Boglins were rubbery hand puppets that resembled small monsters, goblins and aquatic creatures. The Boglins were part of the "monster creatures" craze during the late nineteen eighties, which included Ghoulies, Critters, Ghostbusters, and Gremlins. Generally, the Boglin puppet was aimed at small children (boys in particular) from eight to eleven, as they were popularly used for frightening others, but have become valuable collectibles in recent years. Their purpose can be summed up fairly accurately with their commercial slogan; They were characterized by their unique packaging (a cardboard box with a plastic "cage" entrance) and by movable eyes and mouth. Boglins were manufactured by a number of companies including Action GT and Ideal and distributed by Mattel. They became very popular in both the United Kingdom and USA, and their popularity is believed to have reached its peak thanks to a deal with Kellogg's in 1989, to use them in promotions contained in, and on, boxes of Rice Krispies cereal, including rubber stampers, stamp collections, cut-out masks and an exclusive set of Mini Boglins.
Boglins were also characterised by their varying "genus" and unique form, which entailed a pair of arms, no legs, and a flatish body.
The cult status of Boglins in the past has been so great that have made appearances in other media, and they were depicted as spacecraft parasites in The Fifth Element.
Types of Boglins
- Boglins (Boglinus humungus) were large and would fit comfortably on the hand. They were sold in boxes resembling crates with a jail-like front. There were three varieties: Drool, Dwork and Vlobb. [On the 1987 UK box, these are Plunk, Dwork, and Flurp]
- Small Boglins (Boglinus minimus) were slightly smaller than regular Boglins, resulting in reduced freedom of motion and simpler features. The varieties were Splat, Blap, Bonk, Doink, Klang, Squidge, and Squit in the UK and Squidge, Shlump, Shlurp, Sponk, Squawk and Squeel in the USA.
- Soggy Boglins (Boglinus liquidious) were puppets in the shapes of mutated animals. They were slightly smaller than regular Boglins. There were three varieties: Snish the Fish, which squirted water; Slogg the Frog, which had a sticky tongue; and Slobster the Lobster, which had a snapping claw.
- Baby Boglins were finger sized boglins with fixed facial expressions and googly eyes which were sold in egg-shaped boxes.
- Halloween Boglins were Boglins painted in halloween forms. There were two varieties: Blobkin which looked like a pumpkin and Bog o' Bones which resembled a skeleton.
- Acrobat Boglins were made of a flexible, sticky material which allowed them to be thrown at walls and slowly 'crawl' down them. They could be stretched and knotted and would return to their original shape. They were roughly the size of baby boglins and were sold in egg-shaped boxes but had no finger hole and very little face detail. Acrobat boglins are difficult for collectors to preserve due to the material from which they were made, which collects dust and particles.
- Bash 'em Boglins were highly detailed, with cartoon-like features and detachable body parts. There were two varieties: Splat and Swish.
- Action Boglins were larger than Baby Boglins, but lay on their stomachs with full body length. They performed actions when squeezed, sticking their tongues or eyeballs out or squirting water from their mouths.
- Baby Squirt Boglins were semi-solid PVC Boglins with detailed facial features which could squirt water when squeezed. There were three varieties modeled on Klang, Squit and Boink.
- Hairy Boglins were Plunk and Flurp Boglins with tufts of hair on their heads. The Plunk Boglin had red hair and the Flurp brown.
- Talking Boglins which talked and made noises were released shortly after the original three.
- Glow Boglins were medium Boglins which glowed in the dark. They were naturally white with green tints and were modelled on Klang and Doink.
- Ric Flair Boglins were the two Hairy Plunk and Flurp Boglins with grey rather than colored hair on their heads.
- Batty Boglins: Mattel planned to release "Bat Boglins" in 1989, but the winged creatures were never released in the United States.
Mattel restarted the Boglin line in 2000 with two new lines of Boglins. There were two large, talking Boglins named Belcher and Gangrene, as well as several smaller ones: I Ball/Deg, a turquoise Boglin whose eyes popped out on stalks; Mr Mucus/Mr Crad, a purple Boglin which spat water when squeezed; and Warty/Pustule, a green Boglin with sticky red blisters that oozed. The large Boglins Belcher and Gangrene were usually too big for their box and regularly came with damaged, ripped tails or otherwise disfigured tails.
The variety least like the standard "large" and "small" hand puppets were the "mini" boglins. They made out of solid PVC and unlike their predecessors had no movable parts, so were essentially plastic models similar to Monster in My Pocket as well as being sold in blister packs (containing 3 or 5 monsters) and boxes (containing 5, 10 or 20 Boglins) they were available packaged individually, each packet contained a random Boglin and buyers didn't know which Boglin it was, a common practice, similar to Gashapon). In the UK they were available in newsagents and stores like Woolworths, again a common practice.
The Boglins has a small backstory in this incarnation, they had lived in a swamp but their swamp was drying up and their king had sent out the Boglins to find new places to live. The Mini Boglins were first released in 1991 with 36 Bolgins sub divided into 6 'tribes' with six Blogins in each tribe over time they were produced by several companies including 7 Towns Ltd. for Mattel. By 1992 there were 56 Boglins in eight tribes with 7 members and by 1994 eight tribes with eight members. Included on many models was a secret label that would show only after the Boglin was heated and left to cool, this was supposed to be their 'secret code', part of the toys' storyline.
The Mini Boglins Swamp Carry Case was also sold separately, made of molded plastic it unfolded to be a small landscape on which children could play with the Mini-Boglins. A Boglins Cage offer however was ran in the UK on the backs of the Mini-Boglins and Baby Action Spitting Boglins blister packs. If eight tokens were collected and set together with a cheque or postal order for 80 pence to Ideal Toys a small plastic cage would be sent that could store both makes of Boglin.
Mini Boglins were divided into tribes, with each Boglin having attributes that related to the nature of the tribe. Furthermore, each Boglin was given a rank within the tribe, and the higher ranks had a small symbol carved on them somewhere:
Chief: The highest rank, the chief ruled the tribe and was respected by all others. Not exactly rare, but very prestigious, these dictators were given small crown symbols to show their skills in leadership
Scout: By far the rarest form of boglin, the scout was glow in the dark and the next in the tribe rankings.
Messenger: This was the messenger of the tribe. He was branded with a small envelope symbol to show he was a messenger. They varied in rarity, with some being very common whilst others rivalled the rarity of scouts.
Spy: The spy always appeared cheeky and mischievous, and came in only one colour: Black. Like messengers, some were common and others were rare.
Peon: There are four common peons to a tribe, each having their own skills. Most were common apart from the very few which were rarer.
By the time production of the Mini-Boglins line ended there were 12 Tribes of Boglins:
- The Army Guys each character had a comical/stereotypical army theme, all wear headgear, mostly helmets and lived in the garage. The eight members were Chief Furg, Scout Flouk, Spy Flarp, Messenger Flare, Flak, Flerk, Fling and Frol.
- The Tough Guys the tribe had no theme other than being older, experienced or masters of their particular filed (boxing, piracy etc) though they were apparently not as tough as they pretended to be. They were Chief Krusha, Scout Klok, Spy Klab, Messenger Kik, Kug, Killa, Klang and Kurg and lived in the garden.
- The Rude Dudes living under the toilet the tribe are fairly generic Boglins but doing various 'rude' or unsanitary things such as picking their nose, poking their tongue out or being sick. Members were Chief Smog, Scout Stare, Spy Spig, Messenger Stick, Spew, Stog, Stroll and Spoilet another model 'Splang' was retired.
- The Jokers similar to the Rude Dudes in that most of them were simply generic Boglin designs only posed, this time as doing mischievous things such as using a catapult or Super Soaker, they lived under the stairs. Members were Chief Prog, Scout Perlok, Spy Prod, Messenger Pard, Pelt, Prang, Porg and Plig and four more models Poig, Plag, Purg and Perk were all retired.
- The Medievals living in the attic, the tribe were all medieval themed, mostly dressed as Knights, though Messenger Murg is clearly styled after Robin Hood. Members were Chief Mogg, Scout Morgs, Spy Minx, Messenger Murg, Maxe, Mace, Mord, Madd.
- The Clumsies all of the models were positioned as involved in a different kind of accident or misfortune, Tell has an apple core on his head and an arrow through his ears, a reference to William Tell. The lived in the chimney and were Chief Trogg, Scout Trex, Spy Tong, Messenger Talk, Tang, Tell, Trap and Trung two further models Trub and Tat were retired.
- The Greedies all models were food themed, usually eating a specific item (Spaghetti, Pizza, Burger) they lived under the Fridge. Members were Chief Glonk, Scout Gloub, Spy Glup, Messenger Gunk, Gurg, Glerp, Gulp and Grol a ninth model Glob (eating his own tail) was retired.
- The Disgustings only seven members: Chief Drox, Scout Droup, Dril, Dino, Drak, Durd and Dwiz were made instead of eight. Very similar to The Rude Dudes the characters were posed with a slight more emphasis on disgusting habits rather than simply rude ones they lived in the dustbin.
- The Freaks like the Disgutings only seven members were made instead of eight and lived down the drain, they were Chief Bug, Scout Blink, Blurp, Blarf, Boik, Burg and Bog and were mostly hideously deformed in comparison to their fellows Blarf was a Vampire and Bog was very similar to the Frankenstein's monster.
- The Prehistorics Caveman themed models all of the tribe were armed (mostly wit crude club like weapons, though Spy Dork had a Pterodactyl on his head) they were supposed to live in the cellar and had Neanderthal like faces. Members were Chief Dred, Scout Dink, Spy Dork, Messenger Drat, Dimm, Dino, Dunk, Dent.
- The Samurai a special set of models that only came in neon colors. They all wore variants of samurai armour and had vaguely oriental features, ironically none of them were armed with a sword however. Members were Chief Yuck, Scout Yell, Spy Yak, Messenger Yum, Yen, Yule, Yarn and Yelp.
- The Rare Dudes all of the models in this tribe belonged to other tribes, these models were just especially rare versions of them. Chief Drox and Scout Droup are even rarer as they have no engraving at all. Chief Drox, Scout Droup and Drak from the Disgustings, Messenger Stick from the Rude Dudes, Spy Glup and Gulp from The Greedies and Tang and Tell from the Clumsies.
Mini Boglins in Slime
As well as the regular Mini-Boglins four additional models were made for a special line that came in Slime toilets - plastic toilets filled with substance similar to toy slime. Coming individually in blister packs containing 1 toilet, 4 mini-boglins and 1 Slime Boglin. The Slime Boglins were Splutter, Splurge, Splash and Splodge.
The Slime toilet was also a major part of the Mini Boglins board game.