The Universal Monsters Mask Series from NECA and Loot Crate is an homage to the popular Universal Studios mini-monster figure collection from Remco. This set of six limited-edition collector quality latex masks includes Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, The Mummy, and Frankenstein.
Each mask is designed and sculpted by Mortar Heads, run by Mark Enright. Mark has been making collectible pop culture creations for years and we wanted to find out what goes into the process of creating a mask. In this exclusive interview, Mark gives us a behind-the-scenes look into his design process, his start in sculpting, his favorite Universal Monster and more.
How did you get your start in sculpting masks?
Years ago when I worked in my first local haunted house I wore a mask and I had such a hard time seeing and performing, I decided I would start wearing make-ups instead. I had already started studying make-up FX around this time after taking some sculpting classes with people who worked in the FX industry so the timing was right. As the years went by and I started doing the make-ups for other actors too, it got to the point where I had no time to do my own make-up so, I just went back to wearing masks to save time, but now I could wear masks I made myself which gave me a lot more time to design and come up with a complete costume to go along with it. I had previously only been doing relief sculptures and Maquettes up to that point so I was ready to try and sculpt some different stuff anyway and I’ve been sculpting masks ever since.
What were some of the first masks you created?
A rotted zombie Pharaoh, the Kenner Walrus man, a big Rotting jack o’ lantern, and a mask of one of my all-time favorite Halloween decorations, the Beistle flaming skull, were some of my first masks.
What makes a Mortar Heads sculpture stand out from other masks?
Most of the subjects I chose to make masks of weren’t really designed for that purpose so I think they have a real plastic or toyettic look. I also try to keep a small amount of clunk or oddness in the sculpts, something that you mostly only see in older mask designs, I think.
What is your design process like?
For the action figure based masks I take a lot of reference photos from every angle and I paint them grey which really helps bring out the details of the sculpts. Sometimes the paint on the figures can hide or cover up some of the important details, this was especially true with the Remco figures. When I’m doing an original design I’ll usually just do a quick basic sketch of the idea so I can see what it might look like. All of my masks are sculpted in WED clay, molded with hydrocal, and cast in latex.
How long does it take, from drawing to final product, to create each mask?
It usually takes me about 2-3 months per mask because I’m also busy casting up and painting other masks clients have ordered from me. For the Universal Monsters Masks I’ve been trying to get one done per month.
This series is an homage to the monster figure collection from Remco. What inspires you when creating each mask to satisfy fans of the Universal Monsters and collectors of Remco figures?
One of the reasons I wanted to make masks of this specific line was the fact that the characters are so recognizable, but at the same time they have a real simplicity to them. Ric Hughes who sculpted the figures really managed to capture the character and even the actors’ likeness and yet they still have their own look to them. The line has a lot of personality and I’ve just tried to keep that going. I think people who are fans of the Remco line will appreciate having something new after all these years and fans of the Universal Monsters will get something new and unique too.
Out of all of the Universal Monsters, who do you relate to the most and why?
Well, I think all the monsters have some relatable qualities maybe that’s one of the reasons why they’re still popular after all these years. If I had to pick one I’d say Frankenstein because I’m definitely a Frankenstein of influences and experiences that makes me who I am and inspires what I create.
Which mask has been the most challenging to create?
The Creature was tough because of the gills, but I think Frankenstein was actually the hardest to nail down the likeness and get the whole brow area to look right, the design has a lot more to it than just a flat head and some staples.
For fans of the Universal Monsters and Loot Crate, what can they expect from each Mortar Heads creation?
They can expect the unique chance to own life-size versions of some of their favorite monster toys, that they can wear on their head! It’s been very exciting for me to watch this set grow as I finish it, I think the fans who buy the masks will get that same excitement as they get their monthly masks in the mail and complete their collections.
Which Universal Monster is your favorite? Let us know on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the Universal Monsters Mask Series: https://www.lootcrate.com/crates/universal-mask-series. Subscribers to all 4 crates will receive 2 bonus masks to complete the set!