Every Halloween, America's two leading Pet Supply chains are always in a tug-of-war for my attention; sometimes Petsmart and Petco both have entertaining enough seasonal exclusives to warrant a whole post each, sometimes only one of them does, and sometimes they each have such a minor smattering I have to roll them into one article. It looks like 2022 is one of the years Petsmart reigns supreme, and it warrants a reminder that if you like any of these things, you really don't need a cat or a dog to excuse buying them. You're allowed to have any spooky stuffed animal you want, even if it was intended for a normal real animal, and these things are pretty much gone forever once they're gone from these stores. The same ones almost never come back the following year and very, very few ever make it to ebay or Amazon! So hopefully you don't sleep on anything as cool as...
HALLOWEEN SHOPPING 2022:
PETSMART'S SPOOKY SHOP
A skeleton fish appears to be a Halloween tradition for Petsmart's aquarium selection: this is the third variation, three years in a row, though it's the very first to also be an Anglerfish, as indicated by the illicium! Its bright yellow tip glows brightly under the right LED lighting, the rest of the ornament left in appropriately drab, bony colors.
The design of the skeleton is actually lifted from a specific piece of Stock Art, which reminds me that maybe I need to start designing Halloween stock art myself in the off chance that any of it might leak into the real world like this.
The downside of course is that this isn't at all what an Anglerfish skeleton looks like, but then, most consumers would probably wonder where the rest of it went, since the real thing is almost entirely skull with a little bit of spine.
For comparison, these are the Petsmart skelefish from the previous two years; actually very similar to the Angler design, minus the lure, but also a little "cartoonier" and chunkier in style.
Speaking of fish bones, another aquarium ornament is Petsmart's second or third nautical coffin bubbler; like those treasure chests you hook up to an aquarium's air pump, only spooky flavored! Their first one had a fish skeleton modeled inside, but this time it's a mermaid skeleton!
These are kind of expensive rubber window clings, thicker than normal window stickers and almost $5 for just one, but they come in some pretty delightful designs and I thought I'd highlight these two: a cricket wearing a cricket-shaped skeleton costume and a pumpkin-headed shark. The cricket is great because it's an invertebrate who went as a vertebrate for Halloween, and the shark is great because I choose to believe it's not wearing a costume at all. Its body is orange, so I'm going to go with it being an actual pumpkin-shark hybrid monster.
These are crinkly plush dog toys around four or five feet long, and their designs are all over the place but all very very special in their own way. The coffin is the most "normal," just a big black corpse box with RIP on the front and a cute skeleton peeking out of it. Then you've a giant Halloween gummy worm with eyes and a giant chocolate bar with both a face and a bite taken out of it, two great additions to the Sugar Fiend family. The fourth and I think final design is the most elaborate and unique: a happy alien riding a UFO, with a plush "tractor beam" making up most of its length. It looks at first glance like it's abducting a cow, which is a 2-d image sewn onto the beam, but on closer inspection it's actually a black and white spotted dog, which is funnier.
IRRATIONALLY LONG PLUSHES
Ha ha, that dog's gonna get vivisected by space people.
There's a number of different products featuring the same set of circus characters, which include a sentient symbol monkey, a skeleton ringmaster, a cute female harlequin they amusingly refer to as "joker" and a couple of others. Then there's this Spooky Clown "Ball Pit" for pets, like a little pop-up tent in the shape of a clown head in the same design style. These characters are also repeated on some other toys and some pet costumes, and I just think they're really charming.
The OMG! Surprise! pet toys are great year round; plush creatures with a vinyl squeaky toy hidden inside, so when your dog finally destroys the outer toy they get a bonus mini toy to keep playing with. Even the non-Halloween incarnations are adorably morbid, like a plush cat containing a terrified plush mouse. Last year, I bought one myself, a plush spider, just to get the darling rubber housefly out of it, so it's funny that this year they've added an actual fly trap to the line, a delightfully simple, cartoony one with googly eyes and a protruding tongue!
"OMG! SURPRISE" FLYTRAP
Since they already paired a fly with the spider, the flytrap comes hiding a squeaky bee. I'm not sure whether to feel that they should have just done another, different fly or whether I appreciate there being more insect diversity wherever the opportunity presents itself. I could go either way.
They call this a caterpillar, but it's very obviously a centipede in every single way; long antennae, a pair of legs on every segment and pair of legs acting as a "tail." But they ARE correct about it being in candy corn colors. I'm going to assume this is a centipede creature made out of candy corn, so it's another kind of sugar fiend.
CANDY CORN "CATERPILLAR"
"Silent brain" and "silent eye" are pretty ominous names for basically anything, but it's just because they have an "ultra sonic" squeaker that only dogs can hear. Your beastly mongrels can gnash at these things all day without driving you to madness! The brain looks more like a nondescript pink blob of goo with a happy face on it than a brain, and the eyeball is basically just an eyeball with some purple fuzz fringe, but I'm glad a whole two Petsmart plushes are body organ creatures. Also, the eyeball spiders on their tags are a killer design in themselves. Those deserve a toy, too!
SILENT BRAIN & EYE
This is one of the low-price rubber squeak toys they're selling at the front of the store, and it's just a cartoon tombstone sticking out of a patch of grass with an ADORABLE little white ghost peeking over the top. It's got the saddest little face-holes I ever did see. The more I look it the more it practically hurts, like I want to shield this poor little ghost from everything wrong with the world. Then you turn the tombstone around and see that they modeled the poor thing with an entire goofy little humanoid body that doesn't even touch the ground. It's hoisting itself up over its own grave. It's the size and shape of a baby. Oh god. Is this a baby's ghost?!?!
VINYL TOMBSTONE GHOST
I'm showing you this one "upside down" to emphasize what a wonderful character design it really is. Two witch legs sticking out of a cauldron are a common Halloween image, but in this instance, the legs are connected to a pale green lump with a single eyeball. This probably represents the "brew" bubbling out of the caulron, yes, but flipped around, it just looks like this entire witch is a one-eyed green head with giant legs and it wears a cauldron like a hat. I positively adore it. This is like some wonderful Mario or Kirby enemy. This totally paces around a platforming level, hurling magical blasts from afar, only to scrunch down and hide in its impenetrable helmet the moment you're close enough to attack. I'll bet the only thing you can do about it is reflect the magic back to it. Maybe you have to hide behind reflective surfaces when you see the projectiles coming.
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