Restored catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1992
Fun World's ghost masks are perhaps the most notable and celebrated in their history. Developed in 1991 (first retailed in 1992) catalog item #9206 - Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost Mask with Shroud were an assortment of soft pvc masks with simplistic expressive faces and black or white cotton shrouds. They are minimal in approach, defined by black blocked in features. These accessible masks were widely mass produced and distributed through seasonal shops, party stores, pharmacies, big box chains and more. The initial line included four designs - the "Silly", "Peanut-Eyed', "Goofy', and 'Happy' ghosts.
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'Grinning Skull' Ghost
Restored photo; original property of Newsday Photo / Dick Yarwood c. 1997
They were designed by Brigitte Sleiertin-Linden, an SVA graduate hired as the only in-house designer for the the first seven years of her career at Fun World. As a result, her work spans a huge array of masks, decorations, and party supplies. "When this project was given to me, I was given a picture of something similar to what the finished masks would eventually look like. I was asked if I thought these could be made as masks and to do some drawings with a similar look and feel. So I did a bunch of sketches of different faces with that same white, melty face with simplistic black facial feature shapes. The drawings were done to take the original concept and change them a bit to make it into a different enough item to call our own. Again, I did a few sketches of different faces or characters that would be chosen from to make the assortment that would be sold" says Sleiertin-Linden in a 2011 interview by Zachary Cook for 'Screamers'. Her drawings were then likely used by Hong Kong-based sculptor Fok Lee who created the masks for Fun World as part of a work-for-hire relationship. The first documentation of the finished ghost masks was in December 4, 1991, for what we assume was their 1992 Halloween catalog.
Restored catalog samples; original property of the Alterian Ghost Factory c. 1991
Once a point of controversy, the masks above have been pointed to as the predecessor "picture" Sleiertin-Linden was likely asked to adapt. Created one year prior by Alterian Ghost Factory, a small independent company comprised of industry fx artists started by Tony Gardner (a notable veteran in the field), for their Ghost Maker Kit. The kit included a plastic ghost face, glue, and paints to customize at home for a d.i.y. special effects twist on the classic bedsheet Halloween ghost costume. The product was not widely distributed, but many were sold at trade shows to retailers from 1991-1994. Six designs were sculpted by Gitthens and his fellow Ghost Factory artists. The four shown above, said to resemble Fun World's initial line, were cataloged by Alterian as 'Lovey Tate', 'Wailer', 'Lil Sara Spook', and 'Screech'. Read more on our blog.
Restored catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1993
In 1993 after the initial success of Fun World's ghost masks, they capitalized on new styles and sorts, including the #9207 - Fluorescent Ghost Mask with Shroud. This product took the same ghost faces from the previous line now offered in vibrant green, orange, and pink that glow under black light. The earliest fluorescent masks do not have black paint around the eyes (or as we refer to it 'eyeliner'). Mid-90s masks have eyeliner, still with cotton shrouds. Late 90s masks have eyeliner and polyester shrouds.
Restored and edited catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1994
The ghost designs were also used for decorations like the #9837 - Wall & Door Plaque with Shroud, which named the 'Weeping Ghost' and 'Happy Ghost' among a line of other horror characters. Early versions feature cotton shrouds, while later have polyester.
Restored and edited catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1995
Fun World added two new faces to the ghost mask line up in 1995, the 'Melty' and 'Grinning Skull' ghosts. This line expansion evolved on the previous concept by introducing more form and design.
Catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1996
Fun World expanded their use of these ghost characters into a variety of new products like the #9223 - All-in-One Ghost Mask & Gown Costume, which added a long polyester vest to the shroud design for a simple throw-over costume. The earliest of these costumes feature faces painted over white by the factory. Late 90s versions have been found unpainted in non-glow white and glow pvc.
The ghosts soon experienced an unprecedented popularity due to the use of the 'Peanut-Eyed' Ghost in the film Scream (1996). As it's said, a white shroud mask was discovered by head producer Marianne Maddalena while location scouting. Since the script called for a ghost masked killer, she brought it to Wes Craven for consideration. It was initially rejected, tasking KNB Effects to use the Fun World mask as inspiration for their own, which was featured in many scenes. It did not read as successfully on camera, pressuring production to purchase the rights and switch to Fun World's mask for filming. It has since been recognized as one of the most iconic masks in horror film history.
Restored product image; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1997
To meet new demand for the character, Fun World increased production with many new molds and varying styles. Costumes, accessories, and decorations were created with the 'Peanut-Eyed' Ghost character, cementing the Scream Stalker as a new "icon of Halloween". It continues to be a popular costume to this day, likely found in any neighborhood fleet of trick 'r treaters on Halloween night.
Restored product image; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1998
Demand skyrocketed for the "Scream mask". The #9206 assortment experienced associated benefits from Scream's popularity as well. Though less popular, the other ghosts were somewhat seen as variations of the Scream face. A new 'Viper' character was added to the line as Fun World leaned into spookier horror designs. Their packaging aesthetic transitioned from the pink party style "Fantastic Faces" header cards to a new purple 'bat & moon' theme, and the moniker "Fearsome Faces'. The late 90s masks replaced the cotton shrouds with a stretchier polyester, and an almost 'vanilla' aroma from the pvc mixture is nostalgic and memorable among collectors and 90s kids alike.
Restored catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1996
Another line of ghost character masks was the #9225 - Ghost Mask with Fancy Shroud. These were latex masks (different than soft pvc) paired with polyester hood-like shrouds with pointed 'executioner' style ends. The faces featured more texture and gravity and took similar black blocked in faces now with expressive wrinkles, drips, and contours. We don't know the year they were first released, but they are present in the 1996 catalog. They were produced in the late 90s as well, branded on Fearsome Faces 'bat & moon' style header cards. The names are not known, so the following are given by the collector community.