The problem for his handlers back at Home Depot: Skelly has achieved such dizzying levels of celebrity that they can’t find an act to follow him.
“So, obviously you ask like, ‘Hey, what’s next after Skelly?’” says Lance Allen, who oversees all of Home Depot’s holiday decorations and is the one responsible for bringing the giant skeleton into our lives to begin with. “I will keep trying to get lightning to strike again, but really, everything was perfect in that storm when we created that item.”
Still, Allen is confident that he has, at least, discovered a few supporting players. A moving, talking, seven-foot-tall witch named Lethal Lily, for instance, might just be this year’s breakout talent. She has already sold out online, because “everybody embraced her so well,” Allen says. (He declined to provide hard numbers for any of the Home Depot product sales.)
Predator of the Night, an animatronic beast with a visible rib cage and blood-red veins rippling through his 12-foot wingspan, also has made a promising debut, according to Allen. “Even standing next to Skelly, it looks great.”
He also points to Jack Skellington, a version of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” character that moves, sings songs from the movie and looms one hulking foot taller than Skelly.
The other decoration that’s already sold out is — you guessed it — another 12-foot skeleton. This one is named Inferno and was introduced in 2021. It looks something like a cross between Skelly and a Jack-o’-Lantern battling ’roid rage.
Really, those last two seem an awful lot like sequels to Skelly, just with more special effects. Not that you can blame Home Depot for leaning into what works. As Allen sees it, Skelly started a whole new trend in Halloween decor. “Back then, an eight- or nine-foot item was huge. And then here we come out with this 12-foot item,” he says. It shifted the scale, and now you can find giant skeletons, witches and other creatures of the night at most stores selling Halloween decor.
But it appears that nothing hits quite like a 12-foot skeleton. Home Depot had a flash sale for a limited supply of Skellies and Infernos in April, a good half-year ahead of Halloween, and customers bought up all of them. Then, Skelly was officially launched online for spooky season in mid-July, and he landed in brick-and-mortar stores Labor Day weekend.
Not surprisingly, he sold out fast online (Home Depot wouldn’t say precisely how long it took “due to competitive reasons”), with resellers offering him up on Facebook Marketplace at inflated prices. And finding him in stores requires the commitment of a paparazzo staking out a Kardashian. Members of Skelly Facebook groups post his whereabouts whenever they spot him. Late in September, there was a flurry of sightings in Canadian Home Depots, sparking a frenzied online discussion about the various complications that might ensue while trying to bring him back over the border.
It took Amanda Mallory, a Halloween devotee in Hurricane, W.Va., years to track down a Skelly of her own. She found out about this summer’s drop date from a Facebook group. “So I stayed up all night in July and finally snagged one,” she says.
To fit her “Tibia Swift” concert-themed lawn display starring her entire skeleton collection, she bedecked her Skelly in a glittery outfit that she found at Goodwill, along with a sign that reads, “In My Eternal Rest Era.” (Following the news that Taylor Swift may be dating Travis Kelce, Mallory dressed one of her smaller skeleton concertgoers in the NFL player’s Kansas City Chiefs jersey.)
Mallory wants her Halloween decorations to bring joy to people, especially kids, which is why she’s always skipped some of the more gruesome animatronics that are available. To her and other Skelly devotees, his charm stems from the fact that he’s more playful than petrifying.
Rick Pollock has been intrigued by Skelly for years, but his wife always vetoed the idea. She prefers a lower-key autumnal display of pumpkins and fall-themed wreaths for their Utah porch. But last month, while they were picking up this year’s mums at Home Depot, Pollock spotted a stack of Skellies. “I was giddy,” he says.
Pollock convinced his wife that they needed to buy one — so rare was this opportunity — and he went home to get their trailer. When he returned, he was in for a surprise. “My wife, who never wanted one, said, ‘You should get another one.’” She had spent the intervening time on Pinterest and Etsy, getting inspired by the creative ways in which people had styled their own towering skeletons.
They didn’t forgo the magazine-worthy autumnal display, either. “The front porch is still beautiful,” he says. “And then we have 12-foot skeletons. But it works.” To him, part of the appeal is that Skelly can match basically any decor.
Acquiring multiple Skellies is hardly out of the norm. When the 12-foot skeletons first came on the market in 2020, Donna Kerr, a D.C.-area real estate agent and Halloween fanatic, knew she had to invest. “I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s have an army. So I bought 10 of them and, and six of them have been permanently installed in my front yard since then,” Kerr says.
She lends the other four to her daughter’s school during spooky season, or puts them to work as props in her real estate listings. Nothing shows off a generous ceiling height quite like staging a home with a 12-foot skeleton inside, she explains.
This Halloween, however, has taken a too-scary turn for some Skelly fans. There’s a rumor running rampant online that Home Depot is planning to discontinue the 12-foot icon. But similar gossip has spread in the past, and the company is being coy. Says spokesperson Tyler Pelfrey: “I know there are rumors circulating about Skelly’s retirement, but we have not made that decision yet. Stay tuned next year.”