Monsterville: Target’s Universal Monsters Line

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For those of you who don’t know, Monsterville is Target’s new line of officially licensed Monster Movie merchandise featuring the Universal Monsters.

I have managed to get mostly every piece I can find, and I can’t tell you how awesome they are. These are the best Halloween decorations I have found in a big box store in years! Not only do they have movie-accurate likenesses, but they play dialog from the films and trailers… Plus the stuff is just genuinely well-designed. Here’s what I have found so far.

First up is the Boris Karloff Mummy Head, probably the best piece. It moves side to side, the eyes light up, and it plays phrases from the movie and trailer when you walk by..

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Mummy Talking Head

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Mummy Talking Head

 

Next are the Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein Cloches (globes) The burning windmill is one of the best Halloween decorations I’ve ever owned. Such amazing detail! And the sound effects are great. The LEDs in these are super bright. They light up the whole room!

 

The Frankenstein, Mummy, and Creature Screamers are really awesome and a great steal at 5 bucks each! They each play about three movie phrases, lasting about 10 seconds each. The Mummy and Creature are my favorites. Really awesome little shelf-sitters! Again, these are crazy bright!

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Frankenstein Mummy Creature from the Black Lagoon Screamers

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Frankenstein Mummy Creature from the Black Lagoon Screamers

 

The Frankenstein Door Greeter moves its eyes and mouth, says spooky phrases, and lights up as it greets Trick-or-Treaters at the door!

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Frankenstein Door Greeter

Target Monsterville Universal Monsters Frankenstein Door Greeter

 

Finally is another great piece, the Frankenstein Head in Dome. This is a really beautiful piece. Fantastic sound and lights, but an even better Karloff Monster sculpt. Sooooo cool! I cannot recommend these enough!

Feel free to post your finds here!

 

 

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The Best Halloween Decoration of 2016: Target’s Raven Clock

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So what is the best Halloween decoration of 2016?  Well, there are certainly a lot of great ones out there.  But taking price, size, and novelty into consideration, The Big Scare has decided the title of “Best Halloween Decoration” for the year 2016 goes to The Clock of Doom from Tekky Toys.  Available at Target, this spooky clock houses a talking raven who predicts doom for all who pass his way.  When activated, the minute hand spins, the clock face lights up blood red, and a talking raven’s head emerges from inside the clockworks.  The bird gives an ominous warning and then retreats back inside its haunted home.

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Target’s Clock of Doom

 

It’s a throwback to an earlier, simpler, yet more elegant type of Halloween.  More in line with the decorations of All Hallows’ past than the overwrought blood and gore of today, it really is a unique piece perfect for any home or haunt.  It also reminds us here at The Big Scare of The Munsters’ own spooky, kooky cookoo clock.  Retailing at $25.00, it’s the perfect price and size for any Halloween enthusiast.

Spook Spotter: Grave Surprises, Franken-Families and More!

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Big Scare spook spotter

Ghastly Greetings, Boils and Ghouls!   We’re baaaaaaaaaaaack with some of the best products available for purchase this Halloween season.

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

Grave Solution

Hands down, the best tabletop animated Halloween prop available this year can be found at The Home Depot.  (A similar prop is also available at CVS).  Behold, the rising Grim Reaper and tombstone!

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Rising Grim Reaper Tabletop Animation

This beautiful, animated table-top piece is reminiscent of the old Telco Motion-ettes and the 1990s Gemmy line of animated figures.  It features a Grim Reaper that pops up from inside a gravestone.  When you push the button or make a loud sound, the Reaper will rise from the grave and utter eerie phrases of doom, accompanied by a soundtrack of haunting music and crashing thunder.  Not only do the Reaper’s eyes illuminate, the tombstone also puts on a fairly elaborate light show, probably intended to be lightning to go with all of that scary thunder.

There are also some other great items out there that we feel you have to know about, including a set of Wilton candy cake decorations featuring Frankenstein, the Bride, and their family.  These can be purchased at Target.  Another must-mention item is the Halloween party plate and napkin set that is available for purchase at Rite Aid.  Check ’em out!

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And let us know what cool products you have found this year by leaving a message in the creepy Comments section below!

Spook Spotter: Monster Mayhem

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Big Scare spook spotter

It wouldn’t be Halloween without the Universal Studios Monsters and the General Mills Monster Cereals.  Therefore, today’s post is dedicated to these icons of the season.

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

This year, there are a variety of Monster Cereals available.  The regular releases are available at most supermarkets, while Walmart has Family-sized boxes, and Target features boxes with exclusive artwork and a premium on the back of the box.  At Target, the boxes of Count Chocula, Boo-Berry, and Franken Berry all feature pieces of the Monsters’ Castle.  After you collect all of the boxes, you can glue the castle together.

Target is also carrying the extremely-delicious Count Chocula Treats this year.  CVS is another store that has them.  These are not widely available, so if you want them, get them as soon as you can.

Count Chocula and Count Chocula Treats

Count Chocula and Count Chocula Treats

 

Meanwhile, World Market is offering up Universal Monsters popcorn, candy bars, lollipops, and these vintage soda flavors.  The bottles feature Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in their iconic roles, along with new takes on the famous slogans that appeared on the 1930s movie posters.  Even if the Bride soda features the slogan from the wrong film (“It Comes to Life” is from The Mummy), it is still awfully amazing to see these characters on pop bottles.  Share your World Market finds in the comments section below!

Universal Monsters Soda (World Market)

Universal Monsters Soda (World Market)

 

2015 Family Activities Guide for October and Halloween

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eek's ideasOur friend, Eek the Owl, has shared with us some frighteningly fun ideas to make the Halloween season even more enjoyable.   He has the whole family covered: chefs, crafters, adventurers, and board game aficionados!  There’s something for everyone in our Halloween Family Activities Guide!  Feel free to take a gander and try out some of these activities with your family this Halloween season!  And be sure to subscribe to The Big Scare for even more ideas!

Any opinions expressed in the following article do not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   The following is for information purposes only.  Any instructions are for information purposes only.  The Big Scare cannot guarantee you will experience the same results as we did should you opt to use these instructions.  Feel free to share ways to improve the instructions in the comments section below.  All activities should be conducted under adult supervision.

BEWITCHING BAKING

Our first wise idea involves everyone’s favorite holiday activity — baking.  And, as Eek points out, it’s not just for wintertime.  Halloween provides the opportunity to create all kind of creepy concoctions.  From cut-out cookies to brownies, they all make perfect October baking projects.

HALLOWEEN BROWNIES

While brownies are devilishly delicious by themselves, there’s just something even more appealing about a Halloween Brownie.  Making Halloween Brownies is just as easy as baking regular brownies.  You do exactly what your favorite recipe (or box) tells you to do, but you change up a few things before putting the batter in to bake.  Rather than just pouring the batter into a pan, you want to line the pan with greased aluminum foil.  Basically what you want to do is rip out a piece of baking foil and place it in your baking pan, pushing it up against the sides, making sure the whole thing (meaning the entire bottom and all the sides) is well covered.  Press the tin foil against the sides of the glass or metal pan so that it hugs it and assumes the pan’s shape.  Ensure that there is enough room left to lift the foil up out of the pan when the brownies have baked.  Then proceed to grease (and flour) it as you normally would or as you are instructed to in the baking directions, so as to prevent the brownies from sticking.  Bake the batter as directed.  Remove from the oven and let set until cool.

Rather than cut the brownies in the pan, you are going to remove the entire brownie cake, hence the foil.  Once cooled,  you can remove the brownie cake by lifting the sides of the aluminum foil or turning the pan upside down, a method preferable in cases of wide pans.  Place the brownies on a clean surface covered in powdered sugar and remove the foil lining.  Your brownie cake should have maintained its shape.  (If at anytime it appears that your brownie cake may be breaking, consider cutting the brownie cake in the pan and removing it in smaller portions.)

Now comes the fun part.  Take some open  Halloween cookie cutters (meaning ones that are just outlines that do not have tops which would prevent the cutter from cutting through thick brownies) and cover them in powdered sugar.  (Make sure your cookie cutters are deep enough to cut through the thick brownie cake.  You can buy these cookie cutters at a number of major retailers.  They usually come in “tubs.”)  Press each cookie cutter all the way through the brownie cake, just as you would with cookie cutters in cookie dough.  Carefully remove your brownie shape and place it aside.  Continue to press cutters into the remaining brownie cake until the area of usable brownie cake has been cut.  Take the cutout shapes and decorate them with frosting, powdered sugar and candies.  Use the “scrap” brownies, the unused edges that are leftover, to add layering and detail to your treats — or just eat them!

GRISLY GAME NIGHT

In a world seemingly run by electronic entertainment, it’s sometimes hard to remember that other forms of fun exist., like board games!  And when those board games have a Halloween theme, their fun level quadruples.

There are a number of Halloween-themed board games available on the market, and plenty more that can be purchased secondhand.  One of the easiest games to track down is Halloween Boo-Opoly.  Much like the game from which it derives its objective, Boo-Opoly allows players to buy properties, many of which will be familiar (like Elm Street) and many of which will be new (Gourd Walk).  The old railroads are now different creatures of the night, and the utilities consist of Jack-O’-Lanterns and Witch’s Brew.  Instead of houses and hotels, players may buy Haunted Houses and Full Moons.  The gameplay is quite similar to Monopoly, but there are some slight differences.  Overall, it’s a fun game with a nice design.  The only thing that would make it better would be if the playing pieces weren’t just plain plastic pawns, and instead were shaped in the forms of Halloween characters.

And if Boo-Opoly isn’t quite your game, there are plenty of other options.  From vampire games to zombie games, a trip to the local toy store is certain to reap a nice harvest of spooky entertainment — especially at Halloween.

FROM TRIP TO TREAT

WHAT’S IN A PATCH?

Most families pick up pumpkins from their local grocer (or the super-center which has invaded their neighborhood).  And while it is great to have access to affordably-priced pumpkins, there is just something missing from the experience.

So, while you may opt to get your larger carving-friendly produce from the grocery store, a trip to the local (or not-so-local) pumpkin patch should be in order for your family this year, even if you don’t make your big pumpkin purchase there.  Not only do many patches provide fresh, right-off-the-vine pumpkins, they also provide a ton of activities for your family.  The experience that pumpkin patches provide is unprecedented.  Many of them have games, hayrides, corn mazes, and photo opportunities that the grocery store can’t possibly match.

So, even if you can’t afford a large pumpkin from the patch, your family should still make a visit, maybe pick up some Indian Corn or smaller pumpkins, and take advantage of everything that is offered.  It will be a memory your family will never forget.

BAKED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Now that you have found the perfect pumpkin and are already to carve it, you probably are wondering what to do with all of those insides!  We have the perfect solution — for the seeds at least!

Here is our recipe for delicious baked pumpkin seeds…

1.  Immediately after carving your pumpkin, remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly.  After they have been cleaned, pad them dry and let them sit for several hours in a warm place.

2. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Once the pumpkin seeds are completely dry, place them in a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon melted butter for every one cup of seeds.  Mix the seeds so that they are completely coated.

3.  Sprinkle in garlic powder and salt, enough to taste.  Mix until every seed has a light covering.

4.  Pour the seeds onto a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread the seeds so that they form a single layer.  It is important not to have them overlapping.

5.  Place the seeds in the oven and let bake 50 minutes, mixing them every 15 minutes or so.

6.  Add additional seasoning as desired and enjoy!

CREEPY CRAFTS

BOX OF BOOS

FRIGHTENING FOAM

If you have ever wandered into an arts and crafts store in the fall, you have undoubtedly seen a variety of pre-packaged art projects that can be used to dreary up any bright October day.

Kid-friendly foam kits, which let you and your family create haunted scenes out of small pieces of pre-cut foam, are just one example.  The variety of these kits has really expanded in recent years, and now you can create all kinds of things: graveyards, haunted houses, masks, monster boxes, cars, and more!

A lot of these kits don’t actually require much skill.  Some come with foam stickers, meaning you don’t even have to glue anything!  That is why they are good for the younger set as well as the older crowd.  But each kit is different, so be sure to read the box for details before considering a purchase.

One of the nice things about these kits is that they allow for a lot of customization and personalization.  You have the freedom and ability to place characters and other scene-setters in a variety of places on the foam bases, while still maintaining the same structure suggested by the manufacturer.  You can even add your own foam pieces or mix pieces among a number of kits.

These kits get the whole family involved in the building process and make great decorations when finished.  And there are a variety of ways you can incorporate the kits into your Halloween festivities.  You can buy one to assemble with the kids on a stormy evening, you can buy a number and have a family foam-building contest, or you can have a variety available at a kids’ Halloween party, set up tables, and have the party-goers bring their own creations to life.

CREEPY COOKIES

Another great option is the Cookie Decorating Kit.  We all know the classic Gingerbread House kits that come out at Christmas.  In recent years, many manufacturers have introduced Halloween-themed kits.  Take for example, the Cookie Graveyard kit from Target.  It is easier to assemble than a house, but just as fun.  The kit contains a cookie base, cookie tombstones, icing, as well as bat, bone, and ghost decorations, in addition to other candies that can be used to help decorate the edible display.  If you can’t track down this particular kit, check for alternate versions at other retailers.  There are a ton to choose from!

CHOCOLATE CHILLS

While you may already have enough chocolate in your house during the Halloween season, you may still be tempted to get some more, especially when you can create your own candy concoctions!  Companies like Wilton produce a lot of chocolate molds and kits that function as great activities for the whole family. Spooky Chocolate Dipped Pretzels are just one example.

The kit includes everything you need to decorate your pretzel rods:  6 fun-shaped mold designs (4 Rat molds, 3 pumpkins, 3 bats, 3 spiders, and 3 skeleton molds), 16 oz. Wilton Candy Melts brand confectionery coating, 4 disposable decorating bags, 1 decorating brush, 20 pretzel bags with ties.  The only thing you will need to supply is the bag of jumbo pretzel rods.  (You may also want to buy some additional chocolate.)

All you need to do is stick the chocolate in a bag, put it in the microwave, squish the bag with your hands, and then pour into the molds.  Stick them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  And voila; you have some awesome Halloween treats for all those special little boys and ghouls in your life!  What a terrific idea for parties!  And these would make great gifts for the office staff on Halloween day!

The best molds are definitely the rats.  These things are huge – and you get 4 rat molds, so you can make a whole family at one time.  The second best molds are the skeletons, followed the pumpkins.  The bats and spiders are fun, but my final versions didn’t turn out as great as the previously mentioned molds – though they are still pretty nifty.  Regardless, this kit is well worth the affordable price.  It makes for a great weekend activity to do with the kids or with yourself.  Plus, how can you beat the spooky, edible payoff?  The product is available to purchase at various locations: craft stores and other retailers.  And if you aren’t a fan of homemade chocolate creatures, there are plenty of other food craft kits out there – like the JELL-O Jigglers and the Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins.

OTHER CRAFTY CREEPS

But not all craft projects come out of boxes, and Eek always wants to foster as much creativity as possible, so he suggests you head out to your local retailer to find materials for your next project.  Some craft shops sell Paper Mache.  Recently, Michael’s offered up miniature Paper Mache skulls.  Eek had a lot of fun with these and wanted to share some paint-scheme ideas to get you started:

1.  Paint the skulls the colors of your favorite sports teams.  Even consider painting a logo on the top!

2.  Paint your skull with a base color and then add “metalic” coloring for a shiny look.

3.  Give your skulls a classic Halloween treatment by painting them orange and black.

4.  Give your skulls a tie-dye look.

5.  Use stencils to add images to the top and back of the skulls.

Once you’re done, consider adding them to your current Halloween decor.  Or how about using them as table toppers or as party favors?  The possibilities are endless.

We will be adding to this page as we think of more activities, so why not subscribe to The Big Scare for the latest undead updates?

Scary Snacks: Part Boo

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Continuing with our efforts to inform you about all of the scary snacks out there this Halloween, we decided it was necessary to add an additional day to our Halloween Treats Week.  Our Universal Monster updates will debut in two days.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.  Any opinions stated in the following article should only be considered the opinions of the individual author, and not the Big Scare as a whole.

As we mentioned last week, General Mills and its famous Cereal Monsters are back and better than ever.  However, the news does not end with the vintage boxes and the return of Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.  Nope, Count Chocula has diversified and is now not only sponsoring a batty bowl of breakfast, but also pitching anytime snacks in the form of Count Chocula chocolate-flavored cereal bars.  And, pardon us for getting editorial here, but they are delicious.  (We are seriously addicted to these things.)

If vampire cereal bars aren’t enough to grab your attention, how about vampire Fruit Roll-Ups?  Yes, General Mills (under the Betty Crocker label) is offering up some Halloween-themed Fruit Roll-Ups.  These fruit snacks come with cool Halloween characters printed on them.  The fruit snacks are also offered in Franken Berry and Boo Berry flavors.

Have you uncovered any devilish delights that we need to know about?  Share them in the comments section below!

Scary Snacks: Part One

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This was originally supposed to be our final post highlighting Halloween Treats.  However, there are so many that we want to tell you about, we’ve decided to split this post into two articles.  Scary Snacks: Part Two will debut Monday.

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

Many of you may remember the 1990s, when the Universal Monsters, Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay Chips were inseparable.  Last year, we told you about the new monster-sized bags of chips bearing not only a Frankenstein image, but an official Universal Studios Monsters logo.  They are back again this season in three designs: Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy.  All bear the official Universal Studios Monster logo, and the Mummy even comes in an alternative plastic bucket available at Target.  No, the artwork doesn’t look much like the classic Monsters, but it is nice to see Frito-Lay continuing its partnership with Universal, even if this year’s store displays did not have anything to do with the Universal Monsters.  These bags also come shipped to certain stores in official Universal Monsters boxes, so be on the lookout for those!

LETHAL LAYS

Universal Monsters Frito-Lays

DEADLY DORITOS

The Monster bags aren’t the only creepy chips.  In fact, Frito-Lay is also releasing a Doritos-only bag of Halloween goodness.  This package is more traditional in is approach, but what’s more is that the chip bags, themselves, also contain the Halloween print.  The only drawback in this bag is that it does not distribute the flavors evenly, leaving Cool Ranch fans left begging for more!

Halloween Doritos

TERRIFYING TOMBSTONES

And, finally, Tombstone is back with a new set of Halloween Pizzas.  Take a look at the three new characters in this year’s assortment.  Pretty cool, huh?  Dracula is even sporting piercing blue eyes!  These pizzas are widely available, and the company is promoting these precious pies with social media — something that deserves to be pointed out, given that other companies have yet to fully take advantage of the possibilities with online Halloween promotions.  Check out their Facebook page.  And, who knows, maybe Pepsi/Frito-Lay and Universal will get a clue and do something with officially licensed Monsters.  One can dream… or is it “nightmare?”

Tombstone Halloween Pizzas