Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tchotchkes of Doom

Knickknacks of Terror.
Curious of the Damned.
Or, if you prefer, Halloween Collectibles.
I read a book last year entitled Halloween In America by Stuart Schneider, which was chock full of beautiful full colour pictures of Halloween collectibles from the turn of the 20th century to the modern day.  Including items made of paper, plastic, ceramic, wood and tin, this book was an interesting and informative survey of Halloween-ica without being, by any means, exhaustive on the subject.

The best part about the book, for me at least, was that it justified my behavior with regard to such "ahem" collectibles.
I was looking on my shelf, where I keep my "priceless collectibles" and realized something.  I like decorating for Halloween as much as the next guy.  Every year as Summer winds down and the Autumn begins to roll in I enjoy visiting the local shops to find full-size plastic skeletons, flying bats, and festive tableware (also endless supplies of those fake spider webs that I have the hardest time stretching correctly so they end up clumped and full of dead leaves).  Time was, in my youth, that all one needed to decorate for Halloween was a cardboard witch flying in front of the moon and a half-size jointed skeleton.

Things have gotten better, since then.  As much as I love all the decorations and such, I find that I take great joy, child-like glee really, in the little knickknacks that come out during the Halloween season.  What am I going to do with a jack o lantern pencil topper?  Nothing, but darn it, I want it anyway.

There are plenty of places to find these little items, such as Target, Wal-Mart, the seasonal sections of Wawa, even the dollar stores.  Those franchise Halloween stores that pop up every year and Party City have these things by the ton.  They are often meant for impulse purchases as they are put near the checkout to tempt young and old alike.  I'm a sucker for that stuff.  Hey, it's only 99 cents!
Here are a few selections of my tchotchkes for your enjoyment:
Photo credit: Frau Punkinstein...because I am hopeless with a camera

This is my Jack O Lantern key chain I purchased at Spirit Halloween last year.  It cackles when the button is pressed and sounds more like what I expect a witch to sound like.  Of course I can't say one way or the other what a pumpkin should sound like when amused, so this is fair.  The yellow bits light up as well.  I love this little guy.
You can't hear it, but he's cackling his pumpkin arse off right now
Photo by Frau Punkinstein

Photo by Frau Punkinstein

Ah, my ghost key chain which you might remember from a post last year about the "Halloween Carol".  I've had him for a few years now.  For the most part he sits on the shelf, patiently awaiting the season when I will feel the urge to press his little button and watch his eyes flashing blue, enjoying the "spooky" sound he makes.  A great little toy for the season.
Photo credit: Frau Punkinstein

I got these guys at Wawa 1, maybe 2 years ago.  They are candy dispensers that hold Smarties gum or somesuch.  I didn't really care for the candy, but these Pez-like dispensers were too cool to pass up.  Unlike the classic Pez candy dispenser these CLICK dispensers are fully decorated with a sticker "body".  That attention to detail is so appealing in an inexpensive Halloween collectible.  Another feature not found in the Pez dispenser but part of these beauties is the "googly eyes" action when you shake them side-to-side. 
Thank you, Thing (of course)
Photo by: Frau Punkinstein
This battery-operated Jack O Lantern ring can be set to produces a steady light or blinking lights by depressing the activation button multiple times.  The ring is held onto the finger with a stretch band and is basically one-size-fits-all.  It's lightweight but extremely bulky, so I am not likely to wear it very often or very long, but it is still an excellent Halloween knickknack.
Mr. Eek is THE most matter-of-fact curio I own.  He's unpretentious.  You can see right through this guy.  He makes no bones about it.  Please...stop me...
Photo by: Frau Punkinstein
Mr. Eek is a little something Frau Punkinstein picked up from Garden Ridge.  He sits on things and, smiling all the while, proudly displays his banner saying "EEK".  It's subtle.  I like it.  He sat on my desk at work for nearly a year regardless of the season.
That was just a quick look at my rather large collection of tchotchkes of doom.  Perhaps I will be able to overcome the curses that swirl about them, if they don't destroy the camera with their eeeevil, and do a part two.  Until that time I leave you with another look at the pumpkin power ring:
If Dio had a pumpkin ring, this is what it would look like
Photo by Frau Punkinstein 
Keep your pumpkins metal.  And lit.


  1. Okay...great Halloween minds think alike! I also have the Jack O'lantern keychain, got it last year at Spirit also! I keep it on my keychain year round, and it goes off in my purse all the time, usually when I'm checking out at a cash register..ha! I LOVE it! I repeatedly push the button just to annoy the shit out of my husband and kids, cause I'm evil like that...ha! AND....I also have your shelf sitter Skeleton, but instead of EEK, mine says Spooky! And he sits on top of my computer screen with his boney legs hanging down and getting in my way all the time. But do I move him? NO! Because he's so cool, and he keeps me in the Halloween spirit ALL year long! Vintage Halloween is the best....great photos. Happy 1st day of October to you and the Misses! :o)

  2. I'm still partial to the paper cut-out decorations even though I tend to not hang them up very often. Thinking hard about picking up the red and silver ghosts in the Target Halloween section this year to add to the interior decor, but I wish they were orange and black...

  3. Thank you, Wendy. Happy Oct. 2 to you, as I am writing this then (now) instead of then (then). I would keep my keychain on my keys all year round except that it is too large to comfortably fit into my pocket. Oh for the days when men wore belt pouches...wait a minit...SPORAN! I could maybe get away with that.

    I love the paper cutouts. There is something appealing in their simplicity and style, especially the old 4 color jobs above. I have a Jack O Lantern cut out on my garage door because nostalgia is wonderful.