So I haven’t made an effort to dress up for Halloween for years. Not since I was a kid. But I had reasons to try this time around.
For one thing, I wanted Gillian to have a chance to really go all out. She’s never really gone the full nine yards when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, not to the point where you feel like you’re doing something more than just swapping clothes anyway.
For another, I was looking to the future. I’d like to go to some conventions again, especially if my novels start taking off or I have other professional reasons to be there. And in doing that I’d like to have a decent outfit to cosplay in. Gill has also always enjoyed the cosplay scene and wished she could get in on it. So, my plan was to make a couple of outfits that could be reused over again, not be too expensive, let look good and somewhat movie-accurate.
Wanting a connecting theme, I decided to go with Ghostbusters, the 1984 outfit for me, and the 2016 outfit for Gill. At first, I was just thinking the costume itself, but, as is so often the case when it comes to creative projects, I started to get obsessed, and for the past week and a bit, I was making proton packs and PKE Meters and Ecto Goggles as well…
Our condo was turned into a workshop as I tried to make this work on a budget. I found plenty of sites online with advice on how to make certain things cheap. Wherever possible I used things lying around the house or one of my odds and ends boxes, but it still ended up being far more expensive than I bargained for. This would NOT have been worth it as a one-use costume.
But it was also a challenge. I pride myself on my jury-rigging skills and every time the lightbulb came on, where I realized I could use this particular piece to simulate that particular part, or how to improvise paper clips and wire to create a pulley system for the PKE meter arms, I would light up.
Complications came in the form of “not all plastics are created equal.” Some parts were perfect in size and shape, but were perhaps too brittle to cut easily with an X-acto knife, or didn’t bend easily under heat, or didn’t melt to the point of bonding well… when you’re scavenging for parts, you get what you pay for.
In the end, I was happy with how the props turned out, though I will have to reinforce them next year to stand up to more wear and tear, perhaps by using a proper glue-gun on key points instead of relying on Shoe Goo for my gluing needs.
The costumes themselves were an easier challenge – the 1984 version uses a variety of simple parts easily bought online or at a dollar store. The bulk of the 2016 version I bought pre-made online, but added a number of personal touches to enhance it.
So other than our own benefit, who exactly got to see us in action? A ton of trick or treaters dropping by? After all, we had set up our apartment as a haunted house of sorts, taking the door off its hinges, posting Ghostbuster warning signs around the building, setting ambient noise and lights, putting up creepy pictures…
All this effort and there was only one kid in the building who visited us. But you know what? She is a HUGE Ghostbusters fan, and got a big kick out of everything we did. We even let her try on Gillian’s proton pack and goggles while her mother took pictures, and gave her an iron on patch to make her an honorary Ghostbuster herself. So, in a way, that made it all worthwhile.
But needless to say, we’ll be reusing these outfits for quite some time.