My first experience with those wonderful monstrous hand-puppets called Boglins takes us back to their late-80s heyday. My brother had just graduated college over at Rutgers in Jersey, and one of the gifts my parents got him, for whatever reason, was a Boglin. They actually gave him, if I recall correctly, an entire garbage bag full of stupid toys, I guess to commemorate his transition into adulthood. This would also explain why I've dropped out of college twice, but that's another story entirely.
Of course, giving my brother, who I would guess was around 23 at the time, a Boglin while I was in clear view was ultimately a huge mistake. In my house, it sort of worked the way it worked in other houses when food fell on the floor. Floor food is claimed by the dog, all toys are claimed by me. I don't remember if I threw a tantrum or whatever, but I do know that eventually I ended up with the Boglin.
If you're curious to see why I'd go through all that trouble to steal one of my graduating brother's gifts, I invite you to take a look at the magnitute of this hand puppet. Then you'll see, it had to be mine:
Look at those things! Mysterious monsters, not only in a window box, but in a prison window box? Dangling this thing in front of my face was like drinking bourbon in front of a recovering alcoholic. I can't be blamed for my sinister actions.
Anyways, here's the Boglins back story. It's about as interesting as Neve Campbell reading excerpts from a cookbook, but it's all information you need to know: Boglins were made back in 1986 for Mattel by a mysterious company known as 'Seven Towns'. In the beginning, there were three large sized Boglins, and six smaller sized ones.
The large Boglins were undeniably creepy and very cool. First off, the hand puppets were made of some really odd type of flexible rubber that literally felt like skin. Because of their misproportionate hanging arms, they had that whole baby fetus thing going on too. As if that's not enough, they all had demonic faces and strange, elongated tails. Some even had patches of hair, but that pales in comparison to their most frightening feature: glow in the dark eyes!
The Boglins' were apparently swamp-dwelling creatures. I say this in accordance with their box art, so you know it has to be true. Now, I'm not really sure when the Boglins turned to a life of crime and ended up imprisoned in little cages amongst the toys flooding Kay Bee's aisles in '86, but I guess it was a necessarily evil: Boglins are very hard to catch in the wild.
Now this really threw me for a loop. The box is clearly suggesting that you could shovel 'mud and other food' into the creature's mouth. Lots of questions pop up there. Number one...these fools eat mud? Number two, didn't we carve out their stomach and intestinal track to make way for our hand-puppeteering? Christ I miss animism. And three: it's impossible anyway. You can't puppet their fucking tails.
This was a pretty cool feature. The larger Boglins were way cooler than their little bastard offsprings. In fact, they could even move their eyes from left to right! Were they...alive? No, but you probably could've easily convinced your sister that you hand was only there to give the Boglin moral support. I know it's tough to see what these Boglins looked like when they're sad and miserable in their cold, dark cage, so here's a look at some of the freedom fighters:
Almost poetic in their sheer atrocities, Boglins served a few purposes. Aside from the fun/scare factor, if you could convince yourself that the thing was alive, then nine times out of ten you could convince yourself that you weren't the ugliest person in the room.
Up above are the three original large Boglins. Being scary puppets wasn't enough for Mattel, who decided that these fucks needed to have personality traits as well. Hey, individuality is a good thing. Vlobb was the smartest Boglin, as evidenced by his 'Poor Yorick' stance. Dwork is winking, so he likes to joke around. And Drool? Well, he's jusy the craziest of them all!
And there's your six original small Boglins. They were alright, but nothing compared to their big brothers. The only thing they beat the big guys on was your ability to stick your fingers in the back of their eye sockets and give them that whole pop-out eye thing. They all had named like 'Squeel' and 'Squidge', so Mattel and Seven Towns must've been really drained on the creativity by this point. Luckily, a few power bars later, and they got it back. The whole Boglins phenomenom went a little nuts after this...
Snish and Globster! These aren't easy to come by nowadays, and I certainly never had 'em, but they really took Boglins to a whole new level. Along the way, someone realized that Boglins didn't all necessarily have to look like gargoyles. They could look like mutant sealife too! So we got our fish and lobster Boglins, rounding out the family and leaving us with a lot of work to do figuring out the Boglins' hierarchy and chain of command. Does the original large Boglin get to boss around even the mighty lobster Boglin? And, since he's bigger, does Swish get to tell those smaller but older Boglins to wash his car?
And people say Mattel never makes thinking toys.
If you're curious (and you know you are) about how you can go about getting these things today - they're usually found on internet auction lines like eBay. There isn't a huge demand for them, but they're rare enough to come with a decent price tag. The harder-to-find large ones can go for 100+. If you took this 'how to' paragraph to mean that we were finished, tough luck, there's still more Boglins action to document.
Since they were spooky, a Halloween pumpkin Goblin was released. I actually had this guy. If only I wrote this article three days ago, it'd be in season. Anyway, there were also other 'variation' Boglins, if you can believe these puppets got so in-depth. There were skull Boglins, Boglins with punk hairdos, even Boglins that glew in the dark completely. Hell, the Boglin/Human ration by the time 1988 rolled around had to be at least 4:1. If you're wondering where all of them went: if you tried hard enough, and it was impossible to resist trying hard enough, you could rip their eyes out and then tear their bodies in half. Its a grim fate for sure, but I'm just relaying the facts.
The Boglins finale came sometime later in the early 90s. Monster in my Pockets were meeting some success by combing horror and small toys - so why couldn't Mattel, or in this case, Ideal, do the same with these guys? Thus, Mini-Boglins were born.
Obviously, they look pretty shitty. One-color finger puppets with teams ranging from 'fighters' to 'eaters'. Some of them were okay, but most were weak, and these don't even cash in on the collectors market almost ten years later. But! They did get slime!
Because it's hysterical, the slime comes to you in a plastic toilet container. A little boy's dream. There was literally no purpose for the slime - sure you could stick your Mini-Boglins in it, but the same could be said for erasers, and they don't sell slime counterparts for erasers. So what gives with the slime? I'll tell you. Remember - this was the early 90s. And only two things guaranteed popularity in the early 90s. Toy slime, and any candy flavored blue raspberry. Remember that.
In the world of weird toys nearly forgotten, I've always really liked these Boglins. If for nothing else: you could crunch their mouths over a cigarette and blame your toys for the bad influence. If you'd like to find some Boglins to relive your most bizarre childhood playtime ritual, do a search on eBay.