80s Ninja Hoods

Is it just me, or did the two piece hood common to North American merchandisers completely suck?

A mainstay of retailers like Asian World of Martial Arts, the common American ninja head gear was made of a heavy duty outer hood tied over a thin spandex/lycra balaclava. The under-mask was fine on it’s own, but the outer hood was a joke. It completely killed your peripheral vision and nothing really anchored it to the under piece, so the hood sometimes stayed in place when you turned your head, making the fit even worse.

Amazingly, ads like the above didn’t even hide those facts. Take a look at the illustration, you can see the lack of vision the crappy design provided. IN A DRAWING! The artist could have fixed that, portrayed them a little more functional, but no. He or she chose to stay accurate to what I’m guessing was photo reference, and clearly none of the subjects can see a thing.

I still have one of these suits (in black) from back in the day, and played with the hood a few years back for a photo shoot. It was just as shitty as I remembered. So we made this deal in all of 30 seconds with two 16″ pieces of black cotton fabric. Kinda makes the notion of buying a prefab hood silly…

Now on the other hand, these 80’s merch hoods always intrigued me:

I never saw these hoods in person, and am still really curious as to their quality. The big superhero-like logo on the forehead notwithstanding, they seems like a decent design, more or less out of Japanese 60s cinema.

If anyone had one of these or still does, comment below or drop us a line, I’d love to know more.

3 Responses

  1. Frost

    Great site. Keep up the good work. Brings a lot of old memories back. Seeing that add from East West Markets Exchange reminds me of my impatiently waiting for the next issue of Ninja magazine back in the 80’s. I did some checking recently and found that East West Markets Exchange was no longer in business. They had a great catalog with more unusual and seldom seen items than places like Awma. Regarding the ninja head piece with the logo on the front, I never had one of them but I did have a white ninja uniform (Franco Nero rules) that I got from East West Markets Exchange. It was made very well and did not come with the standard 2 piece crappy hood most of them came with. It came with 2 large rectangular white pieces of fabric to wrap the head with in a more traditional style. Wish I still had it and the old Ewme catalog. Thanks for the great site.

  2. Motobuha

    East West Markets Exchange is still around, but it’s name is now East West Martial Arts Supply.