Don Post Masks

     In 1958, a pulp magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland edited by Forrest J.Ackerman was born. As the title suggests, the content was focused on movies with monsters in them (well duh) aimed at a teenage boy audience. I don't recall the first time I got my hands on an issue (nor which issue it was) but I soon became an avid collector which ultimately found their way into the trash when my mother got on a cleaning jag.

     In any case, the magazine had many advertisements, most of which were quite lurid such as X-ray glasses, bloody fingers, “authentic” shrunken heads, exploding cigar inserts and so on. Since the body of the magazine was entirely black and white, the front and back covers (sometimes) were in color which the more expensive advertisements could be found. Which brings me to this kit from Dimensional Designs.

     The kit is a replica of the ad (usually found on the back cover) which hawked Don Post latex masks that resembled some of the movie monsters and their kin.They cost $34 a piece and a pair of hands $17.50 if offered plus shipping.  This kit is a quite clever 3D representation of the magazine's whole page featuring masks of Dracula, Wolfman, the Mummy and so on. The kit had a total of ten busts of fair quality and promotional text along with the order form needed to purchase a mask.  I never met anyone that bought one since the price of the masks was pretty steep considering the minimum wage was $1.25 an hour in those days. I do suspect that some masters of make up such as Rick Baker, Stan Winston, Rob Bottin and Chris Walas probably had one of these masks in their possession at some point.

The completed kit as displayed in my home. At the left is the box is came in and on the right is the completed kit.

     Anyway, the display was a precisely cut collection of about a dozen fiber board pieces and blocks of wood. Though there weren't any instructions included, one could puzzle out how to place the various parts for assembly by referring to the box's cover art. I used carpenter's glue for attaching the parts instead of small nails since they have a tendency to split fiber board. Besides, I didn't HAVE any small nails!

Alas, painting the constructed display was more difficult than I had imagined so I broke the display down into it component parts and repainted each panel separately which almost turned into an unsolvable Rubik Cube type of event.

     The ten mini-busts are fair but crude reproductions of the ad's monster masks with the line up being (in no particular order) The Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, The Mole People, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera and someone called The Mad Doctor. Eight of the busts are roughly 2” in height with The Wolfman and The Creature being a bit larger at 3 1/2” with those two being the only busts with hands.

     I almost decided todepart from the mask color scheme as shown on the ad since it seemed way over the top to me. I toyed with idea of more realistic colors as I saw in a version of the kit build which were less jarring than the original. However, I have then since backpedaled to the original since the garish colors were to appeal to young teens (like me) and I was modeling the Famous Monsters ad and not the masks per se.

     As it turned out, painting the masks were a bit trickier than I thought. Although all of the movies represented were shot in black and white (with a short color sequence in Phantom), I normally had an open hand in determining the color scheme. However, since I was painting a promotional advertisement, I was a slave to the mask colors which might be described as bizarre at best. Here, for example, Frankenstein's monster is a light blue with black highlights though he (it?) is generally colored green from the movie's poster. Still, I plugged along and I think I managed to capture the look of the ad.

     I did have a couple problems though. I had to sand down the side of the Mr. Hyde mask since it was little too wide for the opening. My other problem was that the printed ad was about 1/4” longer than the space it was too ccupy. I ended up making a back plate that fit the ad from a piece sheet styrene. Unless you look very carefully, you can barely see the over hang.  3/20/24