Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012!

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Happy Halloween Everyone! I hope you all have a frightfully fun day planned. One filled to the brim with pumpkin carving, horror movies, and plenty of candy along the way. Be sure to check out 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' airing tonight on CBS at 7pm and just generally try to soak up as many of the sights and sounds of the season as possible.

I've had a lot of fun running the 2012 Halloween Countdown even if I did suffer a bit of 'Halloween-fatigue' towards the very end. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read or comment on any of my articles this season and encourage everybody to stick around for the coming Christmas season.

Have a Happy Halloween, stay safe... and remember that even though the season will soon be over, you can always check out the Halloween Town archives up at the top of the page for a full list of every Halloween article that I've wrote!

Stay Spooky,
~Kyle

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Jello!


I'm not sure if the words 'Halloween' and 'Jello' are really meant to go together. At least not in the way that they have been interpreted here, in the form of Pumpkin Spice Jello.

If you really want to incorporate Jello into your Beggars Night festivities there are a number of fun recipes available online that will point you in the right direction. Ones that will do a much better job than what Jello officially has to offer.

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I was tempted to hold off writing about Pumpkin Spice Jello until closer towards Thanksgiving time for the simple fact that nothing about this item really strikes me as Halloween.

This is clearly one of those seasonal releases geared towards the 'fall crowd' and not us 'Halloween folk'. The package, despite featuring a pumpkin, just screams Thanksgiving to me.

Probably should have went with my gut feeling on that one, as Pumpkin Spice Jello could not look more out of place standing next to my Frankenstein Color Blank creation than what it does in the photograph above.

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Imagine taking a can of pre-made pumpkin pie filling, opening the can, grabbing the nearest spoon and taking a gigantic bite directly out of it. Folks... that is exactly what eating Pumpkin Spice Jello is like. Pie filling out of a can... only cold.

Which isn't to say that this stuff is necessarily bad, its not. You just have to plan on spending more than five minutes with the stuff. Pumpkin Spice Jello should come with a warning label, one that says 'INGREDIENT ONLY' in big bold letters.

As an ingredient used in conjunction with graham crackers and whipped cream you could make yourself a pretty tasty faux pumpkin pie. And you could do it in considerably less time and effort than baking a traditional pie.

It is when you take this stuff at face value that Pumpkin Spice Jello starts to fall apart. It's impossible to enjoy it in the way that I normally associate with Jello. The quick way. The dig in with a spoon way. The way that generally ends up with me eating an entire batch of it in one sitting on accident.

Nobody is going to be eating an entire batch of Pumpkin Spice Jello at once. I even sort of question how much of that faux pumpkin pie would be ate before ultimately getting shoved into the back of the refrigerator and unanimously voted by each member of the household as 'allowed to be forgotten about until its expired'

I like the effort that the Jello Corporation is trying to put forth. Halloween probably should have an official Jello package dedicated to it. I just think that if they do this again for 2013 they should strongly consider simply releasing the standard 'chocolate' flavor in a big ass black package with orange text on it. Nothing more. Nothing less. And it'll be better off because of it.

If the black box Halloween Jello happens... I'm taking full credit for it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monster Science Bloody Hand... Part 2


A couple weeks ago I started the slowest moving 'magical growing' item in the history of novelty toys, the Monster Science Bloody Hand. In case you missed that article, now would be the opportune time give it a read and get caught up with the festivities.

For the rest of us, we have blood pills to play around with.

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Here is the finished product. No place near the size of an actual hand but still impressive considering how tiny it originally was. I still don't understand why it took so long reach this size, though. A little over two week is an eternity for a product that is destined to get thrown into the trash five minutes after you take it out of the bucket of water you grew it in.

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Upon closer inspection I've decided that the included blood pill looks shockingly similar to those tablets that you use to dye eggs with on Easter. I wouldn't be surprised if it actually is one of those tablets.

This article keeps getting less and less interesting the more I type about it.

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For some stupid reason the blood pill was taking forever plus five to do anything. I got tried of waiting for it and snapped this photo on what I estimate to be half way through the overall process.

It's a little hard to make out all the details but trust me, you are not missing a goddamn thing. The blood pill is undoubtedly the same thing used to color Easter Eggs and all that it really seemed to do was slowly turn the water pink.

I had high hopes for the Monster Science Bloody Hand and it preformed about as well as one can expect from a throw away novelty item, but considering how long it took to get from Point A to Point B ... I got to say that this is probably one of the more disappointing things that I've covered.

Is it Christmas yet?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween Color Blanks!


Rose Art Color Blanks turned out to be the 'shot in the arm' that I needed to re-energize my Halloween spirit. I've been sitting on these for weeks and purposely saved them for close to the end of the 2012 Halloween Countdown for that very reason.

It looks like my plan worked perfectly, because after spending a couple hours coloring these guys I really do feel extra motivated to celebrate Halloween 2012 to its fullest potential.

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My first introduction to Rose Art Color Blanks was last Christmas, when I created an average looking snowman and a horrible looking reindeer. I didn't really follow the directions or spend as much time with that set as I should have.


I always thought that if the opportunity ever came about that I would put forth some actual effort and create something truly special. When I found this set of Halloween themed Color Blanks, I knew that my opportunity had finally arrived.


Here are my creations:


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I thought it would be interesting to make the ghost look like Boo Berry. I gave it the ol' college try and I think if you squint your eyes and look at this photo sideways you can totally tell that this is Boo Berry.

I messed up with the eyebrows and tried to fix them by making them larger, but that didn't really help. And I couldn't think of any way to create a hat for him. If he had that yellow hat on, even with my poor artistic talent, I think most would get that its supposed to be Boo Berry.

Instead, I think he looks more like a distant relative of Boo Berry. Maybe a cousin from his mothers side. One that sells vacuum cleaners door to door. In retrospect perhaps I should have just went with one of my own creations instead of attempting to re-create Boo Berry, but you cannot fault me for at least trying.

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I spent the most time creating my version of Frankenstein's Monster, though. I've mentioned a number of times that Frankenstein is my favorite of the classic Universal Studios horror monsters. So when given the chance to create one of my own, you can damn well bet that I was going to spend the proper time with him.

I didn't want to stray too far away from the classic Frankenstein look, I knew that he had to have green skin and the classic flat top haircut. I also wanted to make mine look as pissed off as possible.

The eyes that I choose were actually an extra set that came with the ghost figure, but I thought they went to much better usage here. As a matter of fact the bowtie that I used for my attempted Boo Berry actually came with the Frankenstein figure. It seems the best way to get what you really want is to mix and match the stickers from one set to another.

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Overall I had a lot of fun making these guys, even though I was still plagued with a lot of the same issues I had the first time around. The markers, which by the way I purchased a set of twelve colored Sharpie's to get all the colors I wanted, simply refuse to dry.

And this is not me just being impatient, I painted Frankenstein's head and body and waited about eight hours to start on his arms... and still ended up smudging areas on his backside and turning the tips of my fingers brown and purple.

Boo Berry, almost a full 48 hours later... is still sort of tacky if you press hard enough. Its annoying that a set that relies so heavily on coloring specific areas takes this long to dry.

And they still have a couple areas that are impossible to color. Between the fingers of each figure will forever remain white, as well as the space between Frankenstein's feet. No matter how hard you try... you cannot fit the tip of the marker into all the little nooks and crannies.

With that said, I think it is safe to say that this is my favorite project that I've done so far for the 2012 Halloween Countdown. If you are like me and needed a quick boost of Halloween energy, head out to Target and pick up some of these Halloween Color Blanks and start creating!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Subway's FrankenWeenie Bags!

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I was on lunch break a couple days ago and decided to head over to Subway to check out the newly advertised tuscan chicken sandwich, which for the record tastes kind of like processed shit.

It was at the checkout counter that I spied them, a huge stack of FrankenWeenie 'Trick or Treat' sacks. I knew I had to have one.

Attempting to play it casually, I made small talk while my order was processed. Hows the weather. Been busy today. That sort of polite junk that you say to strangers working customer service so they don't spit in your tuscan chicken. All the while waiting for the ever illusive question "will that be everything for you tonight?"

"Actually, I would like one of those FrankenWeenie sacks if you don't mind." was my response, which seems to me like a reasonable enough request. It was at this point that I was shot 'the look' by the kid working the cash drawer.

What is 'the look' you say? You'll know 'the look' when you see it. It's the same one your dog gives an answering machine when he hears someones voice coming out of it. Surprise quickly overran by astonishment and a hint of anger.

'... those come with the kids meals." Son-of-a-bitching kid, this was exactly the type of conflict I wanted to avoid. All I wanted from life at that specific moment in time was a shitty tuscan chicken sandwich, a large drink of whatever that blue stuff is my Subway sells, and a FrankenWeenie sack. This is not a complex matter.

"Well, is there any chance I can buy one?" I say, attempting to avoid eye contact with the line of customers that I know are directly behind me. All of them wondering why some dipshit is holding up the line poking and prodding for a kids Trick or Treat bag.

"I'm actually not sure. Would you like me to call up my boss?" Sigh. Conflict. No, actually I really wouldn't like you to call up your boss over a stupid FrankenWeenie sack. I'd be perfectly fine with you charging me full price for the kids meal, plus my sandwich and mysterious blue drink, and then tossing in the FrankenWeenie sack as a bonus.

"Yea, sure... if you would." Because at this point stopping the attempted purchase of the FrankenWeenie sack would seem stranger than finishing the purchase attempt.

"What seems to be the problem?" Was how she greeted me, Mrs. Subway Manager Lady, as she made her way out of the back room. Flinging off a pair of disposable rubber gloves in the process.

"I would really like to know if I can purchase one of those FrankenWeenie sacks... without the kids meal." Did I really say 'really' within the context of a sentence involving the words "FrankenWeenie" and "kids meal" in correlation to my desire to own one? Crap, now I sound like a lunatic.

"Yes? Yes... we can do that. I just have... to... remember how." Success! Now, I just have to find a way to casually explain to them that not only do I want a FrankenWeenie sack... but this entire time I've had my eye on one specific sack in particular.

"Is there any chance I can get the one... with him and his dog on it together." Well I guess if the folk who work at Subway are going to think I'm loony, I might as well go the extra mile and get exactly what I want out of the deal.

It took seventeen more steps than it should have but as you can see by the photo above I did indeed leave Subway with a FrankenWeenie Trick or Treat bag. And not just any bag but the one that I specifically requested.

I even sat around and took multiple photos of it with my camera phone after I finished eating. It seemed like the only logical thing to do at that point.

I have absolutely zero plans to ever watch the movie 'FrankenWeenie'.

But I do one one of the Subway bags.

Maybe tomorrow I'll return and see if they have any of the others.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sock Monsters!


I am always on the lookout for items that are different than what people generally perceive a holiday to be about. When you think of Halloween your mind will no doubt dance with images of candy corn and horror flicks.

But plush toys based on classic horror movie monsters? Generally not what springs to mind first. Especially ones made up to look like socks. Or out of socks. I'm not quite 100% sure which it is. Either way its Sock Monsters!

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Available at Target, because at this point everything interesting comes from that store. The set, if you wish to call it that, includes Frankensteins Monster, Dracula, and a Skeleton... all transformed into cute little sock creatures. All begging for your hard earned money and a special place on your Halloween Mood Table.

You did set up a Halloween Mood Table, right?

Sock Monsters
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I've probably spent more time debating how to properly spell "Franken-Sock" than I have everything else in this article combined. Franken Sock? Frankensock? FrankenSock? Ultimately the hyphen seemed to look the most natural. More words need to utilize the hyphen.

Franken-Sock is my own personal choice for being 'the best of the bunch' but then again pretty much anything themed around Frankenstein's Monster tends to get labeled 'the best'. If you tell me otherwise, I'll jab you in the eye with a ballpoint pen.

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Up next is the Sock Skeleton, which despite being the more generic of the three, I actually am really quite fond of. I would like to believe that in some awesome alternative reality, one in which it is Halloween 365 days a year, traditional Teddy Bear's do not exist and instead every kid grows up with a Sock Skeleton instead.

The more I look at this one the more I am reminded of a Tim Burton film, in a good way. None of this Dark Shadows or Alice in Wonderland crap. Sock Skeleton looks like something straight out of 'A Nightmare Before Christmas'.

Sock Monsters
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Finally, we have Count Sockula. Which despite having by far the coolest sounding name of the trio, is my least favorite of the Sock Monsters. I find him to be just a little to purple and even though he has a vampire cape (trust me it is there, just impossible to see in this photograph) ... he just doesn't strike me as very Bela Lugosi-ish

That, I think, will pretty much do it for Sock Monsters. Can you guys believe that Halloween is exactly two weeks away? I am excited but at the same time cannot get over that feeling that we actually celebrated Halloween two weeks ago and are for some reason still here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween Art Contest Update #2

Back in early September I started a 'Halloween Art Contest' and suggested that everyone take a few moments to draw something Halloweenish. You know, just for fun. The first entry was a kick-ass airbrushed piece from Tim Santoro, which you can check out here. Today, we have another very cool entry:

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This piece is a Zbrush Sculpt done by James Tragesser, entitled "Fright Man". You can check James out online at OctoberGames.com, a website "dedicated to creating horror or Halloween themed, 3d game characters, maps, static props and much more."

Thanks for the entry, James! Remember the Halloween Art Contest will run until October 31st and entries are open to anything you'd like! You don't have to be an artist to enter either, just grab some crayons or open MS Paint and start drawing.

You can tweet any entries to @AstroLounge101 or send them to my e-mail address at kylesastrolounge@gmail.com.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mike & Ike Mummy's Mix!


Folks, I have an admission to make. I'm basically ready for Christmas to come. I am not sure precisely what the deal is this year but Halloween sort of feels dead to me.

Not the ironic kind of dead either, but really truly just sort of... over. I've been to every store, seen every decoration, searched for every limited edition item, and basically found everything that needs to be found.

I've amassed a pile of junk that will get us through October 31st but I cannot help to shake the feeling that this year, despite the super strong showing Halloween had in September... that 'getting us through October' is really all that we are doing at this point.

Crossed, my fingers are, that something... anything exciting will pop up between now and then to sort of rekindle my Halloween spirit. If there has ever been a time for The Great Pumpkin to rise, then that time would be now.

Which isn't to say that I won't still get excited and completely over enthused about the items I have left. I will. And its not like all the really good items have ran dry. They haven't. I just have to focus a little bit harder and remember why what we are looking at today seemed so much more exciting in early September.

2012 Halloween Candy
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Because ladies and gents, Mike and Ike Mummy's Mix really truly deserves its proper fifteen minutes of fame. And it is my civic duty to do so.

Admission Time: I've never eaten a single Mike or Ike candy prior to me writing this article. I've just never been interested in the candy and its not like our paths have never crossed before.

 I worked at a video store for five years and we sold all kinds of boxed candy, including Mike and Ikes. I managed a movie theater for two and a half years after that and the candy was available there as well. I've had opportunities but never cashed in on them until now.

Obviously the deciding factor in finally getting me to eat some is because of how great of a package design Mummy's Mix sports. Any food product sold in a predominantly black box is an instant purchase my book. Especially when it throws around such liberal usage of the color orange. This looks like Halloween and it's exciting, even if I'd probably not-so-secretly be writing about Christmas.

The other big marquee item that elevates Mummy's Mix from a good to great seasonal package is the mummy mascot on the front and back of the box. It is a really well designed mummy.

The eye in particular has me sort of mesmerized at the moment. They say the eye is the window into a persons soul and I am really intrigued with what is going on behind this characters cloth.

He looks evil, and has a nasty set of teeth to boot. Probably from eating to many Mike and Ikes.

2012 Halloween Candy
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Once you get inside the box you'll find, what I presume to be, a traditional mix of Mike and Ike candies. Far fruitier than I had anticipated but still completely enjoyable. Though honestly if I go seven years without eating another Mike or Ike candy, I'll be alright.

Am I the only person reminded of the pills from Dr. Mario by the photo above? I sure hope I cannot be the only one thinking of that right now. Which is also my subtle little hint that I've expended all the energy I can on Mike and Ike Mummy's Mix.

Buy it because its Halloween. Love it because it has a sweet looking mummy with nasty teeth on the front cover. Enjoy it while you can because soon Mummy's Mix will be off store shelves and replaced with Christmas.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin!


I've wanted to cover It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown since I first started doing the Halloween Countdown a couple years but always held off for one reason or another. Chief among them, not quite knowing how.

Chances are anyone reading this website is familiar with that show. You probably seen it on TV. You might even own it on DVD. It makes doing a recap like I did for Halloween is Grinch Night seem a little pointless. Everyone already knows the ins and outs of The Great Pumpkin and to recap them here would be fruitless.

Instead I've chosen a different approach, I've decided to share with everyone the 10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin! Not to be confused with the ten best things about the show... these are just the pieces and parts that I enjoy the most. The ingredients that make for the most delicious pie, if you will.

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10 -- Linus Makes A 'Great Pumpkin' Sign! One of, I think, the iconic images of the cartoon is the shot of Linus sitting happily by himself in the middle of a pumpkin patch with his sign welcoming the Great Pumpkin.

Part of the charm found in this Halloween special is the fact that Linus firmly believes in the existence of the Great Pumpkin, despite what everyone else thinks and tells him.

You can read as far into this as you want to, finding some grand alternative meaning about standing up for what you believe in... or it can simply be taken at face value. Just a dumb kid believing the sorts of things that dumb kids do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jingle Jangle Jingle...


Just a reminder that even though we are knee deep in the blood and guts of the 2012 Halloween Countdown that starting November 1st the 2012 Christmas Countdown will begin!


M&Ms Get Spooky For Halloween!


Earlier this season I wrote about Candy Corn M&Ms, the horribly conceived variation of M&M that smelled like plastic and tasted neither like Candy nor Corn. Disgusting is the word I would use to best describe them.

The folks at Mars must have realized this months ago because for Halloween 2012 we have not one but two major releases of the popular candy currently out on store shelves.

I think we'll all agree the one we are looking at today is the superior of the two.

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Behold! If there was a costume party between all the different snack foods, these boxes of M&Ms would clearly take home the award for best dressed. You really have to give a round of applause to whoever designed them, they look so much like Halloween that I find it impossible to look at them and not suddenly feel the need to cover the entire house in fake cobweb.

These M&Ms are another of the many items that I purchased way back in early September at Target and upon seeing them I distinctly remember thinking that Halloween 2012 was going to be something special and so far... this appears to be true.

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A closer look at each package revels the crazy amount of detail that has been jammed onto the front of each box.  Up first we have the Red M&M dressed as a vampire, and he's already a more convincing looking one than any of the characters from the Twilight Saga.

The lighting was off when I took these photos so you'll have to excuse the slightly grainy look and the washed out colors, it is not doing the deep shade of purple used in the background justice. But trust me, it is the perfect shade of Halloween Purple. Maybe even the best shade of Halloween Purple to ever exist.

I think I just invented a new crayola color.

Halloween Candy
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Yellow, the traditionally dumber of the characters, can be seen here dressed as a mummy. I've never been the biggest mummy fan on the planet. Out of all the original Universal Horror Monsters, I viewed that franchise as the weakest.

I understand why they went with this design. It was easy to draw. Easy to understand. Fit the characters personality. From a marketing perspective, I get the decision. Doesn't mean I have to like it, though.

My personal point of view, they should have turned Yellow into Frankenstein's Monster. Complete with neck bolts and everything. You cannot tell me that wouldn't have been infinitely cooler than what we got here.

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Inside each box is your standard, run of the mill M&Ms. Perhaps only including the orange, yellow, and brown versions would have been a wiser choice. That really would have pushed these over the top and turned them into one of the greatest Halloween products of the season.

If the horrid Candy Corn M&Ms can get color coded for the season, then the traditional kind can ditch the blue, red, and green colors for a couple months. It would have been the perfect complement to go along with the fantastically freaky outside of each package.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monster Science Bloody Hand... Part 1


Welcome to the month of October! And welcome to the second half of the 2012 Halloween Countdown festivities here at the Astro Lounge!

If you are just now finding the website through the Cryptkeeper's Countdown Halloween site I'd suggest catching up on the seventeen articles that I wrote during the month of September. Around these parts we celebrate Halloween for two full months!

Before we dive into the latest Halloween entry I had a strange experience I wanted to share with everyone. I was at Target last night, taking a peak at the Halloween section when I noticed the overglow of red and green flashing lights....

I think everyone has sort of accepted the fact that Christmas decorations seem to get released sooner and sooner every season, but this year my local Target has done one of the strangest things I've ever seen at a retail chain.

The Christmas area has been set up in a gigantic circular fashion around the entire outside edge of the Halloween section. And it is not just a couple early boxes of Christmas cards and a rouge strand of holiday lights, I'm talking full fledged Christmas. Trees. Ornaments. The works.

It is so strange that I actually really enjoyed just standing back and looking at it. It was like the perfect balance of both holidays, flooding into a single entity. Doing the strangest holiday dance you'll ever see.

Now, as for today's post. We are going to grow a rubber hand.

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I am going to assume that you guys know the drill with these sorts of novelty toys so I'll spare a full detailed report. Simply stick the Monster Science Bloody Hand into a bucket of water and it slowly grows to some elaborate size.

Generally speaking all you're really left with is some slimy, oversized piece of rubber that gets thrown into the trash five minutes after you take it out of water. Thankfully, Monster Science Bloody Hand has an ace up its sleeve. Perhaps you've already noticed it. This set includes a blood pill.

Details, my friends, it is all about the minor details. The inclusion of a pill labeled blood is enough to turn an item that I probably would have passed up, into something that I cannot live without.

I'm legitimately excited to grow a rubber hand.

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Never have I wanted to attempt to carry something through airport security more than the items pictured above. Can you imagine the conversations you'd have trying to explain why your walking around with a tiny rubber hand and a mysterious purple pill with the word "blood" written on the bag?

Look closely and you'll see the companies logo is stamped with the word 'amazing' across it. That's called forward thinking, because I can think of no better adjective then that to describe the process we are about to embark upon.

I should also note Monster Science currently has an entire lineup of 'grow your own' body parts available at Target. I settled upon the hand but other bodily features are available such as an eyeball, nose, and foot. Purchase them now during Halloween and give them away as stocking stuffers this Christmas. Your kids will love you for it.

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The initial size of the rubber hand is just a tad bit larger than a Lego Minifigure and is surprisingly detailed. Detail which I fully expect to be completely lost during the growing process. If this even vaguely looks like a hand by the time this is done, I'll be amazed.

As for the size, well the directions indicate that it will indeed reach the size of an actual hand. I'm cautiously optimistic about that one. If it triples in size, I'll consider this project the biggest mission accomplished since George Bush stood on that aircraft carrier and declared the war in Iraq over.

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Here is the kicker, though. A lot of these so called 'magical growing' toys take only 24 hours to reach its fullest potential. This one supposedly takes two weeks to get that size. Humph. I've never seen one that takes this long.

Good things come to those who wait and it looks like it will take until roughly October 16 for this hand to grow to full size. And then we get to use the blood pill! I cannot wait to use the blood pill...

Stay tuned...