I probably had some Topstone Halloween masks and didn’t realize it. You probably did too.
Unlike Don Post Halloween masks, Topstone were more reasonably priced masks. They were latex/rubber masks like the Don Post masks but were thinner and sold for two or three bucks – a third of the price of the most affordable Don Post masks – through stores and Captain Company ads in magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland back in the 1960s.
As a kid, I certainly didn’t notice the brands of masks I eagerly bought around Halloween time, so I’m mostly guessing some of mine were made by Topstone. And needless to say many of the masks don’t exist any more. They were never meant to survive for four decades or more.
Topstone sold full over-the-head masks, but I think most familiar to some of us were the “full face” masks, both soft latex and harder plastic, that were common at the time.
Topstone Rubber Toy Company, according to online histories, began making masks in the 1930s. Besides horror masks, the company made clowns, “goofs” and – unfortunately – race-based caricatures like “Remus” and “Chinaman.” As late as 1960, the company marketed “colored” masks.
The company’s heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s, when the advent of the “Shock Theater” package of classic Universal horror films became popular on TV stations and spawned not only magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and TV horror hosts like Indianapolis’ Sammy Terry but also a craze for scary monster masks.
Particularly memorable was the “Shock Monster” mask that was aggressively marketed to young geeks like me.
Keith Ward, whose other famous designs included Elsie the Cow and Elmer the Bull (the latter for Elmer’s Glue) designed many of the classic Topstone masks.
Ray Castile is an acknowledged expert on Topstone, its history and its masks. He also produced thegalleryofmonstertoys.com.
Everything you want to know about Topstone masks can be found here.