Halloween roundup:

Wizards, flatulent monsters and corpulent Scotsmen-they all stand a chance of becoming some of the more popular costumes kids will be wearing next October 31....
April 1, 2001

Wizards, flatulent monsters and corpulent Scotsmen-they all stand a chance of becoming some of the more popular costumes kids will be wearing next October 31.

While the sound of tots trick-or-treating may be a good seven months off, retailers are already starting to fill in their planograms for Halloween, and many got a sneak peek at the latest in the costume biz last month at The National Halloween Show in Chicago.

An important component of the Halloween economy, costume sales currently account for US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion of related merchandise sales tied to the holiday, which generated US$6.8 billion last year, up from US$5 billion in `99, according to the National Retail Federation’s estimates.

Historically, outfits tied to TV shows and feature films have garnered the most attention from retailers, says Richard Tinari, general sales manager at New Hyde Park, New York-based Rubies Costume. He adds that half of the company’s costume sales are based on entertainment licenses.

Not surprisingly, Tinari is predicting Rubies’ Harry Potter line of outfits to be on the hot list this October. Based on the movie, Rubies is creating 13 kids costumes-some of which include Harry Potter himself, Hermione, Ron Weasley, Hagrid, Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. A special Harry Potter boxed-set costume will come with glasses, a wand, tattoos and a purple robe. As with all of its costumes, Rubies is creating both standard (for mass) and deluxe versions (for specialty), which will retail for US$19.99 to US$39.99. The company is also creating Potter accessories, including cauldrons, masks and a talking witch hat.

Other products in the works that Tinari expects to draw the interest of buyers and consumers alike include costumes for Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park 3, Josie and the Pussycats and The Mummy Returns; Fox’s theatrical remake of `60s cult TV show Planet of the Apes; Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants; New Line’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; Saban’s Los Luchadores; and Hasbro’s Action Man.

This year, Rubies will also launch the Little Wizard of Oz, a new junior line of costumes for toddlers ages two to five, based on characters from the classic movie. Rubies will do a deluxe sequined version of Dorothy and Scarecrow, which will retail for US$19.99.

Though kids costumes remain Rubies’ core business, Tinari says the company has seen the biggest sales increase for its teen and adult costumes, which grew by 20% last year. To service this emerging segment, this year, Rubies will debut Covenant, a proprietary line of black leather and vinyl costumes that is designed to appeal to the goth in every teen.

Steve Stanley, VP of licensing at San Diego-based costume company Disguise, has noticed a spike for the company’s teen and adult products too, and has also upped Disguise’s offerings in this category. New additions for ’01 include Cartoon Net’s superhero talk show host Space Ghost, as well as what will likely be the most talked about-if not the biggest (literally speaking)-costume of the year, Fat Bastard. Based on the character from the second Austin Powers movie, Fat Bastard (US$62) comes with a mini battery-powered fan that blows him up to his full splendor.

For older kids in the mood for something similarly grotesque, Disguise will also be offering a fart-action Shrek, modeled after the lead character from DreamWorks’ upcoming CGI film of the same name. The deluxe version (US$42) will feature a sound chip that will play 30 seconds of Shrek doing his thing, while the standard version (US$26) will come with a built-in whoopee cushion that kids can manipulate to make a similar sound. Gas, Stanley says, is a distinguishing characteristic of Shrek’s. In one of the film’s early scenes, whilst sitting in his pond environment, Shrek lets one fly that kills off hundreds of fish, which he quickly proceeds to gulp down, followed by a belch. Disguise will also be offering a Fiona costume, based on the ogress/princess character from the film.

For wares more suitable to the G-rated set, Disguise will also be offering up new costumes for Sabrina the Animated Series; a Rugrats Totally Angelica (for specialty and mid-tier distribution only); a Teletubbies Talking Po; Bob the Builder from HIT Entertainment’s hit TV show of the same name; as well as a costume based on Sorcerer Mickey from Disney’s classic film Fantasia.

Stanley says Disguise is also in discussions to do exclusive costumes based on Disney/Pixar’s film Monsters Inc. for select retail accounts. Finally, Disguise will be adding a new item to its Power Rangers collection, the company’s most popular-selling boys line, which saw sales rise 40% last year. Disguise is doing the Quantum Ranger costume based on the newest character from Power Rangers Time Force.

Currently, both Rubies and Disguise split distribution of their products between mass and specialty retailers. In recent years, though, both companies have noticed seasonal chains such as Spirit Halloween Superstores (owned by Spencer Gifts) and Halloween Express, which operate from August to late October, start to move more of their products-a trend Rubies’ Tinari expects to continue. Both Rubies and Disguise will begin shipping their Halloween costumes to specialty and mass retailers in August.

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