Halloween 2023: 31 Miscellaneous Treasures
Written by Jonathan WojcikFor over a decade, nearly every October on bogleech.com has been marked by almost daily to bi-daily Halloween articles, and that's on top of the 31 day special series that also became tradition, like this year's Bloodborne Creatures. In october 2023, however, I've updated only a couple of times per week at most, and I guess I'm actually okay with that. In the earliest possible days of my website, year one of bogleech.com having a "Halloween" category at all, the updates were nothing but once monthly on purpose, a round-up of every interesting Halloween doo-dad I had purchased each month of the season. Another year or two later, this expanded to interesting things I'd even seen. Later still, I started going "store by store" to review everything catching my eye from Target or Michael's as I still do today, and at some point, I broadened the feature into spooky scary articles of every conceivable variety.
Well, I'm officially middle aged as of this year's Halloween, officially been at this for almost half of that lifetime, and I guess we're diving straight back to the site's roots.
Here's one big, final round-up of all the Halloween decorations, collectibles, costumes and other miscellany that didn't fit into any of our other articles this year...
These gnomes with the big, round noses and the hats over their eyes have SOARED in popularity lately, and you can find all manner of them tied to almost every major holiday. We've seen Halloween versions with haunted trees, entire ghosts and Jack O' Lanterns for hats, but in 2023, Safeway grocery stores carried one whose hat is made entirely of little skulls fused together. Since they're so much smaller than the Gnome, we can only surmise they are the skulls of various tinier fae, and by my estimate, that's at least 60-100 dead pixies, fairies, sprites and goblins this little freak is wearing on his head. Good lord.
Grimdark Gnome (Safeway)
I really love these little candy bowls! One is a simple, white skull with an orange interior, but a single eyeball stares intensely from its right socket. The other is a shorter, broader round mummy head with a pitch black interior, eyes sharing a black gap in its bandages, a red mouthand a little cartoon spider for good measure. They're classic, generic spooky characters, but especially as a pair they have a lot of personality.
Skull and Mummy Bowls (Big Lots)
This is a fairly large plastic rat skeleton, totally inaccurate with its massive bony ears and all, but I LOVE the unpainted bone eyeballs with little lights for pupils, looking more like a chameleon's eyes than those of a rodent, either skeletal or fleshed. Its eyes as well as the interior of its ribs can light up, but the only one I saw was all out of battery.
Giant Skeleton Rat (Rite Aid)
The same goes for Rite Aid's oversized skeletal frog, which IS actually accurate to the real thing except for the addition of a full rib cage. Frogs actually don't really have one! I guess it needed the extra support, so whoever brought this amphibian back from the dead gave it a rib transplant from something else.
Giant Skeleton Frog (Also Rite Aid)
This fascinating resin statue consists of an old book lying open and for some reason erupting with skulls. Three skulls and two skeletal hands, specifically, but the skulls are also completely covered in or largely comprised of even smaller skulls, like the gnome hat. What could ever possibly be going on here? Perhaps it's a book about skulls, possessed by a skull-based spirit. Maybe it will tell you all about the skulls so you don't have to actually read the ancient tome yourself, like the necromancy version of an audiobook.
Book of Skulls (Walgreens)
This simple, roundish ceramic mug is also a mummy, one of several mummy mugs I've seen and/or owned by now, but what stands out about THIS one is the lack of any facial features other than two round, black eye sockets containing greenish eyeballs with red pupils. It's a charmingly sickly, haunted looking stare, but I guess it also kind of looks like this mummy used a couple of pickled olives as replacement eyes, now that I think about it.
Mummy Cup (Old Time Pottery)
This skeleton character in a black cloak is short, kind of toddler-proportioned, and it has these strangely bubble-like bright red eyes filling its eye sockets. If they only had kind of a grid-like texture, they would look exactly like fly's eyes.
Red-Eyed Skeleton (Party Outlet)
Fairly cheap at Wal Mart this year were these inflatable black bats printed with a simplified, cartoony bat skeleton. Naturally they have the bone ear thing going on, and none of their other bones are quite right, but they're cute, and the first time I think I've seen a skeletal bat or any skeletal animal in inflatable form!
Inflatable Skeleton Bat (Wal-Mart)
I've barely ever seen Stranger Things and I'm not sure I'd ever get around to it, since I pretty much know all of its major plot beats and have seen all of its creatures by now, but I do appreciate the design of Demogorgon. "Petaled" monster mouths are one of my favorite design details, and it's nice to see a monster with such a classic creepy feature go mainstream enough that you can buy decorative versions of it at a plain old Wally World. It's even Trick-or-Treating!
Demogorgon Greeter (Wal-Mart)
I've never reviewed Halloween Beanie Babies or Beanie Boos, and maybe this is a sign that I should, or maybe it would be pointless because Mumford blows them all so far out of the water. He's a ghost, but he's wrapped in white and orange mummy bandages. He has candy corn vampire fangs, and he's also holding a pet spider, a cute little six-legged, roundish black spider with adorable little orange eyes of its own, and wait til you hear the poem in his tag:
A spider for a friend,
Is what I recommend.
This is my spider here, I always keep him near.
Having a spider is actually Mumford's entire personality!
This grey treat pail has some fascinating ideas of vampire and/or bat anatomy. It has large googly eyes permanently attached and a happy little fanged smile, that much is normal, but then it has a pair of small, black bat wings printed...on its cheeks? Right at the corners of its mouth. Not only below its eyes, but slightly farther in. Can it actually fly like that? I guess it's a supernatural entity anyway.
Vampire Bucket (Publix)
This is a pretty big pterosaur skeleton, though its body is designed and posed more like they recycled it from one of the bird designs. Its head is massive, though, and the skull at least almost exactly like the real deal!
Skeleton Pterosaur (Walgreens)
This year has truly spoiled us on frog skeletons, even if none of them look quite natural. This is another one with a full ribcage and barely accurate skull, but I'm loving its long, sucker-tipped and fully webbed toes!
Skeleton Tree Frog (Walgreens)
It has been many years indeed since Crazy Bonez released the first skeletal scorpion prop, and almost as many since I've seen any knockoffs. I still love the original, of course, but this one is honestly really badass looking, posed precisely like an actual scorpion as it stalks the desert, with big fat claws, eight finger-bone legs, a soft rubber tail that you can twist a little in its socket, a lovely warty texture similar to actual scorpion exoskeletons, and a fierce looking face with kind of sad-looking eye sockets and four large, curving fangs. Not remotely accurate to a scorpion's mouth structure, but still cool! My only concern is that the tail is only connected to the harder plastic by a little knob type joint, which could very easily wear down and break off over time. If you have one of these, remember to be gentle with it!
NEW Scorpion Skeleton (Walgreens)
This plush is the size of a small throw pillow, and I don't know what it's meant to represent exactly. It's a big white circle with a moaning ghostly face, pink cheeks and a green star surrounding one of its two eyeholes, so kind of like a moon, or something, but the little pom-poms encircling its outer edge instantly make it look like a cartoon "germ" to my mind, like those totally resemble the spikes of a virus, right?!
...Virus? Pillow? (Walmart)
I've seen a lot of spooky doll characters that giggle and say things like "wanna plaaay?" over the years, but they're usually baby dolls. These on the other hand are truly adorable rag dolls, riding a miniature tricycle and rocking horse, respectively. With their simple button eyes, stitched mouths and cross-stitch noses, I appreciate that they aren't trying too hard to look monstrous or scary, no bloodstains or glowing red stares or hidden fangs necessary!
Animated Ragdolls (Big Lots)
I don't include a lot of the Disney licensed stuff in these reviews, but I like how different this one is; it's a white pumpkin with Jack Skellington's face, resting atop the coils of a black and orange snake that winds up into it and back out through one eye socket. I also love how the snake's silly little face kind of looks more like a duck. Like that one in the actual movie, but they gave this one beady black eyes, and only the very end of its long muzzle actually opens like a mouth. I guess it's not so much duck-like as fish-like in appearance. That is the face and mouth of some kind of carp if I've ever seen one.
Nightmare Before Christmas Pumpkin (Rite Aid)
Another brand new creature! Eyeball spiders aren't new to our culture, but shockingly I've seen only a handful in the realm of Halloween goodies. This here is a golden spider whose entire abdomen is an eyeball, and it's hatching out of a black pumpkin as if it's an egg!
Eyeball Spider Pumpkin!!! (Walgreens)
I really like the style of this plastic mask! It's white and furry, like a yeti, except for the big giant eyes and maniacal smile, with bloodstained blocky teeth and shiny purple flesh.
Fuzzy Monster Mask (Rite Aid)
One more Lepidopteran item for you! This cool little tabletop statue consists of just one large skullmoth and two tinier black moths perched on a curled-up skeleton hand, which could also hold a tealight or whatever you want in its open palm. This is me speculating on what you could have done if you bought this, which like all of these items would already be sold out by now, and will likely never return again. Sorry guys.
Skeleton Hand With Moth (Fred Meyer)
Two styles of creepy clown, full of star-shaped holes for light to shine out! The larger one sits atop a tombstone, while a smaller one just stands on its big red shoes, I guess the first one's child or very small life partner. I like that these are cartoonier and subtler than the snarling, fanged demon clowns that saturate Halloween. If not for their sinister mischievous smiles, and I suppose the human grave with the skull on it, these could almost pass for non-Halloween clowns.
Ceramic Creepy Clowns (Party Outlet)
This little light-up cloche contains a skull, two plastic orange fern fronds, pale pink flowers and a matching pink snake! Once again, I love the influx of flowery, pastel items to Halloween.
Snake Cloche (Party City)
AMAZING. I'd have bought these if they didn't cost so much for basically just cardboard cut-outs. A single large one resembles a blue-capped mushroom with a jagged, ghostly face in its gnarled wood-like stem. The other option consists of four smaller mushrooms in two pairs, one design having the same sort of jaggedy mouth while the other has a gasping, ghostly round-mouthed face. I did a whole post earlier about the rise of spooky fungi, and I'm delighted to finally see some as actual lawn decor!
Mushroom Yard Signs (Party Outlet)
This little squeaky dog toy consists of a green doll with wonky yellow eyes, a stitchy mouth, stitches on its limbs and a blue heart marking with "pins" in it, so yeah, I guess it is a voodoo doll, but it also had pointy little ears, like it could also just be some sort of green goblin that's undergone a lot of weird surgery lately.
"Voodoo Doll" (Petsmart)
Another Petsmart toy is a small, vinyl cauldron overflowing with bright green goo and a single eyeball! There's no indication it's "alive," of course, it could simply be a dead eyeball floating in the stew, but it's still so adorable and colorful for just a couple dollars, I couldn't not bring one of these home for myself.
Squeaky Witch's Brew (Petsmart)
This is a light-up Blow Mold item, ie just barely flexible and lightweight hollow plastic, consisting of a highly detailed and lovably decrepit mummy rising from the ground! Its head is huge, especially the eye sockets, which have only the tiniest red dots in their centers. Its arms are SUPER thin and bony, and the flesh wherever it's not bandaged is a nice, corpsey greenish. Most notable however is that it's forming its hands into a little heart shape, letting you know that it loves you. It loves everyone.
Blow Mold Mummy (Target)
Only for kids!? Awww. I can't begin to describe how wildly excited I'd have been to have this as a child, but then I might not have ever had the bug costume my mother made for me out of a hoodie, which had four arms connected to eachother by strings and everything.
Children's Cockroach Costume (Target)
This is a badass costume though, if you want to buy something right from a store. The morphsuit style body is printed to look like a fantastic, gigeresque insect creature, it has wings attached, and the plastic mask ALMOST looks like the face of an actual cockroach, even if the mouthparts are a little more sci-fi. I feel like I'd buy one of these just to stuff it as a little dummy, or something, and then it would look like a little cockroach person is standing in the kitchen or lounging on the couch.
Oh man, RAD. This is more of a vampire costume, really, what with the black cloak. The pattern printed on the front is gorgeously creepy, but strange; it's like a bunch of big, gaping, rotten holes, glowing reddish orange inside with cobwebby strands of tissue. Is that like the vampire dissolving away in sunlight, or perhaps some kind of magical hellfire powering its form? Who knows. The real attraction here is that SICK ASS mask. A pitch black, hairless bat monster face with vivid red flesh around its grinning, toothy maw, rugose bat nose and ridgy inner ears, two beady red eyes set to either side of the nose beneath a large, wrinkly black forehead. Truly ghoulish, maniacal and just gorgeous, I kind of want the mask all by itself as wall decor.
Children's Bat Costume (Target)
This is certainly an interesting definition of both a mummy and a costume. It's really just a long-sleeved shirt with built-in pants, whatever you actually call that sort of thing, like pajamas. It doesn't include a mask or anything, and its pattern isn't just mummy bandages, but mummy bandages completely swarming with little tiny creatures?! I see purple frog-like gremlins with giant eyes, little green crocodile-like reptiles with stalked eyes, pairs of eyeballs with mustaches, paired eyeballs ringed with feathers, two different species that appear to just consist of orange glasses, tiny blue owl owl-like critters with horns, and a whole lot of eyes without visible owners, but similar to those of the purple "frogs." Seriously, WHAT is this. What is going on. I've seen mummies with a few bugs or rats bursting out of them but every inch of this mummy is occupied by some kind of gremlin. How can there even be room for a corpse in there?! Is this like when two or three children dress up in the same coat to look like a grown man, except it's 900 little demons pretending to be one mummy???
Mummy "Costume" (Target)
AMAZING. This is a quite large resin sculpture of a skeletal monstrosity "officially" in the form of a "cricket," but that elongated face is much more "grasshopper" if you ask me! I guess there are crickets out there with that head structure, but certainly not the little house and field crickets most are familiar with. More surprisingly, this is actually not explicitly marketed as a Halloween item as near as I can tell, but was just added near October to Petco's reptile decor, so it counts as Halloween, I mean obviously, but it also just might remain available year-round for a while. We'll see!
Skeleton Cricket Statue (Petsmart)
This adorable blue ghost has huge round cartoon eyes and the silliest fat smile with a big tongue sticking out, the kind of design that makes me think of the ghosts and monsters in 70's and 80's anime or older video games. I absolutely love its design, and that's even before we get to its little black bat friend, or is it an owl friend? It's impossible to say, because it actually just looks exactly like a miniature Mothman. It's difficult to determine just how old this is or where it originally came from, but it's a thrift store find my Mother picked out for me as a little surprise present at some point, and that's another reason why my Halloween updates have been so empty: this is the first Halloween and therefore the first birthday I'll have spent with my mother in nine entire years.
Ghostly Cookie Jar (Unknown Origin)
I never meant it to be that way. If I'd had the money, I might have visited her more than once every year, but I live in Oregon and she lives in Florida, and that's a very big, very long and costly trip I could only previously afford once in 2021. It feels absolutely horrible to have lost this much time, because I'm lucky to have a parent who genuinely loves and supports every single thing about me; she reads this website all the time, she sends me care packages full of rubber bugs, she paints mermaids and makes fake mummy cats and for whatever reason thinks I'm the most brilliant artistic genius in the entire world, someone who's going to become a multi millionaire any day now for my allegedly super-genius writing and drawings, which I don't think is entirely likely, but she doesn't really care if it ever comes true. She's just so proud of everything I do, even these stupid blogs about cartoon monsters, she apparently (as much as this is also kind of mortifying) tells every other random stranger - grocery cashiers, restaurant waitstaff, repairmen, whatever - about how much she thinks they'll love her Brilliant Genius only child's Amazing website, and how his monster drawings are literally as creative and revolutionary as Da Vinci or Van Gogh.
I'm probably the worst person in the entire world for the number of times in my life I felt too busy for her numerous arts and crafts suggestions, or entire weeks that can still slip by without even calling, but I'm writing this at her house right now, and I'm turning 40 years old. I feel like maybe I'm too old for a website about these kinds of things to be such a big part of my existence, but, at least one person thinks that's somehow as impressive as the Renaissance.
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