Before there was a thing called cosplay, we called it using your imagination. No fancy costumes and no colorful face paint, but we did have the best toys money could buy--at your local Wal-Mart.
#1 The Proton Pack
The premiere ghost hunting tool was the Real Ghostbusters proton pack. While we got them for Christmas (from Santa), I recall these being one of the most exciting toys I'd ever gotten. We, of course, had to store our ghosts in the containment unit (a stove) in the basement and we'd soon get more of the RGB toys to bolster our ghostbusting arsenal. However, I did have to constantly remind my brother to NOT CROSS THE STREAMS.
#2 Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good (More Ghostbusters)
Like the boys in grey, there was a need for even more ghostbusting tools. While they may have gotten Slime Blowers in the second movie, we got a ghost trap, PKE Meter and the Ghostpopper gun. And who can forget those cool ghost zappers at Hardee's? The trap was pretty faithful to the animated series and the movies, but the PKE meter took some liberties with the antenna. While the original design would've easily broken, the design Kenner came up with wasn't much better. The Ghost Popper gun was an original creation for Kenner, but was unique for its time. The recent reissue is similar, but comes in blue, not the original black.
#3 By the Power of Grayskull (or is that Snake Mountain?)
One of the earliest cosplay toys I remember was the Masters of the Universe power sword. But this one was unique in that it had one grey/silver side and one glow-in-the-dark. The packaging implied that this allowed you to play as Skeletor or He-Man, but who knows if that was the original intent. Since my brother and I both got one, sword fights ensued and I recall that we had to tape the two halves together.
#4 Let's Get Dangerous
Now, I don't recall that there were any actual Darkwing Duck, Talespin, or Ducktales cosplay items. That, however, didn't stop us from jumping out of the darkness as the terror that flaps in the night. This one required the most imagination, by far. However, the extent of the the cosplay was an elastic mask (that I'm pretty sure was made from a pair of grandma's old slacks.
#5 It's Crime-fightin' Time
This is probably the least known of the properties we were into as kids. C.O.P.S. or Central Organization of Police Specialists was an animated series about a group of law enforcement specialists who were brought together by FBI agent Baldwin P. Vess to take on colorful crooks in Central City. That's what I remember anyway. So, cops and robbers is a classic cosplay that goes back generations. We had the fake guns, but that simply wasn't good enough for me. You see, Agent Vess was also known as Bulletproof because he had bulletproof cybernetic vest that kept him alive. So, of course, I had to recreate that little detail out of cardboard and suspenders (it was the 80's--improvisation was a necessity).
That's what I recall for the tools that powered my Saturday afternoons (and probably other days, too). I'm sure there were others (including one time I dressed up as Baloo, the Talespin bear pilot, and something related to Gomez Addams, from the Addams Family, because we had to find fake cigars--"Tish, that's French!". Yes, Halloween was always a fun time around our house! We also had home-made Ninja Turtle weapons, but we'll save that for a future post. But spoiler alert--I was Michelangelo and had the cool nunchucks!