Written by Jonathan Wojcik
THINGZ That Go Bump in the Night
With photos from Little Weirdos
Almost every Halloween season, I consider doing a review of this obscure U.K.-only toy line, and every Halloween season I put it off entirely because I still don't have a high-resolution scan of all the character artwork. I ain't getting any younger here, though, and neither are the THINGZ, which came and went somewhere between 1997 and 1999. That's actually a whole lot more recent than I honestly though, considering most lines of small, collectible monsters not tied to a cartoon or video game were typically concentrated in the 80's.
Still not possessing that packaging art in a larger form, I've enlarged a photograph of the entire line taken by the blogger behind Little Weirdos, an excellent resource on all manner of small, unusual toys! In no particular order:
We begin with one of the best designs, just so you get an up-front taste of how great some of these can get, even though some of the others feel a little lacking in comparison. I love this clothes hanger turned monster, with three feet, eyeballs on its hook, and teeth in its loop, all forming one big, freaky, hook-nosed face with terrible jaws. Also, what is that with the little face on it? I can't even tell.
The Hanger Thing
This is another nice one; I always enjoy a good egg monster. This thing ate the breakfast and IS the breakfast, I guess. Does that mean this egg now contains bacon and toast and stuff? That might be really good if you cracked it open and cooked it again, or it might be disgusting, especially if the monster has its own digestive processes that have already begun.
The Thing That ate my Breakfast
I feel like this one is a fumble. A mysterious arm reaching out of a toilet to flush itself down is a fun enough idea and certainly makes for a unique "figure," but I think almost all kids would have preferred if the toilet itself were a monster, like the Hanger thing.
The Flush Thing
This sink dweller is a step back up, a creature seemingly formed of dribbly water or something at least semi-watery, with glaring red eyes and huge, nasty yellow teeth. I like how it just has a single very large fang in the middle of its upper jaw, too.
The Thing From the Tap
This little purple fruit - what is it, a plum? I don't know! - feels surprisingly grotesque with that huge bite taken out of the side of its face. Somehow almost more distressing than if it were a flesh and blood animal-based monster.
The Half Eaten Thing
Not much to this one's design, just an icy guy eating all your food I guess. Again, makes for a fun figure with the fridge included as a backdrop, but that door could have used some teeth on it.
The Thing in the Fridge
This is one of the genuinely "horrifying" Thingz, since it looks like nothing but some dude coming out of the mirror and I guess the implication is that it's an evil reflection emerging into our world. A classic horror trope, but I've never seen it represented in a figurine like this. Pity they couldnt have made the mirror part actually reflective, which would have probably cost too much extra.
The Thing in the Mirror
A very cute way to make a pillow into a monster, with the lower opening as a mouth that even gets "teeth" due to the striping of the inner pillow! But it's not just a "pillow thing," it's a pillow FIGHTING thing. Does it beat you over the head with itself? What about the candle? I'm not sure fire is permissible under pillow fighting etiquette.
The Pillow Fighting Thing
This one is just a soda bottle with a horrible face, not the most inspired of the Thingz, but the fact that it wields a cup and a straw is kind of alarming. It implies it's going to try to drink you for some kind of revenge or force you to drink it, and I'm not sure which one is worse.
The Popped Off Thing
The biggest disappointment in the line, I gotta be honest. Just an apple holding some green slime? It doesn't look "rotten" at all. In fact, the Half Eaten Thing looked more rotten. Don't tell me there's a monster called "The Rotten Thing" and it just be a regular apple guy! That oughta be a CRIME!
The Rotten Thing
This is another iffy one. It's just a green old man who is tired, presumably so tired so often that it defines his entire character. He really doesn't read as a monster so much as some sort of corporate mascot for an over the counter tranquilizer.
The Sleepy Thing
Also a tad bland. I love slime creatures, sure, but if you've seen one humanoid covered in green goo, you've seen them all, and they really need some other interesting feature to stand out from the crowd. Maybe I'd just like it better with cutesier eyes though.
The Slimey Thing
Can anthropomorphic cheese qualify as a monster? I guess anything can if it shouldn't rightfully exist, and horrible smells can be awfully distressing if you don't know where they're coming from and can't get rid of them.
The Smelly Cheese Thing
A walking, humanoid kitchen sponge completely outside the context of Spongebob Squarepants! And presented as a creepy monster! That's actually pretty unique and fun.
The Sponge Thing
Another food item, but more visually interesting than the apple or the soda thanks to its gooey head and lack of any other major facial features.
The Sundae Thing
This design is a bit messy and its color scheme hard for me to parse. It seems to just be a little goblin brushing its teeth, but I guess it's also swallowing the toothpaste instead of spitting it out. Eating your toothpaste isn't that menacing but it would definitely piss me off.
The Thing That ate my Toothpaste
Like the Flush Thing, this one suffers from our inability to see much of the monster, and a kid couldn't exactly "play" with this figure like a character in its own right, because it's basically a whole little "scene" rather than a "figure." It's novel, but it's a bit too limited. It would have worked a lot better if the kid wasn't there, and we could see creepy eyes peeking out from the under the bed or something; I have seen it from other angles, and there are no other details.
The Thing Under the Bed
Perhaps it seems like too many of these are duds or at least just sort of "alright," but we're in the final stretch of the good stuff, beginning with the line's only arthropod. They opted for a "bed bug" rather than anything too obvious, such as a spider or a cockroach, but it doesn't really look anything like a bedbug. A bed bug has a perfectly flat body, is always colored red-brown, has six legs because it is an insect, has absolutely no wings, and as a true bug or Hemipteran, it should have a sucking proboscis instead of mandibles.
The Bed Bug Thing
But, you know what, that's fine, because this ISN'T a bed bug. It's a Bed Bug Thing. Even now a lot of people have no idea what a bed bug looks like, so this vague buggy bogeymonster works just fine.
This is definitely one of my favorites. There's just something really delightful about this monster simply wearing a big, patchy sweater all th way up to its little eyeballs. I will say, however, that the artwork of it on the back of the packaging doesn't portray eyes at all, leaving any facial features up to our imagination. I find that still cooler and obviously scarier, and I'm thinking maybe the eyes were a last-minute addition so it wouldn't just look like a decapitated torso.
The Sweater Thing
I see so few "dust bunny" themed monsters. This one could have been a little weirder than just a roundish, angry rabbit demon I guess, but the principle of it still appeals to me a lot.
The Dust Bunny Thing
This was the first one seen "life size" in the TV commercial, and I think of it as the main face of the set. It's also one of the most hilarious, with the eyes peeking out of the unzipped fly and giant hands basically holding the pants up as it walks!
The Trouser Thing
This is one of the more fun designs, since it's basically two monsters at once. It's also simultaneously IN the boots and IS the boots, which is exactly how the toilet, bed and fridge should have gone. Does this imply the Thingz can "possess" items, like some sort of Tsukumogami? It sure seems that way. I also like how it's still "The Thing," singular, despite the two faces, and each boot has just one hand presumably still part of one entity. It's just really weird and unique!
The Thing in my Boots
This is a household item that really fell out of fashion over the last few decades. In fact, I can't personally recall ever seeing one in person at all. Do all of you even recognize it? It's a kind of pinkish, soft, rubbery water bottle that was used as a heat pack to fill with hot tap water, before I believe the microwaveable gel-based heat pack mostly replaced them.
The Warm Thing
It's a very unique thing to make into a monster though, and it's one of the most menacing looking critters in the whole line.
I put this one high up here because it honestly might be the creepiest of the Thingz. Heck, I'm going to say it's objectively the creepiest. It looks to be the size of a grown man, it wears a flasher trenchcoat, it has a face like a leering pervert and apparently all it wants are your socks, which it is very excited about. This is a monster that would be traumatize to witness without ever doing a single thing to actually harm you. You would never get over waking up to see this thing just drooling over your footwear and leaving with it.
The Thing that Stole my Socks
While not as "creepy" as the sock thief, the fact that this Thing is just a burnt corpse has to count for something. Yikes.
The Well Cooked Thing
And for no reason I can really think of, this one is actually my favorite of the line. It's a stupidly simplistic design, but the fact that it's a man made out of mothballs, that it's infested with somehow-still-living moths, and that it just has two round little red eyes with no mouth or nose is a combination I just find inexplicably appealing. I really want this one, but the only Thingz I own are the boots, the dust bunny, the hot water bottle, the toilet, the plum and the bed. Not the worst mix, but not the best either.
The Moth Ball Thing
With that, we just have one more Thing left.
................Good for them!!!
The Thing That Came out of the Closet
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