As we move into Spring amidst the global health crisis, I want to debut an article series I've been planning for a while. Called the Inspiration Chronicles, I intend for this series of written articles to be one part nostalgia, one part design, and one part personal lore. The plan is to explore brands, themes, or any past things that have shaped my personal artistic tastes and style. As these are a bit more in-depth than the usual posts, I don't know how often I'll be posting them. That said, let's get in to the first entry.
Enter the subject of the first entry in this documentary series: Boglins. I don't know how widespread these toys were but my research shows me that at least in the States and Europe Boglins had a presence.
Original caption from the box
Originally debuting on 1987, Boglins were these grotesque monster-like hand puppets made of a rubber latex-like material. Capitalizing on the "gross out factor" of many toys in the 80s, these were promoted as a way to antagonize people (like sisters in the commercial) or at the very least creep them out. There were several runs or "series" of Boglins that were sold in major toy outlets over the several years the toys were primarily in circulation. The products ranged from smaller hand puppets that had some minor eye controls and mouths to bigger more complex models with moveable glow-in-the-dark eyes. Some of these even had a plastic infrastructure inside the puppet that would allow you to manipulate the expressions of the creatures.
|From the left: Vlobb and Squidge|
An aquatic themed "Soggy Boglins" series was also released and featured three sea-life type creatures.
|From the left: Snish, Slobster, and Slogg|
As a minor aside, the blue fish Boglin, Snish was one of the most rare and hard to find of these three. Ever since I saw the promo art on the boxes, I was obsessed with finding it as a kid with no success. It wasn't until much, much later after the advent of eBay that I was able to get my hands on a brand new one in-box. Since I obviously don't care about collector's value, I opened it and put it on my display shelve. It's one of the few times I've been able to fulfill a childhood dream.
The Boglins eventually waned in popularity and their production was halted. They would eventually fade from the public consciousness with some more avid fans becoming collectors and traders on-line later. If you look around places like eBay, you can see different Boglins of varying conditions go for some rather large amounts of money. I feel fortunate that I was able to secure that fish one all those years ago.
It wasn't until recently that I discovered a fascinating new development in the chapter of these unique toys. One of the original creators, Tim Clarke started up his own production of brand new Boglins out of his home. Using some of his proprietary techniques, he started developing and selling Boglins via his website. These are not mass produced and as mentioned by Tim he makes them to order. As a result, they do run relatively high in price. Avid collectors or fans should probably approach this more from the art angle than just a toy.
After discovering Tim's site, I did order a couple of his new model Boglins to one, support his work and two, take a look at the design and quality of the products. Here are the ones I ordered:
|From the left: Grumph, Vlogg, and Swogg|
These new era Boglins are very similar in design and material to the original runs from the 80s. The material is still a rubbery vinyl but feels a bit less elastic than the old models. The material is tacky but doesn't leave significant residue when handling them. It will stain surfaces if left in prolonged contact. The puppets themselves have mouth controls but no internal infrastructor for expression manipulation. I imagine it would be more difficult to construct a rigging system on a per-order basis. That being said, the overall puppets are well constructed and feel sturdy. Because of their higher value, I'd be hesitant to give them to small children though.
Looking at the background behind these toys, I'm sure it's no surprise that they were one of my favorites back in the 80s. While the mainstay franchises like Transformer or Ninja Turtles were present, the unique style of the Boglins left a significant impression on my art style. I can definitely see some traces of inspiration on things like my mache projects. I'm very interested in seeing what Tim's new line of Boglins will become and keep regular tabs on his main site. I have no problems tossing him some cash to support his efforts based on what I've seen of the products. I might do some more in-depth photo shoots of my collection and put it into an Imgur album if that's something people would be interested in seeing.
That should wrap up this look into some nostalgia. I'll be doing more articles like this in the future.
Thanks for visiting!