Throwback Thursday: children’s Halloween costumes circa 1980

To which age group did these two- or three-piece plastic costumes appeal, exactly?  Ages 4 through 8?

I remember being tremendously excited for them after they were set out (wisely, at eye height for a child) near the supermarket registers.  I begged for one when I was little boy; and I can still remember that plasticy smell when it came out one of those thin, cheaply decorated cardboard boxes.

When Halloween arrived, I think a lot of kids wound up pulling up that plastic mask to wear it as a hat.  The eye holes weren’t always great for, y’know, seeing.  And respiration turned the area around the mask’s mouth all wet and weird.

Dear Lord, check out the last picture.  Yes, that is none other than Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” as depicted by an ultra-cheap, disposable children’s Halloween costume.  It’s …. just … so many things: kitsch, ugly, fantastic, hilarious, sad, amazing and awesome.  It’s thought provoking, because I wonder if such an item might sell for a lot of money among science fiction fans today.  It’s also … slightly befuddling, in a troubling sort of way.  The film “Alien” (1979) was absolutely not for small children.  ( did a really funny article a while back about the number of the inappropriate children’s products that were released in connection with that movie.)  In 1979, this second grader wasn’t allowed to see it.

A final quick note: the brand name for a lot of these costumes was “Ben Cooper.”  (See Frankenstein below.)  That was the name of the cowardly father in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), wasn’t it?  Is that a deliberate homage, or did some guy named Ben Cooper make money by selling monster masks?  Either way, that’s trippy and cool.


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