Technipets are a series of little plastic toys that came with Happy Meals in 2004, during an almost unprecedented McDonald's venture into merchandise entirely unrelated to a current movie. They flopped, and they flopped hard, because they were apparently the final result of Ronald McDonald buying the Island of Doctor Moreau in a mortgagee sale. Kids were into Shrek and Finding Nemo, not having their souls torn from their flesh by tiny shrieking plastic demons. But then who at McDonald's would have known that?

Technipets are not one trick ponies, or indeed, anything as easily identifiable as ponies. For Happy Meal toys, they're surprisingly sophisticated. Push them along a hard flat surface, and their limbs will move fractionally up and down. Switch them on and their eyes will flash and they will emit sounds never previously heard this side of Hell, and once on, they will react to any loud noise. Finally, get two of them nose-to-nose and they will have a little conversation, no doubt agreeing on the best way to kill you and steal your skin.

Thanks to a couple of reckless eBay purchases, I am now the proud but somewhat nervous owner of twenty-four of these things. Provided I can keep them under control, they will be my Army of the Damned, serving me in whatever manner befits a set of noisy two inch tall plastic figures with all the freedom of movement of Stephen Hawking.

Let me introduce them to you, starting with the lower ranks.

Squawk is so discreetly evil that it's almost not evil at all. It looks sort of like a parrot, and it calls sort of like a parrot - albeit a parrot who should give up smoking. In the evil spectrum, Squawk is the Technipet equivalent forgetting to phone your mother, or mixing paper and plastic in the recycling bin.
Like Squawk, Pony has flashing green eyes, thus indicating a fairly low status in the Pantheon of Evil. It's more or less equine, although few ponies known to the world of science sit on their haunches like a dog. Its whinny sounds like someone spraying a kindergarten with machine gun fire, which, for a Technipet at least, is pretty normal.

Mittle is meant to be a - uh - well - to be honest, I really have no idea. It sounds either like a turkey possessed by one of the Three Stooges or a duck dying from some flu-like disease, and it looks like a dugong that dresses up as a clown for children's parties. It has an orange rhinoceros horn, a turkey tail, the lips of Al Jolsen, and the physique of Marlon Brando circa 1996.

Tusk appears to be a Komodo Dragon struggling to break out of the body of a Golden Retriever, and sounds like somebody gargling with a chicken rammed down their throat. Except when it barks: then it sounds like a dog trying to speak Japanese.

Snaggle is some kind of small rodent, but it sounds like a bird. Or at least it sounds more like a bird than it does a rodent, or a cow, or a bulldozer. That's not saying much. It's a gentle shade of grey with large ears and a big protruding snout, and if it weren't for the fact that its probably waiting for an opportunity to gnaw your face off, it would be sort of cute.

Chee-Chee is otherwise known as N'Shabboth, the Unholy Lord of Pain and Sulphur. This foul entity is the most evil creature in the whole Technipet Army of the Damned. Forget to turn it off before you go to bed, and the last thing you ever see will be its flashing red eyes as it comes for you at the stroke of midnight.

Maybe it's just because unlike the other Technipets, the aforementioned flashing red eyes are in the front of its head, making it appear as if it is constantly staring at you - while shrieking like a monkey going through a bandsaw. Rest assured that it will frighten small children; it's just a matter of how much.

It's hard to determine why Technipets came into existence. A misguided marketing exercise? An opening salvo in the Thousand Years of Tribulation mentioned in the Book of Revelations? Who knows? One can only entertain one's suspicions, all the while keeping a wary eye on the evil little bastards.

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