I don’t remember the exact year, but at some point in the early 1990’s I was a pretty avid Fangoria reader. Before the internet, this was the only place you could really go to learn about horror and science fiction movies. I was mostly interested in the stories they’d run on Godzilla and the like. In the back, they often had ads for masks and props. I believe even amateur prop and costume makers had ad space in many of those old magazines.

For a whole year I stared at an ad similar to this one. I can’t recall at the time if they had two Critters or only one. I think, they only had the cheaper $40 model. The point being, that I had decided that I wanted this guy. I loved the Critters movies (still do) and the thought of having my very own Critter was enough to blow my pre-teen mind. In the films the little space porcupines from hell were called Krites. I needed one, in the worst way.

It took me a long time to save up the $50 I needed (plus some money for shipping) to order my Critter. Even getting to send off for it was a big deal. When I was a kid my parents NEVER let me order anything through the mail. No mail-away GI Joes or anything. I’m not sure how I got the Critter past them, beyond persistence.

While I waited 6-8 weeks for my Critter to be delivered, I imagined how awesome of a toy he was going to be. He wasn’t just a replica, he was also a puppet! I just knew it was going to be the greatest thing ever. I also greatly underestimated the size of the little Critter and repainted an old Fisher-Price Little People Barn (the one that went “MOOOO!” when you opened the doors) to be the Critter’s house. It even said “CRITTER HOUSE” on the front.

When it arrived after what seemed like an eternity, I ripped the package open with big bright eyes of joy. Inside I found a crappy looking “puppet” made of cheap rubber like a Halloween mask. The most heinous offense, was that this Critter had rather clearly stolen William Shatner’s toupee! I was pretty devastated. It didn’t fit into the house I had designed for it(though I could have waded it up and shoved it in) and it couldn’t really be played with because it was hollow. I was expecting a wire model and I got a rubber mask!

To be fair, it looked pretty good when I first got it. I’ve had this for I’m guessing close to 20 years now and it’s been shoved in the bottom of a toy box/garbage can for most of it’s life. The fact that the paint job still sort of pops, is a testament to the overall quality.

The hair looked a lot closer to the magazine picture when I first got it. He’s got a few missing patches these days. Although, I must confess when I pulled him out to do this review/story I realized that he sort of looked even creepier in this all disheveled look.

The two things that bothered me most about this puppet was the fact that it was made of the same material as a Halloween mask and that the hair, was clearly wig hair. There was even a seam about halfway through, which you can still see. They just glued a wig on. It bothered me a lot then, but I guess I’m more forgiving these days because I see some charm in this old turd.

The company that made these originally was called Distortions. If you look at reference art from the film Critters 2, you’ll see that they actually did a pretty good job. I dunno what I was expecting for $50, but obviously a lot more than what was delivered. In hindsight, he wasn’t so bad.

A few years later a company called KreationX bought the molds and the rights and began releasing an inferior product. It’s not terrible, but the paint applications are weaker and the hair looks even worse than when I originally got mine. You can still occasionally find these versions on the internet. It does have the “beard” which is mysteriously lacking from my version.

Interestingly, this same Critter mold was then released by another company (possibly a bootlegger?) as a resin cast. The paint work on it is abysmal, but it’s probably a little closer to what I originally had envisioned because it’s a solid piece. Someone over at the Replica Prop Forums bought one and restored it.

He stripped it down and as you can see, it’s a solid piece, whereas mine is hollow.

This guy repainted it to look almost identical to mine, then added new hair and glass eyes. Aside from the glass eyes, this restored one looks a lot like my vintage one. Although mine had a few more tuffs of white hair.

So that’s the long story of the Critter puppet. I still have him and aside from the hair, he’s still in good shape. Pulling him out for this I’ve decided maybe I should restore mine. I’d like to fill him with something to make him solid and possibly give him new hair. Any ideas? I wonder how he’d look flocked?

6 Responses to My Breakfast With The Critter Puppet

  • Nathan says:

    Sweet article. I never knew these things existed! Although it's definitely not as cool as the picture, it's still a pretty awesome puppet.

  • Thanks. It's strange, I came to appreciate it more when I pulled it out for this article than anything. I hadn't really messed with it for years and was always a bit disappointed with it. But when I pulled it out, I realized it's not so bad at all.

  • atomsk says:

    Where did you get those glass eyes? They look great perfect for it.

  • I didn't put the glass eyes in. Someone else did. They were specially ordered as I recall. It was on the Replica Prop forums. Mine does not have glass eyes.

  • Ray Heikes says:

    Hi! Great article! One little correction: the Critters puppets were manufactured by American Mask and Novelty Co., Inc, not Distortions Unlimited. (Im one of the co-founders of AM&N, and theres a good chance that I did some work on your Critter, either airbrushing, hairing, or the endless job of painting the teeth!.) "KreationX", whoever they are, never bought any molds or rights to the sculpture from us, so anything they produced of our product is a bootleg recast. The Krite puppets were sculpted by Raven (a.k.a. Mel Buckner) assisted by myself . I made the molds. Anyway, thanks for the article!
    Ray Heikes

  • Thanks for the insight Ray. I can't recall where I got the Distortions name from, to be honest. I wrote this two years ago. I did research on it back then, though, and that's what came up. If that's inaccurate, my bad.

    Although the puppet was a bit of a let down when I was younger, it is a pretty quality product. Mine has been through some serious abuse through the years and is mostly still intact.

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