If you’ve never heard of Shakin’ Mutants, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you’re about to hear a whole lot about Shakin’ Mutants. The bad news is also that.
Just look at those gorgeous mofos. They’re in ratty condition, but I’d still call ’em some of the best Halloween decorations I own.
Shakin’ Mutants was a line of Halloween monsters sold under the Spearhead banner, though by then, Spearhead itself was under Paper Magic Group’s umbrella. I know these are the sorts of details nobody cares about, but I put in five minutes of research, and I wanna profit from it.
Released in 1994, Shakin’ Mutants would stick around through the late ‘90s, returning to drug stores and pop-up shops every October. Back then, Halloween garbage worked differently than it does now. Licenses for major movie monsters weren’t handed out nearly as liberally, so companies who banked on the Halloween season more often had to come up with their own intellectual properties.
Tl;dr: Instead of the 50,000th Friday the 13th window cling, we were just as likely to end up with batshit awesomeness like this.
It’s gonna take a mouthful to describe these. Shakin’ Mutants were scary monster heads with comically huge rubber arms, which shook violently and laughed maniacally if you made any noise within their vicinity, and oh yeah, their eyes lit up, too.
You should be applauding!
I tried to record a video of the Shakin’ Mutants doing their thing, and the results have cost me 9 followers on Instagram as of this writing.
If you find Shakin’ Mutants strangely familiar, yeah, they’re reminiscent of Mattel’s older Boglins puppets.
The similarities aren’t abstract, either. God knows what led to it, but Paper Magic Group literally used BOGLIN ARMS to create these things. Look at that photo! The arms aren’t just “similar” — they’re EXACTLY the same!
I need to know how this happened. It seems unlikely that Paper Magic Group would just randomly rip off Boglin arms for no good reason. Did Mattel have a surplus stockpile of old arms that were sold at some private auction? I picture this going down in a military hangar. Everyone’s wearing sunglasses.
In any event, the weird connection has made Shakin’ Mutants super desirable among hardcore Boglins fans.
Shakin’ Mutants are usually written off as endearing no-name toys, but the truth was more complicated. Neither Spearhead nor Paper Magic Group were particularly big names in stores like Toys “R” Us, but they did have reach, and they made fucktons of Halloween doodads that both you and I bought and adored.
As the ‘90s rolled on, the Shakin’ Mutants collection grew and even inspired several spinoff lines, all with the same sound-activated gimmick. This scan from Paper Magic Group’s 1997 wholesale catalog shows some of those spinoffs, but there were also larger varieties that stood several feet tall! (Well, technically. More like ten inches plus a whole lotta cape.)
There were also many imitators on the market, so if you owned a “Shakin’ Mutant” with a slightly different feel, it was probably one of those. Basically, we were surrounded by screeching monster heads with gangly arms and barely ever noticed.
I love these gory weirdos. Even this guy, who at this point hardly shakes and is missing his kickass green tongue, makes me feel all tingly.
Consider this my official pitch for you to start collecting Shakin’ Mutants. They pop up on eBay regularly enough, though the prices are all over the place. (My advice? Wait for a bargain. It’s uh… kind of a buyer’s market with these things.)
Twisted Halloween monsters that double as massagers and are kinda/sorta related to Boglins? Yep, you need them!