Added January 2022
Ben Cooper Hallowe’en Costumes were famous.
Ben was born in New York City & his costume company was about the biggest from 1927 to 1991, over 60 years.
Pretty much every kid in America wore a Ben Cooper Costume at one time.
Along with witches, ghosts & ghouls, Ben Cooper specialized in costumes depicting American heroes which included Superheroes, Disney characters & TV personalities.
The costumes were cheap, about $1.25 in the 1960s but also cheaply made.
I’m guessing the cheap construction was a conscious decision. You don’t want to sell Hallowe’en costumes that last forever!
The material for the suit itself was a thin, cellulose cloth. It was light, almost transparent, and it took screen printing well but it easily tore and it deteriorated quickly.
Most of the Ben Cooper costumes from the 1940s to the 1970s are useless now. The material is so brittle that simply touching it caused it to crumble.
The masks were made of thin, plastic cellulose too and they usually are badly cracked.
Each mask had a black, elastic cord to hold it on the head. The cord invariably lost its stretch in a very short time.
The mask cord was originally tied in place through a small hole on each side of the mask. Later the cord was a rubber elastic band and was stapled to the sides of the mask.
This costume can rightly be called a hero costume. Mike Nelson was a household name in the 1960s and most kids thought he was a hero.
The material is a sea green color printed with black ink. It has an elastic cord on each ankle, plastic, leather-looking, wrist cuffs and a black, cloth tie at the neck to hold it on.
The suit is about 42” from ankle to neck so would be suited for a boy or girl between 7 and 11 years of age.
Hmm. I was 10 when Sea Hunt started. I sure wish I’d had a Mike Nelson Hallowe’en costume!
There is no ZIV Productions authorization on the costume that I can find. Ben had the rights to most superheroes, from Disney and many other copyrighted names.
I have no doubt that in there somewhere was the right to ZIV TV show productions too.
Regardless, authorized or not, this is clearly a Mike Nelson costume from Sea Hunt – it’s right on the chest !!!
The screen-printing also includes a simulation of scuba regulator hoses and a big weight belt with a pouch.
Oddly, it also has a simulation of the breastplate of a hard hat with the hold-down screws and a couple of round “vents” of some sort.
I’m guessing the guy who designed the screen to print this suit was no diver!
But it is Mike Nelson. There he is, tank (no regulator), big knife, weight belt and a striped wet suit.
Need more proof? There’s a treasure chest on the ocean floor and Mike is fighting off a giant octopus. Yep! It’s Mike Nelson!!
The Hallowe’en mask that accompanies this suit has a long slit to let the wearer see well and a small opening at the mouth.
It features a dive mask with straps and also has the 2 big corrugated hoses of a 2 hose regulator.
The mask straps have painted-on clips on each side that are remarkably like those of a real dive mask.
This costume is new to my collection as of January 2022. I’m really happy with it since the material is soft & flexible just as when it was new.
To be honest, I’ve had a Ben Cooper Sea Hunt Hallowe’en costume for many years but it is terribly deteriorated.
It got to the point where I refused to open the box and touch it knowing that more pieces would break off. Of course, that meant I could not take it to Sea Hunt events or display it.
With this new suit and the mask which is in good condition too, I can show it off to my Sea Hunt nut friends.
The Sea Hunt Hallowe’en costume is rare. In over 40 years of searching for Sea Hunt memorabilia, I’ve only seen two – my own and this one recently acquired.
I have searched Ben Cooper catalogs, websites, toy collectors, costume collectors (yes, people collect Hallowe’en costumes!) but with no luck.
And for it to be in such great condition is quite rare too. When I purchased my own many years ago, it came in a bundle of several costumes. ALL of them were in terrible condition.
So I have to rate it as RR5.