More By This Author

Current Issue

Current Issue

Posted: October 01, 2009

Colorado Cool Stuff: Create your own superhero

Eric Peterson


Brothers Keith and Kevin Johnson started elope - an acronym for "everybody's laughing on planet Earth" - in 1993 selling mad hatter-style hats to ski and snowboard shops. In the years since, they've started a plant in China that manufactures exclusively for elope and grown to offer more than 1,000 products.


"It's a tight relationship. We depend on one another for the success of our businesses," says Kevin, the company's CEO - chief excitement officer.

New from elope this Halloween: the Create Your Own Superhero Kit. "We supply people with a cape and a mask and cuffs and some fabric, and they make their own costume," Kevin says.

"Whether they want to be Beerman or Supermom or Captain Bob, they can develop their own superhero." $20 retail.

Made by elope Inc., Colorado Springs, (719) 328-1312, Available at numerous gift and costume stores in Colorado, including Wizard's Chest in Denver and Zeezo's Magic Castle in Colorado Springs.



After a career that included runs in education and beer importing, Jeanne Stein decided to focus on writing upon moving to Colorado in 1995. She wrote a "straight mystery" involving a female bounty hunter, but couldn't find a publisher. After an editor told her the popularity of vampire books, she rewrote her mystery with the bounty hunter, Anna Strong, as a vampire and landed a Colorado-based publisher, Imajinn Books, in 2004, then broke into a New York house in 2006.

A mere three years later, the fifth Anna Strong book, "Retribution," hit bookstores in late August; the first seven books will cover the heroine's first year as a vampire. "Her family and business partner don't know she's a vampire," Stein says. Hiding her nature is one of the big challenges of her life. Stein says the books have done "really well," adding, "It's fun. It's the best job I've ever had." $7.99 retail.

Written by Jeanne Stein, Centennial; published by Ace Books, New York, Available at bookstores throughout Colorado.




Longtime Halloween entrepreneur Chris Vrazy connected with filmmaker Milko Davis to launch a mask company using Hollywood's prosthetic medium of choice - silicone - rather than the mass-market status quo, latex. "It looks real," Vrazy says. "Everything moves with your face. And latex masks are really hot. You're breathing into the mask and that makes them hotter."'s masks are premium-priced, but Vrazy says their realism is matched by their durability. The first crop of the duo's handmade-to-order, hand-painted masks include a female vampire, a zombie and a tribute to "Halloween" baddie Michael Myers. "It's quite the process," says Vrazy of mask-making. "It's definitely not something you want to outsource." $499 and up retail.

Made by, Colorado Springs, (719) 439-0697, A $100 discount and free shipping is available by registering at the website.




Best friends since their childhood in Vail, Cody Payne and Ryan Welch went to college at CU and the Air Force Academy, respectively, in the early 1990s. Not too surprisingly, Welch would regularly head up to Boulder to hit parties with his old pal.

"This is where we ran into the keg line," he says. "We just thought, ‘There's got to be a better way to do this.'"

Fast-forward a decade. Welch, out of the Air Force, settled in Lafayette and reconnected with Payne on that "better way." The duo, who worked in high-tech by day and moonlighted as beer connoisseurs and home brewers by night, added "inventor" to their résumés with their patented Octopus Tap, featuring four spouted hoses to fill multiple cups instead of just one.

"You can get beer out three times as fast as a normal tap," says Welch, who also touts a design that can be hand-pumped or powered by paintball-oriented CO2 cartridges that can be refilled at most any sporting goods store for a couple of bucks. $70 retail.

Made by Brew Innovations LLC, Lafayette, (303) 317-4381,

{pagebreak:Page 1}


Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond does not make these masks. I made this mask and have no intentions of going into business with Chris. He has stolen my Michael Myers mask picture off of one of my Ebay sales and has posted it on this website. He doesn't have my permission to sell my masks or use my images. Let people know they will not be receiving product from Chris or on any of my products. Milko Davis By Milko Davis on 2009 11 01
I love the Colorado Cool Stuff articles. But, I have to say as an opinion that I believe once we send our production to China or elsewhere, it is no longer a Colorado Cool Stuff but just stuff. I know, I know production cost and competition.... but, local is local until it's not anymore. I know that there is a better way and we have to keep it in the state. By Eric Umenhofer on 2009 10 08

Leave a comment

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

ColoradoBiz TV

Loading the player ...

Featured Video