These days Star Wars
fans of any age and size can acquire a costume of their favourite character from the films, the cartoon, and even from The Expanded Universe
. The options range from store bought silkscreened (and in some cases padded and or vac formed) fabric costumes with a $15-20 price point, right up to four digit figure custom one of a kind efforts. But it wasn't always this easy to dress up like they did a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
The original Star Wars Generation
, like in any other aspect of collecting the brand, was limited to something far more primitive than we have today. For many of us, the limitations we were offered back in the day has done nothing but make us fully appreciate how great it is to be a modern collector. Appreciating the amazing options we have these days doesn't for a second depreciate the stuff we could purchase before the dark times.
Case in point is the costume assortment offered by Ben Cooper. The company had the license to produce Star Wars costumes from 1977 to 1983 and that means they were one of the first companies to get Star Wars merchandise on the shelves. Keep in mind that in 1977, they were consumer products not collectibles... and they were designed for a quick sale and to be very disposable. It wasn't so much of an issue of licensees trying to rip anyone off as much as it wasn't yet apparent that Star Wars is forever back then. It was an event, that much we all can agree on, but come June 1983, the phenomenon was winding down.
During their production run, Ben Cooper made costume sets for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi. Each set included a plastic elastic-bound mask and a vinyl play suit or poncho* packaged in a flimsy window box. Like many products of the era, there are plenty of packaging and product variations to keep collectors interested in this line going for some time, but for the casual collector looking to add one or two pieces as part of a much more diverse collection, this is a collection worth looking at.
Ben Cooper Costumes
*The earliest costumes featured fabric play suits.