Ben Cooper Shocking Phantoms

Started by raycastile, November 20, 2011, 11:20:41 PM

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raycastile

I thought about whether to put this thread in the "vintage toys" or "masks and busts" forum.  Then I read the description under the mask forum title: "latex masks and fine sculptures."  Nope, that doesn't apply to this thread.  So in the toy forum it goes.

It does have an indirect connection to latex masks, or one mask in particular – the Shock Monster.  But it has more to do with the character, originally illustrated by Keith Ward in the 1950s, than the famous rubber Topstone mask.



In ads for the mask, this face was all over Famous Monsters magazine and other publications during the 1960s.  Ben Cooper appropriated the character, using it for at least two Halloween costumes. 

This is the 1964 Ben Cooper Phantom of the Opera costume.  Doesn't look much like Lon Chaney, does it?






Where have we seen that face before?




Here is the costume, folded behind the mask in the box:




I don't like taking costumes out of the box and unfolding them to take pictures.  Sometimes you can never get them folded flat again.  Luckily, there is already a well-known photo of this mask and costume that has floated around the Internet for years.



I don't own this book, but from what I have read online, this is where the photo originated:

Halloween Costumes and other Treats


Ben Cooper did make a more traditional Phantom of the Opera costume.  This is from 1969:




It appears to be based on the James Cagney Phantom from "Man of a Thousand Faces," a biopic about Lon Chaney. A lot of 60s Phantom imagery is based more on the Cagney Phantom than the original Chaney version.  I have seen this BC costume in different boxes.  It probably was introduced earlier in the 60s.  It seems to have been phased out by the 70s.  Has anyone seen a 1970s Phantom of the Opera costume from Ben Cooper or Collegeville?  I can't think of one.


Here are the two Ben Cooper Phantoms side by side.  You can see the earlier "Shock" version has a huge box.  It's a "large" size costume, so that might account for it.  I don't have another box in that style to compare sizes.





I said there was at least one other Ben Cooper pseudo-Shock costume.  Here it is.  "Dr. Blackbeard."






This one has a beard attached to its chin.




Here are the two Ben Cooper pseudo-Shock costumes side by side.



I would not be surprised if there were more Ben Cooper pseudo-Shocks. These are the two I know about.

Some might argue that the resemblance is coincidence. I don't think so. There are details like the gash in the right cheek that match the Keith Ward/Topstone Shock character.  The yawning, toothy mouth; the skeletal nose; the enlarged right eye; the crumpled right ear that sticks out more than the left; all these are unmistakable references to the Shock Monster.  The character was so visible during the 60s, it is not surprising that Ben Cooper would knock it off.  Halloween companies were always copying each other's designs back in the day.

You can see it in these two Ben Cooper costumes. The one on the left looks like a Morlock, but it's supposed to be an "Apeman." The one on the right, a "Caveman," looks like the Topstone Caveman designed by Keith Ward.




Regardless of the inspiration for these designs, they are all super-cool Halloween costumes.  I'm not being disparaging when I point out how one company copied another.  In fact, part of the charm of vintage monster items is trying to figure out what inspired the design.  They are often swiped from James Bama Aurora artwork, or Don Post masks, or a particular movie still.

I love Ben Cooper, I love Topstone and I love the Phantom of the Opera. Put them all together and you have a triple-decker monster sundae with sprinkles on top.
Raymond Castile

marsattacks666

I love the design of the '69 Phantom, the best.
    "They come from the bowels of hell; a transformed race of walking dead. Zombies, guided by a master plan for complete domination of the Earth."

RedKing

Those are all very cool costumes and the resemblance to the ol' Shock Monster is definitley undeniable!
Crazy am I? We'll see if I'm crazy or not!

Wich2

Yep, I think you nailed them, Ray!

Happy Thanksgiving,
-Craig

Sean

Love that the one Phantom is sporting a stab wound with the knife still embedded in his chest. :o

raycastile

Quote from: Sean on November 22, 2011, 02:50:09 AM
Love that the one Phantom is sporting a stab wound with the knife still embedded in his chest. :o

You know, I never looked at it that way.  I always thought he had used the knife to stab someone, then stuck it in his pocket.  But maybe you're right and he's walking around with a knife sticking out of his chest.
Raymond Castile

marsattacks666

Quote from: raycastile on November 22, 2011, 03:28:30 AM
You know, I never looked at it that way.  I always thought he had used the knife to stab someone, then stuck it in his pocket.  But maybe you're right and he's walking around with a knife sticking out of his chest.

Ouch!!!
    "They come from the bowels of hell; a transformed race of walking dead. Zombies, guided by a master plan for complete domination of the Earth."

Wicked Lester

I like the graphics on the Phantom costume but I prefer the more traditional looking mask. I'm glad to see they got the safety terminology correct on these. Flame Retardant vs what I have on a few on my boxes Flame Retarded ,DOH!  ???

Unknown Primate

WL - I noticed that on the Gorilla costume you sent me!  LOL!
" Perhaps he dimly wonders why, there is no other such as I. "

darkmonkeygod

WOW Ray! Thank you. Its great to see these in such detail. What is the copyright detail info on the '64 Shock Monster version. And may I see the side stamps for the later edition as well? I've always wondered if the two-faced jekyll and Hyde mask fit in with the '64 line, but it seems it may be even earlier and that this one is closer in release to the Bride Of Frankenstein. Great find, thanks for the in depth examination.
Shannon aka monsieurmonkey on UMA Y!

raycastile

The Shock Phantom's box has no copyright information.  But the costume has a copyright notice of 1964 Universal Studios.
Raymond Castile

raycastile

About the side panel, does this pic help?

Raymond Castile

marsattacks666

Quote from: Wicked Lester on November 22, 2011, 02:32:13 PM
I like the graphics on the Phantom costume but I prefer the more traditional looking mask. I'm glad to see they got the safety terminology correct on these. Flame Retardant vs what I have on a few on my boxes Flame Retarded ,DOH!  ???


Wow, Flame Retarded?! Double, ouch!
    "They come from the bowels of hell; a transformed race of walking dead. Zombies, guided by a master plan for complete domination of the Earth."

mjaycox

Bump up.

Why?

Because it is one of my all time favorite threads, that's why.

So there
"I don't want to live in the past. I just don't want to lose it."
     -The Two Jakes

Hepcat

Quote from: raycastile on November 20, 2011, 11:20:41 PMI don't own this book, but from what I have read online, this is where the photo originated:

Halloween Costumes and other Treats

If you like Halloween costumes, by all means get the book:



It's a good one!

Quote from: raycastile on November 20, 2011, 11:20:41 PMI don't like taking costumes out of the box and unfolding them to take pictures.  Sometimes you can never get them folded flat again.

How many M.I.B. Halloween costumes in all do you have in your collection?

???
Collecting! It's what I do!