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Official Article

Retro Rubber Masks

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this ad from a 1985 issue of Fantastic Films magazine has gotta be good for at least 1,500. What's being presented is a series of sci-fi and classic horror inspired rubber masks from a company called Don Post Studios, who obviously took the art of crafting latex character masks seriously. Every inch of this ad is amazing, so let's take a closer look and see what all the fuss is about.


First of all, these Gremlins masks based on the Steven Spielberg produced movie from 1984 are a unique offering that you don't see on store shelves these days. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing any kids wearing them on Halloween nights of days gone by. If this was an ad from the 1990 we'd have dozens of Gremlin varieties to choose from, inspired by the zany sequel. But since this was the early days of the franchise we get Gizmo and Stripe in varying degrees of detail. I'm not complaining though, did you really want a Billy Peltzer or Mrs. Deagle mask? 


The main difference between the 2 styles is that the "Custom Collector" versions have actual fur/hair attached to the face which makes the creatures appear even crazier. Custom Collector Gizmo looks like he would be a liberal professor at some university in Amsterdam, while the standard version seems to be showing us what the young Mogwai's life would have been like after becoming a priest. Custom Collector Stripe, would fit in just fine at a Sex Pistols concert, while the standard version with painted on mohawk makes it look like the Bat-Gremlin just dropped a load of guano on his head from above. 

MONSTER MASKS

Next up are your standard monster masks, which were really the bread and butter of the rubber mask industry. The Don Post Studios artisans made this terrifying trio come to life with great attention to detail, mostly. Frankenstein's monster is the spitting image of Boris Karloff from the film, though the flesh tone coloration seems off from the green tint we usually see the monster sporting. The other ghoul is supposed to be the Phantom of the Opera, but comes off more like Great Uncle Yuri after after one too many shots of Popov vodka.


The real star here is the Gill-Man aka The Creature from the Black Lagoon, who looks to have every scale in place and a beautiful paint job that evokes fish-like qualities of the water-logged mutant. This is something I could totally see Douglas Pembroke from the first season of Charles in Charge wearing for a laugh, while getting advice on girls from Scott Baio. Surprisingly, the going rate for this baby was $39.95 where the other 2 ran $52.95 each, that was a real bargain!

E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL

Going back to the Spielberg well, the crew decided to produce what had to be the finest E.T. The Extra Terrestrial mask on the market at this time. Every head wrinkle is carefully re-created, the eyes are a glassy masterpiece and you even get neck flaps to complete the look. I've been holding off mentioning what you likely have already noticed, whoever set-up this mask photo shoot, obviously had a sense of humor.


Sporting a sharp tuxedo with red bow tie E.T. clearly took this photo after being elected to the Prom court his senior year. The absence of the crown tells us he didn't quite make it to king, but probably asked Drew Barrymore to be his date. Frankenstein's monster and the Phantom had the same outfits as well and look all the better for it. I love the idea that all these classic characters attended Horror-Sci-Fi High together and were the popular kids on campus.

STAR WARS

The biggest sellers for Don Post Studio had to be their line of Star Wars masks, just judging by the number of offerings. If any of these survived into the 21st century, I imagine they command a pretty hefty price on the collectors market. The fact that they branched out into full-on helmets with the Stormtrooper and Darth Vader models is impressive. Of course the Chewbacca mask features complete facial fur, but the soulless black eyes and frownie "mustache" make everybody's favorite Wookie look so sad. Though he was the most expensive at $59.95 a pop.


Second stringers like the Gamorrean Guard and Admiral Ackbar get their moment in the spotlight with pretty epic recreations of the movie masks. Just douse them with clear goo and they would come to life all over again. The Wicket W. Warrick mask may lack the life-like fur, but they did a great job with the stitching on his hood. Also, the Max Headroom style background graphics make it seem like this could just be a computer simulation of the Ewok warrior. But the crowning achievement of this ad is by far our final entry.


"The name is Yoda, Master Yoda." Has there ever been a Jedi Master with a more debonair demeanor than this guy? I'm surprised this ad didn't inspire George Lucas to create a prequel television series, The Man from J.E.D.I. telling the tales of Yoda's younger years working as a secret agent to thwart the dissident factions of the Republic. Hey, it couldn't have been any worse than the Star Wars Holiday Special, right? Seriously though, this thing is fantastic. As a kid who had to settle for the Ben Cooper style thin plastic half-mask when I dressed up as Yoda in 1985, Don Post Studios created the Mona Lisa of rubber masks with this work of art and the $39.95 price tag would have been well worth it. 


Well that's that. Pretty amazing stuff, huh? You can take a look at the price list above to imagine how many weeks of allowance it would have taken you to get a mask of your favorite character. Did any of you own one of these? If not, what was the most elaborate mask you ever owned?

Tweet me with pics of your favorite creature masks @hojukoolander
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mscreepyx Posted on Dec 01, 2015 at 06:10 PM

Those Gremlins masks are amazing! I would love to find one of them to have for collection.

Mr Magic Posted on Nov 22, 2015 at 01:32 PM

Who can forget the Richard Nixon mask?

Perfect for robbers.

Vaporman87 Posted on Nov 09, 2015 at 08:31 PM

All of those masks are stellar for their time, and look great even by today's standards. Especially the Gremlins Collector's masks. Those are just incredible. I would have LOVED to have a matching costume for a mask like that for Halloween. I don't recall ever seeing masks of this quality around as kid. At least not in your typical department store. Everything was Ben Cooper or Collegeville.

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