For me, The 80’s will long be remembered as the decade that put action figures on the map, but it also brought us so many other kinds of memorable toys. The Boglins snuck in at the tail end of the decade when I was in my mid teens and getting out of toys, albeit only for a brief hiatus. Still, I was tuned in enough to remember the commercials and being curious about them. These rubber puppets capitalized on a number of popular gimmicks of the day, including the gross-out genre, the puppet oeuvre, and little nasty creature flicks that were popular at the time. A little research told me that they were first shopped to Coleco for their Sectaurs line, but eventually wound up as their own thing from Mattel. And now, these “Outrageous Creatures That Come Alive In Your Hands” are back, thanks to TriAction Toys and a successful Crowdfunded effort. Let’s take a look at King Drool!
Like the original Boglins, Drool comes in a package made to look like a combination cage and live animal shipping crate. The box itself is cardboard, but the bars on the front are plastic. There’s illustrated sawdust on the bottom of the crate’s interior and the Boglin inside quivers and jiggles when you move the box, making it seem rather alive. The back of the package has a little history of the Boglin creatures and some illustrations of their evolution as a species. The same three big boys made a return in this rejuvenated line, including Dwork, Vlobb and Drool. The box also teases smaller Boglins. These started out on Kickstarter with a $50 buy in, but have since gone up for pre-order at various retailers and are supposedly going to be made available at some brick-and-mortar retail locations as well.
The package is sort of collector friendly. A zip-tie holds the cage door shut. Snip it and it can be lifted open. A few more strategic wire-tie snips will allow you to remove your Boglin from the box without damaging his home. There is an outline on the bottom of the box to cut out if you want to be able to work him as a puppet while he’s still in the crate. Either way, you will have to cut into the compartment at the bottom of the crate to remove his tail and the hardware used to attach it. He will fit in the cage with his tail on, and I rather wish they had included it on him from the get-go. Just take note that it’s in there, because nothing on the box actually discloses that information.
Out of the box, I’ll confess that my first impressions were a bit mixed on this guy. As a recreation of the original toy, I think they did a fine job. No, I never owned one, but I’ve checked out some pictures for comparisons. Drool’s body, which is basically a giant head, is hollow rubber for you to insert your hand into, but it holds it’s shape quite well without being filled up with one of my giant paws. I am using a makeshift stand for most of these pictures, as one was not included, and without it he just kind of slumps on the ground like he’s dead or dying. I like the rubber they used, as it is very jiggly and creepy, and I’m glad to see the arms and hands are solid rubber, which makes them sturdy, but not at all rigid. I would have appreciated bendy wire being added to the appendages to make them poseable, but if it wasn’t in the original, you aren’t getting it here. The shoulders sport disks to cover up where they attach to the body. These may look like rotating joints, but they most definitely are not. Finally, there is a very notable seam where the tail attaches, and while it does attach quite firmly, I really would have preferred the seam not be so apparent.
The coloring of this beast is mostly left to the sickly gray-yellow color of the plastic, with some additional spray around the eyes and the tail for variety. You also get some reddish-pink paint on the interior of his mouth and white for the one big tooth. Again, I think the coloring here does a good job reflecting the quality of the original toy, but I’ll bet some people can do some really killer premium custom jobs on these beasties and make them truly shine.
Of course, Drool is a functional puppet, and as such he has a few fun mechanics at work. The most basic is the mouth, which is worked like any normal puppet with your fingers inserting into the top and bottom of the mouth to make it open and close. I’ll note here, that the body cavity is still designed for small hands, and the mouth is rather shallow, which sort of limits the effect of it opening and closing. Much more interesting are the eyes, which are not only plastic and beautifully painted, but also glow in the dark. The Boglin’s peepers are fixed to a lever system, which allows the eyes to shift left and right, and it works very well. There are also levers above each eye, which is supposed to make him blink or wink, and these are a little dodgy.
If it seems like I’m lukewarm on my new pet Boglin, I think it only fair to say I was expecting something a bit more premium for my fifty bucks. Granted, ten bucks of that went to shipping, brings the price in line with the $40 MSRP, which seems to be the going rate at most retailers offering pre-orders. To be fair, this is a really nice recreation of the vintage toy, I was just hoping for some improvements. I mentioned wire in the arms and fingers, but a simple stand would have gone a long way too. There’s also some question over what will differentiate the Kickstarter Boglins from the regular trade release. My box says “First Edition” on it, although many of the packaged pictures being offered for pre-order also show the same. I did get an enamel pin with mine, but considering we helped bring this project to life, it would have been cool to get something a little more substantial to make these Limited Editions. With all that having been said, there’s no doubt the folks at TriAction Toys delivered on their Kickstarter, and I have absolutely no backer’s remorse. Ultimately, I think these would have a good chance at success with a $30 price tag. At $40 they may be a bit harder to sell, although I’m happy enough with mine, that I wouldn’t rule out picking up Dwork and Vlobb as well.
I’m not sure what, if anything, will differentiate the Kickstarter Boglins from the regular retail ones. My box does have First Edition on it, but I’ve seen some pre-orders online showing the same thing on their boxes. Although, those retailers may have just bought stock through the Kickstarter. Mine did come with an enamel pin, so that might be the big backer bonus.