I vividly remember the day I visited my local toy shop and found a hideously cute creature leering at me from behind plastic bars inset into its cardboard box packaging. This was my introduction to the Boglins and I was immediately captivated.

At the time there was an adorable monster craze fueled by films like Gremlins (1984), Ghoulies (1985), and Critters (1986), as well as the Madballs (1985) and My Pet Monster (1986) toy lines, but by 1987 — when Boglins were released — the desire for these alluringly gross works was nearing its end. Yet they still made a lasting impact on my youthful mind; and, I suspect, I’m not alone.

An example of the enduring nostalgia for these works surfaced recently. Beacon, NY’s Clutter Gallery partnered with Tim Clarke, one of the line’s co-creators, to manufacture a brand new Boglin design. Sculpted by Clarke, this new piece harkened to the original toys aesthetically, though this new Boglin was cast in hard resin rather than the pliable material that the hand puppets were known for.

With the resulting resin cast design sent forth to an array of artists, allowing them to turn the nostalgic beast into works of art, these pieces collectively became the Boglins Custom Toy Show. The thirteen artists represented in this group exhibition created a bevy of creatures, each evolving their own unique Boglin(s) out of the base form provided.

Doktor A’s The Hob-Boglin (Hoblinus Boglinum)

Doktor A (Bruce Whistlecraft) brings a rather unique perspective to this gallery showcase. While he is now a well-known artist within the designer toy movement, he also served as a sculptor for the original U.K. Mini Boglins line early in his career.1Whistlecraft, B. (2016, November 11). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMrZ8UohlpA/ Opting to forego keeping this mischievous little character true to its form, Doktor A converted the backside of the beast into the head of a fantastical creature mounted on a wood plaque. Titled The Hob-Boglin (Hoblinus Boglinum), this mixed media composition is not immediately recognizable as a Boglin but is breathtaking in its own right.

The Hob-Boglin (Hoblinus Boglinum) is the “larger and less often spotted cousin to the common Boglin,” according to Doktor A, adding that it is “Slightly more intelligent and dangerous than it’s smaller brethren.” Explaining the armaments adorning the beast’s head, Doktor A informs that these beasts are frequently seen “sporting rudimentary clothing and in some reported cases even beaten metal armour.” As a final thought, he notes that “they can sometimes be subdued with Marsh Mallows, as long as they contain actual marsh.”2Whistlecraft, B. (2016, November 14). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMw7dSohLIC/

Tim Clarke’s Boglin Hot Rod

Taking a cue from what I suspect must be his own youthful nostalgia, Boglins co-creator Tim Clarke finds inspiration in the hot rod riding “monster” cartoon characters of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Stanley Mouse (Stanley George Miller).3Clarke, T. (2016, November 10). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMnDW0jAZ1C/ Assuming a cartoonish look proper for this tribute, Clarke’s Boglin Hot Rod foregoes the thin, clean lines commonly associated with Kustom Kulture, instead emphasizing a rougly hewn appearance that accentuates the montstrous nature of his creation. Complete with bulging eyes, as were frequently seen on “monster” hot rodders, these are accentuated by including an eyeball for the gear shift knob. Beautifully grotesque being the apt description that comes to mind, it seems appropriate coming from the once named “King of Gross.”

Rampage Toys’ Garaboglin

Inspired by possibly the most recognizable monster from Ultra Q, Garamon, the Garaboglin by Rampage Toys (Jon Malmstedt) perfectly captures the creature’s coloration as seen on various toy releases, especially the M1 Garamon. Painted with lots of subtle color fades, what really makes this work standout for me is the inclusion of a Kaibutsu Omake figure, reconceptualizing the Boglin as a monstrously massive creature.

Further images from the Boglins Custom Toy Show

Having had its opening reception on Saturday, November 12th from 6-9pm, all works in this exhibition will remain on display until December 2nd, 2016 at their physical location (163 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508).

View the gallery’s dedicated page for the exhibition

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References   [ + ]

1. Whistlecraft, B. (2016, November 11). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMrZ8UohlpA/
2. Whistlecraft, B. (2016, November 14). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMw7dSohLIC/
3. Clarke, T. (2016, November 10). Untitled. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BMnDW0jAZ1C/