Mattel’s Horror Pets!

One of my favorite things about doing the Countdown is discovering, or rediscovering, old toy lines with a horror slant. Another is the crazy amount of marshmallows I seem to accumulate. But it’s never a mark in the “pro” column when you go off-topic in Paragraph 1.

The point was, I have cool bugs to show you.

From Mattel, get a load of 1994’s Horror Pets. I’m stressing their connection to Mattel because, if not for that, I may have assumed them to be more of a well-presented knockoff line. (There’s a marked Mighty Max influence, here – even more so than those Haunted Pocket Capsules had.)

The connection to Mattel makes Horror Pets feel…I don’t know…sturdier?

What I’m not so sure about is how prominent they were in the States. It seems reasonable that they were on sale here at some point, but it’s clear that they were bigger in Europe. I know this because the package taught me to say “they move like they’re alive” in German, French and Portuguese. A lot of vowel sounds.

There’s never been a time when I haven’t kept an eye on Toys “R” Us, but I don’t recall seeing these in the ’90s. They’re pretty easy to find on the collectors’ market today, though. Should you ever develop a craving for very old bug-related playthings, finding these should not be torture.


That’s the fun part! Horror Pets are little, pull-back rubber bugs who live inside amazingly hideous shells. The cardback refers to the shells as “lairs,” doubling their coolness with the beat of just one noun. I have never heard anything described as a “lair” and not immediately liked it more. Panthro’s house was a cheesy shithole until he started calling it that.

The Horror Pet shown above (well, his shell, anyway) is named Stompa. I’m also just now noticing that the package calls these Horror Pets Insectoids, leading me to wonder if there was a whole separate branch of ’em that had nothing to do with bugs. I suppose I could look it up before publishing this, but if you’ve been reading X-E for any length of time, you know that I will not.

Yeah, I’m going to show you Stompa. In a minute, okay?

The shells are the real stars of the Horror Pets parade, being so much cooler than what’s inside them. I’m half-inclined to throw Stompa away and use his house as a coin purse. Give the lady at Dunkin Donuts something to talk about when she gets home.

I’m not sure what the theme of this shell is. Some kind of monster egg being invaded by sandworms?

When you flip the lid, Stompa makes his presence known. He’s a centipede with skeletal limbs, and the overall color scheme suggests that he hails from Algeria. If I ever have an urgent need for figs or esparto grass, he will be the bug I turn to.

Underneath Stompa is a set of wheels, with a pull-back gimmick. Yank him back, let him go, and watch him roll. Or do 2 out of 3, because Horror Pets don’t seem to roll very well.

(click pic to enlarge!)

The cardback explains Horror Pets better than I ever could. The chief things to know:

1. They move like they’re alive.

2. They’re awfully repulsive.

3. They hide in their lairs.

It’s the “hiding in lairs” part that gets me. I so enjoy the idea of psychotic insects roughing it out in preplanned exile. Are they avoiding their enemies, or merely waiting for the right moment to strike? I asked Stompa, and once I figure out what means, I’ll know.

Look close and you’ll spot the broad collection of Horror Pets. It’s the expected gamut of beetles and flies, but those shell lairs are something else. There’s even one that looks like a horse skull. Stompa, you may have to move.

In a shocking twist, I actually own a second Horror Pet. If I’m ever going to write about it, this is the time.

This one is named Cruncher, and he comes in an absolutely badass Audrey II-themed shell. Look at how those bristly plant teeth carefully align! If this is what people mean when they say “symmetry,” symmetry is my new favorite thing.

Cruncher himself is one of the weakest Horror Pets, being a rather dull cockroach. I think that’s why Mattel gave him the flytrap lair. He certainly needed it more than a giant skeletal centipede did.

The lair is almost as great on the inside. It has an enormous plant tongue and various bones strewn about, giving the impression that this particular flytrap has expanded its menu. It might not be safe for Cruncher to hide in there, so it is fortunate that I couldn’t care less about a rubber cockroach with wheels instead of an ass.

Conclusion: Horror Pets are a-okay.

Oh, and I made a video about a trident-shaped glowstick:

EDIT: How did I forget to say congrats to Amy? Frequent visitors to the comments know Amy as an all-around great gal. I know her as an amazing friend and confidant. Amy just became a new mother! Hooray for her, her family and Stompa the Algerian centipede.

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48 Responses to Mattel’s Horror Pets!

  1. Matt says:

    @Jonathan: I’m surprised you didn’t know these inside and out, but I’m not surprised at all that you had some connection to them, however tenuous.

    @Doc Oz: Yeah, no doubt. I’ve spent so much of the month gushing over package art that I felt I needed to give it a break. But man did I pick the wrong time.

  2. Modok says:

    Reason #14,397 that I love X-E: Matt refused to look up whether there are other types of Horror Pets, but apparently DID spend time researching Algeria, of all things.

    Going on Halloween runs has gotten a little depressing. Most things are gone, the rest is on clearance, and that jolly fat bastard Santa has now exercised dominion over the holiday aisles once and for all.

  3. Roddy says:

    I’m sure this is the best crowd to ask this question: isn’t there an episode of the original 80s He-Man where Cringer runs away from the transformation sequence, and the beam chases him around a corner or something? I Just got all 4 boxes of the original series, and I don’t think I’ve seen it so far.

  4. Scott says:

    I wanted to say that the fly trap is cool.
    Now I want to say that I love how Rev. Asspuncher13 mangles jugendsehnsucht name all the time.

  5. Hey man. It’s not that I haven’t heard of copy & paste. It’s just that I wouldn’t dream of insulting the man’s intelligence by cheating that way. He knows I don’t know how to spell that word. Which I hope is the German phrase for “the tears of bad children” or something equally nice.

  6. kb says:

    I cannot watch the YouTube videos anymore! Stupid satellite internet. I’m not sure about the bugs, but I would have loved storing random crap inside the cases as a kid.

  7. Every time I look at that scorpion on the package, I can’t help but see Issac Hayes.

  8. Tank Rambo says:

    Stompa’s the creature for me- I think I saw a cousin of his run across the counter in my first LA apt. once…

    And speaking of Portuguese- I’ve just finished running Cleopatra (the 4 hour version) in Brazilian Portuguese here at work… which gave me just enough time to catch up on all the posts since the middle of last week. (-Whew-). And now, I feel bad I didn’t read them all before my last posts-

    First- HEARTFELT CONGRATS, AMY!! And Best Wishes to all the New and Soon-To-Be Mom’s on X-E! :)

    Next- Thanks Much, DJ (and again, Jugendsehnsucht) for the radio show info- I can’t wait for the Halloween Show!

    And finally, in no particular order:

    Bill- Great piece on Savannah- I can’t wait to ‘go to the basement’- Also, why in the name of Golf have I never thought of Vodka-Palmers? (Slipping badly)

    Muppet Baby- Best of Luck with the Shaun costume- What a Great idea! ‘Attack the Block’ is out today, and I’m planning on watching it tonight. (No Simon Pegg, but Nick Frost is better than NO Nick Frost. 😉

    And to wrap it- Matt, you REALLY DO make this entire part of the year a Far, Far Better Place to live in… Your tireless efforts have brightened countless rough days, and definitely changed the way I look at a lot of things. They’ve also changed the way I look, as the inevitable sugar-binges your reviews inspire every year leave me glad there’s someone like Bill around to make me get off my fat ass and… well, WALK at least… Baby-steps… 😉

    (On the junk-food topic- has anyone else noticed any alarming hues after ‘x-ing the x’ following a BooBerry binge?)

  9. Kapprika says:

    Nah, “tears of bad children” would be something like Böskindertränen. Can’t say I’ve ever used that word before, though.

    Speaking of children – congratulations, Amy! :)

  10. starwenn says:

    First of all, congratulations to Mama Amy! 😀

    Second, I actually like Cruncher better. I used to see his ilk in my apartment in Wildwood. Centipedes still freak me out. Always have.

  11. Scott says:

    I see jugendsehnsucht it and think jug ends and such, which could be a German type beer that has yet to be invented.

  12. Matt says:

    @Juge: Just stumbled upon this story. Guess who sprung to mind? Take no offense, because the resemblence starts and ends with the chin.

    @starwenn: Ah yes, I’ve had many encounters with our pals the roaches in hotels up and down Wildwood beach. (Mostly up. The Crest was usually less roachy.)

    @kb: All eyes on you, lady! Your turn!

    @Tank Rambo: Thanks!

    @Matt: Consider threaded comments. Seriously.

  13. “Take no offense, because the resemblence starts and ends with the chin.”Matt
    Haha, I should hope not! I’ll bet his beard doesn’t even have strange psychedelic powers, either. What a maroon.

  14. I meant to write up a whole dramatic saga about this recent news item, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never live long enough to get around to it now, so I’m just going to share the story that made me think of Jugdishandlonnie recently. Here it is.

  15. I had a first date tonight. I thought it went well for the most part, but one thing she said is very concerning. I knew she didn’t like horror movies, but tonight she told me she doesn’t like Halloween! Come on! I can see not being crazy about it, but how can you not even like it? At least she like Christmas…

  16. Matt says:

    Brandon, that can be remedied. Ms. X never cared about Christmas in the least until we got together. Now it’s me who has to remind her that we can’t switch to cranberry-scented candles until November.

  17. velouria_78 says:

    Yeah, I think I can safely say that Mr. V-lo did not have multi-volume Halloween mixes, boxes of scull candles or blood filled cupcakes on his radar until I hit the scene. I’d like to think that’s something I’ve contributed rather than inflicted.

  18. Bill says:

    Brandmed, I second that. We went to Target again tonight and I bought a few more Halloween items. Came back to the cart and there were three miles of Xmas lights with Xmas scented Glade. I created a monster.

    Boy, Micheal Myers hair looks stupid in Halloween 5.

  19. joker9866 says:

    Matt why dont you do a story about your all time favorite horror movies your top 10 or do your bottom 10 ones you hate.

  20. Sam says:

    Actually it’s Italian then Spanish but yah, cute :)

    And I think Cruncher’s “lair” would be a far better coin purse!

  21. Astro Zombie says:

    I’m with Sam: Cruncher’s lair would be a great coin purse. Stompa’s is cool, but Cruncher’s is better. Not share how Cruncher has come to live in there—must have some kind of deal in which he brings victims to the lair.

  22. spooky says:

    just curious. How much of Mad Matt’s voice is, shall we say, affected gruffness? When I speak in “Affected Gruffness” I dont really sound more or less like myself, and since I cant remember ever hearing Matt speak, I admit I’m curious what that sounds like.

    I’m pretty sure I had one of these as a kid, and loved to play with the bug. But I cant remember a case. Hmmmnnn. Some things are just lost to time, but I’m going to look into them because mine would have been a spider on a pull-back wheel.

  23. Matt says:

    It’s pretty affected. In real life I sound like a hybrid of Ray Romano and a woman.

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