My posts on Halloween Merch have been fewer and farther between than any previous year, but that's not because there isn't great stuff out there, and it's not even necessarily because of the mass quarantines, either. I've just reviewed so many pumpkins and mummies and spiders over the years, I kind of get a little choosier each and every season, and except for our reviews of Michael's, Winco and Target so far, I've been saving up my best sightings for one BIG rundown here!
GHOULS OF SEPTEMBER 2020
"At Home" is a store I've only reviewed once or twice, since the closest one to us is still almost three hours away. This year, their collection happens to include one fantastically spooky, fanged little fairy with roots and leaves for hair. Despite the fact that I have only rarely if ever seen creepy fairies for sale as Halloween decor, it's such an obvious and natural fit that I almost didn't even realize how rarely I see it. Let's hope that starts to change! Fairies are SUPER Halloween!
SCARY FAIRY (From At Home)
Another of At Home's 2020 figurines, and a fairly large one, is this amazingly disturbing rotten pumpkin man, and I think he's even more disturbing for the fact that he has such a human face. Just kind of a regular old man face, except, you know, it's rotten. This is another thing I'm surprised we don't see more of; I can recall only a couple past instances of decayed-looking pumpkins as seasonal items.
ROTTEN PUMPKIN FIGURE (At Home)
This is honestly hilarious. A typewriter that's also a grouchy looking skull, with weird, anatomically incorrect rat skeletons frolicing on it and a big dripping "HELP!!" typed onto its sheet of paper. How did the keys even type letters that big? I guess it's haunted anyway. Why do the rats have no teeth and basically look like they have weird bird skulls with bone ears? I guess they're haunted too. Hauntings can do anything.
HAUNTED TYPEWRITER (TKMaxx)
Oh my god, look at the JELLYFISH GHOST on this Halloween fabric pattern! That is to DIE for!! It also features mermaid witches, fish in witch hats, fish with visible skeletons, and spiders spinning their webs on coral, which is all positively adorable. I'd have even bought some of this if it wasn't unfortunately fuzzy felt, the most unpleasant fabric texture.
NAUTICAL HALLOWEEN FABRIC (Joanns)
Joann's last year had a pretty awesome black pumpkin with a big eye sculpted into it, and Lowe's seems to have ripped it off pretty closely. The difference is, Lowe's eyeball pumpkin is made of lighter plastic with simpler details, but it also lights up by actually plugging in, which is far superior to anything with batteries you have to change.
EYEBALL PUMPKIN (Lowe's)
I am so, so glad we've been seeing so many mermaids these past few Halloweens. This huge, light-up fabric specimen is at least seven to ten feet long, which I guess is why it costs over seventy dollars, but it sure is gorgeous!
GIGANTIC SKELETON MERMAID (Lowe's)
What a uniquely odd item...it's been hip for a while to make lamps from pieces of plumbing, so this is sculpted like one of those, a length of pipe with a valve to turn and a big lightbulb on top, but then it terminates in a severed hand, standing on its fingers! A severed hand the same color and texture as the corroded, grey pipe, to boot. What's even going on here?? I can just see this whole thing scuttling around as a monster in some surreal horror game.
CREEPY HAND PIPE LAMP (Big Lots)
These have shown up in a number of different stores by now. They're part of a line that's been around for several years that's included skeletal cats, dogs, frogs, lizards, dinosaurs, goldfish, bats and birds that make appropriate sounds when their button is pressed, but this year sees the highly peculiar addition of a short, fat swordfish! Like the line's other fish entries, the only sound it makes is a bubbling one.
SKELETON SWORDFISH (Walgreen's)
Toilet seat stickers are a Halloween classic, typically presenting some illusion that the commode is occupied by ghosts, zombies, snakes or rats or bugs, but this is the first time I've seen just a big ol eyeball peering out of the John! The fact that the seat is also smeared with blood is even more alarming.
TOILET EYEBALL STICKER (Wal-Mart)
Rubber ghosts and rubber pumpkins with soft, stretchable tongues sticking out, the actual intention is to use the tongue to FLING these across the room like slingshots! I always appreciate a big-tongues ghost, though. It's a standard ghost features in multiple other cultures, but when it crops up in America, it's more often only because the product was, in fact, designed in Japan or China, as is surely the case here as well.
STRETCHY TONGUE CRITTERS (Walgreen's)
This is such a cheap little accessory, just a crude plastic light-up wand to keep kids more visible in the streets at night, but I really love this character design, don't you? A pumpkin headed fella with something like a bowler hat, a little bow tie, tiny red bat wings and a disproportionately small sheet-ghost body. Adorable. This is Mons Game Mascot material if you ask me.
HALLOWEEN WAND (Fred Meyer)
I wanted to share this, because while we've seen many, many cauldrons with legs (Pocuses), it's surprisingly rare that I see a cauldron with eyes. I do wish it were in a more tangible form than a gelatinous window sticker, but it's still pretty gosh-darn cute.
CAULDRON CRITTER WINDOW CLING (Lowe's)
I got this at an antique mall, and it seems like I end up with another ceramic paper bag monster every single year. What exactly started the trend of these things? They've been around since at least my childhood, including a million different paper bag Santa Clause heads. I just don't understand. I don't understand why they're both ceramic heads and they're shaped like paper bags.
CERAMIC ZOMBIE BAG
But, at least this is another really nice one. A really goofy, bloody zombie character with googly green eyes and cracked flesh. Not a common monster choice! These things are more often your usual mummies, skulls, pumpkins, ghosts or vampires. Love the axe and the worms, too.
This was apparently a really hot item this year, and wasn't manufactured in high enough quantities to meet the demand. It's a skeleton that's something like ten to fifteen feet high? I guess that's neat. Its eyes light up, too.
GIANT SKELETON (Home Depot)
A smaller, more affordable Home Depot item in 2020 is what they're called a "Victorian Reaper," and other people would call a plague doctor, but on close inspection, it's actually something with a crow skull for a head and an outfit that is not really that of a plague doctor at all, so...I guess it really is quite possible whatever a "Victorian Reaper" is.
"VICTORIAN REAPER" (Home Depot)
The last thing by Homer Poe is this giant lawn snake, modeled in three pieces so it looks like it's slithering up out of the ground. That's not something a snake like this can really do, but it's still a fairly interesting piece. Big, realistic snakes are curiously a rare sight as Halloween decor.
GIANT SNAKE (Home Depot)
An internet friend who goes by Medb mailed these to my other friend, who I live with, so I borrowed them to take some photos! They come packaged in tiny plastic packets exactly like candy, but they're inedible, ultra-soft rubber toys that include a variety of simple, adorable Halloween shapes in often unconventional color schemes, like the black ghost and orange bat seen here. There's also emerald green pumpkins and a pure white Frankenstein's Monster!
JAPANESE HALLOWEEN JELLY TOYS
I love this more than I can really explain. It's just a block of wood cut into a skeleton torso and skull, its facial features simply painted on, but the whiter rib cage is a whole separate piece glued to the front and I think that looks really nice. They didn't have to also write "SPOOKY" below its ribs or give it a polka-dotted orange bow, but we can all admire the fact that they did both of those things.
SPOOKY WOODEN SKELETON BUST (Grocery Outlet)
This was a goodwill find this year, just a big plastic sheet with a scary silhouette on it, but mine contains the top two designs and I really want you to take in that skeleton. Knife in one hand, tiny skull hanging by strings in the other hand, and an owl on its head. Those latter two things are even better when we open it up and zoom in them, too:
VINTAGE WINDOW COVER
I was literally just saying in another article that I wanted to see Halloween mushroom creatures, and according to tumblr user Doubtfullyyours, these were spotted at a garden center in California not long after! Mushrooms with grabby hands and goofy, grumpy troll faces on their stems, a rare trope off to what I'd hope is the start of a coming resurgence.
That's what they call this item, just "Pumpkin Stump," which I guess kind of describes it? It's the torso and arms of a gnarled, wooden humanoid sticking up from the ground and its head is an angry Jack O' Lantern; the kind carved so the pumpkin's stem is a creepy nose!
PUMPKIN STUMP (Party City)
While spotted at Wal-Mart, I don't think this is exclusive to them. We've seen a lot of these big air-blown inflatable lawn decorations, but I really like that this one is such a seldom seen category of monster, and it's such a cute design, too! Very "Nightmare Before Christmas," its face almost ripped off from Jack Skellington himself, except there are green eyes in the sockets, floppy hair and a little doll body. I also somehow made it through that whole comparison before I realized it could therefore actually pass as Jack and Sally's unholy offspring.
GIANT INFLATABLE RAGDOLL (Wal Mart)
I would like to think that this is life sized, too. That the child of a skeleton man and a rag doll woman is a goth skeledoll that comes out bigger than either of its parents.
It's okay, we already know Sally can sew back together...or did it come out of Jack? These people are made of corpses and dead leaves, I don't friggin know how their biology works.
My GOD this is cute! It's only like two inches tall, but it's a little black and purple resin teacup on a dish, bubbling over with something or other, and it's got that whole cute tiny ghost rising up out of it in a snowglobe bubble, like some alternate design for Polteageist. Absolutely lovable.
HAUNTED TEACUP SNOWGLOBE (Grocery Outlet)
My friend Seth rescued this delightfully squat, square shaped mummy plush from a crane machine! Not only does it have that lovably gloomy, yellow eye and stitched-looking red mouth, but three big red droplets from its eye to its foot, as though crying blood! The presence of blood also clearly makes this a medical mummy, a concept I discuss further HERE!
In the long gone year of 2012, I came upon bizarre entities I've regretted missing out on ever since. Skeleton "shelf sitters" with bats instead of eyes, eyeballs for legs, and ghosts cradled in their hands, which I subsequently dubbed Skilevaks. I've searched high and low for any sign of them ever since and come up empty-handed, but imagine my delight when I strolled into a Goodwill and found what is quite obviously one of their close family members!
While not quite as absurd and confusing as the Skilevak, I am quite enthralled by this freaky black cat, with its demented, veiny eyeballs - one larger than the other! - and fish skeletons for leg joints. Those are at least bones, so technically they belong there more than eyeballs do, and they're even thematic to this being a cat monster...but it's still a hilariously quirky design choice, and stylish as hell! The fact that the cat still has normal feet is all the more unsettling, as if its legs were only mostly destroyed and replaced with dead trout.
Will I ever conceivably find a real, actual Skilevak? And were there possibly even more characters in this family?! Any and all leads are very, very welcome, and if you ever actually find me the real deal, I'll gladly pay for it; at least in, let's say, $100 worth of stuff from my etsy store?
Wait, nah, let's make it $200 worth! I OFFICIALLY MEAN BUSINESS!
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: