Spook Spotter: The Best Halloween Treats of 2015

0

Big Scare spook spotter

Ghastly Greetings, Boils and Ghouls!  The Big Scare is extremely pleased with the treats available in spooky stores this year.  Not only have the major candy makers stepped up their game with fang-tastic Halloween packaging, but the amount of non-traditional Halloween treats is also on the rise.  Today, we highlight some of the awfully awesome treats you can find in a retailer near you.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

First up, fans of “blind box” toys will love Lego’s newest Halloween offerings.  Minifigure Series 14 is dedicated to lovers of Halloween, monsters, and mystery figures.  These unique treats come in blind packages, meaning you can’t see what is inside.  Each package contains 1 of 16 different Minifigures.  Pictured below: the Witch (#4), the Skeleton (#11), and the Banshee (#14) along with the little booklet that each one comes with.  These are available at various retailers, but they are selling fast!

Lego Monster Minifigures

Lego Monster Minifigures

Two kings of the snack world, Chips Ahoy! and TombStone Pizza are also getting into the Halloween spirit.  Chips Ahoy! is offering up special holiday chocolate-chip cookies with the orange chocolate chips.  The packaging is also themed to the season.  And TombStone Pizza is, once again, the “official pizza of Halloween,” and that means monsters on the packages.  Each of the pizza varieties has its own creepy character.  Check ’em out!

Advertisements

Spook Spotter: The Best Halloween Decorations of 2015 II

4

Big Scare spook spotter

Welcome, foolish mortals, to The Big Scare’s 2015 Countdown to Halloween.  Every other day, from now through October 31, we will be posting preposterously posthumous ponderings of the Halloween season.  We begin October with another installment of the Spook Spotter.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

World of Gods and Monsters

Last year, Cost Plus World Market debuted a line of officially licensed Universal Monsters dinnerware featuring The Frankenstein Monster and his Bride.  This year, they are expanding the line with all new platters, ceramic plates, and mugs.  World Market also carries vintage soda bottles featuring the creature and his mate, lollipops with The Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as Bride of Frankenstein tote bags.  What’s really creepily cool is the fact that the ceramic plate of Frankenstein’s monster features an image of Glenn Strange in the role as opposed to Boris Karloff.  Glenn Strange as Frankenstein is more iconic and recognizable to Monster kids, as it was Strange, not Karloff, who was featured on the Monster Craze merchandise of the 1960s.  Hopefully we will see more Universal Monsters at World Market next year.  Perhaps they can cut a deal with Bela Lugosi, Jr. next year and do a Dracula line of dinnerware.  “I never drink…” wine glasses, anyone?

Bride of Frankenstein Plate (World Market)

Bride of Frankenstein Plate (World Market)

More of the Night He Came Home

HomeGoods (A TJX Company) has come through again this year with some amazingly haunting display pieces for your home of horrors.  Take a look at this skull pumpkin, very reminiscent of the jack-o’-lantern featured in the opening sequence of John Carpenter’s Halloween II.  This terrifying display piece features a dramatic display of color-changing illumination.  Perfect for any fan of Halloween or Halloween.  Other pieces for sale at the TJX stores include spooky busts, haunted miniature hearses, snow globes, and glass pumpkin candle holders (pictured in the gallery at the end of our post).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mind-Blowing Blow Molds

The final item featured in our Spook Spotter today is a mind-blowing find – a vintage blow mold cat and jack-o’-lantern being carried at…  Wait for it…  Walmart.

The king of big box stores is carrying mass-produced reproduction vintage blow molds.  The first of these is the famous Hobo Jack-O’-Lantern.  The next is the cat with the jack-o’-lantern on its back (pictured here).

SONY DSC

Vintage Reproduction Blow Mold (Walmart)

These blow molds have not been seen in dime stores in years, but now they are back.  Granted, they aren’t 10 cents anymore, but they are better than 99% of the other Halloween decorations out there and definitely worth the $9.00 price tag.

Now, check out other great finds from this season in our ghastly gallery…

Universal Monsters Week | Mezco, Trick or Treat, & WOWindows

0
The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The only authentic Halloween decoration featuring the Universal Monsters this year is a pretty nifty WOWindows poster featuring Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster.  But — have no fear — there are plenty of other Universal Monster items out there this season.  So, hold on to your electrodes, as we recap the shocking offerings.

Diamond Select Toys is supposedly wrapping up its Universal Monsters line of toys, ending on a disappointing note with a non-likeness, no-need-to-be-licensed Van Helsing figure.  Although Diamond is coming out with an amazing Creature from the Black Lagoon figure next year, as well as a nice Son of Frankenstein, without any signs of Dracula’s Daughter, Son of Dracula, Werewolf of London, Kharis, or any supporting characters, it’s time to turn to other toymakers for our fill of Monster goodness.  And it looks as if Mezco is slowly taking away Diamond’s luster with its expansive offerings: Universal Monsters Living Dead Dolls and stylized figures.  This October saw the release of the amazing Dracula Living Dead Doll.  The Mummy stylized figure, which follows the ghastly Monster and Creature figures released earlier this year, will come to life soon.

Mezco Monsters

However, the grandest of this year’s Universal Monster items are not even officially licensed by Universal Studios.  Nope.  Instead, they are licensed through the estates of the individual actors.  Trick or Treat Studios, the up-and-coming leader of the Halloween mask-making world, has unleashed two great masks: The Bela Lugosi Mask (based upon Lugosi in the DRACULA play) and the Phantom of the Opera Mask featuring the likeness of the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney, Sr.  These two incredible masks deserve to the be the first in a long line of masks based upon the actors who invented the monsters.  Unfortunately with Universal involved, one never knows if “what should be” will be, but we’ll see…

Universal Monsters Week | Monster Hot Wheels & New Stock Art

1
The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

The official Universal Studios Monsters are back from the grave, this time adorning some sweet rides from Hot Wheels.  These creepy cars are now available at select grocery stores, such as certain Kroger stores and Winco, and will probably be found in the Halloween aisles.  In total there are six vehicles: Creature from the Black Lagoon Low Flow, Dracula Neet Streeter, Bride of Frankenstein ’59 Cadillac Funny Car, Frankenstein Double Demon Delivery, The Wolf Man Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus (not pictured) and The Mummy 1934 Chrysler Airflow (not pictured).

Universal Monsters Hot Wheels

And what is interesting about them is that they feature new artwork for our Monster friends.  Instead of the horrible CGI monstrosities created at the beginning of the last decade, these monster toys feature characters with a more “hand-illustrated” look.  And while none of them look much like the original characters (or, God forbid, actors), it is a step in the right direction, even if it means eliminating the Wolf Man’s dog snout (poor choice, indeed, Universal).  Perhaps these line-art versions of the Monsters will be seen on other products in the future.  Maybe the CGI-looking, computer-drawn abominations from 2002 will finally be gone forever…  Only time will tell.  All I know is that I’d give almost anything to have these 1997 versions back.  Or the 1991 Monsters…  Or the Aurora Monster Model art…  But anything is better than the ones we’ve had to endure for the past decade.  That is certain.  We’ll be back Friday with our final look at the Universal Monster products of 2013.

The Best Halloween Candy of 2013

1

If you have not already bought the candy for 2013’s batch of Treaters, you’re in luck.  Today, we are going to hand out 2013’s Best of Halloween awards, with this year’s emphasis on Treats.  The Big Scare is run by some very scrupulous candy connoisseurs, and we are proud to share with you our picks for the Best Halloween Treats of 2013.

First up, our pick for…

BEST ARTWORK

Our pick for best artwork goes to Nestle’s Ultimate Scream fun-size candy pack.  This 45-piece bag of goodies is filled with Nestle’s top sellers, like Crunch and Butterfinger.  But, as with our last post, it’s really what’s on the outside that counts for this award.  Clearly, this bag was created by a Monster-lover.  It’s true that this package has been around for a while, but it still has yet to be beat, except by Nestle’s now hard-to-find companion pack, Classic Scream.  The image of the Frankenstein Monster and the “scream queen” is simply iconic.  Too bad the Dracula bag is no longer widely available, as it would have easily tied for this award.  Better than any officially licensed food-product from Universal Studios, this bag scares up first place in the art department.

nestle ULTIMATE SCREAM

BEST ASSORTMENT

Our winner for the Best Halloween Assortment award is one that will be familiar to seasonal enthusiasts.  Anyone who has been reading the Big Scare since its launch will know that we are huge on themed-treats.  The bland, boring fun-sized candy like the treats in the bag above do very little for us.  It’s Halloween, and that means we have high-expectations for the fun-level of our candy.  In terms of fun, it’s hard to beat the Hershey’s Halloween Shapes Assortment.  This package of treats is the ultimate combination of taste and terror.  Between the York Peppermint Pumpkins, the Hershey’s tombstones, and the Reese’s pumpkins, the taste quality is hard to beat… and so are the shapes!

Hershey's Halloween Candy

BEST HALLOWEEN CANDY

The award for Best Halloween Candy is not given lightly.  A lot has to be considered before the award is bestowed upon a creepy candy-maker.  That being said, this year’s winner is Palmer and its 3-pound bag of Monster Munch chocolate candy.  For decades, Palmer has been one of the staunchest supporters of themed Halloween candy.  From the old-time Witch Pops to the classic Monster Munny (Money), Palmer has been the mastermind behind many a child’s Halloween memories.  So, it seems only fitting that a giant bag of Palmer monster-shaped candy should be the winner of 2013’s Best Halloween Candy award.  In this massive package, you will find 3-pounds of chocolate treats — all appropriately themed and decorated.  First is the Monster Munny (Money), an item which has been around for decades.  Featuring the cartoon likenesses of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Witch, and a Great Pumpkin, the Monster Munny (Money) is a very special treat.  Split up into demonic denominations and made of Palmer’s fantastic double-crisp, it could only be beat if the chocolate were molded to look like the tinfoil wrappers…  Also included in the Monster Munch are two-tone Peanut Butter Pumpkins, which do come shaped like jack-o’-lanterns, yummy, soft fudge-filled Boos, and the most creative of the lot: milk-chocolate zombies (white chocolate corpses in chocolate coffins).  This set can simply not be beat.  Not only is it tasty, but it has all of the heart that Halloween candy should have.  Congratulations to Palmer and its Monster Munch!

Palmer Chocolate Monster Munch Mix

Halloween 2013 | Spook Spotter

1

Hallmark

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

To get the hearse wheels spinning, we’ll share with you one of the coolest indoor decorations we’ve seen: The Hallmark Haunted House Shadowcaster.  Part tabletop display, part light show, this Hallmark creation is one-of-a-kind.  The display looks great during the day, but really comes to life at night.  Each window features a spooky silhouette that only appears when the display is activated.  An evil enchantress cooks up a crazy concoction in the doorway, while jack-o’-lanterns stand guard on the porch.  Cats, spiders, and skeleton-men haunt the windows, and a ghost hangs out in the rafters.  Each characters appears with the help of a flickering LED light strategically placed behind the facade.

However, the real treat is what’s behind the mansion:  a flock of frightening fanged-beasts!  Through the magic of modern technology, dozens of bats, of all shapes and sizes, are projected onto whatever is directly behind the house.  Illuminated in orange and purple, the light show shifts between two basic positions (plus a third transitioning scene) and lasts anywhere from half-a-minute in “try-me” mode to an hour when the button is held down for several seconds.

Although the house itself doesn’t seem too sturdy and the plastic it is molded in could be thicker, this is still a great little decoration that really captures the essence of Halloween and the magic of the season.  It can be purchased for $19.99 at participating Hallmark retailers.

TJ Maxx

This Halloween season is not unusual in the fact that the best products are not found in the traditional retail stores, but at the discounters.  The TJX group (T.J.MAXX, Home Goods, and Marshall’s) has some of the most interesting offerings.  In addition to the traditional devilish dinnerware and lethal linen, they are offering up both vintage-inspired designs and classic Gothic elegance.

The most unique pieces at HomeGoods and Marshall’s, though T.J.Maxx does end up with some of the overstock.  If you love to keep things dim and grim, you may be interested in some of the faux-stone busts and statues.  Or perhaps creepy candelabras are more your thing.  They have plenty to choose from, including this one that comes complete with LED candles.  Battery-operated, it retails at $24.99.  The light is that harsh, cold, traditional (almost blue) LED style, but it’s ghostly in its own undead way.

The next offerings come from Christopher Radko.  HomeGoods usually carries his vintage-reproduction line of ornaments named after the famous “Shiny Brite” Christmas ornament company.  This year, they serve up some Halloween-themed bulbs that would be perfect for any vintage display or Halloween tree.  In addition, they also have several wooden tabletop and wall pieces with artwork taken right off of early 20th century postcards, like this lovely little witch pictured above.

Tuesday Morning

The main rivals of the TJX group, Ross and Tuesday Morning, have fewer options for the season of the witch, but — every now and then — a spooktacular find materializes.

Such is the case with Tuesday Morning’s Original WoWindow Posters.  Usually only found at the big name Halloween stores, Tuesday Morning is offering up two discontinued designs.  The creepiest of which is the “Vince the Vampire” two-poster set.  When they put “Wow” in the name, they aren’t kidding.  One of the posters in this set could almost cover an entire door.  Now imagine two of them at that size!  These massive decorations really fill out and (fill up) any window, wall, or door.  The first poster features the vampire’s giant face.  The second is a continuation of his body, with his hand taking up the majority of the second display.

Vampire Window Scene Setter

What is most notable about this poster is that it is not made with the same cheap plastic you used to find in this type of decoration.  This is made of a thicker, heavier film, which makes it great for use year-after-year.  The best thing about it is also the biggest drawback: the size.  Unless you have giant windows, it will be hard to place this set.  Fortunately, you can put up the one poster with the vampire’s face and get a decent effect.  At $4.99, it’s hard to pass up.

99 Cents Or Less

99 cent Haunted House display

While the regular retail offerings have been rather lackluster this year with Target, Walmart, and Spirit all failing to deliver on any noteworthy level (not to mention their tardiness in actually putting anything up in their brick and mortar stores), the dollar spots have not disappointed.  Usually, Dollar Tree has some of the greatest “cheap” decorations.  While they do have a few really awesome things that we will be highlighting in two days, 99 Cents Only is this year’s ultimate creep spot.  From outdoors to indoors, they provide wall-to-wall creeps and plenty of hot-and-cold running chills.

Dollar Tree used to be the king of cardboard tabletop decorations.  Now, 99 Cents Only has taken that honor and added some ghoulish delights that are certain to bring death to the liveliest of tables.

The most notable table centerpiece is the one you see pictured above.  Bats, black cats, and ravens surround a classically-designed haunted house.  Unlike some of the Dollar Tree decorations and the previous 99 Cents Only decorations, this piece solves the problem of folding edges and unaligned pieces by having a multitude of supports.  There are basically three layers to this piece, all adding to the spookiness of it, but also supporting the thin cardboard structure — an ingenious evolution of the dollar centerpiece.  It retails at 49 cents, but prices may vary by location.

Dollar Halloween Yard Signs99 Cents only also has some cool outdoor decorations, from window posters to door-covers to these Halloween yard stakes.  They are fairly sturdy — especially for a buck — but they won’t last in the ground if you live in a blustery area.  They are large enough, however, to make good wall signs.  Made of a coated plastic that is more weather-resistant than some of the other outdoor signs around, these are pretty nifty.  They come in four designs: vampire, witch, devil, skeleton; and they retail at 99 cents each.

These Frankenstein decorations are now available at 99 Cents Only.  One is a jointed tabletop figure that is being sold at closeout.  The other is a plastic wall poster that retails for 99 cents.  We’d say more, but we think we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree has a wide variety of window clings, plastic toys, and cardboard characters, as well as some interesting 3-D decorations made out of wire and tinsel.  They have felt cutouts, plastic skulls, and foam tombstones — basically all of the usual suspects.  So what are the standout items at the one-dollar-retailer this Halloween?

Surprisingly, napkins.  Napkins and paper plates.  For years, it seems, Dollar Tree has been pitching the same basic pumpkin party plates.  This year, that has all changed.  They not only have these great ’80s-inspired Haunted House napkins (pictured below), they also have a full set of paper tablewear (featuring a raven and a rat) that is far superior to any party goods in the big box stores.

Dollar Napkins

In addition, Dollar Tree is offering up massive window posters, much like the ones from Tuesday Morning, only less durable and… busier.  In the case of the Bates Mansion poster, however, busy is somewhat acceptable,  Wait…  Yes…  You heard correctly: BATES MANSION window poster.

Dollar Wall Banner

No, it’s not licensed, but the house pictured on the poster is clearly inspired by the one Norman and Mother call home, or maybe even Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris.  While the house is the centerpiece, it is surrounded by giant tarantulas, jack-o’-lanterns, candelabras, and lightning — virtually every spooky thing they could fit  So, no.  It’s not going to win any art awards, but it has a creepy haunted house on it!  How can you beat that for a buck?  More than anything, it’s reminiscent of a somewhat garish store display for soda, chips, or some other Halloween-themed party treat… and this is really why we love it.  Also, did we mention how massive this thing is?  It’s huge.  Turned on it’s side, it could easily fill a doorway.  If you do pick one up, good luck placing it!

Telco Halloween Motion-ettes FAQ

15
Editor’s Note:  Below are some of the most common questions we have received about the Halloween Motion-ettes.  This article is a sub-article of The Motion-ettes of Halloween Collector’s Guide.  Please review the Guide before reading the FAQ.
 

The Big Scare BG_alt Q: What’s the big deal about Telco?  Why not create a guide for Topstone or early Gemmy Halloween figures?

A: The Big Scare has plans to produce, at least, one article focusing on the other brands of tabletop animation.  The reason we started with Telco is because, as a company, its offerings were extremely expansive, yet incredibly underdocumented. Twenty-five years later, there is a lot of confusion about the line and very little information.  This has led to misunderstandings in the worlds of collectors and Halloween enthusiasts alike.  While the folks behind The Big Scare own relatively few Motion-ettes, we love their charms and the fact that they represent a simpler time in the world of Halloween.  We have spent the past decade gathering information, comparing photos, and assembling a cohesive history of the line.  To us, it was an endeavor worth the while.

Q: My Telco Halloween Motion-ette is dated 1987 (or 1986).  That’s all I need to know about the year oskeleton glowf its release, right?

A: Unfortunately, no.  Simply because your Motion-ette is dated 1987 (or 1986) doesn’t mean it is from that year.  Telco was notorious for stamping misleading dates on Motion-ette heads, hands, and boxes.  1986 refers to the creation of the Halloween line, while 1987 simply refers to the (true) national launch of the Halloween figures and the introduction of a particular body type.  All Motion-ettes of Halloween are somehow tied to 1986 or 1987.  If your figure has a 1986 or 1987 date, it most likely isn’t from that year… especially if it’s a bug-eyed Devil or a Green Werewolf (Beastman).  Neither was released until years later.  But that’s why we created the Motion-ettes guide!

Q:  I found a Motion-ette that has a very different costume from the ones I see pictured on this site.  Did I stumble upon a rare figure?

A: All  images in our guide are photographs of archival catalog and stock images, intended to educate Halloween enthusiasts on what the actual original products looked like.  So, chances are, if your figure has a different costume from what is outlined in the guide, you probably stumbled upon an imposter, at least a partial imposter.  Motion-ettes were released at a time when crafting was still at its height. Crafters and hobbyists found Motion-ettes to be quite enchanting — not for their factory-born charms, but for the possibilities of modification and re-sale.  Many times, Motion-ette figures were given new costumes, new accessories, or additional lighting features after they were purchased.  They were then re-sold at craft fairs for higher prices.  So, yes, your Motion-ette find is indeed rare.  It’s one of a kind!  But don’t go thinking that makes it better than an original Motion-ette.  In fact, that probably would appeal less to most collectors.  But the only thing that really matters is that you like it!  Many of the Motion-ettes altered by hobbyists are very well done.

Q: I have a figure that has a nearly identical color scheme to the Motion-ettes in the guide, but the face is sculpted a bit differently, and the accessory is one I didn’t see pictured or mentioned in the collector’s guide.  Is it a Telco?

A: Probably n1987 skullot.  It could very well be an EPI animated figure.  In fact, we here at The Big Scare are still trying to pinpoint the make of certain lookalikes, especially the ones that really look like they could be Telco Motion-ettes but don’t have any of the standard accessories.  The accessories make for one of the best ways to determine the brand of your animated monster.  If your figure has the regular skull, the rectangular lantern, or this blow mold pumpkin, it’s probably a Telco, although the pumpkin was also used by lookalike companies.  The cobra, crazy bat, and threatening cat blow mold accessories are also extremely indicative that yours is indeed a Telco Motion-ette.

 Q:  I see a lot of these Motion-ettes listed for high prices on [a popular online auction site].  These prices seem a bit excessive to me.  Is there a conclusive list of fair market values for the Halloween Motion-ettes?

A:  No official guide has ever been created, but, during our ten years of research, we kept a log of final selling prices for various figures in the Telco line.  We created a range using our recorded statistics.  You can find the average price ranges for popular figures in our Telco Halloween Motion-ettes Price Guide.  Please note that these prices are based on our collected data and should only be used as one resource when determining a fair price for a particular animated figure.

Have a question?  Ask it in the comments section, and it could appear above in our official (and ever-growing) Q&A.