Author Topic: "The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD  (Read 21549 times)

Crimson Ghost

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"The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD
« on: April 08, 2013, 02:48:55 PM »
In my opinion the Don Post Skull is by far one of the coolest, most popular and iconic masks there is. It pops up in discussions all over the internet so I wanted to create a better home for the history and information on what is one of my favorite masks of all time. Hopefully this will help people to better distinguish the differences in these masks and squash some of the myths surrounding them.

My information that follows doesn't only come from researching the actual masks, but it comes from a lot of you out there that have written great posts on these in past forums. A special thank you needs to go out to Pete Infelise, Krik Magnum, The Tharp's and Poopsko, I have picked their brains about these amazing skulls.

Trying to put together a timeline to date a skull is very difficult, the actual copyright is not the end all-be all when dating these masks. If any of you can enlighten me more on this subject, please do so, I am not claiming to be a skull expert.. only a fanatic. This thread can be edited after discussing these opinions with all of you, so please understand this is still in the works.








It is very hard to determine a timeline with these, this is not concrete, but what I feel could be possible.



...........................



DON POST SKULL "the early years" 1967-1974


Pat Newman sculpted this mask and the first copyright date is 1967. The first known ads showing the sale of the skull that I can find is the Don Post "Monster Series" ad you see below. This ad is Copyright 1964, but has the Skull and Vermillion Skull in it, as well as the 1966 Carlisle mask, which makes me think this ad is 1967-1970? Is this ad the first appearance of the skulls for sale? Both of these skulls are also carried over into a 1974 ad (Famous Monsters #108, page 77). What ties in with early skull production talk is the material they were made from. Not all of these skulls are conventional vinyl. If you look at old Vermillion masks, you can see there is a crumbly brittle type of appearance to them, the paint seems to always be cracking and the highlights are air brushed on. True brown skulls
(by "true brown skulls" I mean BROWN, not the off black which will be discussed later) and the first white eyed Vermillion Skull are made of a stranger material that has many names out there - "loaded latex" "Claytex" "Plasticine" "plastisol" and even "plasti-goop", etc. The Vermillion and Browns have a weird dry, cork like feel to them, and the inside of these masks will appear a light TAN or skin color. The skulls were then painted with dark brown base and light cream top coats, or the Vermillion style color scheme with solid white eye sockets. These skulls are believed to be made from a material known as Plastisol. Plastisol is a PVC liquid compound.

The Plastisol Slush Molding method can be read in a future post in this thread, it uses metal molds very similar to vinyl casting.

If you look at one of Verne Langdon's many nicknames for Pat Newman, "The Queen of Plasticine"
, the use of this material in the first skulls even makes more sense.
 

These skulls will all have a 1967 copyright date, and I feel they were the very first run of skulls, possibly made from 1967 to 1974.

Why 74? Because the Famous Monsters #108 ad is from 1974, so the old style Vermillion was still being produced or sold in the original non vinyl material in this ad and you could have possibly received a brown skull at that same time. (The other vinyl black eyed Vermillion did not come out until post 1976).



....................................................PAT NEWMAN

                                               
........................................................... ....    
.............

 









You can see the true Brown Skull and Vermillion here, note the interior colors only found on these skulls. The material used on these is like no other skull, these are the only Plastisol skulls and I believe they were the first run.


« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 11:47:58 PM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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"The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 02:49:43 PM »






















DON POST SKULL "vinyl production" 1975-83??



The following info was learned after reading a email from Cathy Tharp:


-Don Post Studios had to outsource their rotational vinyl casting in the beginning. The vendors who were making the early white skulls were not very reliable, and the "chocolate black" or "off black" vinyl skulls were the result. Black was the intension, but when the strange vinyl colors showed up they were used anyway even though they were wrong. It wasn't until 1976 that DP got their own rotational casting machine. Don Post Studios had much more quality control over the vinyl color in house and the masks were black vinyl. DP casted the skulls in house until the early eighties when they moved the studio from Glendale to North Hollywood. During the move, the machine was left at the old studio, and DP went back to outsourcing their skulls, but by this time they had better control over the quality.


Early vinyl masks could be black or the off black "chocolate" colored vinyl.
Those off black, brownish mixed vinyl skulls that are out there, are most likely produced up to 1976 (some even have the new 1976 copyrights on them). The Rainbow Carlisle in 1976 was also a "chocolate" off-black vinyl, then they had to paint his hair black.. so he could have been the product of the outsourced vinyl as well. It is my guess that the real black vinyl pieces in circulation (there are tons of these) were started 1976 before the change in the copyright stamp and up through the 80's. There are black vinyl skulls with all copyright dates - 67, 76, and 77.. I don't think you can look too deep into this color question because who really knows how or when they changed up the vinyl colors, but I hope this shed some light on the possible timeline. The 77 catalog skull photo looks to be a 76 off- black skull used for the catalog shot. Later after 1979 and on, they appear very stark white and black in the catalogs. I have mint, ultra white and black skulls that look like they were made yesterday all dated 1967, but when you read on you'll learn that old molds resurfaced and they could possibly have been made in the late 70's.. very early eighties.


A 1967 COPYRIGHT DON POST STUDIOS SKULL METAL MASTER MOLD












« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 12:49:56 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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"The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 02:51:11 PM »
BROWN vs. OFF BLACK VINYL


Here you can clearly see how different a true brown is when shown next to the off black or "chocolate" skulls... note the brush strokes, I feel the old pic of Don Post Sr. brushing those large skulls, was a group of original browns.
A lot of people advertise the off black skulls as "brown skulls" when selling them, but you can now clearly see major differences in color and materials.






« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 09:23:58 PM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 02:52:38 PM »
in 1976, we now get a new copyright. Then in 1977, we get another one. I always thought at first the original 1967 had to be renewed after ten years which makes sense for 1977, but then the 1976 throws a monkey wrench in there.. did someone simply make a mistake on the new mold and put 76 instead of 77 then it was later corrected? I would love to know, I am not a copyright expert but the only reason I can come up with for the 1976 copyright is the re-tooled skull mold with the altered teeth, in 1977, they went back to the old style teeth.

SKULL SIZES:  small VS. LARGE?!


The following information, mostly taken from a discussion between Kolchak, Creeping Dead, and Maskahuna, can explain differences in skull sizes, which later on seemed to be shrinking..  (thank you guys)


"The molds for vinyl made at DPS were constantly wearing out. They were a one piece metal mold, and using gravity and rotation, the vinyl was heated and spread around the inside of the mold. When the molds were too "dinged up" as Rob Tharp puts it, a new one had to be made. Naturally there existed no foam masters for many of the masks as years went on because new ones could not be made from a metal mold with vinyl so wax castings were used. The wax positive was touched up and retooled depending on how much damage was there, then a new mold was created. This accounts for several factors when one speaks of the DP 800 Line masks. For starters, there is great discrepancy in sizes. Smaller versions coming out later in the production years of a given design and confusingly old molds were sometimes discovered later and larger versions were produced again, giving us the difference in sizes.

This excerpt is directly from Rob Tharp himself: "
The differing sizes of the masks is often because each metal mold for the vinyl masks has to be made on a separate sculpture.  For the masks that there were a lot of orders for, like Tor Johnson or the Skulls, there were multiple molds.  Each mold was formed around a different sculpture.  Usually made of plaster, so it could be broken back out of the metal mold.  So there are differences in the masks, like size, depending on which mold they were cast from."

I myself wondered if for some reason, DP wanted these skulls to also fit children, hence the tiny size. Ever try fitting one of these on your head? Seems like a legitimate explanation if the above were not true.





Observation of several skulls shows that most of the early masks are large in size, or average.  


ONE WAY TO TELL THE AGE OF SOME SKULLS IS BY THE TEETH

Some re-tooling took place on a skull mold or two back in 1976. With the introduction of the Blood Skull, new Vermillion and Ghost Skulls in the upcoming lineups, the now in house roto-casting could have been taking a toll on the metal molds. If you really start to study 1976 copyrighted masks, you will notice something different.. the teeth. If you are facing the mask, the second tooth on the right, top row, is now caved in at the top and gnarly. The second tooth to the left, is longer and narrower now. (the one past the missing tooth hole). From what I can tell, the 76 copyrighted chocolate/white skulls, the new black eyed Vermillion, and the Ghost Skull all follow this new pattern, however, a second 1976 mold was used to produce a old style mask. There are a lot less of these then the gnarly style 76's. . The following year in the 1977 copyright skulls, the teeth are back to normal! Maybe a new sculpt or mold was created when the studio received their new in house casting machine and they were itching to start production of the new designs they were coming up with. These re-tooled 76 skulls can also be smaller to very small in size depending on the mold used. So, if your Chocolate White Skull has these strange new teeth, it was probably made in 1976. Blood skulls were 1976, so they have the teeth we speak of. They carried these teeth into the 77 Ghost Skull as well (which is copyrighted 76).

COMPARE THE NEW 76 SCUPLT TO THE OLD 67




COMPARE THE 76 SCULPT TO THE NEW 77 NOW



THE BLACK VINYL QUESTION

When did black vinyl actually come out? Some collectors have said that the black vinyl skulls did not come out until the release of the 1978 Glow Skull. When Cathy and Rob Tharp both mentioned that in the early vinyl production, the vinyl masks were outsourced and the mask colors that were coming in were wrong, but used anyway. If they were wrong, then what was supposed to be right? I am guessing some had to show up right?? ( I think a few phone calls had to be made saying "hey these are supposed to be BLACK! What the heck!?) I mention that the Plastisol skulls sales possibly ended around 1974 and I believe vinyl started in 74/75. I said you can't usually go by a copyright date to date a mask, but we have a lot of black vinyl skulls that are 67 only. (meaning copyright 1967 but 1975/1976 as a possible production date) The red skulls, the ghost skulls, the new white skulls all made after 76 all have that new copyright, I just don't see them making a large run of 1978 black vinyl white skulls and not changing the new date on them. It has been said a old mold could have surfaced and been used, so that might explain black vinyl 67 skulls, but it's a maybe.
If Don Post Studios received a new in house rotational casting machine in 1976 and quality control was back to normal, then why wouldn't we have nice black and white skulls being made in 1976 and 77? (WE DO) We have white skulls that look pretty ancient, and worn.. The white skulls in the late 70's and early 80's can look really pristine and new, but so does a 67 I have sitting here that is a large size skull. The smaller 76 skulls were also black vinyl, but they still used this old small 76 mold to pop out some smaller Glows too in 78, which does show they kept old molds and used them if they were good. But if they went through the trouble to put a 77 stamp on the old style large skulls again, I don't think they would have not added it to all of them. I really think the black vinyl skulls were showing up anywhere from 1975 till the end in 1983. Please share your opinions on this matter.

 



THIS IS A 1967 and a 1977 copyright dated mask












YOU HAVE TO LOOK CLOSELY BUT THE SKULL ON THE RIGHT IS A 1977 copyright (the paint filled in the date)







SO HERE WE HAVE BLACK VINYL SKULLS WITH 67 AND 77 COPYRIGHT DATES.. WAY TOO MUCH HARD INFORMATION TO ME, TO SAY THAT BLACK VINYL SKULLS WERE NEVER PRODUCED UNTIL 1978- THIS CLEARLY SQUASHES THAT THEORY.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 12:21:05 PM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 02:54:13 PM »
THE 1976 BLOOD SKULL / RED SKULL


This new skull, poured in solid red vinyl will have 1967/1976 copyright stamps. Many people try to push this off for sale as a Vermillion but the Vermillion is advertised in the 77 and 78 catalogs and the solid eye sockets are always clearly visible in the photos. This skull was later reintroduced in the 90's in very thin latex as the Blood Skull. The Blood Skulls bring about 1/3 or more the price of a actual Vermillion mask, I think there were more of these produced then the Vermillion. If someone can produce a 1976 DPS catalog showing this skull advertised as a Vermillion, then I am a monkeys uncle and will change the name on it, until then, he is a red blood skull and a Vermillion is a Vermillion, but this is still an amazing and rare piece.

Take note in this first photo that two molds could have been used during the production of the Blood Skulls. One is the smaller, 1976 new teeth style, the other, a larger old school design. Even though they went with a older design on some of these, they still went through the trouble to stamp it 1976.









« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 01:08:50 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 02:56:25 PM »
THE 1977 DON POST VERMILLION


"Vermillion is an opaque red pigment prepared from the mineral cinnabar"


The old Vermillion has made a come back in the 77 DP catalog. Copyright dated 1967/1976, the mask has went through some major changes since the old one. Poured in orange vinyl, the skulls features, size, and shape have changed. He appears much newer and glossier then his old counterpart. These two skulls have become the most sought after of all, I am guessing they did not sell many Vermillions because they rarely ever pop up for sale. People will try to push off Blood Skulls as a Vermillion, but these are the true Vermilion skulls. These are the only skulls advertised as a Vermillion, both having the solid eye sockets. don't let anyone out there fool ya. The new black eye version can be seen in the 77 and 78 catalogs.





A ORIGINAL 1976 VERMILLION FOAM MASTER






 

You can compare both Vermillions here, note the interior color and texture of the materials used (plasticine vs. vinyl).















« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 11:44:19 PM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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"The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 02:58:16 PM »
THE 1977 GHOST SKULL


Seen advertised in the 1977 DPS catalog as one of four "glow in the dark" masks- GRAVEDIGGER, MORTIMER, MR. LEACH, and GHOST SKULL. This skull is a all glow, yellow colored vinyl mix (the glow mixture was added directly to the vinyl).

In 1980 the name "Ghost Skull" resurfaces and in the 1981 catalog it is now part of the new 850 line. If you study the 1980 and 1981 catalogs pictures you can see the Ghost Skull no longer resembles the solid yellow tinted vinyl skull, but the newer style 78 painted style glow skull. I feel they dropped this yellow skull when the 78 style came out and they stuck with the "Ghost Skull" name, making the 1977 Ghost Skull a one year only production piece. This also goes for GRAVEDIGGER, MORTIMER, and MR. LEACH, you will notice they all changed to the paint on style glow after this. This explains why we rarely see this Ghost Skull mask for sale.









                                                                THE 1977 DPS CATALOG     (note the actual photo of the glowing Ghost Skull)




                                                1980     (note the new 78 painted style Glow Skull in place of the Ghost Skulls photo)

                                               1981    (note the new 78 painted style Glow Skull in place of the Ghost SKulls photo)



WHEN YOU READ ON BELOW, THE 1978 CATALOGS WILL JUST HAVE THE GLOWING SKULL NAMED "GLOW SKULL"
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 01:04:17 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 03:00:37 PM »
1978 THE YEAR THREE SKULLS WERE AVAILABLE


Now in the 800 Line we have the white skull, the new black eyed vinyl Vermillion, and the introduction of the new Glow Skull.



THE 1978 GLOW SKULL!


The glow in the dark skull has been changed from it's yellow glow vinyl "Ghost" to a painted-on glow in the dark procedure and is now simply called a "Glowing Skull" aka "Glow Skull".  
The first appearance of this new skull was in the 1978 DPS catalog. The glow version appeared with four other glow in the dark pieces and was advertised as "a whole process to bring you the best". This glow series consisted of SKULL, GRAVEDIGGER, GHOUL, FROZEN GHOST, and CARLISLE.


The glow skulls should all have the 76-77 copyrights on them right? Wrong- they can have just the 1967 date on them, which tells me old molds were possibly also used to make these skulls in 78. The most confusing skull of all to me is a tiny Glow Skull that came out.
A new mold was made that is extremely small in size, so small that maybe only a child could fit it on their head. This small skull also has the old 1976 gnarly teeth design, and only a 1967 copyright date. Getting confused yet? I say it's a 78 because it is a painted on glow style.
They came out to my knowledge in the 1978 catalog, so I am dating the start of glow skull production to 1978. Glow skulls were definitely made up or at least available until 1983. How do we know this? Because if you ordered a Halloween III skull out of Fangoria in 1982/1983, it was a glow skull. (we will cover H3 shortly). Glow skulls can have old and new copyright dates on them and come in different sizes, from huge to very small.



Most glow skulls are dark or dingy in appearance, however on a rare occasion you can find a mint copy with the bright, off-white glow paint still looking new (see my photos).  Glow skulls can be for sale in eBay ads and the seller might not even be aware that it is a glow version. Take my advice, don't even ask them if the mask happens to glow- funny story: I bid on a skull, the current bid was stale all week, I swore it looked like a glow skull, so I asked "hey, does this mask happen to glow?" I got a reply "OH MY GOD IT DOES GLOW" then after the auction was revised with huge red letters "THIS MASK GLOWS IN THE DARK" the auction bids doubled and I was without a skull.. haha.

1978 DPS Catalog





1979 DPS Catalog





..........................................................................................
GLOW SKULLS









1980 DPS Catalog (by now the skulls are getting very white and black)
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 01:20:00 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 03:05:31 PM »
1982 HALLOWEEN III SEASON OF THE WITCH

By now most of us know the story of the Witch, The Skull and The Pumpkin masks in the movie, so I will just touch on a few things pertaining only to the skulls.
Throughout the movie the lighting can make the masks look pretty different, but the white Don Post Skulls were used in the film. Billy Kirkus mentions that "there is a mixture of both large and1976 re-tooled smaller skulls used in the film, you can tell by the top row of teeth on the left side" they were definitely white skulls. However, in the Silver Shamrock TV commercial, a 1978 Glow Skull was used (as well as the 1981 Hagatha Witch). "Thank you Aaron Lewis for the glow skull info and Poopsko for the Hagatha knowledge" The white ones in the film were the current production skull that the studio was making in the very early eighties. In the film you can see Don Posts actual studio, this is the new North Hollywood location. One thing I am unclear on is when they show the fresh black skulls being made, was the vinyl skull being outsourced at this time again since they left the old machine in Glendale? Maybe they just had them on set and acted like they produced them in house for the film. The three masks were now available for purchase in 1983 in the Don Post catalog and in a 1981 Fangoria Magazine ad (probably printed during final production of the film pre-82). The glowing skull was only titled a "SKULL" this time, which almost makes me wonder if by this time they could have dropped all black and white skull production completely. The only difference from the film now, is that if you bought the H3 skull, you received a glow skull. Both the 83 catalog and magazine ads state "glows in the dark", so you would then receive the off white painted on glow style skull. The movie was a flop, (until now ;) ) and the Witch and Pumpkin masks did not do very well and are extremely scarce.



         
            I CLEANED UP AND REBUILT THIS FANGO AD IN PHOTOSHOP


    Read the top paragraph in the Fango ad below. It says two of the masks are special tagged versions "based" on the DP Hagatha, and GHOST SKULL. I'm not sure if they just said that so people would think it was a all new special movie skull or not. This skull is glowing right in the ad, they did not glow in the film though, they were white skulls.



.............................."THE BIG THREE"


WHITE SKULL
GLOW SKULL
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 01:28:46 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 03:10:07 PM »
1984 THE END OF THE VINYL SKULLS


To my knowledge after looking at the 1984 Don Post catalog, the vinyl Skull production stopped and the new thinner latex version was born, most likely late 83 when they set up the printing of the new catalogs for 84. It was a great run for this amazing mask and it's good to see that there is usually one skull out there in everyone's collection from time to time. I hope this thread is helpful and puts some of this skullduggery in order. Questions always seem to pop up on this mask and hopefully this will be the final resting place for the answers.










Thanks for your interest!


Rudy




« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 03:26:58 AM by Crimson Ghost »

Robert W

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"The unofficial" DON POST SKULL THREAD
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 03:40:15 PM »
Wonderful article! Thank you for taking the time to write it.

I only own two skulls myself, one a thin/small latex one from 84 and one of the 2012 Vermillions. Seeing these pics of the vintage skulls really hammers home how poor these later copies look in comparison.

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2013, 03:46:18 PM »
Thank you Robert! I'm hoping this thread will help old pictures and ads to surface and especially facts and history I do not know, and I would also like to cover the latex and 2012 skulls in here as well.

Robert W

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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2013, 03:50:17 PM »
About the 2012 Vermillion/Veridian skulls, was a new mold made for them, or did they use the 83-84 mold?

Also, any idea of how many 2012 Vermillion/Veridians were made?

Pete-I

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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2013, 04:22:48 PM »
Thanks for sharing all the amazing research and photos Rudy!

The Skull enjoys a long lineage of production. It seems only fitting that some of the last pieces to ever come out of Don Post Studios were the H3 reissue skull, the Vermillion and the Veridian skull.

Crimson Ghost

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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2013, 06:19:37 PM »
Holy cow! I make this thread, leave for lunch, come home, and the 67 metal master is sitting on my front porch.. scroll up, I added some great shots of it!!!

Robert, that I have to research, I heard a new mold was made, but I cant remember who told me this... Kirk Magnum should know for sure, I will get him on here.