Halloween 2015

Halloween is almost here, and this year’s village is my spookiest one yet!

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There features a lot of new additions from the Department 56 collection.  Additionally, I picked up a couple different textured fabrics at the local fabric store to help make the landscape look more realistic.  It’s a great improvement over the solid green table cloth I’ve used as a base the last few years.

Among my new additions this year is the Harley-Davidson Ghost Rider’s Club.  This wild bunch of bikers brings a whole new underworld to the underworld!

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Here’s to another great year of village building.  I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween!

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Monsters of the Deep

Finally, it’s time to sleep with the fishes!

For years, the number one entry on my list of Pieces I Want has been the same.  Other pieces came and went on the list, but that coveted top stop remained the same.  Finally the time has come for that most wanted piece to move over to the list of Pieces I Own.  That’s right, boys and ghouls, my Department 56 Halloween Village is finally shaking in terror over the Monsters of the Deep.

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I’ve wanted this piece for years, but it’s a rather hard piece to find.  It’s a special Collectors’ Edition piece that was only available for one year, from December 2007 to December 2008.  Each piece is hand numbered, with only 13,000 being made.  They do come up for sale on eBay fairly often, but usually cost several hundred dollars, especially if they’re in good shape.

Then, earlier this year, I saw one on eBay with a “Buy It Now” price of $50.  Both the box and the power cord were missing, but the piece itself was in good shape, so I decided to go for it.  Fortunately, I was able to contact the sales department at Department 56, and it turned out that they still had replacement power cords available, so I ordered one.  Once both the building and the cord had arrived, I plugged everything in, and was thrilled to see that everything worked perfectly.

While I was at it, I also ordered a pack of replacement bulbs.  Monsters of the Deep is an oddball piece that takes a special 12 volt bulb, which aren’t carried by many local Department 56 dealers.

Monsters of the Deep is an aquarium store straight out of a campy, low budget horror movie.  The main attractions are two giant display tanks that light up with an eerie blue light.  The first, on the lower floor, houses a giant squid that looks like it’s straight out of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  The second floor houses a true wonder: a light-up carousel of sea creatures that appear to swim around in their tank as a small hidden motor rotates inside the tank.

Between the theme of the building, the variety of eerie lighting, and the swimming sea creatures, Monsters of the Deep is truly unique piece.  Just don’t get too close, that is, unless you prefer a watery grave!

56 Dead Creek Swamp

“Down the bayou amongst the marshy wetlands and the alligators lies an old mill.  The mill sits along a swamp full of green and black sludge fed by Dead Creek.  Many stories still circle the community regarding the swamp and its infamous lore.  A delivery, destined for the old mill, showed that infamous address: 56 Dead Creek Swamp, never reached its destination.  The evidence of the swamp’s deadly nature is still left on display near the old mill assuring that no other delivery service will ever be seen near Dead Creek Swamp.”

Now that’s one great piece of Halloween lore!  One of my gripes about collecting the Department 56 Halloween Village, and one of the reasons that I started my blog, is that there is virtually no online collector community.  Sure, if you do a search on Google, you’ll find a million sites trying to sell you stuff.  However, if you want to read about collecting or village building, your options are few and far between.

I’m excited to say there is now one more option out there!  Another collector, inspired by my site and his passion for Department 56 Halloween collecting, has started 56 Dead Creek Swamp.  The site has only been up for a few weeks, but it’s off to a great start.  Of course, the site is named for one of the classics of the Department 56 Halloween line, Dead Creek Mill.

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If you’re interested in Halloween Villages, I encourage you to dive into the swamp.  There’s nothing like a midnight swim!

Skeleton #10: Haunted Outhouse

Hey, sometimes even the dead have to go!

We can all relate to skeleton #10 in my Department 56 Halloween Village.  Just like all of us, all he really wants is to be left alone for a few minutes, so he can rest in peace.  If the Haunted Outhouse wasn’t haunted when he got there, it certainly will be by the time he’s done.

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Sitting on his throne, reading the latest copy of “the Howler,” it’s hard to fault this guy for his toothy grin.  If he was modest in life, it hasn’t followed him beyond the grave; he’s completely content doing his business with his drawers around his ankles and the door wide open for all to see.  The traditional crescent moon on the door is a great cross between outhouse décor and Halloween spirit.  Add in his light-up red eyes, a jack-o-lantern, and a few bats that don’t seem to mind the smell, and this is a great addition out behind any haunted house in your village.  That is, if you can find it; the outhouse has been retired since 2007, so eBay is really your best option.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen me write about accessories that have my favorite wiring scheme.  In that configuration, the piece has a small pigtail that comes off and connects cleanly to the standard Department 56 AC/DC adapter.  Unfortunately, the Haunted Outhouse is not one of those pieces.  Instead, the outhouse has a big battery box that is permanently wired to the piece.  You can still plug the standard AC/DC adapter into the box so you don’t need batteries, but you’re stuck figuring out how to hide that big ugly box somewhere in your village scenery.

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Besides the electrical wiring, I really only have one other regret with this piece – that I didn’t think to anoint the Haunted Outhouse as Skeleton “Number 2”!

AC/DC Adapter, Black

If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you know that I often write about the various wiring schemes that can be found across the Department 56 Halloween collection.  When it comes to accessories, I often mention when a piece is compatible with the standard Department 56 AC/DC Adapter.

The standard AC/DC Adapter was introduced way back in 1991, and can be used to power up to three accessories off a single outlet.  This great little device reduces the number of cords required to power all the accessories in your village.  Even better, it gives you an option to power your accessories without having to buy lots of batteries; in fact, many accessories are built so you can simply unplug their battery pack and remove it from your display entirely.

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The only problem with the original AC/DC Adapter is that it only comes in white, which is great for a snowy Christmas village, but not so great for a dark Halloween village.  For 22 years, the only options were to put up with the ugly white wires, or spray paint them.  Fortunately, the Halloween collection caught on, and eventually Department 56 recognized the problem.

The solution came just two years ago, when Department 56 introduced the AC/DC Adapter, Black.  There was little fanfare when this item came out as part of the 2013 collection, so I was totally surprised when I stumbled across it at a local holiday store.  Finally, there is an option that allows us Halloween collectors to hide our wires amongst the shadows!  When I first discovered this item existed, I instantly bought all that the store had in stock.

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It may seem like a minor detail, but hiding those unsightly wires is one of the keys to building a village that is truly electrifying!

Halloween Has Gone HOG Wild

Rev up your engines, because Halloween has gone HOG wild!  That’s HOG…as in Harley Owners Group.  Not since the introduction of the Haunted Rails train series in 2007 have I been so excited to see Department 56’s new introductions to the Halloween Village series.  In fact, between my excitement and a great Memorial Day sale, I went out and made my single biggest Department 56 purchase ever.

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Now my Halloween Village is getting its very own Hell’s Angels, a biker gang so bad it strikes fear into a town that’s already undead.  The Harley theme started at the beginning of the year with the main group of 2015 introductions.  At the core we have the bikers’ center of operations, the Harley Davidson Ghost Rider’s Club.

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The bike club is a full-sized building, clad with the classic Harley Davidson logo and the words “Dying to Ride” above the front door.  A variety of signs plaster the rest of the walls, bearing slogans that combine the spirits of both the dead and the road.  Mixed in with the signs are a variety of skull images.  Even the jack-o-lanterns at the club are part of the gang, gathered in front of the building and dressed to ride.

Along with the club house, the club also got its first two riders.  The first member, The Headless Harley Rider, received his own write-up as Skeleton #9 in my Department 56 Halloween Village.

The Headless Harley Rider’s right hand man is Ghost Rider On The Road, a leather-jacket clad zombie with a ghoulish-green ride.  The undead have no need for helmets, but I get the sense that this guy chose his ivy cap over safety even in life.  Now that I think of it, could that be how he died in the first place?

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Now, two riders hardly make a club, so I couldn’t help but pre-order Department 56’s mid-year additions to the gang.  If I wasn’t sold before, Full Moon Ride would have put me over the moon; the wolf man is one of my favorite Department 56 characters yet.  The hairy dude with the headband and ripped jeans is definitely a standout even in a village full of monsters.  Add in the classic black Harley and he is one crazy animal.

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Rounding out the gang, at least for now, is Forced Fit.  This piece features a Jekyll and Hyde style duo that shares a bike and sidecar.  The mad doctor, being the brains of the operation, obviously drives the operation.  There’s just one little problem: the doctor forgot to measure his sidecar before creating his monster.

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It’s well known that bikers like their spirits, and I’m not talking about the kind of spirits normally found in Halloween Town.  I’m talking about the kind that the gang drinks over at the Harley Crow Bar.  After a long night of riding and raising hell, the riders park down at their favorite dive to sample some of the witch’s brew.  Whether hanging out on the front porch or throwing each other off the balcony, there’s no better place to “eat, drink, and be scary.”

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Add in my other new addition, Lady & The Vamp, along with the town’s veteran rider, Bone to be Wild, and my Department 56 Halloween Village definitely has gone Whole HOG!

Skeleton #9: The Headless Harley Rider

Are you ready to ride?  A new crew is rolling into my Department 56 Halloween Village.  New for 2015, the collection now has its very own Harley Davidson biker gang.  At the head of this HOG is Skeleton #9, the group’s fearless leader, The Headless Harley Rider.

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Even a motley crew must have a responsible leader, and this rider makes no bones when it comes to protecting his skull.  The Headless Harley Rider may be wheelie popping madman, but he only rides with a stylish silver shell strapped to his head.  That head may no longer be attached to his body, but that’s no reason to bypass safety.  Add in that killer beard and jean vest, and you can tell this guy is dying to showboat.  Do you think he rose from the grave when the sun was warm and rode his red Harley up and down Melrose impressing all the 15-year-old girls?

The Headless Harley Rider is always recruiting for the Ghost Rider’s Club.  Membership drives are easy though; with so many living riders forgetting their helmets, new recruits are literally dying to join!