Trick or Treat Studios: Is This The New Home for the Universal Monsters?

UMU talks to Justin Mabry and Sam Furst of Trick or Treat Studios.

The highlight of this year’s New York Toy Fair was, undoubtedly, meeting with the team behind Trick or Treat Studios. When we first reported on their 2020 catalog, it was met with much excitement and anticipation, especially with the unveiling of their Universal Monsters line of masks. Thanks to Teresa Ganaden, of Trick or Treat Studios, we were able to speak with Justin Mabry, the VP of Art Direction and Character Design, and Sam Furst, one of Trick or Treat Studios’ graphic designers, a premiere source of Universal Monsters knowledge, and the owner of one of our favorites, Monsters Are Good.

It must be said that not only is Trick or Treat Studios’ 2020 product catalog the most exciting of all the modern monster memorabilia releasing this year, but that they will be a company to keep a close eye on with several excitingly ghoulish things in the works. Action figures, anyone?

“This is our Bela Lugosi Dracula cape. We borrowed one of Lugosi’s capes for reference. This is the medallion. The medallion was made by Jeff Carlson.” – Justin Mabry

“We used a lot of movie photos for reference. The origins in the center is a little bit a trade secret because there’s some debate as to what the actual design is. It’s going out there [this piece] so his reference was a Romanian coin. It matched up a lot of the patterns that he was looking for in those photos, but you know, there’s no clear photos of this. But, you know, origins of Dracula and all that, so he went with this ancient Romanian coin.”

“We were asked to do ornaments years ago. I had the idea to make them in 1/6th scale. Just in case we wanted to make action figures in the future, we’d have the heads. I had Alex Rey sculpt these.” – Justin Mabry

“The Frankenstein Monster is the first one that we’ve made optional as a bust. There’s a hole in the bottom so we could retrofit them so you have the option to have them as a bust. We’re also going to rework a bunch of these guys into 1/6th scale action figures. Probably images around mid-this year [you could expect to see them]. Still not sure yet as we’re still trying to figure out what route we want to go. The ones we did, [the previous 1/6th scale figures], are high end, but we kept things pretty simple. There will be accessory packs in the future, but they’re limited to a knife or an extra hand, rather than a whole bunch of extra items that drive the cost up. But with the Universal Monsters, we’re not too sure what we’ll do yet because we just started working on those.” – Justin Mabry

When it was mentioned that Trick or Treat Studios would be working on “1/6th scale action figures,” this was a topic that definitely interested me and needed to be asked further about. Currently the only action figures that are being produced of the Universal Monsters are by Super7, under their ReAction line. There has been a sincere demand for action figures, especially in the absence of Sideshow Collectibles and Diamond Select Toys definitive lines of years past.

Justin Mabry: They’re still using that Burger King style guide. In the style guide, Frankenstein is like this lime green.

Sam Furst: Yeah, he’s got an olive green suit, a green t-shirt, and he looks like The Creeper from Scooby-Doo.

Steven Biscotti: I also know Universal is very particular in regards to keeping the Monsters a very specific way. I know with The Mummy, he can’t have any blood on him because they’re very adamant that he has to look a certain way.

Sam Furst: So when we were going in to get photo references for everyone to do sculptures, they kept coming back and going, “he’s missing a clamp on his head,” or “he doesn’t have a scar down the side of his head.” And Justin is like, “well this is from the first movie.” In their style guide, they had all these references from Bride of Frankenstein that they just put in the Frankenstein folder. Justin was like, “here, I’ll tell you that these photos are not from this movie” so that they could fix it. There’s so many people working on it that not everyone has the knowledge like someone like Justin or myself does. The 1930s monster films are not necessarily their main bread and butter anymore, but there definitely coming around to it, especially as they’re putting all this work into Epic Universe and opening up the new Universal Monsters area of the theme park. I’m glad that it’s getting some love.

Steven Biscotti: It’s always been so interesting to me because these are rightfully their mascots in the way that Disney has their characters and Warner Bros. has theirs. I’ve always felt that, especially over the last ten years, that they’ve very much mishandled them in certain ways, yet they’ve handled them gracefully in other ways, but the fact that we’re here in 2020 and that we have Universal Monsters product, it’s really rewarding.

Sam Furst: I would definitely agree. As long as we’ve got monster kids, there’s going to be monster stuff. You have people like Justin who puts stuff out because he likes it. Anytime I do anything, it’s because this is what I want to see out there. I would have wanted this! With the ornaments, I’m thrilled that they’re not a Hallmark ornament. They’re beautifully done by Alex Rey, our newest sculptor. You know, we’re expanding on all of the Universal stuff like getting the masks into our line was so huge. That was something that hasn’t been addressed well since probably Don Post. 1966 was the last time there was a decent line of well crafted monster masks. We’re going as far as – I’m currently working on Universal Monsters wrapping paper. Who doesn’t want their birthday presents wrapped in monsters?

Steven Biscotti: I want to carve out space in my house just for the Scooby-Doo masks. It just looks really good. I want to touch quickly on the Scooby-Doo lineup. Scooby-Doo absolutely falls into monsters and that whole aesthetic fits perfectly with everything that us monster kids love.

Justin Mabry: We wanted to do Scooby-Doo since we started the company. We’ve wanted to do Scooby-Doo and Universal Monsters for about ten years and we finally got them. We’re going to flesh out the rest of the monsters; the ones that make sense. We’re going to push to do some other products from Scooby.

Sam Furst: When I think of Justin’s inspirations, Scooby-Doo is a big part of this guy’s history. And getting that? Well what better way to represent Scooby-Doo than to do masks of the villains! Literally in the show, they’re masks! It’s always the funniest part. A far as family friendly monsters go, the closest thing that Trick or Treat had was Mad Monster Party, a beloved and spooky property that is fun for everybody. But Scooby-Doo is going to be something else. It’s definitely really cool to see these lines come together with all these different artists who have totally different backgrounds and totally different styles. We’re really finally getting to the stuff that has alluded Trick or Treat for a little while. It’s who we are and the things that we love the most are coming down the line.

Monster masks are a big part of the monster/horror community. The word alone conjures up wonderful memories of all of us monster kids thrilled at the ads for the Don Post latex masks. These fang-tastic creations are wonderful pieces of art and truly bring to life the magic of the screen monsters in a tangible way. While I have a few Universal Monsters masks, I do plan on adding the Trick or Treat Studios masks to my collection. These look like must haves. It’s clear that this is another level of artisty that would make a worthy addition to any classic monsters and/or horror collection.

Universal Monsters Universe would like to thank Justin Mabry, Sam Furst, and Teresa Ganaden of Trick or Treat Studios for their time.

Be sure to follow Trick or Treat Studios on Facebook and Instagram. Their Universal Monsters line of products are now available for pre-order, along with their line of Scooby-Doo villain masks.

(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)

The post Trick or Treat Studios: Is This The New Home for the Universal Monsters? appeared first on Universal Monsters Universe.

Trick or Treat Studios: Is This The New Home for the Universal Monsters?