Archive for the 'Halloween' Category

Ben Cooper Close Encounters of the Third Kind ‘The Alien’ Costume (1978)

Ben Cooper Close Encounters

Ben Cooper Close Encounters-2

Ben Cooper Close Encounters-3

Ben Cooper Close Encounters-4

Ben Cooper Close Encounters-5

Ben Cooper Close Encounters-6

A kinder, gentler-yet-creepier alien.

(Images via eBay)

Halloween, 1979: Alien



Elementary school kid is wearing the Ben Cooper Alien costume! As in the Xenomorph from the movie Alien that was rated `X’ in the UK and yet spawned a massive amount of merchandise marketed to small children, a campaign I talk about here and here. File under: when Halloween wasn’t banned because “costumes and parading increases apprehension in an increasing number of students who are presently experiencing anxiety issues.”

(Photos via the Miami Herald)

Come See What It’s All About by Halloween (Mercury, 1979)

Halloween LP

Halloween LP-2

The cover is a bit of a misnomer, since the album isn’t space disco and has nothing to do with Halloween, but who cares? Dr. Mime N Time is coming out of a goddamn wormhole and Captain K-9 has laser claws! What we have here are pretty standard disco tunes wrapped in a deceitful yet irresistibly kitschy package. All of the songs were written by Jerry Marcellino, who wrote and produced for The Jackson 5 (and solo M.J.), Diana Ross, The Supremes, and lots of others. I made a playlist of all of the songs on the album but two. Listen here.

Halloween, 1980: DIY Luke Skywalker with Yoda Costume

Luke 1980

Via King Max/Flickr. The second greatest Star Wars costume I’ve ever seen, next to this one.

It’s October, people. We’re just getting started. If you’re new-ish, take a stroll through my Halloween archive.

TV Guide Halloween Promo for 21 Jump Street (1989)

Halloween TV 1989-2

Johnny is dressed up as Travis Bickle, naturally. The episode is “Old Haunts in a New Age,” from October 30, 1989. As of now, you can watch it here.

Are Adults Ruining Halloween for Kids?

Halloween Adults

Warpo Toys asked a question on Facebook yesterday that got to me. It was:

Whether it was home-made or Ben Cooper, [Halloween costumes] transformed us for one night of the year. I feel like we cared a lot more about dressing-up for Halloween than most kids do today. Why do you think that is?

My answer, and keep in mind that I live in Los Angeles and have a daughter who is just now old enough to appreciate some aspects of Halloween, was this:

Trick or treating has become mostly a manufactured, mass-market event. We have no more neighborhoods, only zip codes. The allure of Halloween was the freedom of going out with your friends unsupervised and collecting as much goddamn candy as possible (and maybe getting some revenge on the guy who never gave out candy). Also, when people dress up in Halloween costumes 100 times a year for every conceivable event, the uniqueness of dressing up in a Halloween costume on Halloween loses its uniqueness.

I thought I was probably being my usual grouchy, cynical self, but then I ran across an article at Time that reflected my sentiments, and added a number of salient points:

(1) “American adults now spend significantly more money on their own Halloween costumes than on their children’s.” (1.1 billion compared to 1.4 billion)

(2) “Today the biggest Halloween spenders turn out to be men from the ages of 18 to 34.”

(3) “The traditional going-door-to-door experience has been sanitized, conducted in near daylight with curfews, dwindling numbers of children and smothering adult supervision.”

(4) “Controlling the Halloween environment is meant to keep children safe, of course, but most of our fears are unfounded. There hasn’t been a single documented case of Halloween candy poisoning.”

(5) “Some parents cherish family time on Halloween, of course. But we pay a steep price — and not only a financial one — when we insert ourselves into the one time of year when, traditionally, children could escape the long reach of parental authority without serious consequences.”

Add to this the fact that school districts across the country are banning or attempting to ban Halloween costumes and parades, because of destructively inane political correctness and/or blatant paranoia, and there seems to be some substance behind the accusation.

So the short answer is, yes, I think adults are ruining Halloween for kids, but I think the author of the Time piece misses the underlying cause: It’s not the selfishness and vanity of parents, though that’s a contributing factor, but the continuing erosion of the American middle class, which led to the erosion of the American neighborhood (and the rise of gated communities and tract housing), which led to the transformation of American parents, now rootless and village-less, into paranoid hawks who are so desperate to keep their families unscathed that they are destroying the freedoms and joys of childhood in the process.

This year, my three-year-old girl is dressing up as Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. On Halloween we will take her to a moderately wealthy “neighborhood” in which we know not one person. It’s really just a series of streets populated by folks who can afford to lavishly decorate their houses, but it’s better than a mall or a trunk-or-treat. Everyone is pleasant enough, and we even get some candy thrown in among the organic fruit treats. But I think back to when I was a kid, dressed up as Luke Skywalker and running through the lanes and alleys with my friends, eating as many Three Musketeers bars as I could before I felt like I had to puke or had to go home, and I wonder, with some fear and sadness, how much of that experience will I be able to give my girls?

Halloween, 1977: Homemade Chewbacca Costume

Halloween Chewie 1977

Ass-kicker and name-taker Chip Guesman sent in this classic a few months ago. He says:

This was in Rices Landing PA (about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh). My mother made the costume by sewing individual strips of heavy plastic trash bags to a jumpsuit… I remember her staying up all night sewing it by hand for the Halloween parade at school (back when you were allowed to have such a thing!)…

The mask is from the 1976 Ben Cooper King Kong costume. Don’t forget to read the sign.

Thanks, Chip!

Halloween, Circa 1985: GoBots

GoBots 1985-1

GoBots 1985-2

GoBots 1985-3

Cop-Turd, to be exact. Nobody’s first choice, since Collegeville also made Transformers costumes.

The “flame retarded” joke is old, and yet still kind of funny.

(Images via USA Today and eBay)

Halloween, 1979: Baron Karza

Halloween Baron 1979-1

Anyone who wore a Micronauts costume back in the day—by choice—achieved a special geek-pimp status that can never be revoked. Ben Cooper made two Micronauts costumes: Baron Karza and Biotron. See them both at Innerspace Online.

Gene Simmons looked a little out of proportion until I realized he or she was on his/her knees.

(Photo via Are you there, God? It’s me, Generation X)

Halloween, Circa 1977: Mr. Spock

Halloween Spock 1979

This is the Ben Cooper version released in 1976, as seen below. A new version was released in 1979 with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Is that supposed to be Jeannie on the right?

Halloween Spock 1976-1977

The first Ben Cooper Spock costume was released in 1973 (first two photos below). The first Spock costume was produced by Collegeville in 1967 (third photo below).

Ben Cooper Spock 1973

Ben Cooper Spock 1973-2

Spock 1967

(Images via Allison Marchant/Flickr, Star Trek: Vulcanology, eBay, and Jeff Andrews/Pinterest)




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