Not to sound like cranky old timers, but we here at Topless Robot believe that the golden age of trick-or-treating was the late 1970s/early ’80s. To quote Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, it was a glorious time. Kids everywhere would get dressed up as their favorite characters and hit the streets in search of candy and frights aplenty. Then it all changed thanks 1982’s Tylenol poisoning scare and the subsequent urban legends about how a cabal of madmen were seeking to tamper with Halloween candy. Before you knew it, the days of devouring fun-sized Snickers bars on the walk back home were replaced by taking your candy to get X-rayed at the local hospital. And with that, the magic of the day slowly began to die.
Instead of dwelling on how lame Halloween currently is for kids, lets take a trip in the wayback machine to a time when every pop culture icon from TV, movies, cartoons and videogames were immortalized in cheap vinyl shirts and even cheaper plastic masks. Here’s an amazing, double-sized look at 10 of the greatest—and then 10 of the worst—costumes from Halloweens past.
Pulsar was Mattel’s answer to the then popular Bionic Man series. Instead of going techno, they went organic— Pulsar had a see-through chest that enabled you to see his bloody organs. How this gave him superpowers was never explained and since children are naturally stupid, we never questioned it. The Pulsar Halloween costume works so well, because it's both accurate to the character and super-gross—the Halloween costume equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter.
9) Mazinga from Shogun Warriors
One of the earliest imports from Japan, Mattel’s Shogun Warrior toys were 2-feet-tall, fired missiles out of every orifice and had giant fists that shot out at you—and this was in the '70s, so these thing shot far and hard. Despite their lack of a cartoon, the Shogun Warriors were known by reputation (and their commercials) as heavyweights. Your coolness factor doubled if you were able to find one of these costumes for Halloween night.
8) He-Man from Masters of the Universe
The only time in your life you should willingly wear a pageboy haircut. Considering the whole premise of Masters of the Universe was that a young boy could change into a muscular adult superhero, the He-Man costume was a logical fit for the Halloween trade. It let boys pretend they too were hulking men with rippling muscles and enormous strength. And it gave adults the hilarious view of a midget with a hyper-developed chest and legs, but tiny, bird-like arms.
Seeing that the highpoint of ‘80s bubblegum pop sensation was all about transformation, this Jem costume makes a lot of sense for girls, just as He-Man did for boys. Little girls could become Jem, a super-popular and beautiful adult pop star, and then sing the Jem and the Holograms theme song for the entire night as they trick-or-treated...until they got home, at which point their poor parents would drink a "truly outrageous" amount of gin.
6) Ape Warrior from Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes is a sci-fi classic that gave us many things: simian-infused adventure, a twist ending, an unnecessary view of Charlton Heston’s ass, and so forth. But one of the film’s biggest legacies is its collection of spin-off merchandising, including this awesome Ape Warrior costume. Based on a generic soldier ape, it’s most memorable feature is its illustration of a machete tucked behind a bandolier. Interestingly, dressing up as a super-intelligent ape who gets to walk around in this bad-ass, day-glow outfit is as awesome now as it was then.
No toyline? No cartoon? No problem for this amazing, albeit generic, robot costume. With a mask embedded with working lights and a shiny silver suit, this was the most high-tech Halloween outfit for kids ever produced. And staring at it long enough will put Flight of the Conchords’ “Robots” song in your head. Once again without emotion!
4) Everything from Star Wars (tie)
Before Star Wars came around, most licensed Halloween costume featured a mask of the character, then that character's face on the shirt, in case candy-distributing adults didn't get it. This was pretty much as cool as wearing a shirt with your own face on it, which is to say, not at all. But when Star Wars came out with Halloween costumes, kids could actually dress like the characters, with plastic masks and vinyl outfits which displayed Vader's chest-thingie or Chewbacca's furry chest and bandolier. Thank you, Star Wars.
3) Warduke from Dungeons & Dragons
LJN’s line of toys based on the popular virgin pastime of role-play were somewhat overlooked by children too fascinated with the Masters of the Universe. The shame is that the character designs—especially lead villain Warduke, who looks like every evil/demonic hell warrior ever imagined—were especially fantastic, and perfect Halloween material. If you were wearing a Warduke costume, you weren't a D&D-loving nerd—you were a badass knight from hell...a significant improvement.
2) The Devil
Since Satan is kind of awesome, it’s not surprising that costumes based on Father of Lies are perennial favorites. Of the countless Lucifer costumes released for kids over the years, this one is the spookiest. Along with a glow-in-the-dark mask and red hood, the costume features Beelzebub peering out from the flames of hell as if he was trying to summon kids to join him is his fiery kingdom of suffering, and it seems pretty reasonable that Satan would have a smaller demon inside his chest for grabbing children.. Fun!
1) Alien /Jaws (tie)
For sheer WTF awesomeness alone, these two rank among the best Halloween outfits ever. Unbelievably, someone decided that Alien and Jaws were kid-friendly enough that Halloween costumes based on each of the flick were produced, and small children wanders the streets of the '70s dressed as a murderous shark, complete with jagged fangs, or a hideous, chitin-covered nightmare, ready to lay its eggs in whatever stupid kid wanders close enough. Clearly, these are two of the greatest Halloween costumes ever made.
You've seen the best, now piss yourself in horror at the worst old-school Halloween costumes on the next page.