Like many monster kids I grew up with the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. One of my favorite aspects of this magazine were the Captain Company ads that appeared in the back, showcasing so many cool monster toys and collectibles. One ad in particular always drew my attention; it was the one for Don Post Studios masks. My favorite has always been the Grey Timberwolf but at the time I couldn’t afford one so all I could do each month was look at the ad and dream.
After I graduated high school and got a job, I found myself with some disposable income and started buying masks from companies like Be Something Studios, House Of Horror Studios, Distortions Unlimited and of course, Don Post. Unfortunately, I did not appreciate at the time what Don Post was offering, both in design and quality and by the time I really did, they were cutting costs at every opportunity. Paper thin latex pours that would not hold their shape and inconsistent paint jobs became the norm for Don Post and people started to look elsewhere for their mask fix, thanks in large part to their masks being outsourced to China in the early 90’s to cut costs, sacrificing quality at the same time. Masks that would once survive for 20 or more years would now start to rot within a year or so. Keep in mind though that many companies were also doing this, cutting costs and quality all at the same time. It was the only way they could compete and it almost destroyed mask collecting as a hobby. More often than not what looked great in a catalog looked completely different when you actually received it.
Thankfully I was able to locate some of my favorites on the collector’s market. I found it interesting that masks that were produced in the 70’s and early 80’s were holding up better than new designs bought in the late 90’s and up until 2012. I still have Don Post masks from the early 80’s that look just as good now as they did when they were produced with little to no rot and yet masks that were produced in recent years would soon rot and fall apart. I just wish I had the foresight to buy more of the original designs and releases when they came out, including the Universal Monsters re-releases.
It was a sad day in September of 2012 when it was announced that Don Post Studios had closed. It was such a blow to the mask-collecting community as this was the company that started it all. It did seem at the time that they were making an effort to improve their offerings, both in new designs and quality (as well as re-releasing some of the classics that had made them famous in the first place). It was unfortunately too little, too late. Despite all of this, Don Post Studios will go down in history as one of the greatest mask companies that ever existed.
Fast forward two years and now we now have one of the greatest books ever produced on that very company, The Illustrated Guide To Don Post Studios. When this book arrived the first thing I thought of was that you could kill someone with this book! It is that big! At just under 500 pages and measuring 8-1/2″ x 11″ this book is chock full of nostalgia and fun. I quickly glanced through the book and found myself smiling often, commenting to myself “I remember that!” I have always been a fan of things that remind me of my childhood and this book does it probably better than anything I have ever experienced before!
I cannot say enough good things about this book, not only in the amazing photos but in its honesty. It is even explained why Don Post opted to go with thinner latex pours for their masks in the 80’s (there was a shortage of latex thanks to AIDS and a high demand for latex condoms and gloves forcing prices to increase drastically). Lee Lambert very often shows the original catalog images (or the master used in the catalog photos) and then compares them to those actually sold. Sometimes they were good, sometimes not. You will never find a more detailed or in-depth biography and this labor of love is worth every penny! Overall the book is a quick read and the amazing photographs are eye candy that will cause you to come back to this book again and again. I will be ordering a second copy because there is no doubt in my mind that this book is going to get a lot of use, wearing down quickly.
Don Post Studios was a great mask company and so deserving of such a tribute! They laid the groundwork for every company in existence today and if it wasn’t for Don Post Studios, the lives of us monster kids may have been a lot different. For this I want to say thank you to both Don Post Senior and Don Post Junior and to Lee Lambert for such an amazing work!