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Archive for Thursday, October 28, 1999

TV, FILM INFLUENCE CHOICE OF HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

October 28, 1999

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Pro wrestlers, Pokemon creatures and Princess Amidalas will crowd local streets Sunday night.

Do I make you randy, baby, do I?

Don't be surprised if you hear pick-up lines like this -- in a bad English accent larded with '60s lingo -- when you open your door to trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

That's because lots of little -- and not so little -- Austin Powerses will be making the candy rounds Sunday night in Lawrence.

Lawrence stores that sell costumes for the upcoming holiday report a brisk business in the yellowed, grody teeth and horn-rim glasses that are de rigueur for youngsters wanting to play the role of the groovy English super-agent from this summer's hit film, "The Spy Who Shagged Me."

"Some of the kids want to do Austin Powers, so we've got the teeth, a wig to go with it and eyeglasses. Everything they need," said Larry Billings, owner of Fun and Games, 816 Mass.

"Lots of people do ask for the Austin Powers stuff that comes as a kit for adults, but we make costumes for the kids out of different accessories."

The popular movie character portrayed by comic actor Mike Myers is just one of several film-derived costumes that'll appear on the streets.

Characters from "Star Wars: Episode One" will be well-represented by young trick-or-treaters, too.

"We're selling a lot of 'Star Wars' costumes, like Darth Maul and Princess Amidala. We have the whole outfits for kids," said Ria Kim, an assistant manager at Kmart, 3106 Iowa.

The eerie, long-faced villain from a hit pair of recent horror films -- "Scream" and "Scream 2" -- will be haunting local neighborhoods, if sales at the Paper Warehouse, 1441 W. 23rd, are any sign.

"'Scream' is still popular. There's a costume with the robe and the mask, or you can just get the mask. We've got it in kids sizes, too, and it's selling well. More people buy the mask rather than the whole costume," said Paper Warehouse owner Larry Schlosser.

Wrestlers, Teletubbies

Film characters aren't the only influence when youngsters select their Halloween get-ups. Images from TV sway imaginations, too.

"The pro wrestling guys are pretty popular. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and (Bill) Goldberg seem to be a big thing with young kids.

"With real little kids, the Pokemon costumes are popular, and Scooby Doo is back. They also like the 'Teletubbies' and the blue dog from (Nickelodeon's cartoon program) 'Blue's Clues,'" Schlosser said.

You can expect to see some Power Rangers and Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles out there lugging around candy sacks, too, he added.

Some costumes, meanwhile, never go out of style for children.

"The smaller kids decide they want to be pirates or cowboys or vampires a lot. Little girls do angels," Billings said. "Other kids dress up as little devils, with ears, tails and tridents."

Dennis Long, an assistant manager at SuperTarget, 3201 Iowa, agreed.

"Of course, you always have your favorites, like angels and Cinderella. And any super heroes are popular, especially Superman and Batman," Long said.

Teen-agers like to come in and buy accessories to create unique costumes, rather than choose outfits off the rack.

"Kids who are 14-18, they're more into make-up and making their own costumes. They're more intricate, going into higher-dollar items and more depth with the roles they're playing. They buy all kinds of latex masks, too," Long said.

Face paint and fake blood sells well among teen-agers shopping at Fun and Games, Billings said.

The Salvation Army Thrift Store, 1818 Mass., draws an older crowd of Halloween customers.

Lots of high school students come to the store looking for something to build a costume around or for items to accessorize with.

"We don't have anything specifically for Halloween," said Reed Peterson, store manager. "So they look for old dresses, funny-looking shoes, jewelry. Anything that's offbeat, out of the ordinary or different. It's create-your-own stuff."

What's selling well this year?

"A lot of guys are buying dresses," Peterson said.

-- Jim Baker's phone message number is 832-7173; his e-mail address is jbaker@ljworld.com.

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