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Scaring Up New Halloween Inspiration image

Scaring Up New Halloween Inspiration

By: Mark Seavy

With the Halloween buying season in full swing, retailers are being treated to an ever-broader array of IPs and licensed goods.

In the past, Halloween-related products were largely confined to entertainment properties from film and television, but licensed properties from a number of new platforms (including Roblox and YouTube) broke through at the recent Halloween & Party Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

Spencer Gifts’ InSpirit Designs wholesale division is readying costumes based on Toikido’s Pinata Smashlings Roblox title for launch in 2025, while costumes inspired by Epic Games’ Fall Guys videogame will be introduced this fall. Developer Mob Entertainment’s online game Poppy Playtime launched for costumes last year and was recently licensed to Trends International for posters. And accessories supplier Lord Grimley’s Manor is readying masks based on Capcom’s Resident Evil videogame franchise as well as Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons board game.

“Consumers are finding content in the gaming platforms and that is very different from a few years ago where you had to have a TV show, film, or animated content on a major distribution platform,” said Eric Morse, VP of New Business Initiatives at Spirit Halloween and Spencer Gifts.

In many cases, Spirit Halloween—which last year operated 1,450 temporary stores for the Halloween season—serves as a proving ground for licensed properties at premium prices that InSpirit Designs will then sell to other retailers.

“There is a market that is building for non-traditional content distribution methods, whether it’s YouTube, Roblox, or any of the other platforms,” Morse said. “Children are finding brands where they are.”

This shift toward more non-traditional content serving as the inspiration for Halloween products benefits from several years of growing demand for consumer products inspired by streaming IPs. For example, Netflix’s One Piece, Squid Games, and Stranger Things all have been licensed for costumes, as have Amazon Prime’s The Boys and Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso.

And while costumes remain the mainstay of the Halloween industry, accessories and figures (both inflatable and animatronic) are increasingly coming into play for lawn displays that go well beyond carving a few pumpkins for the front porch.

DIY chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s have stocked 12-foot skeletons and other figures, many of them non-licensed. Morris Costumes, which specializes in animatronic figures, featured a non-licensed circus sword swallower at the Halloween Expo, along with an eight-foot-tall fabric pillar topped by a lighted gargoyle. Expanding even further beyond Halloween itself, Gorenaments has developed a line of horror-themed holiday cards, including those featuring Beetlejuice, The Exorcist, and Krampus.

“I think that content in general is so bifurcated and carved up now that there are more niche properties that can be available,” said Jeff Loeser, SVP of Licensing at Trends International. “But it is tough sometimes to tell if the properties are going to grow and have the same velocity as some of the proven IPs. It could go viral and get a cult following, but there are a lot of those IPs out there now and so it’s a challenge to choose the right one.”

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