Saturday, March 24, 2012


"Never trim a mask while wearing it." - Don Post

Few icons from the "Ghoulden Age" of the 60's Monster Craze has transfixed a generation of Monster Kids like the ubiquitous image of the "Shock Monster". Designed and created by Keith Ward, a popular ad man and children's book illustrator of the day, the Topstone  company unleashed an entire line of affordable costume masks that found sales traction in the back pages of magazines like FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, and were quickly propelled into legendary status. If you could spare the allowance money, here were one or two dollar items that could turn you into a ghoul, a vampire, a witch -- even a "Gooney", a "Battered Pug" (deep-fried dog?), a "Spasm", or how about a "Ubangi"? When they announced their "over the top" mask line -- man, did they ever mean it!

A Topstone catalogue page.

While the image itself (drawn by Ward for the Topstone catalogue) was indelible, the Shock Monster went by a few different names, like "Horor Zombie", or just plain "Horror", depending on which 'zine or catalogue was selling it. The name seemed to eventually settle into Shock Monster, and that's what we know it by today.

The Shock Monster mask has been resurrected by industrious garage and pro sculptors who either couldn't find an original to own, or just couldn't afford one to begin with. Some versions aim for authenticity while some amplify some of the more outrageous details that the mask is famous for.

THE MONSTER TIMES Vol. 1. No. 6 (April 1972).

In 2011, Don Post Studios released their own version of the Shock Monster mask. Now, for about 25 bucks, you can have one of the better versions of this Monster Craze legend. It's also made from a lot more durable material than the original so it can remain proudly displayed on a shelf for years to come.

The mask is up for a Rondo Award in the "Best Toy, Model or Collectible" category. As soon as I heard about it, I was on the Amazon website buying one. The results are shown here. But -- be forwarned -- and prepare yourself to be shocked!

The mask arrived with the obligatory care and safety tag. What bummed me out was the statement that it should be worn by adults only. Who are they kidding? And to anybody silly enough to try, they also warn against swimming with it!

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