By Cory Doctorow at 11:27 pm Thu, Oct 14, 2010
Halloween, 1977. I made my own stormtrooper costume. None have been made better since.
“The Unknown Trooper”
“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”
Side-note: Google automatically suggest the above quote in its entirety simply by typing “Aren’t y”. :)
That’s clearly a Cylon.
I bet that kid was so proud to go trick-or-treating in the costume he made all by himself. It’s far better than any costume I could have had for Halloween 1977. My options were pretty much limited to watermelon, basketball, etc. as I was about 32 weeks gestational age at the time.
I love this about seven thousand times more than the much more perfect adult led Halloween costumes you see everywhere. Just awesome.
As hard as it is to believe, this kid probably opted for a homebrew costume because there were no commercially available stormtrooper costumes at the time. It’s hard to remember now, because STAR WARS has become so ubiquitous, but the official merchandising was pretty slow out of the gateâ€”and so was the cultural penetration. I was a little older in ’77, and I went out in a Luke Skywalker costume I’d thrown together myself (white terry wrap, khaki pants, riding boots and a lightsaber made from a length of broom-handle), and a good 75% of the adults whose houses I visited asked me if I was supposed to be a pirate.
Nowadays, of course, every genre film is pre-licensed for merchandising long before there’s any demand in evidence; this October, there are probably 10 million official LAST AIRBENDER-inspired costumes rotting in a landfill somewhere.
Yeah, Star Wars figures weren’t even available for Christmas 1977, which was insane if you think about it, considering the movie came out in May.
That being said, that costume would have worked better if he had said it was a robot (which it vaguely looks like) than a stormtrooper (which it doesn’t at all look like)
Thanks to looking up the release date of the original figures I know know that the figures that I sold in a garage sale included one now worth over $6k.
I had a friend that spent 4-5 months vacuum molding Stormtrooper costumes for he and his wife. And while I can respect the amount of work that goes into making your own Stormtrooper costume I have always found it strange that people are willing to dress up as the fantasy version of Nazis. George Lucas is on record saying that the SW Stormtroopers are inspired by Nazi Germany so isn’t this the bastard cousin of Nazi cosplay?
I just realized I Godwinned an innocent child Halloween costume post, but I’m honestly not trying to troll. It’s just a minor thought that’s been picking at me for a long time.
I think the distinction is that being an inspirational step removed from the subject matter makes it infinitely more palatable. In context, dressing kids up as pirates is pretty horrendous; real pirates were just carjackers on a grand scale (not to mention muggers, rapists and pretty much everything else that goes with being thoroughly outside the law) but we have a romanticised view of them that is a step removed from the reality.
In short, you’re not going to see many kids dressed up as nazis, kkk or the inquisition, but stormtroopers, pirates, the Joker, Jason Vorhees and pretty much every fictionalised bad guy you can think of is pretty much fair game. Noone wants to dress as the good guy…
That reminds me of David Mitchell’s (the comedian, not the Cloud Atlas novelist) diatribe about Vikings. His conclusion is if you want to commit atrocities and remain figures of lighthearted fun, 1) do the atrocities a long time ago 2) start the rumor that you wore funny hats while doing them.
Furthermore, halloween is (was?) about dressing up as something SCARY.
What’s worse, I understand the villians in Spielberg’s and Lucus’ “Raiders of the Lost Ark” are even *more* like Nazis than the Star Wars villains were…
Oi! A Stormtrooper with a goatee.
There has got to be better examples of DIY costumes made by kids.
None better has ever been made.
Also remembering that not only was there no commercial costumes, there was no easy way to find pictures of… No internet, nothing on tv likely, no videotapes or dvds. This person probably only saw the movie once then made this a month later without seeing the source material in between.
Reminds me of the year I went out as The Wolfman, and everyone thought I was a puppy-dog.
Even more awesome than this costume (and it is, without question, AWESOME) are the comments on the reddit post. Instead of hating, the consensus is admiration. That’s extremely cool, and it makes me very, very happy. Even happiermaking are the responses with equally awesome costume pics.
Well reblogged, Cory. What a very jolly start to my day.
My mother once made me a giraffe costume, and everybody at grade school thought I was supposed to be a chair.
Ironically, I could not easily sit down in that costume.
There were Luke Skywalker costumes for Halloween 1977, I wore one (like this). The mask looked vaguely like Luke and had that distinctive smell of plastic Halloween masks. The vinyl 2-piece costume didn’t look like Luke at all, more like a set of scrubs.
The only Star Wars merchandise I remember receiving for Christmas in ’77 was a 1978 calendar and a Han Solo/Chewie t-shirt.
For Halloween ’78, my costume was more like this young gentleman’s. I went as some unspecific robot. I found a Shogun Warriors plastic mask, by itself, with no costume. I made a “torso” from an upended grocery sack, cut holes for arms and heads and pulled it on like a sweater vest.
P.S. Star Wars might not have been available, but the sorely-missed Micronauts did arrive in time for Xmas ’77. (Maybe even earlier than that?) Also, around (or possibly before) the time that the action figures did appear, was some really obvious rip-off, I can’t remember the name. These were large action figures, like Steve Austin or old GI Joe size. The villain looked extremely similar to Darth Vader, if the latter had more of a “bowl” cut.
My favorite part has got to be the tiny NO written on the upper right of his suit!
Admit it Cory — that’s you, isn’t it?
It is really a delightful costume. The shame is that any kid wearing something like that today would probably be ridiculed and ostracized.
Cynical â€¢ #10
If I were to type the phrase i just realizied I godwinned, or think about typing the phrase, I like to think that would be when I cancelled the post.
But aside from that, it’s really just about dressing up as the bad guys. I’m sure lot’s of people dressed up as Charles Manson over the years.
I mean, if I dress up as Rush Limbaugh (inser Al Franken if you’re far enough right of the middle), does that mean I support deluded fascist ?
Plenty of kids dress up as the good guys. Every year I see a parade of Spiderman, Batman, power rangers and Disney characters march up to my door.
Posters #10, 11, 13 & 25,
I stand corrected. I have forgotten about pirates & monsters.
I wish I had a blonde female friend this year. It would be fun to dress up as the Salahis.
If only there was some kind of fake hair that you could wear on your head… :p unless you’re missing the female-friend part too.
awesome costume… definitely a bygone era.
This is what Halloween is all about. I remember making costumes from scratch based on memory, and getting major details horribly wrong. Cardboard and even binder paper would be involved. Making the costume was even more fun than trick-or-treating and hiding the candy from my parents (kids are paranoid–and rightly so– that their folks will raid their candy stashes).
I don’t think my homebrew costumes were as cool as the one above, though.
An’ another thing… maybe, just maybe the current recession will spark a return to cardboard and magic markers for those of us who grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s. I’ve always wanted to make a full robot costume with boxes and crayons and Lite-Brite pegs.
Stay tuned, mutants. I gotta dig up the photo of *my* homemade 1977 Halloween costume: none other than everyone’s first and favorite Sith Lord. ‘Twas easy: a Zorro cape, black turtleneck and pants, and the all-important helmet/mask, the bottom of which was formed out of a sectioned Cool Whip tub covered in black tissue paper with the familiar triangular mouth grid drawn in silver paint, o’ertopped with your standard black Lone Ranger mask and a Sgt Schultz-type German helmet.
I was the most resplendent Dark Jedi in the whole trailer park, and I’ll find that picture to show you guys if it kills me.
I tellya, this rectangular stormtrooper kid would have followed my orders unquestioningly.
This made me giggle. a lot. :)
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