Remember Dustin’s throwback purple Brontosaurus hoodie from Stranger Things Season 2’s first episode? You know how social media's been going crazy over it, pretty much from the moment the new season debuted?
Yeah, well, the "Dustin's shirt" phenomenon — sorta like Dart, his ill-advised Upside Down house pet — has now grown into a problem.
At least this one's a good problem. The Science Museum of Minnesota, where the small-batch shirt was sold as a gift-shop item in the 1980s, found its website couldn’t handle the overwhelming demand when, for the first time in three decades, it again made Dustin’s “Thunder Lizard” hoodie available for sale on Tuesday.
Primed by the museum’s Monday announcement that it was planning to sell Dustin’s hoodie online, thousands of fans flooded to the site at the appointed time, in the process crashing the server. A smaller number of shirts were made available inside the gift shop itself, but — you guessed it — those sold out, too.
The problem appears to be only temporary, though. By Wednesday afternoon, the site was back up and running, although would-be buyers were still having to wait their turn in a crowded online queue. As for the gift shop, the museum promises to have more shirts available on site by Thursday morning.
Sarah Imholte, a PR specialist for the museum, told SYFY WIRE none of the current staff was around back in the pre-historic 1980s, when the Thunder Lizard shirt first emerged in its original habitat.
“We believe the hoodie was an ‘artifact’ of a traveling dinosaur exhibit that came through the museum in the early 1980s…and that pre-dates all of us who are here today!” Imholte said. “We think there were probably only a couple of hundred produced and sold back then."
“Our understanding is that a costume designer for Stranger Things came across the shirt online during a search for authentic 80s gear for kids who love science, and recreated it so that it would fit Dustin and look ‘new,’" Imholte explained. "We’ve heard from fans on social media that they remember the shirt from the 1980s and feel a great sense of nostalgia for childhood visits to the Science Museum to explore the dinosaurs.”
As with all social media wildfires, there’s no telling how far the Thunder Lizard craze will go. The museum appears to be making the most of the opportunity, though — even if it’s encountered an unforeseen bump or two in the process.
“We’ve been working round the clock to respond to the demand for the Thunder Lizard hoodie, and we’re flattered by the overwhelming support we’ve received from people around the world,” Imholte said.
“The proceeds from the sale of the shirts will go toward advancing the Science Museum’s mission of inspiring the next generation of Dustin Hendersons, so we hope our customers feel as good about their purchases as we do. Netflix has been wonderfully supportive, as well. We’ve learned a ton and had a lot of fun doing it.”