Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Barf Buddies Toy Review!
Crate Creatures are a toy line that came out about a year or two ago, and feel like something straight out of the 1980's toy landscape that brought things such as My Pet Monster and Boglins, though I've kind of been passing them by because, well, none of them quite stood out to me yet as must-have designs; not even with a pretty sweet bat and even a Kappa in the line.
Crate Creatures: Barf Buddies change all that. Deviating quite a bit from the standardized, smiling humanoid designs of the series, I picked up what are clearly the three best of the six-figure line, the only others being a bull and two recolors of a shark character.
As you can see, they're all incredibly vibrant, colorful little figures that look tasteful and elegant wherever you might put them, but they're not JUST for show! They're not JUST for the centerpiece of a dinner party or a federal trial!!
The point of a "barf buddy" is that when you pull its tail, its big old mouth flips open, and is of course intended to barf, with the included slime and something else we'll get to in a moment. Unfortunately, this is where we haeve to dock a point off their favor, because you see that transparent lid, holding the slime in place? That can actually come off accidentally and slide behind the mouth contraption, and there's no way to open up the monster without breaking it. On the very store shelves, several buddies were hopelessly jammed by their own loose lids, their mouths stuck completely open with little hope of repair. I picked out three that were still working correctly, and threw their lids out the first chance I got, even if it meant their mouths could no longer be a safe haven for their artificial phlegm.
Anyway, that frog one is named Gulp, and I'm unfortunately not a big fan of his chimpanzee muzzle, but I'm definitely a fan of the fact that he only has a single pair of limbs, drunken eyeballs and these bizarre, alien suckers down his back and tail. He's not JUST a frog, but a totally alien, mutant frog!
The next I have is Skitter, a purple sewer rat, which is a superb choice for inclusion. This time I'm a fan of everything going on with the design, including the grey fluff surrounding Skitter's eyes, but unfortunately, we're demonstrating another design flaw here, and it's perhaps an even more egregious one. The slime that they are meant to "barf," i.e. the entire intended draw of these toys, is actually far too dense and gelatinous to actually dunk out of their mouths at all. I certainly don't actually need that to work - their mere presence in my life is enough - but to a kid, I could see this being a dealbreaker. I mean, it is literally their #1 intended purpose, isn't it?
Our third buddy, actually the first one I picked out, is named Perch, and we are out of anything negative to say. The name, coloration, and a finny tail in the back implies that Perch is some kind of "fish," but with four legs, stalked eyes "ears" like insect wings and those little purple claw arms, I think Perch is also supposed to evoke some kind of arthropod. I really don't know! Perch is all original!
The most delightful thing about the Barf Buddies, slime or no slime, is that each one includes three secret, unique "Puke Pals" to inhabit their gullet, the detail and painting on which is incredible given that they're even tinier than Trash Pack figures. Gulp's Puke Pals are kind of thematic to the lifestyle of a froggy swamp monster with fry carton full of woms, a burger turtle, and a hot dog snake! All adorable, but I have to know who the hell takes a bite out of just the bun.
If the Puke Pals are meant to represent what these creatures typically eat, then Skitter is the most alarming. He's got a happy peanut and a wedge of cheese, both to be expected of a cartoon rat, but then he's also got a human skull complete with its eyeballs and brain. Of all the Barf Buddies and Crate Creatures, it's only this goofy, purple rat that has canonically devoured and partially digested an actual human being.
Finally, we have Perch's pals, and it's NO CONTEST that these are the three best in the line. I don't even know what the bull one comes with and I've already forgotten what I saw of the two sharks, but I can confidently say there's no beating a potted eyeball plant at all, let alone one packed alongside a rotten, wormy apple monster and some kind of purple and green louse.
None of this, however, brings us any closer to what kind of animal Perch might represent. Nothing about its three pals says "fish monster" to me, and only barely "bug monster." Everything else in this whole toy line has a super obvious basis, but Perch stands alone as a seemingly all-original monstrosity.
All in all, these are really cool looking little toys and the surprise miniatures are especially fantastic, but if you've got kids who want to play with them the way they're intended to, I'd suggest making sure yours didn't already swallow its removable lid, and I'd also suggest buying some runnier slime of your own.
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