Gurglin Gutz. That’s what they’re called!

Gurglin Gutz was a smallish line of gruesome “stress balls” that made rude noises when you squeezed them. That about says it all, but I live to stretch!

The collection debuted in 1995, and as you can tell from the above example, the toys weren’t much different from the “unpackaged” novelties you’d find at most party stores at this time of year.

…and that’s partly why I like them. I’m hesitant to call a blood-filled, baseball-sized eyeball “simple,” but if you’re familiar with this sort of thing, it kind of is. It’s barely a step above what you’d find in Oriental Trading’s Halloween catalog.

When I took this thing out of the package, I was aghast at the notion of doing a full blog entry on it. But 4Kidz had a strategy, and brother, it worked. They branded the holy hell out of these toys, providing pretty plain doodads with their own little universe. The line’s mascot was Dr. I.M. Gorey, and if I’m piecing everything together correctly, the various eyeballs, hearts and brains were meant to be HIS eyeballs, hearts and brains.

Bloody eyeballs are much easier to appreciate when you can imagine them being plucked from a mad scientist in dollar store scrubs.

I’ve compared Gurglin Gutz toys to the three dollar “whatevers” you’d find on the bottom shelf of Party City. That’s accurate, but it doesn’t make them bad. Gross rubber body parts can only be expected to do so much, and so long as you didn’t expect flashing lights, this one cuts the mustard.

Cheekily named “Eye-Ball,” it’s viciously bloodshot, with an extra puddle of liquid blood trapped underneath a see-through outer layer. Between the juice and the rubber, Eye-Ball makes the worst/best noises when you play with it. Like a horse defecating squarely onto a pile of Jell-O.

EXACTLY like that, actually. I’ll save the story of how I know this for a time when my future no longer matters.

I don’t remember the mid ‘90s being a particularly great time for toys. At the very least, it wasn’t a great time for a line like this, which was obviously better suited to the Madballs/Boglins era. I think part of my attraction to Gurglin Gutz stems purely from pity. I picture them in a 1995 Toys “R” Us, and can only imagine the ridiculously bad aisle they were hidden within.

Course, that pity is dampened by frustration, because Gurglin Gutz toys are IMPOSSIBLE to photograph. There’s a reason I rounded the corners and went wild with the filters.

Even after a hundred snaps, not a single one was adequately in focus. I tried ten backgrounds, double as many angles, and every light source outside of natural fire. Nothing worked. Is this why 4Kidz only used crude illustrations to highlight their other rubber body parts on the back of the package? I’d have an easier time photographing vampires at the offices of NORAD.

(above photos courtesy of “greenthirteen”)

The toys came in an assortment of sizes and styles. Some of the gooey organs were keychain-sized, while others were about as big as swollen grapefruits.

Later, 4Kidz released alien spinoffs, which may have been Gurglin Gutz at its peak awesomeness. I love that a glow-in-the-dark alien head belongs to a family that otherwise consists of human hearts and brains. You’d need to pen an entire novel to make sense of it, but I’ll see if I can do it in a paragraph.

“Lazgooza, the mad torturer, was exiled from his home planet of Saturnia IV. A sentence of aimless space travel could not quell his bloodlust, and so he travels from planet to planet, kidnapping whatever species he can find. Trapped aboard his ship, Lazgooza’s victims barely have time to admire the evolved technology before they’re dismembered.”

Yeah, I guess that works. You can picture a milk crate full of human brains and alien heads when you read that, right?

Sadly, I cannot recommend that you make a hobby out of tracking down old Gurglin Gutz toys. From everything I’ve seen, they’re hideously expensive, owing to their rarity, or maybe to the fact that the one person selling them likes Italian sportscars. Admire from afar!

[stextbox id=”halloween”]The heart of Dino Drac’s Halloween Countdown is right here, of course, but don’t miss all of the smaller updates on Facebook and Mummy Shark! There’s still sooo muccch mooore to come![/stextbox]