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Let's Go Retro: 11 Cosplays Inspired By 1980s Movies, TV, and Games

From the A-Team to the Thundercats, these cosplayers are heading back to the future.

10 Retro Cosplays From 1980s Movies, TV, and Games
Thundercats (emg555 & crowcaw_fx), Metroid (ZeroFour Studios Terrell), Mr. T (Jeff Jenkins)

Everyone thinks the decade they grew up in was the coolest around, and if they lived in the 1980s, they'd be right (at least from an entertainment perspective...let's not talk about the other stuff).

In terms of kids programming, the '80s is where it was at. From quintessential action heroes to Saturday morning cartoons, the decade was filled with larger-than-life stars and Scott Baio. But don't take my word for it...we've found a number of cosplayers who have put their own stamp on some of our beloved characters. So with that in mind, let's dig in.

1. Mr. T from The A-Team (by Mr.Supremet)

Lee Majors aside, there probably wasn't a cooler guy in the '80s than B. A. Baracus from The A-Team. Played by the imposing Mr. T, B.A. was the mean-faced badass muscle for the band of elite fugitive soldiers. Shot by photographer Jeff Jenkins, cosplayer Mr.Supremet went all-out with his cosplay, resulting in a spitting image of the wartorn Vietnam vet...in front of the van, no less! From the trademark snarl to the gold chains and iconic mohawk, this is truly an impressive take on the classic character.

2. The NeverEnding Story (by IDfabrications)

This group of cosplayers embraced one of the most cherished films of the last 200 years, and made it through with flying colors. The gang features Falcor the luck dragon (complete with a tail and two feet), Atreyu and his tragic mount Artax sinking into the mud (cue nightmares), and an adorable Childlike Empress and her ornate throne. The only thing we're missing is Bastian, but he's probably stuck in an attic somewhere.

3. Samus from Metroid NES (by Lady Allison Cosplay)

Two thousand Metroid games later, it's hard to convey the sheer excitement and electricity of unwrapping the first Metroid and popping the cartridge into your Nintendo Entertainment Sytem. It was unlike any other game on the market: a side-scroller that involved multiple ways to play the game depending on what power-ups you chose. Metroid set the mold for future storytelling in gaming, which makes it extra impressive that Lady Allison Cosplay managed to reflect the look of the original Samus. The below photo – taken by Zero Four Studios – was snapped at our Crown Championships of Cosplay event at C2E2, where we first laid eyes on this splendid creation.

4. Back to the Future DeLorean/Transformers Mash-Up (by cave_dweller_creations)

I hesitated to add Back to the Future to this list given how widespread the cosplays are -- the vast majority are fans in Marty outfits (not that there's anything wronge with that). That was until I saw this creation, where one imaginative individual cosplayed as the friggin' DeLorean!, and crossed it with the Transformers. It's a bit hard to make out, but her left arm features the time circuit display, with the flux capacitor in her midsection. Roll out!

5. Lion-O from Thundercats (by emg555 & crowcaw_fx)

Cosplaying as Lion-O, leader of the Thundercats, is a dangerous game. If you legit have muscles, then the battle's half done. So it was a perfect storm in this situation where cosplayer Elias M.G. teamed with effects wiz Jonathon Mario from crowcaw_fx to create this downright stunning depiction of one of the era's most fan-favorite figures.

6. B.A.T. from G.I. Joe (by eldahctor)

G.I. Joe is another franchise I was prepared to skip over, simply because there's so many great cosplayers out there tackling it that it's difficult to elevate one above the rest. That is, until I saw Chad Atwell's take on one of the lesser-known characters, the B.A.T. Seen in the toy line, the animated series, and in Larry Hama's comics, the B.A.T.s are robots designed by Dr. Mindbender and fielded by Cobra as disposable soldiers. I've never seen this character at a show before, so it makes a perfect addition to this list.

7. Glimmer from She-Ra: Princess of Power (by bollenane)

She-Ra: Princess of Power had an inauspicious beginning. It was originally spun off from He-Man by Mattel, to convince girls (and their parents) to purchase this new line of toys. But what it turned into was a symbol of female empowerment, with more fantasy elements than He-Man and a rich catalog of characters. One of these was Glimmer, the Princess of Bright Moon. Her principal accoutrement was her glowing orb, and I didn't know if I'd find a cosplay from the original show that featured her various elements. Luckily I stumbled on a cosplayer named Bollenane, who in a series of photographs by isyzerinami presented the perfect rendition I was looking for. Glimmer away, Bollenane!

8. Flynn from Tron (by pedebevec & lianne.cosplay)

We're living in the future now, but back in 1982 the digital world was new and scary; even arcade games hadn't been around that long, so when Tron came out it was nothing short of a revelation. Despite a disappointing box office, it's still remembered today as a cult-favorite and an inspiration for countless movies and television shows. In this cosplay, by Paul Debevec and Lianne L, we see Paul dressed as Flynn, creator of TRON. Most impressive: if you shine blue LED lights on the costume, it glows...just like the real thing! We assume a light cycle is just around the corner. Get to work, guys!

9. Chunk and Sloth from The Goonies (by susanjknight)

You'd have to search pretty far and wide to find an '80s child who isn't a fan of The Goonies. I've seen Goonies cosplays before, but this one really takes the cake. Not only is the attire for Sloth spot-on, but his beloved Baby Ruth is a dog, being held by Chunk! Well done, guys. I hope you find that gold.

10. Little Mac & Doc Lewis from Punch-Out (by kaevon.weaber and busta_mcthundastic)

Technically this cosplay is from the more recent Super Smash Bros, but I'm including it because (a) I couldn't find anything better, and (b) it's still accurate of the original Punch-Out. In this photo by lintendo64_, we see the two single most important figures in the game: Little Mac (the boxer you play as), and Doc (who trains you, and is super good at bicycles). Any child of the '80s had Punch-Out ready for immediate play, eager to battle through a series of pugilists in the race to go head-to-head with the greatest boxer of the era, the pre-cancelled Mike Tyson. It was also incredibly frustrating, requiring quick hands that I simply didn't possess. But it had good 8-bit music and a dizzying amount of unique characters, so it easily makes the list.

11. Ravage from Transformers (by Swagatron)

Transformers is another one of those franchises that's so omnipresent that it feels almost like a cop-out to include in a list. But then you see a cat cosplaying as Ravage, and that rule goes out the window. "Beans" is playing the feline-esque Decepticon, whose primary functions are to surveil Autobots and have a suspiciously strong devotion to Megatron. There isn't much to the costume -- you see the twin missles and the Decepticon logo, but it's constructed with love, and it's a cat, and that's all that matters, right?

BONUS: The Fall Guy

So this obviously isn't a person, but packaging for a toy set. That's simply because, to my horror, I couldn't find any Fall Guy cosplays...so instead you're getting this box. On that note, please correct this injustice, cosplayers! Get out your materials and step up! If not for me, then for Lee Majors and Heather Thomas.

Thoughts? Praise? Disagreements? Feel free to chat with me here.

About the Author
Brian Jacks avatar

Brian Jacks

Staff Writer

Brian Jacks is the executive producer of digital content for ReedPop. In a former life he recreated movie trailers using Legos. He remains forever awed by the creativity of the cosplay community.