Friday, December 14, 2012

1993 Illusive Concepts Catalog

I've been on the hunt for Illusive Concept catalogs for quite some time. Fortunately, four IC catalogs fell into my lap back in October. I've been on something of a scanning binge over the last few days and was able to digitize close to twenty monster mask catalogs including the previously mentioned Illusive Concepts scores. The first one up from the batch is The 1993 Illusive Concepts Catalog, which is fitting, because this was the year I first saw many of Mario Chiodo's creations in person.

It's no stretch to say that (at the time) these masks were the most innovative creations that the mask industry had ever seen. Their impact on me was immediate. The sheer size and thickness of the masks had never been attempted on a mass-produced commercial scale before. And, as a sculptor, I never tire of looking at the expressions on the faces of these masks and the wonderful textures, and wrinkles that are prevalent in so many of Mr. Chiodo's characters.

I'll never forget the first time I layed my eyes on the Illusive Concepts Grand Lantern mask at Fantasy Headquarters in Chicago in 1993...

I was simply stunned my the piece. If memory serves me right, there was a $120 price tag attached to it and the mask, which made it impossible that it would ever come home with me. I would see the mask during a handful of visits to the shop of the next few years, and one day it was gone. Over fifteen years would pass before I would see one again at Fantasy Headquaters. It was apparently found in the warehouse and brought back out to the store shelves. There was a strong chance it was the very same copy as it bore the same price tag and the original '93 tag. It was a dream come true to bring him home on that cold autumn afternoon...

I know that within collector's circles,  Illusive Concepts takes a lot of heat for the Universal Monsters masks that were released during the early to mid nineties. Some of the criticism is justified, but there are a few from the series that I think hold up incredibly well. The resemblance to Karloff in the Mummy mask is fantastic...

The Illusive Concepts Creature from the Black Lagoon is my personal favorite sculpt of the bunch, although I've never been a fan of the factory paint scheme...

 With a little custom paint work, this mask really shines. This was the first Universal Monster mask I ever owned and it's still prominently displayed within my collection. It towers in size over other Gilman masks...

And don't forget the Illusive Concepts Phantom of the Opera mask, which was another beautifully sculpted mask from the series...

There are a number of other Illusive Concepts original designs featured in this catalog that I've always been fond of too including the Pirate Skull, Ghoul and the Cranium Skull. All have a classic Halloween vibe that can't be denied...

Of course, there are the massive Majestic Dragon masks as well as the Slobber's masks which are among the most unique designs ever offered up to the mask buying public, but I digress... finally, after all the Phantom's rantings and ravings, we get to the catalog pages themselves...


  1. I have the Illusive Concepts large (36") troll mask from about 1997-1998. Is the company now defunct?

  2. Unfortunately, yes. The company was scooped up by Paper magic Company, which was making Illusive Concepts masks until last year (2013) when it was bought by Gemmy Industries and was shut down.

  3. leave it to large corporations to ruin the only good left in life. I Used to own the "Ghoul" mask,melvin the magician,and i still own Hammerhead. What i've always wondered is why there isn't one single to artist to re- replicate some of these classics ?

  4. I had the popping eye, tongue out skull mask by Illusive Concepts. I'll never forget the amazement I felt of being completely lazy one Halloween, dressing regularly and only that mask. I couldn't walk a few feet without people stopping me to give the mask appreciation. There has to be someone making replications of these

  5. I'm a bit late on this one, but I think after the mask company venture Mr Chiodo's business interests went more towards figures, statues and portrait work. I think hes at, as there is a sweet dragon to be found there under "Animals and Creatures" that's just too much of a nod to his former fantasy/mask work!

  6. Thanks for the link Ryan, I just checked it out. Stunning work!

  7. I just dug out my Antique Witch and Ancient Warlock, getting them ready to display. Been on the hunt for a Grand Lantern and Grand Ghost.