Oof. This one’s gonna be bittersweet for me. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Guys, it’s Shrunken Apple Head’s TENTH birthday!
Shrunken Apple Head first appeared on X-Entertainment in 2003, as part of my ill-fated attempt to review an ancient Vincent Price “Shrunken Head” kit without actually owning one. He came out looking like the corpse of Doc Brown, and I had no reason to suspect that he’d last more than a few months, let alone TEN GODDAMNED YEARS.
I’ve shown you Shrunken Apple Head nearly every year since, not even letting major hurricanes get in my way. Now here’s how our pal looks in 2013:
Unfortunately, that’s only a recent picture – not one from today.
Which brings me to the “bittersweet” part.
Now that Shrunken Apple Head has matured, he’s taken on many new responsibilities. A few months ago, he even got a job. I have no idea what he does, but he’s perpetually stressed and almost always traveling.
In fact, he’s been gone for nearly a week now, off on another of his mysterious business trips. I hate this. I hate that I’m not spending Halloween with my whole family, and I hate that poor Shrunken Apple Head can’t be with us on his tenth birthday.
He hates it, too. I was on the phone with him a few days ago, and he could barely get a word out. Who wants to spend their birthday all alone in some crappy hotel, hundreds of miles from anyone or anything familiar?
But every cloud has a silver lining, even when the cloud is composed of weird things like ten-year-old fruit. A few of Shrunken Apple Head’s friends got together and… well, watch this:
Happy birthday, Shrunken Apple Head. Even with all of today’s candy and horror movies and costumes and mirth, we’re thinking of you.
Holy shit, it’s Halloween. Finally? Already?!
The 2013 Halloween Countdown isn’t over yet (COME BACK TONIGHT!), but I hope you enjoyed it. More importantly, I hope you enjoyed the whole damn season.
I know I have. Usually, Halloween gets here, and there’s a tiny voice inside me screaming, “That’s it?” Not this year. I may have not been at my prolific peak, but brother, I lived the gimmick. I went to pumpkin patches, a scary amusement park and several costume shops. I saw a horror movie in theaters. (Okay, it was the kinda-sucky Carrie remake, but it still counts.) I partied with friends under the glow of seasonal spirits and Beistle wall decorations. I did it all!
I was close to having no regrets, but the truth is, there was one. I didn’t carve a pumpkin this year. It’s the one tradition that got away from me, and while I guess there’s still time to make it happen, I decided on a different last-minute activity:
This year, I carved a TURNIP.
This was suggested by Goob over on Dino Drac’s Facebook page, and it made perfect sense. Many say that jack ‘o lanterns originated in Ireland, where people killed turnips instead of pumpkins. I loved the idea. I also loved how my nearest supermarket actually carried super gigantic turnips suitable for such a task.
We’ll get back to the turnip in a few. First, other things! Read More…
The rumors are true. I have eight balls.
Made by Entertech in 1989, the SPITBALLS collection turned our favorite slashers, monsters and ghosts into… well, spitballs.
Each set came with two hollow rubber heads, with pinholes in the mouths. Squeeze ‘em underwater to fill ‘em up, and squeeze ‘em again to make ‘em… Jesus Christ, that’s too many ’ems. What I’m trying to say is that they SHOOT WATER, over a purported distance of eighteen feet. I don’t think I need to test that; Entertech was clearly exaggerating.
Would you look at this lot? Freddy Krueger! Jason Voorhees! Slimer! Dracula! Turning such beloved murderers into tiny squirt heads might seem like a waste of the licensing fees, but I look at it like this: While there are plenty of action figures for each of these characters, there’s only one Spitball. Read More…
Rocks & Bugs & Things may very well be the strangest toy line of all time. Made by Ideal in 1985, there was nothing typical about these “hungry hunters with hidden horrors.”
This much should be obvious just by looking at the box. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. No, there isn’t a softer explanation for what you’re seeing. That really is a fleshy monster, disguised as a rock, preparing to eat a little goblin. THAT’S WHAT’S IN THE BOX.
The line consisted of ten monstrous rocks and bugs. The rocks worked like simple Transformers, with terrible creatures masquerading as benign boulders. The bugs were only a little less interesting, with extra heads and appendages hidden in their mouths.
But wait, there’s more!
The creatures were positioned as bloodthirsty warriors, who fought endlessly over the “Mordles” – those being the little goblins seen on the box. Each figure came with one Mordle figure, and they were intended to be FOOD for the rocks and bugs!
I seriously could not name another toy line so bizarre in concept and execution. Monster rocks fighting mutant bugs over neon-colored edible imps? GLORIOUS. Read More…
I’ve been absent for a few days, owing to several minor things that snowballed at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME. The assumption is that life went on without those three or four extra posts about candy and costumes.
In any event, now I’m back, and I have more Classic Creepy Commercials! Here’s the third volume, starring Herman Munster, Fred Willard and need I say more?
Beetlejuice Action Figures! (1990)
Neatly, the Beetlejuice toy collection was based on the movie – not the cartoon series. Every figure had a special feature, but most memorable were the several with pop-off heads that revealed SHRUNKEN heads underneath. (In a nod to the “waiting room” scene from the movie’s climax, which Kenner was apparently obsessed with.)
The series had an unmistakable Real Ghostbusters vibe, to the point where it’s easy to confuse some of the monsters with RGB figures. (Given that both lines were produced by Kenner, I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that some Beetlejuice figures were salvaged from RGB concepts.)
In fact, the least-known figures were the best of the bunch. This commercial features characters recognizable to anyone who’s seen the film, but even better were the ones exclusive to the toy line. (My favorite was “Street Rat,” a gothic punker who could transform into a giant, eyeball-flinging rat!) Read More…
Okay, this has gotta be the weirdest edition of Vintage Vending yet. LOOK AT THIS THING!
No formal title for the collection was provided, I guess because “Bugs & Fish Guts” would’ve been more polarizing than fetching.
Everything about it is off. I’ll describe the individual prizes in a minute, but each is stapled – literally stapled – to the card, and in entirely erratic positions. The card itself is impossibly flimsy, and for reasons I can’t even guess at, smothered with purposeless holes.
It’s another treasure from the Folz company, who also produced the Halloween Horrors collection. While this would’ve worked as “Halloween Horrors II,” the card forwent any title in favor of the word “FOLZ,” presented in multiple neon colors in a font more suited to football team logos.
The set’s enigmatic qualities only add to its appeal. In my view, throwing a bunch of rotting fish over a hot pink background reads less as “lazy” and more as “art.” Whoever assembled this was clearly trying to make a statement. I bet he wore a painter’s cap and teensy tiny glasses. I believe that with all of my heart. Read More…