It is that time of year again, as the day of Halloween not only gives us an excuse to eat candy treats, and do it on sale, but it is also the reason to get dressed up and go around the neighborhood in costume!
Nowadays, I’m a little older and I’ve gone the geek and Anime Conventions and dressed the part many times, but Halloween gives me a big sense of getting costumes as a kid, going around begging for candy at my neighbors houses, and maybe even go to the party held at school and see my friends in costume as well.
But in the modern age, even the department store offerings aren’t that bad. Costumes are much better than they were in those days with easy to find vampires, ninjas, zombies, and a bunch of other stuff right in the seasonal aisle for you to pick up and wear.
As a kid in the 80’s not so much. Halloween back in that era was plastic, and there was a LOT of plastic.
We didn’t get the fancy make-up kits and cloth costumes off the rack, we got a plastic smock to wear over our regular clothes and a plastic face mask held onto our heads with a small rubber string. We got all our favorite characters like He-man, Gi Joe, Centurions, and a whole host of things for the little boys, and things like Barbie, Jem, Strawberry Shortcake, and a bunch of others for the little girls too. And usually, they weren’t THAT expensive.
Of course, there were those kids who had more crafty people in their lives and would wear really well-done costumes and look amazing. They would make an impression and all the other kids would whisper “did you see what they wore, that looks amazing!”
I wasn’t one of those kids.
For most of us though, these were the answer. They weren’t that expensive, they didn’t take a whole lot of imagination to figure out what they were, especially most of those costume had the logo printed right on the front. It KILLED the realism but BRANDING. You knew what line that costume came from. Most of the time they only needed to be worn for one night before they went into a box in the basement or thrown away. Most kids outgrew that fandom by the next Halloween anyway. For a lot of those youngsters, they would literally outgrow the costume and most on to something else by the time the next Halloween rolled around. A lot of the 80’s was like that. Not lot of creativity or long-term investment.
As with every fad it isn’t seen quite as much on Halloween night anymore. There aren’t nearly as many kids shows that are just 30-minute commercials on TV, and most retailers found it cheaper and more profitable to not make costumes of licensed properties, but to do knockoffs of other more popular brands. If you go into a department store nowadays, you find better-made outfits looking a LOT like popular things in pop culture but generic enough that nobody is going to get sued over it. Heck, even today there is usually a Mortal Kombat Scorpion costume out there with the generic name of “Ninja” or something clogging up those aisles. Still, a lot better quality than a plastic mask attached to a rubber band and a plastic cover all with a logo printed plainly enough so everyone knows what it is.
Can’t imagine the outfits now make the store employees any happier though. The Clean up of those old costumes was probably a WHOLE lot easier then. If you are ever in a store this time of year and hear “Clean up in the seasonal Aisle.” The screams and moans you hear after are not for effect. Those are Floor associates having a long night and hope they get a bag of candy too.
And in case anyone was wondering. I rocked the Buzz Off costume as a little guy. He-Man was a big fandom of my childhood
Thanks to the 80’s Kids Zone page for a lot of these pictures and bringing back memories of the past