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When ‘Star Wars’ Invaded Halloween
THE SPOOKY ‘STAR WARS’ SHORTAGE OF 1977
A long time ago … in October of 1977 to be exact, Halloween was fast approaching and many parents faced a major dilemma. That year, kids didn’t want to go trick-or-treating dressed as vampires, witches, or ghosts. The classic costumes simply wouldn’t do. That Halloween, almost every child in the United States wanted to dress as their favorite character from the new hit movie, “Star Wars.” Today, you can walk into a Halloween City on Oct. 30 and easily pick up a costume for Rey, Darth Vader, or Princess Leia. But in 1977, less than five months after the release of the first movie in the popular franchise, getting your hands on “Star Wars” merchandise was a bit more difficult. Ben Cooper, a costume company in Brooklyn, had the foresight to license “Star Wars” for costumes right after the movie came out. Unfortunately, they didn’t foresee how great the demand for these costumes would be. Retailers across the country were selling out of “Star Wars” costumes as fast as they came in. Some stores reported selling more “Star Wars” costumes than pumpkins. Kids who got their hands on an authentic Han Solo or C-3PO costume were considered lucky. But kids who
arrived at the store to find the costume shelves empty didn’t throw in the towel. Instead, they went and found some brown towels to make their own Chewbacca costumes. In the current age of cosplay, homemade costumes based on movie characters are commonplace, but in 1977, this was uncharted territory. Kids searched for white dresses to be Princess Leia and bathrobes they could cut short to mimic Luke Skywalker. Moms everywhere broke out their sewing machines and created costumes using only action figures for reference. It was grueling work, but it showed how much kids wanted to spend Halloween in a galaxy far, far away. The “Star Wars” costume shortage marked a new era for Halloween — one where making your own costume was just as cool, if not better, than buying it.
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