I've heard them called 'handpuppets from hell', and thet's not far off the truth. For anyone who's seen the original TV ad for boglins from the 80s, you'll know what I'm talking about here. The name itself conjures up all kinds of revolting, hellish imagery of something that lives in murky bogs, covered in warts, emitting the kind of phlegm-filled sounds that haunt you for nights to come. And this was exactly what those big brains at Mattel wanted us to think.
Hot on the heels of Finger Frights and Gremlins, Boglins were the type of toy you felt you had to own, even if you were slightly freaked at the prospect of what it would get up to under the glimmer of your night light. In the ad campaign they'd promised:
"If you take us home, we'll kiss your Aunt Martha, we'll eat your peas, and we hope you know lots of girls."
Luckily for us scaredy cats, the late-80s toy came packaged in cardboard cages, complete with 'don't feed' signs that made them out to be some kind of rotten experiment turned evil.
The story went that Boglins were the creatures us humans had eventually descended from, but a small monirity had remained buried in bogland, preserved until present day and unevolved. The toys were slimey hand puppets that looked like a large bogey with glow in the dark eyes, claw-like dinosaur hands and a tendancy for biting little sister's arms (very popular with big brothers then!). There were three varieties of the original Boglins in the US, known as Drool, Dwork and Vlob, although in the UK they went by the names of Plunk, Dwork and Flurp.
With the success of the first trio of Boglins, smaller versions were released, but these were much cuter and came in plastic egg packaging like Kinder Surprise. There were also ones put in Kelloggs cereal boxes - discovering a Boglin in your Rice Krispies certainly made for an eventful breakfast time. Collectables were also sold in small, shiny foil packs at the local newsagents. They were plain, one-coloured, hard plastic versions of the original Boglins, around 1.5 inches tall. These were collected and traded from kid to kid during playtime. Soggy Boglins were no doubt the grossest breed going, including Slogg the frog complete with a sticky tongue and Snish the Fish which squirted water. Other freakish breeds comprised: Hairy Boglins featuring tufts of hair on rubbery heads; Acrobat Boglins which would crawl down walls once thrown at them; Talking Boglins; and Bash 'em Boglins which came with detachable body parts. There was even a Boglins board game.
The Boglin toys first hit our shelves in 1987 and were manufactured by a number of different companies including Action GT and Ideal for Mattel. They survived into the 90s, until those devilish Monsters In My Pocket snuck onto the scene and stole most of their fans. Boglins took the hint and bogged off... for now.