fish and a festering pumpkin head, my #1 favorite is no more than this moldy slice of bread, and I'm not totally sure why, except perhaps that I just find this particular figure's goofy monster face to be the most endearing of the bunch, and it looks great in combination with that lovely blue and green mold. Something about it immediately reminds me of the lovable mold and germ critters seen on Anpanman, and I guess it just hits that perfect combination of "creepy" and "innocently pathetic" that endears me instantly to anything.
Maybe there aren't too many of you who find these reviews of cheap little plastic toys all that fascinating, but they certainly brighten me up to read on anybody else's blogs, and look at just how many words I managed to get out of these things! Heck, I'd done this two-for-one because I thought I'd only have maybe a sentence or two to say about every figure, tops. Instead, one look at a rotten tomato with eyes and the prose just gushed forth from my soul.
Plus, those sweet and sour figures fit in seamlessly with my all-garbage-themed figure shelf:
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