Restored catalog snippet; original property of Fun World / Easter Unlimited, Inc. c. 1992
Fun World's early ghost masks are perhaps the most notable and celebrated of the 90s era. Released in 1992 under the catalog name #9206 - Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost Mask with Shroud, these classic soft pvc masks feature simplistic expressive faces with black and white cotton shrouds. Minimal in their approach, the faces are defined by their black blocked-in features. These affordable masks were very versatile in what they could be costumed with, and were widely mass produced and distributed through costume shops, pharmacies, department stores, and more. The initial line up 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 7 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." Sleiertin-Linden's drawings were then likely used by "Hong Kong-based sculptor Fok Lee" who "created the mask(s) for Easter Unlimited as part of a work-for-hire relationship." Fun World's ghost's first documented publication was in December 4, 1991, which 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, Fun World decided to capitalize on different styles and sorts, including the #9207 - Fluorescent Ghost Mask with Shroud. This product took the same ghost faces used in the previous line, now offered in vibrant pink, green, and orange that glow under black light, a popular trend for parties and decorations at the time. The earliest fluorescent masks do not have black paint around the eyes ('eyeliner'), while some mid 90s masks do with cotton shrouds. Late 90s masks have painted 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 came featured as the 'Weeping Ghost' and 'Happy Ghost' among a line of other Halloweeny 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. These 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 their shroud design for a simple and easy 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 pvc as well as glow pvc.
The ghosts soon experienced an unprecedented popularity due to the use of the 'Peanut-Eyed' Ghost in the film Scream (1996). As the story goes, a white shroud mask was discovered by producer Marianne Maddalena while location scouting. Since the script called for a ghost masked killer, she brought it to Wes Craven's attention for consideration. Though initially rejected, the mask was eventually chosen after much deliberation from the team. Prior sketches and designs were made, and one attempt to replicate the Fun World mask by KNB Effects was even features in many scenes of the film before purchasing the rights and switching to Fun World's mask for filming. It has since been recognized as one of the most iconic masks of 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 of the masks with new molds and varying production styles. Costumes, accessories, and decorations were created with the 'Peanut-Eyed' Ghost face, cementing the Scream Stalker as the new "Icon of Halloween" for the 1990s. 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
All of the ghost masks experienced associated benefits from Scream's popularity. With demand for the masks now increasing, the other black shrouded ghosts would now be seen as variations of the Scream face. A new 'Viper' character was added to the line-up as Fun World leaned into spookier more horror-oriented style. Due to most collectors finding these masks after Scream's success, the era that followed of Fearsome Faces tagged masks with Fun World's new purple 'bat & moon' style design and shrouds with a stretchier polyester material, and a sweet almost 'vanilla' aroma are nostalgic and memorable among collectors and 90s kids alike. However, the earliest run of masks are considered the most collectible for their superior quality and historical value.
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 (differing from the previous soft pvc) paired with polyester hood-like shrouds with pointed 'executioner' style ends. The faces featured more texture and gravity with similar black blocked in faces now with expressive wrinkles, drips, and contours. We do not know the exact year they were released, but they are found in the 1996 catalog. They were produced throughout the late 90s as well, on new Fearsome Faces 'bat & moon' style header cards. The names are not known, so the following are defined as reference by fans.