Halloween is only a month away, so StarTrek.com thought it’d be fun to get a jump on the holiday and catch up with Howard Beige, the executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume Company. Rubie’s is one of the country’s leading makers and marketers of costumes and accessories, among them a wide array of Star Trek products. In fact, the company – a family-owned and operated business based in Queens and Long Island, New York – has created and sold Star Trek products since 1990. Here’s some of what Beige had to say during a recent conversation.
Take us through how costumes are developed at Rubie’s…
Beige: In our business we sell to many different types of customers. We sell to theatrical shops -- in other words, true costumer shops – 365 days a year. We sell to party stores. We also sell to temporary stores that are only in business for about a month and a half a year. So we have a big mix of customers. Our big thing in business – and we’ve been in business 59 years now – is talking to our customers, listening to our customers and finding out what their consumers are looking for, what they’ve been asking for. In addition to that, we attend a lot of the fan shows – like Comic-Con in San Diego and New York – where we can talk directly with the fans who come to these shows.
Enough Star Trek fans say “We want to see Product X.” What are the next steps in making Product X a reality?
Beige: Once we’ve got a direction, an idea, and can say, for example, “We want to make a Mr. Spock costume from the original TV series,” we look at reference materials that show us what the costume looks like and all, showing us the unique elements of the outfit and create a concept drawing with actual fabric swatches. After the sketch stage we go into making an actual prototype of the outfit and then put the costume into production.
How many of each costume do you actually make?
Beige: It depends on the popularity, but a normal cutting for us, a normal production run, is between 4,000 and 10,000 of a particular style.
Do you find that Star Trek costumes sell year-round or mostly at Halloween?
Beige: Both, actually. The children’s Star Trek costumes sell mostly at Halloween, but the adult Star Trek costumes definitely sell all year-round. Of course, they peak during the Halloween season.
What’s new, in terms of Star Trek costumes, for 2010?
Beige: For 2010, we’ve actually added – believe it or not, in infant and newborn sizes – the classic Captain Kirk and classic Mr. Spock costumes. This way parents can share their affection for Star Trek with their very young children.
Let’s have some fun. What’s your personal favorite Star Trek costume that Rubie’s has made?
Beige: I grew up as a kid watching the classic Star Trek on television. So my personal favorite is still the classic Captain Kirk costume.
What’s the Star Trek costume that you’ve not yet gotten to produce, that you’re hoping you’ll get to do eventually?
Beige: I would really like to do two versions of Khan. I’d like to do the Khan from the 1960s show and then also the Khan as he returned in The Wrath of Khan. Khan was part of a super-race and we’d combine his appearance with our muscle-chest technology. We have that muscle-chest technology that we use on our superhero costumes, and I’d love to apply it to a Khan costume.