Hailing from the latter years of the decade before I was born and continuing well into the 90s, Boglins have been a fascination to me for a while now, and something I’ve wanted to cover on this site ever since I caught a glimpse of their return a few years back. Unlike most of the big toylines of the 80s, Boglins never had a cartoon or even a comic series to flesh out their lore, potentially the reason they weren’t able to catch on as strongly in the USA as things like TMNT and Transformers. Our only information on their universe is limited to a blurb on the back of their box.
Apparently, Boglins are in fact bog-dwelling and aquatic or amphibious, with a pretty fascinating body plan. Their skull is nearly humanoid, with two small and oddly-placed arms alongside it, but then immediately behind these features is a simplified tail leading into a paddle. Even the most “standard” Boglin is a really weird little animal! Part of this was likely for the purpose of making the gimmick of the toy work; developed by a former puppeteer for Jim Henson, the Boglins themselves are puppets, with a flexible face and even mobile eyes. Neat! These are probably fun to play with, even if most collectors will keep them in their cages.
Because most of the Boglins are very similar, being pallet-swaps or only lightly altered molds, we will just be tackling the broad categories of Boglin and the most interesting members of each subspecies!
Released alongside the original large Boglins were members of a smaller subspecies, a more budget option that lacked mobile eyes but were overall very similar. I like Splatt here for his rugose texture and the cool wrinkles over his eyes, making a neat, distinct shape.
Boink, however, blows Splatt out of the water. His particular combination of bumps, crests, horns and that lovely lavender color he sports combine to make him look like the kind of boglin that would live in a coral reef, capable of blending in perfectly with a colorful outcropping to avoid predators and capture prey! Gorgeous!
“Klang” is a separate Boglin using Boink’s mold with glow in the dark flesh, making our coral goblin the eerie white of bleached coral. Klang was only released a few years after Boink and already his environment has been destroyed! No wonder these guys didn’t last as long as Transformers.
Snish the Fish
Snish is a pretty simple creature, but wonderfully effective. I love the humanoid nose and rough little flipper-arms, but mostly, I love its GIANT eyes. I’d be pretty okay with this if it was just a fish with really big eyes, but I’m still glad it’s not. Top-notch grindylow! Snish is one of the “Aquatic” Boglins. I thought they were all aquatic? Or are Boglins ancestrally amphibious, while Snish and its relatives have taken to an entirely underwater lifestyle? See, these are the kind of questions we could have really used a cartoon to answer.
Slobster the Lobster
Slobster is another of the Aquatic Boglins, an even more divergent breed that has developed a shell, eye-stalks, and even full chitinous claws like a lobster’s! It even swims with an up and down movement of its spine instead of the side-to-side all other Boglins use! Are you even a Boglin, Slobster!? I don’t believe you! Look at your upsetting mouth! No real Boglin looks so uncomfortably vapid!
Skwish is a “Bash-em” boglin, made to be smashed with your hand so that it spits out its little friend there. It’s a fun gimmick, and that little tadpole-guy is adorable. I love its oversized yellow eyes and the way its little hands clutch its face. Is it a smaller boglin? No idea. Skwish himself is beautifully colored, tomato-red with pestilent green lips and a mustard tongue. What a gorgeous boy!
Iball is one of the “action boglins”, who have built-in features that activate when they are squeezed. Where the soggy boglins are more aquatic than the others, the action boglins look more terrestrial, with tougher, bumpier skin covered in spikes. Iball looks extremely dismayed with those protruding eyeballs. I guess they’re not supposed to do that.
I can’t find a specific name for this one, and it might never had had an individual one. I love how huge its head is, even bigger than your average boglin, and it’s wonderfully detailed too! I like the big horns and the ogre face it’s got going on. Of all the boglins, this is the only one I get the feeling would actually be dangerous to meet… but maybe it’s actually like a bulldog, with a cute underbite and no malice at all!
The mini boglins were an entirely different sort of toy from the regular boglins, tiny and cheap instead of large and elaborate. I love these kinds of monochrome plastic figures, and just like everything boglin, there’s a lot of great designs mixed in! I like Bug’s squat body and huge, rhino-like horn. It’s not something we’ve really seen in any of the others, so he really stands out.
Drak is very simple, but in the best way. Beautifully goofy head with extraordinarily lovely eyes. Love the layers of detail, between the large outer layer and the smaller, perfectly round socket area. The bumpy texture of his skin really seals the deal.
Dork is a member of a group of caveman-themed boglins, and as such he gets a little pet pterosaur! It’s completely inaccurate but I’m still happy to see it. Something about the structure of his face and a few other others in his tribe remind me of the Simpsons and I don’t know why.
Especially Dent. Come on, that’s such a Simpsons head. That’s something I like about the mini boglins, they look like cartoon characters more than the big ones do!
Is this a CYBORG boglin!? I love the clear distinction between Yak’s lumpy natural flesh and the totally smooth robotic or armored components. The look really sets Yak apart from pretty much any other boglin!
Yarn is just perfectly gobliny. I love all his angles and points and the smug little eyebrow raise he’s doing. He beat Dreamworks to that expression by a good decade. Good job, Yarn.
And last up is my favorite of the mini boglins! Tat has totally lost any semblance of the standard boglin bodyplan, becoming a barely-defined mass of tentacles or ooze. I could find a pure blob boring, but his almost One Piece-like face brings it all together. He somehow entirely stands out from the crowd and fits in perfectly.
After the end of the mini boglins line, the series was not dead, not quite. It merely went underground, a cult classic. Mattel has not released any new Boglins lines since 2000, but Tim Clark, one of the original creators, has kept it alive as a small-scale operation, once in a while grabbing some more mainstream notice with new releases. However, this article has gone on long enough. We’ll talk about the modern continuations in another article! Have they improved? Gotten worse? Or are Boglins fundamentally consistent beings, always just as good no matter what time they hail from? Guess we’ll find out next time!