Plush toy photos courtesy of Douglas Toys
October is when goblins, ghouls, and gremlins are invited to frolic and run free. Even though Halloween doesn’t occur until the very last day of this month, the run-up to the costume extravaganza is mind-boggling. Every lifestyle TV channel and magazine layout features desserts, appetizers, and adorable edibles that have a spooky and surprising twist.
In October, we’re encouraged to drink “Very Bloody Marys” and dine on dishes laced with garlic served on silver platters — extra protection against vampires and werewolves. Yes, October is the time when fantasy becomes reality, and making make-believe pageantry is the directive for every mom or dad who belongs to a school PTA.
One of the companies that has really gone hog-wild for fantasy — check out their spotted-pig princess — is Douglas. Celebrating more than 60 years as a purveyor of affordably priced plush pals and bears, the Douglas design team adores the chance to trick their characters out with all kinds of treats. I really like their proposed Rainbowcorn lineup that is expected to hit the pavements now in the fall.
The Rainbowcorns are an amalgam of unicorn horns and animals that aren’t expected to sport them. The first batch of Rainbow releases are the Pugicorn (an oh-so-cute pug with a horn attached to its head), the Llamacorn, the Pandacorn, and the Caticorn. It is a remarkable menagerie to behold — sort of like a Rainbow Brite meets the Island of Doctor Moreau hybrid. Imagine that little Miss Brite got her medical license under the experimental tutelage of Dr. Moreau. Presto-plusho: these Rainbowcorns would be the result.
I like the fact that Douglas is providing materials that can turn young trick-or-treaters into their dream creations. With horns on top of their heads or mermaid tails wrapped around their waists, these imaginative tweens can morph into two-legged versions of My Little Pony.
There has been a definite spike (pardon the pun) for characters and creatures that have horns jutting from their foreheads. Besides the obviously mythical unicorns and their cavorting, flying MLP hooved-friends, manufacturers unveiled a bunch of different narwhals at Toy Fair in February 2017.
Residing in waters that surround Greenland, Russia, and Canada, the narwhals (or narwhales) look like they should be something concocted by Sid and Marty Krofft for an animated children’s TV show. It appears to be a huge, monstrous water beast with a preposterous, dentist-challenging super canine tooth.
Why is it that 2017 has become the year of the ubiquitous unicorn? Well, there has been an ever-increasing spate of bad news. With each month that our calendar unfurls, new horrors seem to befall us. There are natural disasters, man-made depravity, incidents of pure evil and carnage, which are greeting us each day that we awake.
It is ironic that October is when our inner demons (disguised as witches, warlocks, and wild beasts) are coaxed to come out and play. We are given leeway to dress up and confront our most nightmarish visions during the day and night of Halloween, plus all the parades, parties, and protocol that surround it.
However, all the other days of the year we are encouraged to put our anxieties and fears away. It’s like Halloween is the Purge for all of our neuroses: all of us (from senior citizens to newbie toddlers) are told it’s all right to dress up and to act out on October 31.
We all see, though, that the rest of the world, including Mother Nature and mass-shooting maniacs, don’t follow that curfew. We are surrounded by bad events and by bad people. The opportunity to envision unicorns and friendly dragons (built in the mode of magical Puff and even sleight-of-hand magician Piff from “America’s Got Talent”) brings all of us comfort and relief from the screeching headlines.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we lived in a universe where unicorns still gamboled and roamed? Back in the Medieval and Renaissance eras, unicorns were thought to be alive and could only be tamed by a virgin who was pure of heart. The unicorns were stated to be gentle and kind, imbued with healing powers. Famous tapestries and paintings have shown young lasses with unicorns trustingly lying in their laps. (Here is a disturbing side note: Little did the poor creature realize, but he had been lured to his death. The maiden’s companion, hidden in the forest, would sneak forth and bludgeon the beast for its horn.) Horns of narwhals were sold in the 15th and 16th centuries as unicorn horns and had all types of snake-oil promises attached to them.
In our modern longing for bygone centuries, we like to make them appear more rosy and more saccharine than what they really were. That is why we all want to close our eyes and picture a pastoral setting where unicorns lope about freely and safely. We can bridle them or we can sit back and watch them prance like untamed mustangs. It is all in our fancy; it is all in our minds.
That’s the beauty of having a wide-open imagination. It allows us to leave behind the travails and terror of today’s reality. We can immerse ourselves in a world of pure imagination a la Willy Wonka. And unlike Roald Dahl’s novel where the chocolate maker had a snarky and punishing personality, our world can be emblazoned with Rainbowcorns, unicorns, and all kinds of corny sentimentality.