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10/09/2005 Entry: "The Grim Reaper was a Toys "R" Us Kid."

Did the usual Halloween store-hop routine last night. It felt even more Halloweeny in the rain. Party City had its usual gamut of good, spooky stuff, though nothing stood out at me particularly as a must-have, much less a must-cover-on-the-site. It was more interesting to just stand around and observe the families trying to pick their Halloween costumes off the "Costume Wall," and yes, Party City actually calls it that. Basically, instead of putting all of the costumes out, they put pictures of all the costumes out. You get the sense that this puts the poor workers through absolute Hell, because what might seem like an interesting costume on paper, literally, doesn't always turn out that way when some disgruntled worker throws a nylon bag full of clown pants at you. It was just absolute madness at the place. Kids screaming, parents cursing, bombs asplodin'. Should mention that the Scream killer costume still manages to be a huge hit. What is it about that thing?

Anyway, I couldn't be in that store for fifteen minutes and not buy something, and while we're waiting on a very long, very slow moving line full of very ticked off people and very irritating children, I spot it. It's right by the register, and it really needed to be, because only in those brief moments before you hand money over to the lady with the name tag could you possibly commit to buying such a thing. I proudly present...the "Pocket Screamer!"

There's a few different versions available, but they've all got ghastly features, long robes, occult accessories, lite-up eyes and Norfin Troll hair. Fuck yes. At six bucks each, they're twice as much money as most would deem acceptable -- at least until you squeeze them and hear the loudest mothertruckin' bloodcurdling scream to ever pour forth from a five inch action figure. It's really loud. Squeezing the figure with my window open, I swear to God, the people across the street got that look on their face. The one that says, "I am hearing a crime and I am the only one hearing it and I am about to be called upon to do something heroic." Then the scream stopped, so they just went inside.

The Halloween Countdown rages on and tries to keep steam while everyone in the world, including myself, can't help thinking about Christmas. Got a good one for yeee today -- a Toys "R" Us Halloween commercial from 1980, complete with animated Geoffrey and a crappy old Yoda costume. Yessss. Review includes video download, of course.

Trying to clean out the Hallo shit I bought but lack the necessary drive to create a full article out of, here's a bunch of baddies I picked up at a dollar store a few weeks back. Simply referred to as "Stretchable Horror Monsters," the line is nothing if not thorough. I'm particularly fond of the Frankenstein Monster's casual expression, but the fact that Witchy Wanda is the only one who can stand under her own power does give her an extra point. See below.


REPLIES: 86 comments


That Yoda costume does suck. You're right about Party City, it's a madhouse around the holidays.

Chestnuts roasted by Sonny @ 10/09/2005 07:37 PM EST


I never, ever gave into one of those smock costumes. Not once. When you have a seamstress for a grandma, you get real costumes that don't suck.

Chestnuts roasted by Jessica Marie @ 10/09/2005 08:11 PM EST


I would imagine that the costume picture wall is actually easier on the employees. Just imagine the mess and damaged costumes they would have to deal every day with if everyone was digging through them looking for something good.

I would imagine that the scream costume is popular because you can get decent ones cheap. With the scream costume you can dress up as a killer from a real horror movie both without looking like an idiot in a dollar-store costume and without really pissing your parents off. You have to admit that knock-off scream masks look a hell of a lot better than knock-off Jason masks.

Chestnuts roasted by Jeff @ 10/09/2005 08:12 PM EST


The scream mask has been around longer than the movie. I have a smiling white one that I wore when I was the blob from "A Boy and his Blob". Even though it was an honest mistake, I still curse the two people who thought I was a ghost.

Chestnuts roasted by RewolfJ @ 10/09/2005 08:22 PM EST


To clarify: by "been around longer than the movie", I mean it existed several years before the movie came out.

Chestnuts roasted by RewolfJ @ 10/09/2005 08:28 PM EST


Smock costumes are definitely lame amoung kiddom; always have been considered lame, always will be smile
Plus, those plastic masks cut something nasty.
I had a full dinosaur costume my mom sewed with a frickin' two foot long stuffed tail. That was awesome. That was during the heavy dinosaur obessed period of my life.

Two years later and some modification, a bandana and green face paint and I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. smile

Chestnuts roasted by AlphaCentaurian @ 10/09/2005 08:34 PM EST


RewolfJ, that's kind of a good point. I guess that means that the official scream costumes are the knock-offs of the cheapo costumes.

Chestnuts roasted by Jeff @ 10/09/2005 08:36 PM EST


Don't even get me started on costumes not looking in person like they do on paper. I work for a catalog company, and this time of year, alls I gets are calls from irate customers telling us that we've ruined Baby's First Halloween. The big one this year is a Little Pig costume. In the book it looks purple, but the color was all fucked up on the page - the thing's actually pink. At least ten times a day, I get the following call: "Uh, yeah, this Pig was supposed to be purple, but it came, and it's pink. Now my son's gonna look gay." Lady, if you're dressing your son up in what you had hoped would be a purple Little Pig costume, I've got news for you - the kid's already looking pretty gay. Hope you have fun making cookies for the parade in about 20 years. Invest in leather.

Chestnuts roasted by Kyle @ 10/09/2005 08:40 PM EST


Yeah, I saw those stretch figures at several dollar stores but I am trying to save up for the post-Halloween clearance (budget crunch in the Manimal household).
Creepy. Yeti, we had 3 costumes in common: SPIDERMAN, EDDIE, and the GRIM REAPER.
Haven't been to PARTY CITY yet but I did check out their insert in today's paper. Without going into too much detail, I have always wondered how many couples have used Halloween costume shopping as a front for...extra curricular activities.
Forgot to mention the Halloween Kool Aid Man at the Wal-Mart when writing about yesterday's outing (see yesterday's blog for more). I can't believe FREDDY VS. JASON didn't spur more conversation. Oh well.
Finally, I found one thing that I was looking for. Matt's old compatriot Rob has a really cool gallery of old Halloween costumes over at RETROCRUSH. No GODZILLA though. Click the name.

Chestnuts roasted by The Manimal @ 10/09/2005 08:40 PM EST


Would Yoda wear a Yoda t-shirt?

Chestnuts roasted by Jessica Marie @ 10/09/2005 08:40 PM EST


Freddy vs. Jason is the only Jason movie I've ever seen. Not impressed.

Chestnuts roasted by Kyle @ 10/09/2005 08:49 PM EST


Has anyone seen any of the Fantastic Four costumes? The Thing and Human Torch are absolutely horrid, but at least it gives me something to make fun of.

Chestnuts roasted by Sonny @ 10/09/2005 08:50 PM EST


I wish I was alive in the 80's. I was born in 89 so I have never associated toys r us with halloween. Hell, I've never even seen a smock/mask costume in a store. I always had a full body costume with an expensive mask. I would never settle for a cheap costume. It had cost plenty of cash and had to look fabulous!
Matt- I know you told us not to scroll down in the article to see what happened with the Alf mask but I did and when you destroy me could you do it quickly?

Chestnuts roasted by Darth Poop @ 10/09/2005 08:51 PM EST


Speaking of Toys R Us, does anyone remember how sometimes, at the check stands, if you bought something they would give you a little happy meal-esque box with a few treats inside? Maybe some stickers, a bit of candy, some little booklets of puzzles etc, and that drink that came in a can and tasted like chocolate-flavored metal? Man, I used to think that was the coolest thing ever.

Also, there is an old Halloween movie that aired in 1991 I remember watching as a kid called "The Last Halloween" with Rhea Perlman. I remember these little aliens landed in this small town and helped some kids save halloween from this evil lady. The thing that sticks out the most is one of the aliens; he was a little blue one with a big helmet on. I was him once for halloween... one of my favorite costumes ever. Anyone else remember seeing this?

Chestnuts roasted by Chilipeppers @ 10/09/2005 09:01 PM EST


The only smock costume I remember having was Wonder Woman, and my mom didn't even make me wear the smock: my grandma sewed me something passable instead, I think.

It was good to have a seamstress grandma and an artist father on Halloween. Dad was always making elaborate costumes for us out of foamcore, fabric, and grease paint. One year (if you'll permit me: I missed the sat night thread) I was Ms. Pac Man, encased entirely in a brightly colored foamcore shell. I could barely walk or see, but man, did I ever kick the ass of the kids in the plastic smocks.

Chestnuts roasted by gadgetsgirl @ 10/09/2005 09:03 PM EST


Kyle, compared to Jason and Freddy's last couple of outings, this movie was a masterpiece. Plus, it did have a lot of backstory...
One more bit that I left out from yesterday's outing: One of the free sample stands handed out GREAT PUMPKIN stickers and a Halloween cookbook.
The Macon (GA) TRU is still in the old style a la tonight's commercial download. smile

Chestnuts roasted by The Manimal @ 10/09/2005 09:03 PM EST


Anybody else remember that on most of those masks, the elastic strap ended in metal "stops" to keep the mask on? I distinctly remember get some nast welts, maybe even cuts, whipping those things around like a rubber band on crack. My brother probably helped me discover this cheap form of bodily harm.

Oh, and that TRU add is messed up.

Chestnuts roasted by Mad Cow @ 10/09/2005 09:23 PM EST


The thing that always bothered me about smock costumes was the smock itself. I never had any beef with the masks. Sure, they were cheap and crappy, but if you used your imagination they could feasibly serve a purpose.

The real problem comes into play when you throw the damn smock on. Now, they could help themselves a little by having a picture of a costume (e.g. a smock made up to look like Yoda's robes), and while that would still suck, it would at least help create a small illusion. But no, they don't do that. They put a fucking picture of Yoda (or whatever character) on the smock with big letters that say YODA! (or whoever). What is that supposed to be exactly? You certainley aren't dressed up as Yoda. Are you supposed to be an anthropomorphic billboard that's going door to door to tell us how much Yoda (or whoever) rocks? Because that's about the only reason I could ever think of for wearing a smock that says YODA! (or whoever). Crappy, crappy costumes.

As for TRU, the sad reality is they've been in financial trouble for a long time now, most recently there was talk of converting the entire chain to what more or less amounted to baby clothing/supply/toy stores, but that may have fallen through. They just don't have the money to throw behind ANYTHING like they used to, so it's understandable (if saddening) that Halloween takes a hit in terms of shelf space allotted.

Chestnuts roasted by The Wukong Effect @ 10/09/2005 09:40 PM EST


Ah, I love seeing old commercials with that late-seventies limited animation. Reminds me of those holiday specials with the little fox and bear (Rusty and whozit?) that even Cartoon Network still shows every season. It seems like classic cartoons have become to CN what music videos have become to MTV.

By the way, kudos for including the beginning of that McDonald's commercial at the end of the clip. Now I've got that kid shouting "Never never never ever ever ..." stuck in my head for life!

Chestnuts roasted by Alex @ 10/09/2005 10:14 PM EST


Thats a black cat, dude! Not a wolf. It meows!

Smocks= teh suck for the exact reason wukong said

Chestnuts roasted by bc @ 10/09/2005 10:32 PM EST


I said it was a cat that turned into a wolf!

Chestnuts roasted by Matt @ 10/09/2005 10:33 PM EST


Methinks The Manimal has been going a little formatting crazy lately.

Chestnuts roasted by Kyle @ 10/09/2005 10:43 PM EST


See, when I was a kid, I started off with the smock costumes, but then around 7 or 8, HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE graced me and cursed me with its presence. For all of you who haven't seen a Halloween Adventure, it basically is a giant costume store that owns space, even though it is only open 2 months a year.

It became the bane of my existence, because I'd always go in and see the 80 or 90 dollar monstrosity masks right over the counter and pine to be Jason with chunks of brain flesh missing or that Dragon thing that probably weighed more than my head. Though I did walk out with a pretty awesome Crypt Keeper for only 40 bucks one year, I always felt like every time I went in there, I was being cheated.

And I totally wished I could've just gone back to the Toys R Us and gotten a ridiculously shitty costume instead of seeing what I could never ever have...

Also, I was born in 84, so I have the 80's and the early 90's to love. It's probably the only time where I could legitimately love both Transformers and Power Rangers.

Chestnuts roasted by AJ @ 10/09/2005 11:01 PM EST


The cheapest ass costume I ever had like that was Garfield. It was horrible - plastic one piece suit that had a small tie ribon at the back of your neck and yes, one of those plastic masks. *shakes head* It was hot out that day, too ... and our stupid trick or treat wasn't even past sundown, it was like 4pm or something. :\

The last time I went trick or treating, it was with 2 friends and we were juuuust on the verge of being too old, but it worked! My one friend was dressed up like a killer and he had a big fake knife - and I was his victim. I forget what my other friend was.

And yeah, I totally agree about the TRU Halloween section sucking ass. sad Last year we had SUCH cool stuff! This year ... if you aren't Batman, Darth Vadar or some kind of fairy princess, you are fucked. Forget decorations of any kind, too. sad It's depressing.

Chestnuts roasted by Ryane @ 10/09/2005 11:02 PM EST


The last time I went Trick or Treating was 3 years ago at the ripe age of 17.

Though last year I did Trick or Treat on November 1st just to see if people would be caught off guard/

Chestnuts roasted by AJ @ 10/09/2005 11:24 PM EST


When I was very little, I went as ALF for Halloween. We're talking three or four years old, here. Yes, it was one of those "smock" costumes. I had the ALF mask scratch up my toddler face, and I'm sure I whined about it. My sister got to be Jem!

I always had problems with Halloween. I do remember going to TRU, looking for costumes...but I can't remember any specific costumes I got from there. My mom made us the costumes most of the time- you know, the typical Simplicity "Southern Belle", "Dorothy Gale", "50's Girl", etc.

Actually, that is a Halloween memory for me- going to the fabric store and picking a costume from those pattern books. My mom was even going to make the ultimate costume for me- my prom dress. It was going to be this fantastic red thing, but then my dad broke the sewing machine after trying to fix it. Way to go.

But yeah, I hear TRU is in trouble, which makes me sad. I think they went downhill when they got rid of those totally ginchy rainbow wooden plank exteriors, if you ask me.

Chestnuts roasted by nuzzles @ 10/09/2005 11:30 PM EST


Chilipeppers:

Those things ruled! We made it a tradition in my house to go to Toys R US on Columbus Day every year to snag those. I was so sad when they stopped giving those out. =(

Chestnuts roasted by Jeff Mack @ 10/09/2005 11:39 PM EST


TRU has significantly less Halloween product than last year. Reason being, we get stuck with too much of it after Halloween is over. It sucks, but as a psychotic TRU manager, it's kind of a relief. In prior years, including last year, Halloween occupied about 90 feet of shelf space. This year, a measly 45-50 feet. And no fucking decorations! I sincerely apologize for that. Our sticky, jelly blood window stuff last year was the coolest.

Chestnuts roasted by mofo @ 10/09/2005 11:43 PM EST


mofo! I work at TRU too! Well, I'm not a manager though. :\

Yeah, there's NOT ENOUGH SPACE IN ANY TRU for ANYthing. Especially when we have the smallest one in our region, I believe. Ugh.

Chestnuts roasted by Ryane @ 10/09/2005 11:48 PM EST


The Chicken McNuggets stinger/cliffhanger made my fucking day!!!

Chestnuts roasted by phunqsauce @ 10/10/2005 12:09 AM EST


I've felt TRU lost it when they ditched aisles for shelves that go every which way. Being surrounded by toys isn't as visually stimulating as toys as far as the eye can see. Also, even with the reduced floor space, it's easier to lose a child in there. What were they thinking?

Chestnuts roasted by RewolfJ @ 10/10/2005 12:10 AM EST


I had a midterm paper to write this weekend, but before I started I worked out some speakers so I could finally hear the jukebox...I know I'm late to the party but that playlist is the shit! It definitely eased the pain of the work.
Am I the only one noticing how stacked Wanda is?

Chestnuts roasted by squee4242 @ 10/10/2005 12:32 AM EST


Would Yoda wear a Yoda t-shirt?

He would if it was Halloween!

Also, I DO remember my best Halloween costume now. It was of The Mask (the Jim Carrey movie, not the tv show/toy from the 80s). I wore to my Cub Scout's annual Halloween Costume Contest Meeting. I had made the wise choice of not wearing said rubber mask, but rather I wore a pair of those cheap glasses with the pictures of eyeballs in the lenses. I ended up winning the 1st place trophy for Funniest Costume. I still have it, too, it's pretty nice.

Chestnuts roasted by Invader Norbert @ 10/10/2005 01:00 AM EST


When I was in Kindergarden (90 or 91, im young) I got an ALF costume at TRU. Unfourtantely it was missing the smock that had a picture of ALF on it, but I got the cheap plastic ALF mask. My mom's solution was dying a kid size bath robe brown for me and I wore brown gloves. None of the other kids undesrtood it, I think.

Chestnuts roasted by Clay @ 10/10/2005 01:41 AM EST


You're definately not alone, Matt--I remember considering Toys R US the closest thing to heaven on Earth. Approaching that large building with the colored planks was always exciting. Now, the planks are gone. Boo.

Wow, a tape from 1980--what show was it? Speaking of that, here's a question that can perhaps be used in the future when you're low on blog ideas: what's the earliest videotape recording you have? My earliest is something from my dad that has the exact date of November 11, 1980. Matt beat me by mere weeks! sad

Chestnuts roasted by Mars @ 10/10/2005 02:10 AM EST


wow, I thought the picture of the Big Bird costume was actually a He-Man costume. But then I realized that couldn't be...but still. That looks like a damn He-Man mask!

Chestnuts roasted by kidneyboy @ 10/10/2005 02:21 AM EST


Why couldn't you leave the McDonalds commercial in, Matt? I wanted to see that even more than the TRU one...

and oh yeah.. I already am batshit crazy. razz

Chestnuts roasted by Cyanyde @ 10/10/2005 03:20 AM EST


Chilipeppers,
I remember said movie. Though I remember even less of it than you. The man who played "Bull" on Night Court played Rhea Perlman's dumb flunky/goon. That's all I've got. Sorry.

Chestnuts roasted by Bitchick @ 10/10/2005 06:17 AM EST


Ryane: "If you aren't Batman, Darth Vadar or some kind of fairy princess, you are fucked."
At first, when I read this, I thought it could double as a scathing commentary on modern life. Then I realized that I was just being stupid. And then I really wanted a bagel.

Chestnuts roasted by Jedoc @ 10/10/2005 07:58 AM EST


I remember seeing TRU commercials as a kid and wondering what that magical store must be like. We lived in Virginia Beach, where there weren't any at the time. I got the occasional glimpse of the exterior when we went to Norfolk, but it was right off the off-ramp so it went by pretty quickly. Then it happened...they built one in Virginia Beach. I saw it one day while sitting in a parking lot across the street (thinking back, I can't believe how often my dad left me car while he "ran in for a minute" to do something. I guess that kind of thing was more acceptable back then.) I could no longer control my pining. Alas, they never took us. There was a Toy Castle closer to the house (just like it sounds, a castle-shaped toy store), so on the rare occasion we went toy shopping, that was the place. I was probably a full-blown adolescent before I ever set foot in a TRU. I say all that to say that one look at the old-school TRU exterior brought those feelings flooding back. All of a sudden I ache to go to one. By the way, I watched the beginning of that commercial several times and I still feel like I have no idea what happened.

The oldest thing on tape? My parents have some movies they taped while my mom was pregnant with me, so that would be 1978/1979. As for what's in my house, I have the video my parents made when I came home from the hospital (July 79) and as for TV stuff, I have two tapes I stole from my parents that are probably from roughly the same era that just have random TV clips on them. My Dad worked for a local ABC affiliate, so he liked to tape stuff he worked on or had an appearance in. The only one that's dated just says 1980. I absolutely cherish those tapes.

Chestnuts roasted by Lori @ 10/10/2005 11:07 AM EST


That Pocket Screamer actually looks a lot like my Grandma.. especially the green hair.

Chestnuts roasted by Review the World @ 10/10/2005 11:18 AM EST


When I was in 2nd grade, my class put on a play about the most popular television shows of the day -- this was around 1986-87, so ALF was the most coveted role around, like a furry Hamlet who eats cats.

When I couldn't find an ALF costume, my mom made one out of brown PJs (the kind with feet) a plastic headband with paper ears glued to it and a styrafoam cup for a nose. Just to clarify who the fuck i was supposed to be, I wrote ALF on the front of my PJs.

I don't remember much dialog from the play, except for the last scene...I'm on the phone trying to reach Melmac (or E.T., who knows) and when I finally make contact I blurt out "Buenos Dias, Buenos Dias." The rest of the cast groans and says, "Oh no. He called Brazil."

WTF???

Yeah, it sucked, but what do you expect? I went to a school that held crappy television shows ("who's the boss" and "charles in charge" were the other segments) in higher esteem than books or music.

Chestnuts roasted by undeadhead @ 10/10/2005 11:43 AM EST


I don't know if anyone has heard about this but the UNICEF teamed up w/ the Smurfs to produce an adult-only episode of "The Smurfs," in which their village is annihilated by warplanes. click on my name to see the link.

Chestnuts roasted by J-Dog @ 10/10/2005 11:46 AM EST


I really don't know what to make of the smurf thing when they could have just used live footage.
Lori, also a july 79 baby, that year rocked.
So should I show the bowl to the kids and let them take it or just drop a few in each bag? I'd like to see if they can curb thier greed at all.

Chestnuts roasted by RAS @ 10/10/2005 12:05 PM EST


When I was nine, I bugged my mom to buy me this jailbird costume at Discount Drug Mart. It was better than the smock shit, but not by much. It was basically just a pair of black and white striped pants with an elastic waist, a black and white shirt that tied in the back, and a little beanie black and white hat. It was supposed to have a number to pin on, but it didn't. Anyway, my mom was a big Cincy Reds fan, and Pete Rose was in big trouble at the time, so instead of the beanie, I wore a Reds hat, and was Pete Rose. All the adults thought it was hilarious and none of the kids got it.

Any other Catholic kids who were convinced to wear their First Communion dresses with a tiara and be a princess? Just me? I was a sucker, what can I say.

I was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz one year, and I had the red shoes and a blue and white shirt, but I wore an acid washed jumper and had really bad permed '80s hair. Carrying the basket with a toy Toto in it sucked, too.

Chestnuts roasted by Kate @ 10/10/2005 12:06 PM EST


That Pocket Screamer looks like the haunted Tiki Doll from the "Trilogy of Terror" movies. Just dye the hair brown.

The only smock costume I remember wearing was of the bear from the Getalong Gang in Kindergarden. Which is strange since I don't remember watching the cartoon.

TRU used to be heaven for me, but not so much anymore since I find I can get my toys cheaper at either Target or Wal-Mart and my electronics at Best Buy. TRU still has one of the best jingles ever though.

BTW, whatever happened to Geoffrey's family? Divorced? Kids in jail?

Chestnuts roasted by JLAJRC @ 10/10/2005 12:09 PM EST


I was just watching boomerang was hit with the shirt-t-t-t-tails! Does anyone else remember the USA cartoon express? They showed the snorkles, pac-man, some cartoon about trolls, and others I can't remember. Jesus, what a flashback, better than acid.

Chestnuts roasted by bloodybrilliantme @ 10/10/2005 12:24 PM EST


That commercial was great. I can't believe how uncohesive it was.
My babysitter's husband when I was younger would put on one of those those masks and stick his tounge out of the ridiculously small mouth hole to scare us kids. It was a Raggedy Ann Doll costume. Looking back I can't believe some kid accually wanted to dress as raggedy anne.

Chestnuts roasted by kb @ 10/10/2005 12:26 PM EST


I *did* get to be ALF for Halloween, but alas, I had the plastic costume. I still have it though!!! I was very proud.

Chestnuts roasted by April (smurfarootie) @ 10/10/2005 12:57 PM EST


By the way, I don't know about your TRU, but ours added CLOTHES. I mean, what kid wants to be tricked into going into TRU to buy CLOTHES??? ("You can spend all your birthday money in here, Scotty....in the CLOTHES section! Ahahahahaha" *wicked laugh**)

Chestnuts roasted by April @ 10/10/2005 01:07 PM EST


You'remakin me wantto get up and head right for the nearest TRU, which is now conveniently closer than where it was. Still, I miss it's older location in the ghetto area of Sacramento. There was just something about the nasty location and sleazy layout (which was later updated) from my childhood. But still...MUST GO TO TRU!!!

Chestnuts roasted by Nate @ 10/10/2005 01:59 PM EST


J-Dog, I actually posted about the Smurfs ad in the Saturday thread. Pretty crazy stuff.

Chestnuts roasted by squee4242 @ 10/10/2005 02:05 PM EST


The Ben Cooper/Collegeville smock costumes are the main reason I connect the smell of vinyl to Hallowe'en. No matter what the time of year, when I smell inflatable toys like the giant hammers from the state fair, or beach balls fresh out of the package, anything of that type, I flash back to the Autumns of my childhood. And old TRU ads. Maybe I'll stock up on them if I ever build my Hallowe'en store.

Chestnuts roasted by kingklash don't wanna grow up, he's a dollar-store kid @ 10/10/2005 02:13 PM EST


Great article. Really fun read and has inspired me to do more Halloween stuff. smile

Chestnuts roasted by Jake @ 10/10/2005 02:29 PM EST


I really miss the old TRU. It simply isn't the same anymore. I guess part of the reason is that the toys themselves have changed, but TRU has gone from being a Magical place to a place with one aisle of action figures and a BILLION "elearning" or childhood crap toys. At least mine still has some of the old "World of Nintendo" banners up...

Chestnuts roasted by Cameron T. @ 10/10/2005 02:31 PM EST


I never got any Ben Cooper costumes. Mine were usually made from various accesories that were either purchased or already owned by me, clothes that I had or borrowed, make-up, or a combination.

One of my favorites would have to have been my Invisible Man costume. I wore a trench coat, a cloth strap around my head, gloves, and shades. I won a costume contest at a Halloween party with that thing. Don't remember what I won, though. I think it might've been candy, which was already being freely distributed at the party.

Chestnuts roasted by Nate @ 10/10/2005 02:33 PM EST


Jedoc - that was way too funny and I about spit Pitch Black all over my monitor. smile Stupid or not, it still made me laugh big grin

Weird... I have a bagel practically every day, soon after I wake up. Blueberry with a sprinkle of raw sugar. Tastey.

Chestnuts roasted by Ryane @ 10/10/2005 02:42 PM EST


Click on my name to read about the fire that destroyed AArdman studios, home to Wallace & Grommit. I know in perspective to the earthquake that just occurred its really not that huge, but depressing none the less.

Chestnuts roasted by bloodybrilliantme @ 10/10/2005 02:49 PM EST


Cameron T.- You are so right! They now have all these retarded educational toys. Since when has anyone ever seen a kid who wants toys for the sake of learning anything? Never. It reminds me of the Christmas when my Mom got my brother and I a buncha educational toys from "Discovery Toys." There were some okay toys from that company, but most of them just sucked.

But still, that's cool that your TRU still has "World of Nintendo" banners up. Being an avid NES worshipper, I miss the days of such things.

Chestnuts roasted by Nate @ 10/10/2005 03:12 PM EST


Man, those smock costumes sucked!!!! Wonderful. Kids always had those in elementary school. This costume obviously pre-dates the "I wanna be a Toys R Us Kid" campaign. I also like how the tape had a Chicken McNugget commercial with a kid w/an afro says "Never, never, never" before the tape cuts off. Great stuff.

BTW, I found an Old Navy Christmas Ad from 1998 on a tape of "Saturday Night Live" eps, in which Morgan Fairchild and Co. sing the praises of "Old Navy Performance Fleece." I also found (on my 1999-2000 SNL season tape) a 10-10-220 ad w/sold-out spokesperson Dennis Miller in a movie theater w/a kid that I swear is his. The kid honestly looks like him! In addition, I found the Derek Jeter Skippy Doubly Delicious commercial on the same tape. Man, I need a 2nd VCR to tape all this stuff for possible review on the website. Darn it!

Chestnuts roasted by Allison @ 10/10/2005 03:23 PM EST


My bad, squee. That is pretty crazy stuff!

Chestnuts roasted by J-Dog @ 10/10/2005 04:00 PM EST


The one and only Ben Cooper costume I ever owned was a horrific Pac-Man costume for Halloween of 1987, I was in the 1st grade. My mom bought it for me at the Toys R Us across from the Staten Island mall (still there- remodeled- no wooden colored planks anymore)....Anyways, it was such a horrible excuse for a Pac-Man (ie- unrecognizable yellow plastic mask that cut into the side of your face, flammable smock with the Pac playing field and logo), that I only wore it for my class' Halloween party, and subsequently spent the actual Halloween day of 1987 as Dracula.

Chestnuts roasted by James Anthony KTU @ 10/10/2005 04:41 PM EST


I can't believe what I am hearing. Yeah the Ben Cooper costumes may have been sub par but I have a lot of fond memories of going to the PIC N SAVE and seeing all of the costumes in the big display. I still think they are cool even though they were just a smock. Simplicity was the watchword.

Chestnuts roasted by The Manimal @ 10/10/2005 04:51 PM EST


Matt, any chance we can see a picture of you in the Cousin Ralph suit. smile

Chestnuts roasted by Texican @ 10/10/2005 04:56 PM EST


On the topic at hand, I totally agree with manimal. Because I,m in my 30's the Ben Cooper costumes were all I had to choose from, that or a homemade costume which made me look like a wuss. I can't remember being more excited than being able to buy a Ben Cooper costume as a kid.

Chestnuts roasted by Texican @ 10/10/2005 05:00 PM EST


I never saw the Pac-Man costume close up, or I would have stole it right off whoever was wearing one. There was even a smock costume of Tempest, I hear. Unless it was the monster on the cabinet, how in the bloody three-process Technicolor Hell do you make a Tempest costume? A yellow plastic-coated wire hanger might be a start, I guess.

Chestnuts roasted by kingklash @ 10/10/2005 05:12 PM EST


I just bought a big flat of Halloween Hi-C juice boxes. I'm convinced the Great Pumpkin himself packaged these things. The cardboard flat is bright orange and the juice boxes have pumpkins and monsters. It was the kind of Halloween purchase thay actually made me proud of the manufacturer. Anyone else see these yet?

Chestnuts roasted by Carri @ 10/10/2005 05:27 PM EST


Ryane: Raisin cinnamon bagel, butter toasted. And let me tell you, it's not easy being a bagel-eater this deep in the American Frontier. Krispy Kreme is a minor, greasy god here.
All this talk about TRU is making me sad. I didn't set foot in one until my senior year of high school, and that was only to get kicked out for riding the Big Wheels at unsafe speeds. For me, the Sears Wishbook was the only link to the world of toys. Well, that and the local Alcos. But that place smells like old people and fish.

Chestnuts roasted by Jedoc @ 10/10/2005 05:32 PM EST


Carri -- yup, you'll see them this week!

Chestnuts roasted by Matt @ 10/10/2005 05:55 PM EST


Jedoc - We don't have a Krispy Kreme here at all, and our Dunkin Donuts actually shut down, and we just got a new one like a year or so ago, maybe? Oh wait, I think they sell Krispy Kreme's at our Sam's Club, not sure. I'm a vegan, like Mike. Now, we do have this awesome little place called Krumpe's. It's this little hole in the wall (you actually have to go into an alleyway behind the place to park) and they are only open from about 8pm-2am or some crazy time, but when I used to eat donuts... They were PURE heaven. Warm, soo soft, and slightly crunchy ... oh my ... *wipes drool* I honestly don't know how any donut could possibly be better.

Cinnamon raisin bagels are my 2nd choice! wink

Did anyone have a "Kiddie City" toy store?? We had one in the next town over, and I swear, that place rocked harder than TRU. I think their mascot was a Kangaroo. Oh and we had a "Juvenile" too. Those were the days...

Chestnuts roasted by Ryane @ 10/10/2005 07:23 PM EST


Lionel Kiddie City f'n rocked. Red tag sales galore.

Chestnuts roasted by Matt @ 10/10/2005 07:24 PM EST


I remember when i was 2-4 yrs old, (born april 14, 1976), trick or treating in L.A., i was the Alien, form Alien, and i tried saying hello to one of my fellow trick or treaters, and his eyeballs opened up SOOO big i thought they were gonna pop out, screamed and ran away from me. my dad (god bless him), and mom waited for the little kid to run far enough away before they laughed their asses off. Good times!

Chestnuts roasted by Oliver Obelisk -nevarrr gonna stop being a kid- @ 10/10/2005 07:30 PM EST


btw, i was laughing my ass off at that commercial, the look at the geoff's intro to, and then the Skeleton doin the I Need Space/ ooga booga dance! that commercial came out whe i was 4! WOOOT! i mean, BOOOOOt! was that commercail directed by Dennis Hopper, or Timothy Leary, or burroughs, or -gasp- the great pumpkin??? Lovely that they TELL you that they can be used "for Trick or Treating", no i thought i was supposed to scare people with big bird, eh. Oh, and on the Maks+Plastic aapron make costume Star Wars front, i believe i was Vader first, then pilot Luke Skywalker the next year or during the same year at different 'Oween esque event. Darth FIRST!

Chestnuts roasted by oliver obelisk @ 10/10/2005 08:13 PM EST


I remember when the Kiddie City in my area was shutting down we pocketed several Atari 2600 games for a dollars each!!! Provided my brothers and I made a mere allowance each week (i think i made 50 cents a week at the time) we walked off with some classic games like MIdnight Magic which I still play. I always loved TRU because they were closer than any other store and had much better prices than Children's Palace/Child World which got run into the ground by TRU. Shit even the small toy store in the mall next to it, Circus World, had better prices than Children's Palace. I remember how I thought it was so shady that Children's Palace charged $66 for Dragon Dragon for NES. That started my disdain for them. TRU charged like $55 for it and I loved them for that. Oh how I miss the "World of Nintendo."

Chestnuts roasted by phunqsauce @ 10/10/2005 08:20 PM EST


Smock costume? No way! My mom was (and is) an excellent artist and seamstress, so even when my costumes weren't imaginative (I was Alice In Wonderland, a fairy, a queen, and a cowgirl, among others, in my youth), they were at least well-made.

Nate, my sister did the Invisible Man one year. She wore what you wore...but went so far as to really wrap her head and hands and even carry an invisible "dog" (made of wire, fabric, and sequins for the "collar"wink. "Fido" was a family joke for years. ; 0 )

I'm trying to cut down on junk, so while we do have Dunkin' Donuts down here in South Jersey and most grocery stores sell Krispy Kremes (though there are no actual stores), I haven't had a donut in ages. The new whole-grain English muffins Thomas put out a while back are really good, especially the multi-grain.

I never went in Lionel Kiddie City, but I fondly recall seeing their commercials on the Philly TV stations. "At Lionel Kiddie City, we turn that frown..." (kangaroo hops on frown) "upside-down!"

Chestnuts roasted by starwenn @ 10/10/2005 08:52 PM EST


I hate Krispy Kremes. Way, way too sweet. For a while KK confused me because with all the clamoring it seemed like people had never had doughnuts before. It was odd.

Then it turned out they were blatantly lying abour sales and revenue and it all made a lot more sense.

Chestnuts roasted by The Wukong Effect @ 10/10/2005 08:57 PM EST


i live near matt, lol, he doesnt know this.
I too visit the TRU talked about in this article, about 5 or 6 yrs ago they redid the place and the 4 "longitudinal" ailes of crescent fresh action figures for boys is now a mazey shit squiggle aisle of all the new bogus toys for boys out there. I even complained to the manager at this place when they werent selling garbage pail kids last year. Son's of a bitches!
And matt, didnt you think to visit the party city on Hylan Blvd. they definitely had the Alf mask.
check out retrocrush.com for alot of images of halloween smocks, they changed a bit for the season, but im sure you will find the correct page.

Chestnuts roasted by Skynet1984 @ 10/10/2005 09:02 PM EST


Damn! I would think that I'd remember Halloween commercials from 1980, since I think I trick or treating as Frankenstein's monster. Yes, it was one of those lame-ass costumes from, of all places, Woolworths (now there's a blast from the past!). It was horridly lame. Horridly lame.

Chestnuts roasted by kindersczenen @ 10/10/2005 09:04 PM EST


KIDDIE CITY! "Turns a frown...upside down!" I swear, we have home videos of me singing that jingle.

I remember distinctly a Kiddie City incident. I was a very strange kid, prone to the weirdest tantrums. Anyway, I got this big rag doll at Kiddie City- very cute, pink, Holly Hobbie style. Then, for reasons I will NEVER comprehend, I totally denounced that cute little doll in the car. I just started crying, saying I didn't WANT it! I threw it!

I'm very sorry and I feel very bad for how I treated that cute doll. That haunts me to this day.

Chestnuts roasted by nuzzles @ 10/10/2005 09:13 PM EST


Absolutely the best donuts I've ever had came from One World Cafe in Baltimore. Yes, they were vegan, and they were clearly made fresh by someone who knew what they were doing. Chocolate bagels that acutally tasted deep fried, completely with being a little oily, and somehow that tasted not just good but really, really good.

Krispy Kremes came to my area after I went vegan. 'Tis a shame.

Chestnuts roasted by Vegan Mike @ 10/10/2005 11:07 PM EST


Starwenn, you just completely jogged my memory of Lionel Kiddie City by saying their slogan--thanks! You're right, there isn't any Krispy Kreme in this area! Not that it matters, there's a freakin' WaWa on every corner. Not that I eat that junk much.

There was a Kiddie City in Toms River, NJ, in the Pavillion Mall (pink painted, open air mall next to the Ocean County Mall). It was actually across the street from Toys R Us, which was next to another strip mall. Seems Hooper Avenue only had shopping centers and malls. Kiddie City didn't last more than 3 years when I was really young (I think it opened when I was around 5). We never actually went in there either. We were Toys R Us kids. Of course, this was when they still had the multi-colored wooden planks on the store's exterior, and said exterior was still dark brown.

My mom bought my clothes from Kids R Us until I was 12 (I'm 5'4" at almost 23 years old, as I was then, but I weighed only 95 pounds then and their clothes were the only things that fit right). Thankfully, I gained enough weight that year (if 8 pounds is enough) to not fit into their clothes anymore. I still had to buy my pants in the girl's section of any department store in 7th grade (I was in a girl's size 16 then--still too skinny). Did anyone else have this problem? KRU always had good-quality clothes, its just that EVERYONE else didn't have to wear the clothes. I still like TRU though. I love the one in Times Square.

Chestnuts roasted by Allison @ 10/11/2005 02:27 PM EST


Hey Matt,
I was listening to the radio yesterday and at commercial break a TRU commercial came on. Here we are two weeks before Halloween and it isn't even mentioned in the commercial!!! Not once! Instead it served as a vehicle to pimp Geoffrey's birthday via a sales promo. What the hell is that?! Your going to have a sale two weeks before Halloween and not even mention the Holiday? They'd rather promote a fictional giraffe's fictional birthday, as if anyone in the world knows when the hell that is?!? They could have a Geoffrey Birthday Sale again in three months and no-one would STILL know the difference. This really opened my eyes to the death of Halloween (how ironic, eh?). I know you have been reporting on its demise for the past few years now, but it is evident that since the time it became un-cool for me to be 'trick or treating' til now Halloween has all but fallen off the face of the Calender. Really sad.

Halloween is officially the beginning of the Holiday Season in my mind. Its the Holiday Trifecta, come on! Its the three big holidays every kid looks forward to all year, jam packed within a two month timeframe! Also, one thing most people overlook is that Halloween is a great family holiday, as parents and kids do a lot of activities together (pumpkin picking/carving, baking ghost cookies for school parties, selecting a costume, and of coruse taking the kids out trick-or-treating). It's also very versatile in that both parents and kids can find reason to celebrate it (parents with costume parties at work and with friends, and kids with school parties and of course - the candy!).

As it stands right now Halloween is the obstacle that keeps companies from putting Christmas items out pre-10/31. When I was a kid, the Christmas season didnt start until AFTER Thanksgiving. Sure there may have been some items on the shelves, but the official season started that Friday. In recent years 'The Season' has been creeping closer and closer to Halloween, to the point now where I can go into the Walgreen's across the street on Nov. 1 and see Christmas items for sale on the shelves. It used to take them weeks to clear out the Halloween leftovers with sales and price cuts. It disheartens me to be in stores before 10/31 and see the Christmas stuff sitting on top of the aisles waiting to take over like a bunch of banshees waiting in the woods. 'They' are trying to make Halloween less important so as to justify putting Christmas items on the shelf sooner. Once Halloween has been deemed a B-Class holiday the floodgates will open. 'The Season' will march towards Labor Day destroying everything in its path. And it will be disgusting.

And in response to your article, I had the Gamorrean Guard smock. I specifically remember being disappointed when sliding that plastic encasing off the box and finding that the mask was the only cool thing in there. The mask hung around long after the smock, go figure.

Chestnuts roasted by nick @ 10/14/2005 12:09 PM EST


I seem to recall a Halloween BrooHaHa at school when I was in say... 3rd grade. I saw some one dressed as Yoda. Not being a Star Wars fan at all, I was like, "Hey I like your Gremlins costume!" and he was like, "I'm Yoda, idiot!" Laughing ensued. This is what switched me over from not caring about Star Wars to hating Star Wars.

Chestnuts roasted by Lucky Mesmer and his Fingers @ 10/18/2005 08:30 AM EST


You know, its funny. I'm the kind of person now (wish I was like this when I was younger) that would have said the same thing, Lucky Mesmer. I've gotten way too sarcastic/cynical for my own good.

Chestnuts roasted by Allison @ 10/21/2005 04:28 PM EST


I never even HEARD of Kids 'R Us until a few years ago. We always got our clothes from K-Mart, the small stores in Cape May and Rio Grande, or the malls up north. By the time I was 12, I'd outgrown kids clothing entirely and was wearing stuff intended for teenagers. I just sat around and gained a lot of weight.

Chestnuts roasted by starwenn @ 10/22/2005 11:38 PM EST


Wow! I've always liked halloween stuff and enjoyed reading these blogs.

Chestnuts roasted by Arnold @ 10/25/2005 02:47 AM EST