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Let mischief reign this Halloween

KI’s Jemima Skala takes a look at how the licensing sector has stepped up its game around Halloween.

I have to admit, I’ve never really been a big fan of Halloween. This is particularly sacrilegious considering my dual heritage as an American – they go mad for it over there in a way that I’ve simply never understood or related to.

When I was younger, I never played much make-believe or dress-up games, and was probably very unusual in that I always preferred to make some poor adult relative read to me incessantly than play with toys or costumes.

Whenever I did indulge in a bit of dressing up though, it was exciting. I felt very much myself, but also different, a bit braver, a bit bolder, a bit cheekier.

It’s not really a surprise then, that often it’s the licences that tap into that feeling of enhanced freedom that dominate our Halloween costume choices, particularly for preschoolers. Going back to the traditional Halloween celebrations, it was a day to remember the dead and embody their mischievous spirits through costumes and trick or treating.

Thortful.com recently carried out some research into the most popular licences for Halloween costumes and found that this year, Minions reigned supreme, in no small part due to the success of this year’s The Rise of Gru. A comfort for parents is that it’s also a costume that is relatively easily DIY’d: just grab some yellow face paint, a pair of dungarees and some card for the eyes and you’re away.

Of course, superheroes feature heavily every year for children’s Halloween costumes. This year, Buzz Lightyear entered the top contenders, again linked to the 2022 film, but the old favourites Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Captain America are also present. I love Buzz Lightyear as a Halloween costume option because he’s so not the typical superhero: he’s fallible and often ridiculous; he’s also sweet and kind in a way that’s more accessible than Clark Kent’s all-round perfection or Captain America’s shiny demeanour.

Another outfit linked to a recent spooky season film is the likely popularity of Hocus Pocus for Halloween costumes this year. More of a cult classic that has gained unprecedented popularity after being a relative box office flop when it was first released, it’s a firm favourite for Halloween costumes, helped by the distinctive hair and costume possibilities. I genuinely think there’s no greater compliment to Bette Midler than dressing your small child up as Winnifred Sanderson. Even better: if the kid wants to dress up as Winnifred off their own back. Now there’s a kid that knows what’s what.

What I have seen this year which I thought was a great idea is Snapchat’s AR lens which enables consumers to try on Halloween costumes. Helping those in the spirit to virtually try on their favourite characters from television programmes and films – including Hocus Pocus 2 (as mentioned before), but also Stranger Things, Power Rangers, Transformers, Chucky and more – is a genius idea and when and if they like what they see, then can go on to buy the outfit directly within the app. Now that’s clever.

It’s always fun seeing how people interpret particular licences for Halloween, and even if I don’t actively participate in it, I admit I do love flicking through the Halloween costume round-ups on Instagram stories the next day. A highlight from last year was Michael Imperioli – who played the beloved Christopher in HBO’s landmark series The Sopranos – reposting every single Christopher and Adriana couples’ costumes that graced Halloween night. High art, beauty and grace all rolled into one.

Even if I’m not particularly fond of Halloween myself, I get it for other people. It’s truly a time of year where kids and adults can pretend to be something else, escape for just a night and indulge their playful instincts. It’s also a great opportunity for the licensing sector to step up their game and help consumers to embrace and even become their favourite characters, even if it’s just for one night. Enjoy!

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