By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
The man behind the 12-foot giant skeleton phenomenon that’s taken Wyoming and the nation by storm the past couple of years says he’s tickled that a state famous for uncovering giant prehistoric bones also is a fan of his creation.
Skelly, as the giant skeletons are called, is the brainchild of Lance Allen, who lives in Michigan and oversees all decorations for Home Depot.
People from Cheyenne, Gillette and around the Cowboy State have weighed in on why they love their big, goofy and – at times – scary 12-foot skeletons.
A Lot Of Fun
Seeing how people are arranging and using their giant skeletons has been fun, he said.
“We truly enjoy how creative our customers are with Skelly,” Allen told Cowboy State Daily. “We never know where he is going to show up next or what fun outfits and costumes our customers have created for him. We have even seen him sponsoring some really great fundraisers throughout local communities to support some great causes.”
In addition to fundraisers, some states have used Skelly as a tourism attraction, posting maps of where the giant 12-foot skeletons can be viewed in their communities.
One Gillette couple that has a pair of Skellys told Cowboy State Daily that the family likes to base its skeleton scenes around what’s going on in the community.
“We did graduation this past May and we asked for donations if they had any gowns,” said Tamara Atkins. “So we got a whole bunch of gowns and we actually set it up so graduates could come and take a picture with the skeletons.”
Larger Than Life
The versatility of Skelly is one reason owners have told Cowboy State Daily they want one of these gargantuan effigies, even though the 95-pound character is so bulky and awkward to store that many owners end up just leaving the figure up all year long.
Its size and bulk was a significant hurdle in bringing Skelly to life.
“After our team thought of a giant skeleton, we had to convince our team of engineers to go bigger than ever,” Allen said. “Once the team proved they could build the towering item safely, and it could stand up to our standards of quality, we were hard at work developing (it).”
Allen and his team of developers watch movies and visit haunted houses, cemeteries and trade shows to get inspiration for their Halloween products.
Fun job, right? But someone must do it.
It was while engaged in these activities that the spark of life was set for Skelly.
“While visiting a trade show, we saw a giant skeleton torso, and we thought to ourselves, ‘How can we make a full skeleton out of a concept like that at a retail the average customer can afford?’” Allen said.
Once Skelly was finally a reality, Allen was confident the product would sell. But even he has been surprised at its monster-sized success.
Skelly has been regularly selling out within hours of release since it was introduced in 2020. There are now Facebook groups devoted to finding Skelly, as well as discussing how best to tie him down, how best to light him up or how to attach things securely to his hands.
Skelly’s popularity also has inspired a few scalpers, offering the popular Halloween figure on eBay for prices considerably higher than the normal $300 retail price.
“I believe Skelly’s popularity stems from people’s enjoyment of larger-than-life things,” Allen said. “There’s an endearing quality of Skelly, where he can fit into family friendly decor collections or stand out in even the scariest of setups.”
Since releasing Skelly, Allen and his team have created some new giant-size offerings. These include the 15-foot Towering Phantom, the 12-foot Hovering Witch and the 9.5-foot Immortal Werewolf. None, however, seem to have attained Skelly’s popularity.
Allen couldn’t tease what the group is working on next and that the company has no plans to write a backstory for Skelly.
“I don’t want to spoil any plans we have for the future,” he said. “But we have found it is great to leave the backstory of Skelly open to interpretation. Our customers are so creative, and often giving them unique names and back stories. We love to see what people come up with!”
Skelly, by the way, is the unofficial official name of the skeleton. While on the box it just says, “12-Ft. Giant-Sized Skeleton,” it wasn’t long before workers had nicknamed the creature Skelly, and the name has stuck.