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Dax in Disguise

Skelanimals
by yo go re

The past few years, Target stores celebrated Halloween with different licensed themes. In 2008, it was furry brown Japanese tv monster Domo, who was plastered all over the store in different costumes and styles, including one where he had a carved pumpkin for a head. If you don't think Pumpkin Domo is the cutest thing in the history of ever, well, you're just wrong. Try to learn to live with that knowledge. If you want to see all the Domos, I-Mockery has a nice little gallery of them. Anyway, 2009's theme was Skelanimals:

Dax's favorite movie is "Beware the Eagle." He will do anything for attention. He just wants to play and please you. He sometimes drives the other Skelanimals crazy because of his playfulness, but they always miss him when he's not around. He's one companion that will never leave your side.

The eagle thing may seem random, but it's a reference to the story of how Dax died in the first place, as revealed on the Skelanimals website. You can go read it for yourself, because it's far too cheesy for us to copy and paste.

Skelanimals are the creation of artist Mitchell Bernal, and were introduced by Toynami in February of 2006. Unlike lines like Teddy Scares or the Living Dead Dolls, which only dress themselves in the trappings of children's toys (but are clearly intended for adult collectors), Skelanimals are aimed at teens and younger fans. The line began with five large plushes, but has blossomed to 26 characters and multiple categories of merchandise.

All the Skelanimals have a very graphic design sensibility: black body, white applique bones, grey paw pads and an embroidered red heart. The combination of such strong colors, with firm delineation between them, gives the animals the feeling of a cartoon, or perhaps a designer vinyl toy, like Mighty Muggs or Mez-Itz.

Dax the Dog was one of the original five, but in keeping with the seasonal theme of the ad campaign, each of the Skelanimals sold at Target were given Halloween costumes. Dax is made up like a mummy, which means he has a few strips of cloth wrapped around him and stitched into place. Two bandages form an X on his head, while another is intertwined around his legs and his bottom. Obviously it's not really one unbroken strip of cloth, but it's obviously meant to convey that idea. Since the bandages are the same color as his facebones and angle up over the eyes, it ends up making him look sad.

Dax has good construction, but this is still more of a display piece than an "active cuddling" piece: while he's got good stitching along all his seams, the looser bandages might not hold up to a child's play. If you want that, go for one of the standard releases. His floppy ears and stumpy tail seem plenty sturdy.

This puppy is part of the smallest set of Skelanimals Target sold, standing (well, sitting) just 6" tall. There were five plushes in this series: in addition to Dax, we had a bat dressed as a vampire, a cat as a witch, an owl pirate and a spider... spider. Seriously, he's a spider, and he seemed to be dressed as a spider. It makes no sense! There was a larger line of "Trick-or-Treat Pets," with a rabbit in a Frankenstein mask, a devil panda and a monkey dressed as a pumpkin. Finally, three full-sized plushes with glow-in-the-dark bones were sold in fancy coffin packaging: Dax again, plus Kit the cat and Diego the bat.

Surely there are some out there who find the idea of blatantly marketing pseudo-goth designs to kids insulting - but wouldn't you rather see them get hooked on something like this than something like this? There's no denying the Skelanimals are killer cute, and as Dax proves, dressing them up in costume just makes them better.

-- 10/21/10


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