Cowabunga, dude! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, those pizza-loving radical reptiles, won't be in their sewer home plotting against the evil Shredder on Halloween night.
No way, dude. Those heroes in a half-shell will be out bagging candy door-to-door. That's right, Ninja Turtle costumes are the hottest Halloween outfits this year for kids.
"Every boy wants to be a turtle," said Bonnie Mihalic, owner of Bonnie's costume and party stores in Ventura and Oxnard.
Last year it was Batman. "I couldn't get enough capes and I ordered 1,100," Mihalic said. This year it's the same story with the ninja turtles.
By Oct. 1 she had sold the 180 official turtle costumes she ordered. When she called the manufacturer for more, they too were out. Since then, she has patched together a turtle outfit, getting a shell from one source and a mask from another.
"They seem happy with the new ones," she said, "as long as you don't tell them it's not the official costume."
Bonnie's Ventura store is a Halloween landmark. The store is crammed to the ceiling with costumes, wigs, ghoulish decorations and accessories--everything from an assortment of Ninja Turtle weapons to pompons for costumed cheerleaders.
Recently the store has been mobbed. At times a line forms at the front door and a security guard lets customers in as others leave. Often customers know what they want before they get in the store.
For girls, the Little Mermaid costume is a hit thanks to the Disney movie of that name. But costume outfitters such as Mihalic were still caught off guard.
"All the little girls want red wigs, and we weren't ready for that," she said, citing the long, flowing red hair of the movie's heroine.
Other girl costumes in style this year are flappers, harem girls, Cleopatra and pirate girls, Mihalic said. Some are popular year after year, such as Snow White. Toddlers inevitably are angels or princesses.
For boys, Bart Simpson's expansive head is a popular mask. Ninjas, of the non-turtle type, are big. And Dracula hasn't lost any appeal.
Others are not so hot any more, such as the horrifying Freddie Krueger of "Nightmare on Elm Street."
"Last year it was the 1950s poodle skirt," Mihalic said. Not so this year. She pointed to a clever costume that appeared to be a rabbit coming out of a black top hat. She thought it would catch on. It didn't. It was the same with the Arab headpiece and the Army costume. "Gas masks are selling well, though," she said.
There's no telling what will horrify parents, said Doug Yank, salesman at Halloween Adventures in the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks.
One mother steadfastly refused to let her 8-year-old son dress up as Jason, the knife-wielding killer from the horror movie "Friday the 13th." But they finally agreed on another character--a crazed, machine-gun-toting soldier who had been shot in the head.
"I didn't say a word," Yank said.
The Ninja Turtles costumes, as well as the horrible Jason, are selling well at Halloween Adventures, along with the Phantom of the Opera outfits and pirate duds.
Just as popular are weapons--machetes, swords, knives, nunchakus. "Anything that will maim someone," Yank said. For the girls, though, wands are big. "We get a shipment in and it's sold by the end of the day."
At K mart in Camarillo, the big sellers were Bart Simpson, Barbie of teen-queen doll fame and the Ninja Turtles.
It was turtle mania at Simi Valley's Target Stores.
"Everyone," said Pam Gast, operations manager, "wants to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle."
* WHERE AND WHEN
Costumes are available at many department stores. Other locations include Bonnie's costume stores at 294 E. Main St., Ventura, and 3636 Saviers Road, Oxnard, and Halloween Adventures in the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks.