Halloween wasn’t always an eight billion dollar holiday. There was a time when Halloween decorations didn’t appear on shelves after the 4th of July and holiday specialty shops didn’t spring up like mushrooms in the haunted ruins of desolate shopping centers. In prior decades, you’d pick out your costume the week of Halloween, usually from a rack of cheap, cellophane-boxed outfits on display at a local dime store, and they were all the same — an uncomfortable plastic mask (showcased in that cellophane window), and a cloth or plastic gown of some kind. Sometimes they were licensed outfits but just as often they’d be a generic wolfman or ghost (and if you were late to the store you’d be happy to get either). Not a one of these costumes was likely to survive past Halloween night, with the elastic strap securing your horror mask practically guaranteed to snap before you got to the end of your block. And for all that the masks were supposedly “ventilated” you could count on your face getting spunky with sweat the moment you donned one of these plastic horrors.
Marvel maniacs organized enough to “allow 4 weeks for delivery” could enjoy a few more options in the 1970s, and in this week’s Super Tuesday ad they are invited to “Hulk It For Halloween” with costumes no less cheap but at least vaguely recognizable as their favorite superheroes. It always bugged me when one of these costumes has a picture of the character on the tunic, but no matter — these costumes were licensed, official, and flame retardant for safety!
Any memories of dressing as a superhero for Halloween when you were a kid? Share your stories in comments, below.
Happy Halloween, everyone! Thanks for reading Longbox Graveyard!
TOMORROW AT LONGBOX GRAVEYARD: Walking Dead
- Super Tuesday: Super-Hero Explosion! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Marvel Horror Triple Feature (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Gene The Dean (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: What’s Wrong With This Picture? (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Handing It To Shang-Chi (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: The Merry Marvel Marching Society (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: We Hate H.E.R.B.I.E.! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Not Brand Echh! (longboxgraveyard.com)
Best Witches, LBG! 🔮💋
I vaguely remember a store bought Spider-Man costume, but that’s about it.
Are you going as Spider-Man tonight, Dave?
I remember watching my friend almost being decapitated as he ran by a small front yard tree that was supported by almost invisible anchor wires .
In your favorite year – 1978 – we roamed the streets of a small suburb of Cleveland, OH as Spider-man. It may have even been the costume featured in your ad, but we can’t be certain.
Few memories survive from being 5 years old, but many of our earliest ones involve Spider-man: this costume, reading his Marvel Treasury Edition on the back porch while Mom gardened, the toy Spidey that climbed a retractable line with a hook on it, the Spider-Car from Mattel, and many more.
When I got into comics in 1974 there wasn’t much in the way of licensing. I remember building the Aurora model kits of various heroes (I think it was their Hulk kit that led me to check out comics for the first time), but aside from scattered one-offs found in bookstores there weren’t a lot of toys on the market. Today’s era of geek plenty — with entire rows of comic book toys at big box retail stores — was unimaginable. In that environment, a Mattel Spidey-car or even a cut-rate Spidey costume was a passport to another world.
It’s better now, I think, but less special.